When Comics Give Comfort in the Time of the Coronavirus

A friend from Italy writes about trying to stay upbeat from the depths of the global COVID-19 outbreak…

I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the last decade or so and my favorite vacation was a trip to Italy five years ago. What an incredible experience: We visited Rome, Florence and Venice and it was a throughly enchanting experience. I dearly hope that when this world heals, I’ll be able to go back.

Italy, in case you were unaware, has a thriving comic-book scene and I made it a point to visit as many shops as I could, purchasing both new editions and old back issues, such as the Italian versions of these classics:

One of the highlights of the trip, though, was visiting with Francesco Vanagolli, a comics fan and pro I met through Facebook and 13th Dimension. Francesco has translated some landmark American comics for Italian audiences and we made a point of meeting up in Florence while I was there. (Francesco lives in Pisa, about an hour away.)

We went comics shopping, had lunch and visited an art school where his friend teaches. It was, obviously, quite the memorable experience.

Me, Francesco and friend Martinho Correia, dining in Florence.

Francesco and I still maintain contact here and there but the other day I saw he’d posted a note on Facebook, along with photos of stacks of Spider-Man comics. He was talking about what it was like living in Italy right now amid a devastating coronavirus pandemic and trying to find solace in the small things, like favorite childhood comics.

So with his permission, I’m reprinting his lovely post below, along with some of the photos he included.

All the best, Francesco — and all the best to everyone. Stay safe and stay home if you can. That’s what we’re doing here in New York, where things are becoming more alarming by the day. — Dan


You may have heard what’s happening in Italy and yes, it’s as bad as it sounds. Due to the coronavirus emergency, our government established that we must stay at home. The darkest hour for my country since WWII, and, well, the most boring hour for us, forced to stay indoor to avoid further spreading of the disease. (OK, we can buy food and other necessary stuff; don’t worry, I bought a king-size package of toilet paper).

Lucky me, I have tons of comics… I just opened my Marvel Tales/Spider-Man reprints box.

Spider-Man is my favorite hero, he has been since I was 12 years old, and, while loving several modern stories, I’m particularly fond of the character’s classic era (1962 to the early ’80s), so I decided to revisit some of my kidhood faves… I spent my kidhood reading time and time again my Italian editions, life was so simpler when a good Spider-Man comic could save the day! Now, well, now Spider-Man can’t fix what’s happening in my life and in my fellow Italians’ lives, comics can’t heal sick people or resurrect dead ones.

But — and I think this is quite important — if we want to keep up, I think that celebrating and ENJOYING what we love may be a good way to carry on. Life is too short to waste it hating comics that we don’t like, or insulting creators for stories that we don’t appreciate. I feel lucky because I can still enjoy something that I love, something that I can’t take for granted while so many others are hospitalized in intensive care or even dying.

So… classic Spider-Man galore for you all.



— FRANCESCO VANAGOLLI: The Italian Voice of DC COMICS. Click here.

— BATMAN and SUPERMAN’s Greatest Italian Comics Mysteries! Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. What a wonderful, uplifting post! Thanks so much. And those Italian reprints look AMAZING!

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  2. Thank you both so much; it’s excellent to hear from an Italian comics professional and comics fan at any time, but especially now.

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