Matteo Strukul's Edizioni BD publishes Italian translations of comics, graphic novels, fiction, and non-fiction by authors including Dennis Lehane, Alan Moore, Joe R. Lansdale, Moebius, Michael Chabon, Warren Ellis, Stan Lee, Kazuo Koike, and Jacques Tardi. The Revolver imprint, of which he is line editor, brings hard-hitting authors such as Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks, Russel D. McLean, and Victor Gischler to Italian readers, with more to come from the likes of Charlie Huston and Christa Faust. He lives in Padua (Padova) in northern Italy's Veneto region and, when not publishing and editing, he writes. His first novel, La Ballata Di Mila, was shortlisted for Italy's Scerbanenco Prize. In the first of a two-part interview with Detectives Beyond Borders, Matteo Strukul talks about pulp fiction, Italian hard-boiled authors, comics, and his own discovery as an author by Massimo Carlotto. And, proving himself true kin to Detectives Beyond Borders, he has kind words about some of this blog's favorite Irish crime writers.
(Read Part II of the Detectives Beyond Borders interview with Matto Strukul
Detectives Beyond Borders:
Talk about the Revolver imprint, about the authors you chose, and why you chose them.
Matteo Strukul: First of all, Peter, thank you for the opportunity that you have given to me. It's great to answer your fantastic questions. I’m honored. Now, about Revolver… Revolver is an imprint focused on pulp crime fiction. We love to collect fast-paced novels. Every story has to be a real roller-coaster, a furious, well-plotted patchwork of wit and wise guys, ultra-violence and thrills, and unpredictable, lunatic characters. For these reasons we chose authors like Victor Gischler, Allan Guthrie, Tim Willocks, Christa Faust, Ray Banks. Personally, I love all these authors who are completely crazy and original but all of them have an intriguing, fascinating, irreverent approach to the genre. We want to have authors who have courage enough to break rules and to have faith in their stories and characters, doesn’t matter how crazy and strongly cruel those stories are.
Your online biography says you were discovered by Massimo Carlotto. How did this discovery happen?
Well, I was at the international Book Fair in Turin (Il salone del libro) in 2010 and, of course, Massimo Carlotto was also there. I remember that I went to the E/O publisher’s stand and said to him that I have a novel for him. Well, it was incredible when he said that he want to read it, because, man, I was and am a real fanatic of his work. At that time I was press officer with an independent and well-reputed publisher: Meridiano Zero. I organized press campaigns for authors like David Peace, James Lee Burke, Derek Raymond. So, of course this fact doesn’t mean that I was an author but means, without any doubt, that I had a strong background. For this reason, I mean, he was curious. I wrote for “Il Mattino di Padova,” my hometown newspaper, so he knew who I was, because Massimo is from Padova, too. So I was very lucky, in fact. Anyway, after some months, Colomba Rossi, who was responsible, together with Massimo, for a new imprint at Edizioni E/O, called Sabot/Age, sent to me an e-mail. I remember she said that my manuscript was fantastic and the character of Mila was amazing. She said also that Massimo Carlotto was really impressed and so, after that, they told me that they want to have me on board as author for the new imprint. It was amazing!
Italy has produced some excellent, dark crime writers, such as Leonardo Sciascia and Giorgio Scerbanenco. Besides Massimo Carlotto and Carlo Lucarelli (with the De Luca novels), who are the best modern-day Italian noir, pulp, and hard-boiled writers? And what does the Anglo-American tradition give Italian readers that they will not find in Italian crime writing? Who are your favorite writers, artists, and filmmakers from that tradition?
MS: Modern-day Italian noir, pulp, and hard-boiled writers are Giancarlo De Cataldo, author of Romanzo Criminale and many other novels. A bigger-than-life and epic criminal saga, a cruel, merciless, bloody and magnificent tale about Banda della Magliana: a gang of thugs and mobsters that during the end of the seventies created a criminal empire in Rome and Italy. The novel tells the story of the relationship between criminals and corrupted politicians in Italy at that time, with gangs fighting for the control of drug traffic, prostitution and gambling in the different quarters of Rome. Another wonderful Italian novelist that I love is Maurizio De Giovanni, author of the Commissario Ricciardi series set in Naples in the early ‘30s, a fantastic police-procedural series.
Your own first novel, La Ballata Di Mila
, reminds me of Quentin Tarantino’s movie Kill Bill
, which was based on a comic book. You also publish a novel by Victor Gischler, whose work sometimes reads like a comic book without the pictures. How do comics influence the fiction you write and publish?
MS: Comic books are a big inspiration for my work. More than this, recently I have written Red Dread, an arc, drawn by international artist Alessandro Vitti (Marvel), with Mila as the main character. The arc was awarded the “Premio Leone di Narnia 2012” as best comic-book arc of the year. But anyway, I love authors like Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Victor Gischler, as I said they are a big influence, in particular I think that Mila has a big debt to Ennis' The Punisher. When you read comics, sequences and cruel feelings like violence, anger, hatred, are literally graphic. I love to study the rhythm, the action, the storytelling. Comic-books and movies are a big inspiration for my work. For instance, Punisher stories like “Mother Russia” or “Barracuda,” by Garth Ennis, or “Welcome to the Bayou,” by Victor Gischler, are stylish visions of hell. You could taste (thanks to the amazing work of guys like artists Goran Parlov or Leandro Hernandez) reasons and motivations, souls and blood, and at the end of the story what you really think is that authors like Garth and Victor are able to go right to the point. No mercy on you, as reader, no fuckin’ cheesy lines.
A number of the authors published by Revolver write slam-bang, action-packed novels: Allan Guthrie, Ray Banks, Victor Gischler, and Christa Faust, for example. But you also publish Brian McGilloway
, a quieter and more reflective writer than some of your other authors. How does McGilloway fit in with the publishing philosophy of Revolver?
MS: You know sometimes, we have to breathe. As you said, we love to publish action-packed novels, but at the same time we would like to offer different kind of crime fiction, different tunes and tastes, and Irish noir, for instance, is a wonderful new creature that, as publisher, we would like to show to the Italian readers. I hope to publish as soon as I can guys like Adrian McKinty or Stuart Neville but sometimes you cannot publish everything you want.
Practise your Italian at Revolver's Web site
and at Matteo Strukul's own site
. Read about Italy's best current crime writers, crime in northeastern Italy, and a new Italian literary movement and crime fiction festival, coming soon in Part II of Detectives Beyond Borders' interview with Matteo Strukul.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013
Labels: Allan Guthrie, Brian McGilloway, Christa Faust, comics, graphic novels, interviews, Italy, Massimo Carlotto, Matteo Strukul, Matteo Strukul interview, publishing, Ray Banks, Russel D. McLean, Victor Gischler