cover image Aquatlantic


Giorgio Carpinteri, trans. from the Italian by Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-68396-351-6

Carpinteri’s stylish allegory set in Atlantis satirizes the savage surface world that the Atlanteans, who call their submerged society Aquatlantic, fear and mock. Bho, an Atlantean actor, performs a popular parody about a vulgar surface man named Ettore Patria. But he’s losing himself in his role, as vulgar thoughts break in offstage and in recurring dreams. The legend taught to Aquatlantic’s school children is that two citizens swam above long ago and established a wasteful, sinful society. (“They found money to buy what they already had... warriors to defend what had never been theirs.”) Surface artifacts are displayed in a museum (including a key and a gun—which, true to form, must go off by the last act). The Atlantean’s own elitist tendencies are brought to light, as the ruling class, who worship sentient sea turtles (and torture them for prophecy) closes in on Bho as a threat to the stability of their right-thinking society. A sinister surface-dweller plot against Atlantis is revealed, then swiftly thwarted, by the wise turtle guides, who raise a song that repels the invaders. Carpinteri’s dazzling painted scenes employ motifs from futurist, art deco, and other modern art influences. While the moral of the slim story doesn’t land as particularly profound, the hypocrisy of the related worlds, above and below, is exquisitely realized, and art comics fans will likely pick up the volume more for its look than its lesson. [em](Sept.) [/em]