“The natural feel and the slight roughness of Holmen TRND makes it perfect for reproducing the real Japanese manga feeling.”
Claudia Bovini is the CCO of Star Comics, an Italian publishing house that specialises in Japanese manga comics and graphic novels. She says demand for manga in Italy is hotter than ever, adding that, unlike the 1990s, when manga and comics were mainly available from newsstands and comic book shops, today they are also sold in bookshops as well as online.
“We’re living a second golden age of manga in Italy,” continues Bovini. “The market is growing and I hope this trend will last a long time.”
Italian comic-book market development
Star Comics’ story is closely tied to the development of the Italian comic-book market. Launched in 1987, the company started out publishing Marvel comics, before switching to Japanese comics in the 1990s. Before long, manga became its main revenue stream.
“When the publishing rights to Marvel’s comics expired we had to find a different niche, so we decided to try manga,” explains Bovini. “In the 90s, oriental culture was very popular in Italy, with Generation X having grown up watching Japanese anime on TV, so a lot of manga characters were already familiar to them. The door was already open, we just had to walk through it!”
Bovini believes the current manga revival has been driven by the shortage of new movies and TV series being produced during the early months of the pandemic. As a result, many streaming platforms started to invest in Japanese anime, which, in turn, created a new fan base for manga.