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New Italian comic to star a gay jewelry thief

New Italian comic to star a gay jewelry thief

A Bologna based LGBT publishing house has launched its first Italian comic – about a gay man who steals and wears women’s jewelry.

Renbooks, founded in 2011 by Nino Giordano and Fabio Freddi, has just published Barba Di Perle by Florentine artist Flavia Biondi.

It’s the first time the company has published its own title – their previous comics have been imported. But Renbooks has big plans for revolutionizing the gay comic market in Italy and giving LGBT Italians a new voice.

Giordano told Gay Star News: ‘Barba Di Perle will soon have an online version in English.’

Barba Di Perle is the story of a gay guy in Florence, named Santo, who has a secret ‘passion’: wearing women’s jewelry. But Santo fears looking gay by buying jewels from the shops, so he steals them.

One day, Santo’s boyfriend discovers his passion and forces him to come out and to believe in their relationship.

There’s also a happy ending: Santo pays for all the jewelry he has stolen and promises his boyfriend eternal love.

‘We believe in this comic and this is why we decided to publish an English version as soon as possible,’ Giordano added.

‘Behind Renbooks there’s also a political aim. We want to do something for the LGBT community, we want our voice to be listened to.

‘Our first aim is, of course, entertainment. But we want also to help LGBT people to come out. We want to give them awareness of their role in society.

‘Our comics are for Bara and Yuri people. In Japanese, "Bara" means "rose" and "Yuri" means "Lily", but the Japanese use these words also for "gay boys" and for "lesbian girls".

‘So, spreading the Bara and Yuri culture means improving a gay culture in Italy, giving people strength and pride.’

LGBT stories in comics are a relatively new concept, as LGBT themes and characters were historically censored due to the perception that comics were for children.

In the United States, any mention of homosexuality was forbidden in comics until 1989.

But it’s in Japan that the ‘gay boom’ of the 1990s allowed a new wave of LGBT comics. A body of manga by gay creators aimed at LGBT customers has been established, for both men and women.

Pornographic manga are very popular in Japan, but Renbooks import non-sexual stories.

The publishing house was founded by Freddi and Giordano after they became a couple.

Giordano said: ‘We met in 2009 and we decided to create something new.

‘So, we started creating Renbooks, which first saw the light in 2011 during the Roman EuroPride, after a life spent in this sector.

‘In the past, working for someone else, I created the Italian Sailor Moon magazine, and I’m very proud of it.

‘We knew that we needed to focus on something different, so we opted for the LGBT comics. We’ve not been the first company to import LGBT comics to Italy. But we’ve been the first company to do it as a core business.’

Renbooks has previously imported comics by Kotaro Takemoto, Rica Takashima, Gengoroh Tagame, Steve MacIsaac, Inaki Matsumoto and Julian Almazan.

Barba Di Perle is their first Italian-based story.