East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The man from the Nile

In July, 1878, when serving as lieutenant in H. I. H. the Crown Prince Rudolph’s regiment, the 19th Foot, on the Bosnian frontier, I received a letter from General Gordon, inviting me to come to the Sudan and take service with the Egyptian Government, under his direction.

Rudolf_Carl_von_SlatinRudolf Carl von Slatin, later known as Slatin Pasha, was born near Vienna in 1857. In 1873, while attending a commercial school, he heard about a German bookseller in Cairo that needed an assistant, and he left for Egypt.
He ended up in Karthoum, and he traveled extensively before he had to return to Austria to fulfill his conscription in the army.
While in the Austrian army, he was contacted by Gemneral Gordon, ad mentioned in the opening of his 1896 best-seller Fire and Sword in the Sudan.
Because when he finally accepted Gordon’s invitation, things got interesting: appointed governor of Dara, and when rebellion erupted in 1882, Slating tried to face the music, but without much success. Continue reading


Italian style

toppi11Many years ago I met a guy that was an excellent comic artist, in a sort of “classical” Japanese manga style.
And I mean, he was really good.
So one day he picked up his portfolio, bought a ticket to Tokyo, and did the tour of the comic publishers there, showing his stuff around.
And the Japanese publishers were absolutely impressed.
There was just a little glitch – they had buildings full of people doing exactly that kind of artwork.
“This is very good,” they said, “but can’t you do something… Italian? Like I dunno, Pratt, or Toppi, or Crepax…”

I thought about this story last week, when the usual “Italians should write Italian stories in Italian” popped up on the web, as it usually happens once every two or three months.

I am in a pretty awkward situation. Continue reading