Dante’s multifaceted cultural reception includes many comics adaptations. Against the background of a strong tradition of illustrating and visualising Dante, this article proposes a comparative analysis of significant contemporary comics adaptations from Europe and the United States. Recent European Dante comics generally adopt largely reverent modes of illustration, showing less aggressive forms of adaptation than their US counterparts. The text of Dante’s poem remains of great importance, and artists often refer to certain traditional milestones in Dante’s visual reception. American Dante comics are more firmly rooted in popular culture, adopting reductive adaptation methods to a greater extent, and are frequently embedded in transmedial constellations. Where the highbrow European tradition of Dante’s visual reception does shine through, it is always with strong ironic undertones. Especially interesting in this respect are the toy theatre/puppet movie Dante’s Inferno directed by Sean Meredith, Seymour Chwast’s graphic novel The Divine Comedy and the popular video game Dante’s Inferno.
Ronald de Rooy is an associate professor and head of the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Amsterdam. His research interests include Italian contemporary literature and culture, Dante and his contemporary reception, and cultural memory studies (especially cultural representations of Italy’s divided collective memory). His publications include articles, chapters and reviews on classical and modern Italian authors, as well as books on narrativity in Italian poetry (Il Narrativo nella poesia moderna, 1997), Dante’s presence in Italian and Anglo-American postmodern poetry (Il Poeta che parla ai poeti, 2003) and contemporary Italian fiction (Romanzi di (de)formazione (1988–2010), 2010, with Beniamino Mirisola and Viva Paci).