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This may be hard to understand at first, especially since, diegetically, the character of Valentina is most often helpless, relying on other characters to save her from both real and imagined predicaments. These characters may be men or women, but they noticeably act in situations where Valentina is rendered inept.

Valentina's body language suggests that she is constantly struggling, is never a free agent or acting on her own free will. She is not a typical "femme fatale, aware and lucid in her evil" "femme fatale, consapevole e lucida nella sua malizia" [Seveso ] , but is always fighting, both in dreams and in reality, and usually losing her clothes in a forced, violent fashion.

Instead, it is through the act of fantasizing that Valentina asserts her power, even if she plays the role of the victim and not the dominatrix within those fantasies. It is the conscious and subconscious creation of these "domains of resistance" [9] that allow her character to explore sexual taboos and play with traditional power relations.

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Her dreams and daydreams offer her a space of freedom, mirroring the sexual freedom of , in which she may be considered an inquisitive manipulator of grey space, pre-established boundaries and societal norms. At the beginning of Valentina Speciale , we find Valentina bound and gagged, whipped and ridden like a horse by an unknown female character, and then forced to have sexual relations with an unknown man against her will. Eventually, we discover that this extended scene of forced sex and brutality is a dream—is Valentina's dream—placing it within the realm of rape fantasy.

This is one of the more masochistic moments of the story, and therefore one of the most complex. Valentina, as mentioned above, is the fantasizer of these images, arguably revealing either deep-seated fears or desires that once again create an intimacy between reader and character. These close-ups, and the various angles they provide the viewer, remind us of the theatricality of masochism, the importance of "enacting the erotic scene" rather than the actual experience De Beauvoir For most of the scene, Valentina is speechless, rendering her both physically and vocally oppressed in her own nightmare.

Toward the end Valentina protests, "One minute … I can't … I can't do it! There are emotional reasons that prohibit me …" "Un momento … io non posso … non posso farlo! Ci sono delle ragioni affettive che lo impediscono …" Crepax, see Fig. Once again, Crepax focuses on the emotional element of the scene, referencing Valentina's sense of guilt for cheating, albeit against her will, on her true love, Phil.

As she is dreaming, she exclaims, "No … enough … I can't … you're suffocating me …" "No … basta … non posso … mi suffocate …" see Fig.

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It is critical to note Valentina's facial expressions in these panels, as well as the sounds she is emitting, which certainly seem to signal "erotic bliss. The "unbearable weight" "Che peso! Che peso insopportabile! In the two comics, there is only one other moment—a fantasy—in which Valentina asserts some amount of control within the narrative.

Toward the end of Valentina , after numerous moments of desperation and calls to be saved, Valentina suddenly resents the two male characters who have thus far been her protectors and saviors. She is angered by the fact that they treat her "like a crazy cry-baby … thinking they must always protect me! This juxtaposition of power is evident in the character's physicality as well.

As Tim Pilcher notes, "Crepax drew slender, delicate, almost fragile girls, who had a will of iron" Again, the coexistence of strength and weakness within one character subverts typical dichotomies, revealing how the qualities are not mutually exclusive but may work together toward a common identity.


Beyond the agency afforded to her through fantasy, Valentina is most in control when she has a camera in her hand. The photographic process—the gaze of the camera, which is also Valentina's gaze—captures the image of women in seductive poses to be consumed by her, by us and by readers of the magazine in which the photographs will be published. Valentina, with the help of the camera lens, freezes the image of the female as sexual object, deconstructing and dismembering the body in a process of disintegration that does not allow for a complete representation.

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She orders the models to pose in certain ways, manipulating them with her words so that she can hold them in the positions she wants. As photographer, then, she becomes author and "animator," [13] visually and verbally manipulating the characters before her to bend to her desire, mirroring her own relationship with Crepax. Valentina's photos are an example of the process of fragmentation of the female body that refuses women a whole, unbroken identity. The camera breaks the female form into pieces, dismantling and objectifying the body as close-up pieces to be visually devoured see Fig.

While Seveso sees this fragmentation as a reflection of the failure of communication intrinsic to the modern era, [14] it is also indicative of the objectification and dissection of the female body in erotic comics. This breaking down renders the form more digestible, allowing more time for focused scrutiny of individual parts. Because of this, it refuses to acknowledge the wholeness of the female body, effectively denying her the completeness of form and representation that a truly emancipated vision would embrace.

This denial of totality via the camera may represent the masculine, or Crepaxian, side of Valentina.

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Her camera, which effectively freezes and dismembers her women subjects, is a tool that unravels female integrity, or wholeness, rendering them less-than, incomplete, and objectified. Crepax seeks to reconstitute this broken image through representations of women's interior spaces. The visual fragmentation of the photos and comic panels, however, is difficult to reconstruct. The final representation of the female, even if it appears to be intact, resembles a re-assemblage of a photograph that has been cut into various pieces only to be taped back together.

The lines of division are still visible even once the image is reconstructed. The role of the reader is crucial in a discussion of gender construction and identity in Crepax's comics. There is an intimacy created between the character and the reader through an exploration, not just of Valentina's naked body, but of her sexual desires and deepest fears. Perhaps even more explicitly compelling is the theatricality of Valentina's perpetual striptease.

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As previously mentioned, much of the character's nudity is a result of someone else's, or some external force's, doing, and often times takes place with no other characters in the scene, begging the question for whom is she undressing? Strangely enough, the characters within the story, especially the male characters, do not seem to be that interested in watching Valentina. Phil, for example, the recurring male character, often has his nose in a book or newspaper, and rarely looks at his beautiful, often naked, lady friend. He only seems interested in looking at women other than Valentina, both in actuality and in his fantasies.

His lack of attention to the blatantly exhibitionist presence of the female protagonist underscores the importance of the extra-diegetic gaze as Crepax's, and Valentina's, primary focus. An amusing example of this can be found in a panel in which Valentina, after announcing that she is going upstairs to change into something a little more comfortable, is offended that neither of the two men in her company accepts her not-so-subtle invitation to see her naked see Fig.

In response, it is almost as if she turns to us, the extra-diegetic viewer, and says, "But … is no one coming with me? At the same time, she is seeking to fulfil her own role in the performance, embracing the part of an object to be looked at and desired by her diegetic and extra-diegetic audiences. Here, it is important to recall that "masochism is traditionally a staged, enacted, performed identity" Tobin Valentina is playing a role: that of a submissive woman, an object to be desired and oppressed by the male and female characters within the story, as well as by the readers.

Again, this calls into question the veracity of the character's "weakness," and her inability to act in certain most situations. If we remember Crepax's proclaimed identification with his female character, we might consider that she, and her comic, are his enactment of a masochistic fantasy. Her manipulated, delicate figure is the embodiment of his dreams on two distinct levels: she is the image of submission and weakness with which he identifies in his male masochistic fantasies; as the diegetic creator of the fantasies on the page, she is him , the master-author in control of the story.

The reader is perhaps the most liberated player in Crepax's work. In comics, much more so than in film, the reader controls the pace and direction of the reading. In works like Valentina , the repeated use of close-ups of women's body parts from a number of angles allow the reader-viewer to linger for as long he or she would like, on a preferred image, for whatever purpose he or she likes.

As discussed earlier, Crepax uses small panels of close-ups on specific body parts, similar to freeze-frame photographs, as a means of dissecting and immobilizing the body for scrutiny see Fig. He utilizes another innovative fragmentation device that shows a whole image divided among a number of panels. This gives us insight both into the reality of Valentina's situation and her own subjective emotional state. At the same time, even though the two columns give us expanded insight into the character's situation, the panel breakdown constructs an obvious border between us and the narrative.

Crepax brilliantly quenches this desire with his use of multiple perspectives in showing the same scene, which almost always stars a semi-nude or nude Valentina. One of the most compelling examples of this technique is found in Valentina Speciale , and involves Valentina strapped to a torture device, that it seems will result in her inevitable, gory destruction.

In three pages, Valentina's position—her immobile figure harnessed and muzzled into the device—is shown from six distinct angles, giving the viewer every possible perspective see Figs. With this technique, the author simultaneously fuels and satisfies our voyeuristic desire to see more.

We pause longer at these panels, taking the time to examine their intricacy, seeking to understand how the contraption works and reveling in our chance to see this suspense-filled moment over an extended time, a key element of the masochistic experience. Our voracious, and encompassing, viewing of Valentina might be considered an even greater imbalance of power if we consider the tactile element of sight. Rudolf Arnheim wrote that "the world of images does not simply imprint itself upon a faithfully sensitive organ. Rather, in looking at an object, we reach out for it.

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With an invisible finger we move through the space around us … catch them, touch them, explore their texture" We, then, are not just satisfying our visual curiosities, but are physically engaging with the images before us, molesting Valentina with our eyes and our "invisible fingers. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Antonio marked it as to-read Jan 06, Dela Iovan marked it as to-read Feb 01, Michele Stufano added it Feb 17, There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Guido Crepax.

Guido Crepax. Other books in the series. Valentina: I volumi storici 1 - 10 of 25 books. Books by Guido Crepax. At that time I could not know the reason why it did not work but, after many years, I can honestly say that the answer is now clear in my mind. Joe Dispensa explains this concept very clearly with a simple but yet extraordinary example. He basically says that if someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant, your brain instantly creates the image of a pink elephant. In the book, Dr.

Dispensa gives a great vision full of scientific data regarding the phenomenal potential of the mind. Spiritually speaking, I can explain it to you saying that the Universe does not think in the negative. The author Rhonda Byrne also explains the concept:.

Bound and Dreaming: Female Empowerment through Sado-Masochistic Fantasy in Guido Crepax's Valentina

Listen to your thoughts, and listen to the words you are saying. The law is absolute and there are no mistakes. Here is the mistake! The only reason why people do not have what they want is that they think more about what they do not want. This can be a contributory cause but for sure not the main reason. The explanation is contained in the brain itself.

To put it simply, Dr. Lipton describes the mind as if it were divided into two very different parts. The conscious mind is the mind that lives in the present moment. It is activated by every thought that I consciously direct to something I want to understand and to learn. It is a very elastic mind. The subconscious mind is the so-called methodical mind, in other words, it is the mind structured following repeated and incessant thoughts because the repetition creates the habit.