Sturmtruppen

Sturmtruppen was a successful Italian series of anti-war comic books written and drawn by Bonvi, the artistic pseudonym of Franco Bonvicini. It started as four-frame comic strips back in 1968 and evolved into fully sized collector books by the 1990s. The series continued until the early 2000s.

Sturmtruppen concerns the misadventures of an anonymous German army unit (which is implied to be a battalion) in various war theatres of World War II, by portraying the daily life, sufferings, problems and joys of the average, anonymous soldier. The Sturmtruppen never see a single enemy soldier in the course of decades of comic strips, though the enemy's presence is felt through sniper- tank- and artillery fire, whose lethal effects rake all too often through the ranks of the Sturmtruppen's forgotten soldiers.

The series never explicitly mentioned that the war being fought is actually World War II, since no specific date is ever mentioned. There are, however, occasional references to specific battle theaters, place names as well as the mostly accurate portrayal of vehicles, weapons and uniforms of the period. Several deliberate anachronisms such as mentions of the Kaiser appear throughout the series, giving the impression that the war in question wages on endlessly, and that the stories told could be, in fact, referring to any war.

The stories and characters themselves are based partly on the military experience of the author himself, and partly on military literature (Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Guy Sajer's The Forgotten Soldier, Sven Hassel's books, etc...), folklore and of course stereotypes. Bonvi was also an expert in World War II German uniforms and equipment and, despite some cartoonish deformations, all of the Sturmtruppen hardware is historically faithful: from iconic objects and vehicles (MP40, Stielhandgranaten, personal harnesses, kubelwagens, stukas), to more obscure and esoteric weapons (like Brummbar assault guns).

The subject of the stories themselves carry a lot of criticism against war and the absurdity of military bureaucracy and mentality and (also by references to Joseph Heller's Catch 22 and to Robert Altman's M*A*S*H) also the message that "civilian" life isn't much different from military life, disguised. But criticism can subtly extend to today life's aspects, including TV predominance, class divisions and Roman Church's dogma.

Sturmtruppen's success spurred two cinema adaptations. The first one, Sturmtruppen (1976), was co-written by Bonvicini and directed by Salvatore Samperi. In 1982 a sequel, Sturmtruppen 2 - Tutti al fronte (it), was released, again directed by Samperi and featuring Renato Pozzetto, Massimo Boldi and Teo Teocoli. Bonvi had a small part as a German officer.

On August 16, 2006, Miramax moved forward with plans to create a live-action movie based on Sturmtruppen.


Authors, Characters and Stories

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