Il Mondo più Pazzo del Mondo – Astutillo Smeriglia

We all got through the pandemic of 2022 in our own way. A coping mechanism of sorts was needed. For me, I ended up (among other things) getting back on twitter. As was getting on twitter in the first place, this turned out to be a terrible mistake. But off I went, only to quickly realize that the whole damn place was batshit. But then again the world largely seems to be pretty batshit to begin with it’s like we live on The Craziest World in the World1.

That is the title of a collection / graphic novel by comic book author, animator, and screenplay and theater writer Astutillo Smeriglia, who is a silver lining that I found from twitter from my last stint there. He was a voice of reason during the beginning of the war in Ukraine, when many Italians suddenly found themselves siding with Vladimir Putin in the hopes of keeping their bills lower. I have to admit, I fell in love with some of his retorts, as they were direct replies to some of the dogshit arguments I had been hearing:


Panel 1: Stop! You are under arrest.

Panel 2: Drop the knife now.

Panel 3: And what about the USA’s invasion of Iraq?

Panel 4: You’re right, my apologies.)


Panel 1: Left and right, it’s all the same.

Panel 2: Biden and Trump, it’s all the same.

Panel 3: Russian and the USA, it’s all the same.

Panel 4: I had asked for capelletti, not tortellini2 God Damn it!)

Ok, so I agreed with his politics and his stances. And largely, he seemed like a voice of reason in a country desperately needing one. And as is the fashion now-a-days, if you appreciate someone, why not support them financially?

So I purchased Smeriglia’s two books of comics, as well as a novel-type thing he wrote.

The Craziest World in the World is largely a series of vignettes strung together somewhat by a haphazard narrative that is a device at best. Some of the jokes really land, and others not so much. The idea, of course, is to satire the world that we currently live in. But I am not it always hits the mark, as I feel like the best satire should be clear as to what exactly it is that is getting lampooned. I am not so sure that it was pulled off here. Sometimes the humor was closer to a mean spirited non-sequitur which I somewhat appreciated. I just don’t think it was the intent.

I only sometimes saw our world in these strips. I certainly did in the panel where two politicians are having a debate by speaking in cliches at each other. But in the panel where a man pretends his iron is a dog, I didn’t get much except for the dig that everyone has a dog in Bologna, and that for the Italian people having a dog is a status-symbol (alas, far too true).

I could view this as satire alone and write my review on that basis. But it is a comic book, and I should speak to the art within. It was minimal, but for what it was I found it effective. The drawings are simple, as you can see from the samples above, but you could always tell the expressions people have. It gets the job done, and I found it enjoyable.

But if the satire is stronger than the art, I wonder what the novel will be like. But in the mean time, I have another collection by this guy to get through.

1 I’ll say it once, and I will say it a thousand times – translation is hard. Smeriglia’s actual title (Il Mondo più Pazzo del Mondo) is rendered pretty accurately with The Craziest World in the World, but something about the English sounds kind of awful.

2 Oh boy. Posts about Italian books sure do require a lot of cultural explanations. Tortellini are the internationally most popular version of Italian stuffed pasta. Capelletti are largely the same thing. Below is a picture of both, side by side. I have asked Italians if they can tell me which is which. So far, nothing:

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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