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Fan Project: Jacovitti in English

This is a fan project. I tried to translate one of Benito Jacovitti’s stories in English to show the style of the master of comic art. Instead of using any of the most iconic characters of his I chose an old 1955 story which was based on the film noir movie. My knowledge in Italian language is on a develoging level so be gentle. The project took place in the midsummer 2021, and the work I put into it lasted about a week.

All artwork on this page is © Benito Jacovitti.

Pascual Rififi (orig. Pasqualino Rififì)

Appeared for the first time in Il Travaso Delle idea #49 (Dec. 8, 1958) to #12 (March 23, 1959). The version used in this translation was from Cocco Bill e il meglio di Jacovitti [Hachette] #30 (March 13, 2018).
Written and drawn by Benito Jacovitti. Colors according Bentio Jacovitti’s guide.
Translated by SidSid Keränen. Translated with the help of Google Translator. Proof reading: Misón.

Keys for some of the words Benito Jacovitti was using:

  • The name of Pasqualino Rififì aka Pascual Rififi (The first name, Pascual, is translated to equivalent French name with an additional “u” to refer to the original name. Pasqualino or Pascal derives from the Latin paschalis or pashalis, which means “relating to Easter”. BTW, in the film he was Tony, Jacovitti did not prefer to use the original cast names though the plot followed the movie. In the comic story there was no mention of Pascual’s past, i.e. getting out of jail, but I used it in translation to fill up the proper balloon)
  • The name of Jean Cocotte aka Jean Casserole (A casserole is a variety of a large, deep pan or bowl used for cooking a variety of dishes in the oven)
  • The name of Pepe ZaZa (The Zazas (also known as Kird, Kirmanc or Dimili) are a people in eastern Turkey who speak the Zaza language)
  • The name of freres Cocricò aka the Chachalacas borthers (Chachalacas are galliform birds from the genus Ortalis. These birds are found in wooded habitats in the far southern United States (Texas), Mexico, and Central and South America)
  • The name of Galeazza aka Galleass, Rififi’s broad (Galleasses were military ships developed from large merchant galleys, and intended to combine galley speed with the sea-worthiness and artillery of a galleon)
  • The name of Mimi Cucù aka Mimi Cuckoo, Pepe’s assassin (The cuckoos are generally medium-sized slender birds. Some species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species)
  • Onomatopesia has been left as they are except accents are removed. In some cases the whole/part of onomatopoesia has been altered to fit into English language (like on last page) words, “Censura” aka “Censors” or “Censorship”; or “La sbirrosa!” aka “The Cops”; or “Toc!” aka “Tock!”.
  • Since on last page Rififi is talking about Galleass being naked, I assumed the black bikini, she’s got on, is overdrawn afterwards. I tried to erse them as good as I could. On act 11 there was on one of the Galleass’ lines one word clearly erased afterwards, I added black box on it.

Rififi (French: Du rififi chez les hommes) is a black-and-white 1955 French crime film (film noir) adaptation of Auguste Le Breton’s novel of the same name. Directed by American blacklisted filmmaker Jules Dassin, the film stars Jean Servais as the aging gangster Tony “le Stéphanois”, Carl Möhner as Jo “le Suédois”, Robert Manuel as Mario Farrati, and Jules Dassin as César “le Milanais”. The foursome band together to commit an almost impossible theft, the burglary of an exclusive jewelry shop on the Rue de Rivoli. The centerpiece of the film is an intricate half-hour heist scene depicting the crime in detail, shot in near silence, without dialogue or music. The fictional burglary has been mimicked by criminals in actual crimes around the world. [wikipedia]

Pascual Rififi, comics vs. movie

Rififi (French: Du rififi chez les hommes) is a black-and-white 1955 French crime film (film noir) adaptation of Auguste Le Breto’s novel of the same name. The comic story appeared for the first time in Il Travaso Delle idea #49 (Dec. 8, 1958) to #12 (March 23, 1959).

In the film the main protagonist is the aging gangster Tony “le Stéphanois”. He has gotten an out of jail card because of good behaviour. His girl, broad, is having fun with other men, and Tony is out of money. That is why he needs to make a heist. He collects some men around him to make it possible. All guys have an additional extension on their names, like “le Suédois” (the Swedish), and “le Milanais” (the Milanese).

In the comic story Tony is named as Pasqualino Rififi (according to the film’s title). The first name Jacovitti invented by himself. In Rififi’s gang there is no extension for names, but there exists a rival gang with guy’s naming similar way, “Marocchino” (the Moroccan), “americano” (the American), and “pirata” (the pirate). The lead of the rival gang is Pepe Zaza. There is no Pepe in the original film version.

In the film Tony and the gang get into the upstairs of the place they want to rob. They make a hole to the floor which is a roof of the place they are getting in. In the comic version Rififi makes a hole to the street and ends up inside the owner of the shop. They get into the house through the hole in the back of the guy! Jacovitti likes surreal solutions!

In the film they rob diamonds, and in the comic story money. There will be a physical fight between guys in both of the stories. Rififi’s broad is not infidel until in the end of the story. Lots of guys get killed and in the end the cops are interested of the robbery. Rififi was not printed in the forum he used to use. His most famous stories were printed in several children magazines published by Italian Catholic church.  In the Il Travaso delle idee case he clearly wanted to get rid of his old habits. To be more free what to draw. There are prostitues, straight references to sex, very big boobs, a lot of killing (though he never really show any of dying).

In the film, the director focuses a lot on the robbery scene. In the original book that part was rather short. Director did not like the racist parts of the original text and he filled up the majority of it with the extra long robbery scene.

In the comic story Jacovitti got a lot of subplots and sidetrack, so the robbing part is not that important. You have to remember that Jacovitti never made any script for his comics. He improvises everything. When he starts the story he does not know how it will end. 

I formatted all the translations visually into balloons and boxes. If the original Italian text was short and there was extra room inside the balloon I added something additional from the film. For example in the original comic story there was no mention of Rififi’s past (getting out of jail). I added that in there. Well, the end was kind of for that but anyway I added extra during the way. I was not totally sure of several slang words, and I had to invent something else according to what Jacovitti had drawn. For example in the original comic story each act started with a glossary of main slang words used in the story. That did not work in English and I dropped them totally. Also, the logo and the ending text “Fine” (in English, or rather in French, “Fin”) has been translated as well.

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Created: July 29, 2021. Last updated: August 5, 2021 at 22:01 pm