Five years ago, the adventure was yet to begin. Jakie Bougault was teaching theatre and history in his native France. On moving to Rome he quickly noticed the city’s longstanding French bookshop had a limited range of graphic novels. After embarking on a year’s “passionate discovery of comic-strip culture”, Bougault opened l’Aventure.
The shop, near the Piazza del Popolo, has only 40 sq m of floorspace on which to flaunt over 3,000 titles, from the classics to avant-garde publications. The majority of the comics are in French, which suits the shop’s core customers – Italian graphic design students, their teachers and French-speaking Romans.
Bougault quickly learnt that independent Italian comic strips are hard to come by. So now he boasts “the widest range in Rome”, as well as a respectable English section.
The Franco-centricity reveals an underlying crisis in the Italian comics industry. As Bougault explains, “Any writer who wants to produce a strip longer than a few boxes is forced to turn to French or American publishing houses.” Bougault also hosts regular book signings – recent events include Ivo Milazzo, Corrado Mastantuono and Eugenio Sicomoro (big names in Italy), providing welcome support for Italy’s graphic authors.
Bougault helps bolster local interest too: “Most Romans are surprised and intrigued by l’Aventure, which doesn’t resemble a normal immaculate Italian bookshop.” There is also a following of local animation artists, and Roberto Perpignani, film editor for the Taviani Brothers, “turns up when he has the cash to buy 20 to 30 titles at a time” – an important customer for this niche haunt that turns over roughly 1,000 books a month.
l’Aventure, 21Via del Vantaggio, Rome; + 39 063 202 360; librairielaventure.com
Jakie Bougault’s 10 greatest strips
01 Le chemin de Saint-Jean, Edmond Baudoin
02 Stuck Rubber Baby, Howard Cruse
03 Le Combat Ordinaire, Manu Larcenet
04 Blacksad Trilogy, Juan Díaz Canales
05 Blaue Pillen, Frederik Peeters
06 Faire Semblant C’est Mentir, Dominique Goblet
07 Corto Maltese: Favola di Venezia, Hugo Pratt
08 Le Sang des Voyous, Jacques de Loustal
09 Appunti Per Una Storia di Guerra, Gipi
10 Le Journal de Mon Père, Jiro Taniguchi