How to Write a Photo Novel. Ennio Jacobelli’s Istruzioni pratiche per la realizzazione del fotoromanzo (1956)

Jan Baetens, Carmen Van den Bergh, Bart Van Den Bossche


This article offers first a brief historical overview of the photo novel, which is much more than a comics with photographs. Key to a good understanding of the genre is the close connection with the world of women's weeklies and melodrama culture. In a second part, the article addresses the issue of authorship in photo novels and the tension between collective authorship and individual creation and examines the role of the editorial voice of the magazine, which is paramount in the world of the photo novel, where individual creations were not always signed. In its third and last part, the article offers a close-reading of a rare document, a  1956 photo novel manual by Ennio Jacobelli, entitled Istruzione pratiche per la realizzazione del fotoromanzo (“practical guide for the production of a photonovel”). In our analysis, the main focus is on the gap between the actual production of the photo novel in these years and the models and advices given by the manual.


photo novel, melodrama, Ennio Jacobelli; drawn novel, Neo-Realism, women's magazines, writers manual; Jan Baetens; Bart Van Den Bossche; Carmen Van den Bergh

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ISSN: 2034-4643
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