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“I experienced, on the one hand, life in a working-class neighborhood. On the other, an exclusive, international and cultured universe. Everywhere, I was out of step”

Here, a photo showing a van of the carabinieri in flames, anti-fascist slogans and posters from a ska punk concert. There, all kinds of childish trinkets, most of which are products derived from Star Wars – a miniature Grogu, a Mandalorian helmet, and even a Christmas tree shaped like Darth Vader. Visiting Zerocalcare’s apartment in Rebibbia, on the north-eastern outskirts of Rome, is already diving into its world. It is by merging anger and humor, intimate and political, that this child from working-class neighborhoods, nourished by squats and punk concerts, became one of the most famous authors in Italy.

His comics, like The Armadillo Prophecy (Editions Paquet, 2014), Kobane Calling And Forget my name (Cambourakis, 2016, 2017), sell hundreds of thousands of copies. On Netflix, its animated series To be cut according to the dotted lines And This world won’t have me have several million views. Despite its worldwide success, Zerocalcare still lives in the working-class neighborhood where it grew up. His Italian remains tinged with a strong Roman accent, and his French, learned with his mother, as well as at the French-speaking school in Rome, the Lycée Chateaubriand, is impeccable. He still supports AS Roma, still wears football club sweaters – West Ham United, the day we met. And regrets, he says, his youthful years: “Rome was then full of conflicts, but also full of solidarity. The fascists were in the streets, not in government. »

What environment did you grow up in?

In Rebibbia, a district on the outskirts of Rome where my father comes from. My mother is French, she has a complicated history. Her papers indicate that she was born in Paris, but her family is from the South. My grandmother, an orphan, grew up in a noble family Russians in exile in Nice. She was given as wife to an English nobleman, who was, in reality, an Italian con artist with several aliases. My mother was born in this context.

I looked into this incredible family story in Forget my name. My parents separated when I was a child. My mother did not want to leave Rebibbia so that I could stay close to my father. On the other hand, when she saw that I only responded to her in Italian, she decided to enroll me at the Chateaubriand high school in Rome, a posh establishment. On the one hand, I experienced life in a working-class neighborhood. On the other, an exclusive, international and cultured universe. Everywhere, I was out of step. My classmates lived far from Rebibbia, so I didn’t hang out with them outside of class. Furthermore, social relations in this establishment were structured into castes, which corresponded less to the economic situation of the students than to their cool side. And I was more of a loser.

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