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A photonovel (sometimes spelled as fotonovel) or "Fumetti" is a type of book, adapting a film or television episode and using film stills instead of artwork along with the narrative text and word balloons containing dialogue.[1] The photonovel concept was most popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, before the widespread advent of home recording devices such as VCRs, though some are still published. Several popular films and television programs were adapted to the format.[2]

The photo novel has also taken more comic form with online comics in the digital age, and the format has most recently been re-invented with a more cinematic influence in the original online works of Schaubert & Neuenschwander.

List of photonovels





Fumetti is an Italian word (literally "little puffs of smoke" in reference to speech balloons), which refers to all comics. In English, the term refers specifically to photonovels or photographic comics, a genre of comics illustrated with photographs rather than drawings. Italians call these fotoromanzi (photonovels). Photonovels are popular in Spain, South Africa, and Latin America, where they are called fotonovelas, and have also gained popularity in France. Photo comics were also common in British magazines such as Jackie in the 1980s, and a few are still published. Today, the format has been revived in the English-speaking world through the medium of webcomics, and since 2007 there is even an annual award for photographic comics.


Fumetti were never particularly successful in North America until the arrival of Harvey Kurtzman's Help!, which ran humorous photo stories from 1960 to 1965. Later, National Lampoon offered similar fare with its "photo funnies".

During the 1970s a line of paperback books known as Fotonovels were published. These were fumetti adaptations of several popular films, including Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Nightwing, Rocky II, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. The Fotonovel format involved balloons with abbreviated dialogue from screenplays set in color frame blow-ups taken directly from prints of the films. During the same period other North American publishers had their own similar lines including the Photostory series of paperbacks.

Twelve episodes of the original Star Trek TV series were also adapted to this format. The adaptations were usually abridged. They were popular for a brief period, but the market for such adaptations all but disappeared with the advent of home video; publication ceased in the early 1980s.

There are a number of fumetti newspaper strips in the UK and the form was popular in girls comics in the 1980s. Boys comics of the early 1980s such as Load Runner and the relaunched Eagle also experimented with fumetti but without much success. When the Eagle was revamped, former fumetti strips such as Doomlord continued as more traditional illustrated strips.

More recently, webcomics have brought fumetti to more Americans, with photocomics such as Night Zero, A Softer World and Alien Loves Predator gaining attention in the webcomics community. In 2007, the Web Cartoonist's Choice Awards gave the first award for "Outstanding Photographic Comic", denoting a new acceptance of the genre.[4] In 2010 and 2011 the bilingual photocomic Union of Heroes was nominated for the "Web-Sonderman"-Awards for the best German webcomic. In March 2011, Amazon Kindle published the first of Geo Godley's photo comic memoir e-books, Sochi Russia resort travelogue, marking a revival in the genre.

Notable examples

Schaubert/Neuenschwander photonovel series

Author Lance Schaubert and photographer Mark Neuenschwander adapted the photo novel format in 2012 with their i-book mystery, cold brewed. This particular format was influenced more by cinema (specifically, silent film) than by the fumetti comic category of photonovel. Cold Brewed was self published through i-tunes, featuring a film-noir type story within an alternate historical timeline, in which coffee was outlawed during the prohibition rather than alcohol. The actors cast were all real life baristas, the slang of the time period was replaced with coffeeshop lingo, and even the title was a play on the caffienated beverage. The story features over 400 spreads, alternating between words and photographs, ultimately functioning as a digital flip book.

The team continued the genre with The Joplin Undercurrent, a work commissioned by the Joplin, MO Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Bureau hired Neuenschwander and Schaubert to pen, photograph, and direct another fictional story with a focus on the actual city of Joplin, MO. Producer Carrie Puffinbarger joined the production team and the work was released through online chapter installments in early 2016. This story was fictional, as in the previous photonovel, but also weaved real life locations, people, and history into its' story. The mystery features a cryptologist, a cartographer, and a former resident of the city who come back to seek the source of a foreboding sickness in the town.


  1. (post your photonovel for free)
  2. John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Film/TV: Retro Toy Flashback # 16: Photonovels
  3. Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!: To Boldly Go Where No Screen Capture Has Gone Before
  4. "Outstanding Photographic Comic". Retrieved 2008-07-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "A Softer World: 332". Retrieved 2008-07-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Alien Loves Predator: In New York, no one can hear you scream". Retrieved 2008-07-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Undertoad Comics". Retrieved 2008-07-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Night Zero: A Photographic Novel". Retrieved 2008-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Diabolikal Super-Kriminal
  10. DM of the Rings
  11. Darths and Droids
  12. "Interstellar Blood Beasts".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Attack of the Robofemoids".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>