Ginko, the inspector Ginko, is without a doubt a firm and stern man, that his superiors, fellow citizens and policemen admire very much. Even if he always fails in catching Diabolik, with the other criminals he has many professional successes that we don’t know about (since he isn’t the leading character). If this wasn’t true, how could he still be in the police forces’ upper levels. He’s a serious professional that has had a unique experience during his career in the police force. Ginko represents a reference mark for every citizen that has public or personal order problems or safety problems. In many episodes he has to fix the safety measures for the noblemen’s castles, help his friends’ children who have started with drugs, supervise the bank’s burglar alarms, fight against corrupted cops and secret agents that try to manipulate him, organize the transportation of valuables for art galleries and a lot more. Ginko helps everyone with pleasure. He also knows that, for example, organizing the transportation of valuables, he’ll meet up with Diabolik and this means another chance for him to finally catch his number one enemy and retire from his job with his career’s best success. Ginko isn’t ambitious. He’s totally, absolutely, incredibly a believer in man’s good-will, an angel policeman. This is proved by the fact, among many, that after 30 years of chasing Diabolik, when he does finally catch him, he demands that the normal routine is followed. This means: spending a night in jail (Eva frees him right away) or sentencing him to death on such-and-such day at such-and-such time (an innocent drug addict will be sentenced in his place instead in one of the episodes); or take him to the worse jail (during the ride he’ll run away with his accomplice Eva). In short, anyone else would shoot right at Diabolik’s heart after all he did, if you had finally caught him. Not Ginko. In the beginning, Ginko’s character wasn’t sketched very much, he looked more like a new Sherlock Holmes with his friend Gustavo Garias as Watson by his side, both trying to catch the new criminal (Diabolik), the 60’s kidnapper-serial-killer. When the strip became a series the authors changed Ginko’s character a little, he soon became an integrating part of the plot. We see his character grow as the series goes on: he’s no longer “an” inspector but “the” inspector pax excellence. Gustavo Garian finally gets out of the way taking with himself encumbering doubts about Ginko’s sexual tastes (in no time he gets engaged to the high-class duchess Altea de Vallenberg). With Gustavo out of the way, Ginko’s free to become, on his own, a hero. As time goes by, Ginko changes his mind about Diabolik. First he considers him a “devil” with human features and then a “damned” criminal because he realizes that Diabolik “has his own code of honor”. The struggle between good and evil becomes a clash between gentlemen. Diabolik isn’t a normal criminal, Ginko considers him a strong component even if he always has to remind himself that he is, however, a criminal, even if Diabolik just saved his life (see “Heroine for Ginko). At this point, Ginko keeps trying to capture Diabolik but deep down you can tell he prefers knowing him out there planning new robberies, so he can look forward to a new chess game with his favorite component.
Inspector Ginko’s office is the “ghost-character” of the series, that is, it exists even if it isn’t always mentioned. Diabolik, in fact, personally visits the police station in Clerville, more often than you can imagine. There are different reasons; Eva and Diabolik often disguise themselves as other criminals, they get arrested and are taken to Ginko’s office (in this case, they never speak otherwise they could be caught). Diabolik continuously robs the police’s safe, especially when he wants to get back the loot Ginko found in one of his shelters; sometimes Diabolik goes to Ginko’s disguised as a jeweler so he can ask information about the security systems. Actually, these things happen in the first episodes when Ginko isn’t aware yet of Diabolik’s skills. When Ginko’s sixth sense gets better, Diabolik starts avoiding the direct approach and starts using other techniques. At this point, the inspector’s role becomes crucial. His personality comes out: he’s orderly, methodical, serious, not very original (he hasn’t changed his dark suit or his black and red tie in all these years). During the years, not much has changed in the inspector’s office: same desk near the wall, on top of it on the left, there’s a lamp and on the right there’s a telephone (you should notice that the station has just recently given a new push-button phone with many communication lines that replaced the old black dial phone). At the center of his desk, he has an, almost, empty pencil holder and some police files, all kept nice and in order. On the wall behind him Ginko has a big map of Clerville and under it a piece of furniture that’s supposed to contain files and on top of it a pile of documents all lined up perfectly. The last but not least, important element is the window. Without it Diabolik would have a lot more problems in keeping under control the office. Infact, the first thing Diabolik does is put microphones in the room (magnet microphones are typical) so he can listen to how and when they’ll transport gold or any other police operation. Naturally, Ginko sometimes finds these microphones and uses them to trap his enemy giving false indications. Useless to say, Diabolik knows when he’s been caught and when the microphone has been individualized but Ginko thinks he has the upper hand for once (for example “The Last Move” where Eva tries to draw attention on herself and so to the microphone). However, as time goes by, Ginko becomes so suspicious that he makes his cops search his office many times a day. But between a search and another, Diabolik and Eva are always able to obtain a lot of information about exhibitions and transfers of precious goods that they don’t even know about. At least it makes up for all the time they spent in spying Ginko’s office watching him work for hours in complete silence or listening to his trifling conversations with Altea. In extreme cases (like “Death’s Shadow), the inspector uses Diabolik and Eva’s microphones to contact them in case he needs information. After all that, Ginko’s office is for Diabolik, the place where he finds out information about many things that intrest him like, the homicide, narcotics and the vice squads.
GINKO: FACE TO FACE WITH DIABOLIK
It’s more than right to imagine that the 2 main characters meet face to face in various occasions, the criminal and the incorruptible police inspector. There are various types of situations when they meet: when Diabolik is arrested and also the more unusual like when Diabolik collaborates with Ginko taking the sergeant’s place . The first is a classical and predictable situation. When Diabolik is arrested he doesn’t even speak to Ginko because he’s already planning his escape. There are other dramatic ones like in “Diabolik, Who Are You?”, in which the two enemies are both being held as hostages by some murderers that want to eliminate them. In this occasion Ginko hopes that his agents find him before Eva Kant does, but since this never happens, Ginko sees his criminal escape and also must admit that he saved his life. When he meets Ginko with a disguise, he behaves in a different way: first of all he has to be careful that Ginko doesn’t recognize him, then he tries to take advantage of the situation by trying to find out about the transfer of goods. Sometimes, Diabolik laughs under his mask and thinks “if Ginko only knew who he’s talking to”. As a matter of fact the authors, who are always on Diabolik’s side, make the inspector look naive, and create situations in which Ginko himself, unconsciously, helps his enemy: he saves his life, when the aspirant heirs of the person he is pretending to be with a disguise decide it’s time to read the will; he exculpates him, thanks to his accurate investigations, from the charge of murder set up by friends or relatives that had bad intentions; he hands right over a precious jewel , thinking that he’s his assistant; he congratulates him personally, for a successful fight against crime. The hard rule of the story is that only when it’s too late, the poor inspector realizes he was dealing with Diabolik, but at that point he just kicks himself, swallows the bitter pill and tries to find , in Altea’s arms, the strength to go on and fight his eternal enemy.
ALTEA OF VALLENBERG
The Duchess Altea of Vallenberg is one of the characters of the story, being “Ginko’s woman”. Altea’s background is simple: she’s the king of Beglait’s cousin’s widow, she likes making high-class friends, traveling and sometimes taking part in political projects. Altea is the perfect woman: she comes from a rich family (she doesn’t work and she lives in a castle), she’s always elegant and cultivated, young and beautiful in every circumstance, even if Diabolik kidnaps her or if she catches a fatal disease (see “Shadow’s Death”, where she’s in a hospital bed but she’s wearing make-up). Altea comes into Ginko’s life when there’s a political problem: Diabolik blackmails the Beglait monarchy and the negotiations are held right in the Duchess’ castle because it’s considered a neutral zone. But she doesn’t have hard feelings towards the criminal because it’s in this circumstance that she meets the big love of her life: Ginko. Altea and Ginko fall in love immediately, just like it had happened between Diabolik and Eva, realizing that it’s forever. It couldn’t be otherwise, they’re the perfect couple: they’re both strong but sensitive towards people in difficult situations; they have their principles and values of life, they refuse any type of violence. Ginko, except for his only fault, perfectly in character with his role ( he’s the eternal Stakhanovite, who always gives priority to his work), is the perfect man for Altea. If this wasn’t so, how could it be that a beautiful high-class woman with a lot of men that would love to be with her, chooses to tie herself sentimentally with a simple police inspector, , even if a famous and admired one, he surely can’t offer her a luxurious life like she’s used to and like he can’t stand. Altea accepts the relationship with Ginko, in the good or bad, for love’s sake ( only once did she have hesitation, she was disappointed once again when Ginko missed out on another of their dates), but as a matter of fact she only has disadvantages being with him: Ginko’s rarely by her side, because his work takes him away and never accompanies Altea to her receptions ( the few times he did either he had to leave the party early or something happened like: burglaries, kidnappings or other problems); Ginko tells her directly that he can’t marry her because he’s a cop and so she’d be in danger too many times (see “The Last Move”), especially she would have to look out for Diabolik, because he knows about Ginko’s relationship with her and so she’d be the victim if he decides to have revenge or blackmail Ginko. Moreover, she’s often in contact with Diabolik or Eva since they often disguise themselves as Ginko and involve her in very dangerous situations. There’s something strange, though: Altea doesn’t hate Diabolik or Eva like she should : Altea is often the two criminals’ accomplice because she’s grateful to them (see ”Shadow of Death” where she helps Eva make Diabolik escape from the hospital, because thanks to Eva, Ginko and other people save their lives). Obviously, she never regrets it because she doesn’t tell Ginko about it, since he’d never forgive her and their love story would end. In short, Altea is polite, kind, good towards everyone, but deep inside she lies and what’s worse, to Ginko. But in a way she’s punished by “The superior Mind” that dominates the story, Altea has such bad luck that no one else could have. In these 35 years she goes through thousands of mishaps: different criminals kidnap her, she’s blackmailed, forced to leave her own country in disguise because of a revolution; recently she has been a victim of one of the worse crimes: he’s invited to a friend’s house, he’s paralyzed and she feels responsible for it, he makes passes at her and then rapes her (“Rape”). When this happens, Ginko isn’t there to help her, at least not in the beginning, Diabolik is , wearing his disguise as the inspector ( Diabolik with the a little bit of humanity frees Ginko so he can help his woman). It’s interesting to see, how in more than one occasion, Eva never faces these sort of violence (who knows what kind of massacre Diabolik would organize for his revenge). Altea, on the other hand, is sacrificed. Luckily, the world of the story-strips, unlike the real one, gives its characters a surprising quick recovery: so, just like Ginko and Eva detoxicate themselves from drugs in a few pages, so does Altea, get over this bad experience by the end of the story thanks to Ginko’s love. Altea, though, isn’t always a victim. In more than one occasion , she shows that she has guts too: she has to save Ginko, so she puts on a blond wig, puts on vulgar make-up and sexy clothes so she can mingle with the bad crowd and get information and exculpate Ginko. Beautiful Altea, with eyes the color of the sky (that’s how Ginko calls them when they first meet in “The Big Blackmail”) is all in all presented as a positive character, the right woman for the most incorruptible inspector in the world. And yet she looks like Eva a lot especially when she’s worried about her man and ready to do anything to help him. Maybe for this reason when the two women meet each other they help themselves out . Who knows, maybe one day they will become like two great friends that meet in famous cafes, confiding in one another how difficult it is to live with the world’s most famous criminal and respected police inspector.