Italy, end of 1962. The baby boom (increase of births) is near and the prospering economy is about to end, the social crisis of 1968 is about to start. It is in this general view of life where values seem stable, good people go to church and the law is perfect, then Diabolik is born. A big shock for the society. The comic strip reading for children becomes violent and cruel, it loses morals, steps over man’s rights exceeding in every way and direction. Diabolik appears revolutionary and so condemable and in fact he will be later on. These extremism today are entertaining. This strip makes us have fun and it doesn’t represent a bad example for anyone. Let’s enjoy it.
NOVEMBER 1st 1962
On November 1st 1962 Angela and Luciana Giussani’s fantasy create Diabolik together with the drawings by Enzo Facciolo, Glauco Coretti and Flavio Bazzoli, supported by the Astorina publishing house of Milan, Italy. Since then, Diabolik has won a great number of loyal readers, going through lucky times and less positive periods (especially when Angela Giussani dies in 1987). The strip’s narrative base is very simple: Diabolik is a clever and capable thief, able to take other people’s places, thanks to the disguises he invents. This allows him to bring to an end colossal and spectacular robberies. Diabolik’s eternal enemy is Inspector Ginko, a cop with a firm character that has dedicated his whole life catching criminals in defense of the citizens of the world. The eternal struggle between good and evil, cops and robbers, becomes always more spectacular and pleasantly repeating. If on one hand this could appear lacking in originality, on the other, in the 1960’s this was at the basis of Diabolik’s editorial success. The strip, in fact, arrived in the newspaper kiosks in a period in which no one could compete with it. It was a unique product and still today, in spite of the changed general view of life, maintains its charm and an enviable personality that assures a constant level of sales.
THE COMIC STORY-STRIP
Diabolik is a story that wisely mixes many elements that have already been seen, to create a formula that, even if not new, results decidedly pleasant and enthralling. Diabolik, man of the past, very mysterious (he doesn’t even know his own name), is a criminal, very clever in his disguises and planning and putting into practice bold and spectacular robberies. After his first appearance, the case was given to Inspector Ginko, a promising policeman, incorruptible and with an impressing moral code. So, the story develops on a “cops and robbers” line, emphasizing on the 2 characters, episode after episode, their own creative capabilities (D) and police strategy (G). The leading character is negative, the criminal, able to become with his feats, the readers’ favorite. By his side, we have, the positive hero that fights him with (almost) equal weapons, winning the reading public’s favor too. There are other characters that during the narrative and temporal evolution of the series become main parts of primary importance (their women). The plots of the different episodes seem at first inspired by the French “noir” and then they evolve later getting closer to a James Bond atmosphere as for the spectacularly and technological contents The narrative setting is mixed time to time with elements belonging to detective-science-fiction-spy-horror literature, without influencing the main plot, pleasantly repeating. Everything is put together in a personal and involving way, especially if considering it all together. The uncertain and confusing beginning is soon enough replaced by more incisive and dynamic moments that emphasize the key passages of the story ( the robbery, the escape, the chase, and the tricks used for the escape) making the reading more pleasant and easier. The repeating of the plots is also recovered by the graphic transposition than never makes it boring. The reader pleasantly feels at home with the usual characters, noise, sounds, dialogues and “shots” gradually discovering details about the characters that eventually become cult objects (see “Diabolik, who are you?”). Thanks to this mixture of elements chosen by the authors with enviable good flair, Diabolik represented for years the only real form of strip story for adults, boasting many attempts of imitations (Criminal by Max Bunker among all) only recently having more “trendy” products able to contrast it’s success (Dylan Dog and other related products).