Cover of Ginko Alleato a Sorpresa ("Ginko: A Surprising Ally"), featuring Diabolik and Inspector Ginko.
|Created by||Angela and Luciana Giussani|
One of the most popular series in the history of Italian comics, Diabolik was created in 1962 and consists of more than 800 volumes, leading to the birth of the fumetti neri comics subgenre. The series is named after its protagonist, an anti-heroic thief, inspired by several previous pulp fiction characters from Italy and other countries. Its stories consist of monthly black-and-white, digest-sized volumes.
The series takes place in the fictional town Clerville and stars the titular Diabolik, initially represented as a ruthless and cruel thief who does not hesitate to murder anyone in order to accomplish his deeds, aided by his partner and lover Eva Kant. Over the time, the character evolved his personality, developing healthy roots and ethical principles such as honor, the sense of friendship and gratitude, and respect for noble souls, robbing and killing also other criminals. Throughout his adventures, he is pursued mainly by the Inspector Ginko.
The series sold more than 150 million copies, becoming one of the best-known and best-selling comics series from Europe. Its success had also inspired a live action movie, a radio show, an animated television series, video games, novels, and countless parodies.
Creation and development
The idea for the character of Diabolik was born from seeing commuters every day. Co-creator Angela Giussani, who lived near Milano Cadorna railway station, thought of making comics in a format designed for travelling and carrying in one's pocket. To better understand the tastes of her potential readers, Angela made a survey of the market, from which she concluded that many commuters read mystery novels. Another version of the story claims that the very idea came from her finding a Fantomas novel abandoned in a train. Thus was born the "Diabolik format" (a small 12 x 17 cm (7 in) book), which proved popular with other publications in the same genre. The pocketbook format contributed, in fact, to the success of the character.
Diabolik is a ruthless master thief. He typically steals from criminals (and has no issue with killing them if need be, but rarely, if ever, kills the innocent or the police), and has a set of lifelike masks which he uses to fool his opponents, assuming every identity at will. He seems to have a deep knowledge in many scientific fields, including chemistry, mechanics, and computers. In his first appearances, Diabolik was a more straightforward villain who did not hesitate to murder anyone in order to accomplish his deeds. He was later given a more "Robin Hood"-like persona and was shown stealing essentially from criminals, in order to soften the series’ violence and amorality.
He was raised as an orphan on a secret island hideout of a criminal combiné, where he learned all his criminal skills, including developing his special masks, before killing the head of the combine. Diabolik’s true name had never been revealed in the series, and he does not know it himself. Diabolik took his name from a dangerous black panther that the head of the combine killed on the secret island. From issue #3 of the series, Diabolik is aided by his "moll", Eva Kant, who has gained an increasing role as his partner and lover.
Diabolik always drives a black 1961 Jaguar E-type. Graphically inspired by the actor Robert Taylor, he usually wears a skintight black body suit that leaves only his eyes and eyebrows (very distinctive ones) exposed when going "into action". Diabolik does not use firearms: his main weapons are the daggers he throws with uncanny ability, as well as a small dart gun with knockout darts. Eva drives a white Jaguar, and unusually goes into action wearing a heavy sweater and pants, no mask and no revealing clothing. The stories are set in a fictional town, Clerville, loosely inspired by Geneva, Switzerland.
Diabolik’s main opponent is Inspector Ginko, known only by his surname, a fierce and incorruptible police officer who is almost always thwarted by astute tricks devised by Diabolik. The only other recurring character is the noblewoman Altea, Ginko’s fiancée.
- Diabolik - A legendary thief who follows an ancient code of conduct.
- Eva Kant - Diabolik's lover and accomplice, she is a skilled and ruthless criminal in her own right. Their relationship begins as adversarial, then he becomes her abusive lover. Later in the series she is reimagined as Diabolik's partner and equal.
- Inspector Ginko - A determined and incorruptible Clerville police detective who attempts, unsuccessfully, to capture Diabolik on numerous occasions.
- Altea - A titled heiress and Ginko's lover.
- King - The leader of a powerful criminal organization, he became Diabolik's foster father and trains him in the skills he will need as a criminal. King eventually betrays Diabolik and plans to murder him, but the infallible criminal kills him first.
- Elisabeth "Tina" Gay - A nurse who becomes Diabolik's first love after meeting him in the hospital. When she discovers his true nature, she betrays him to the police. Eventually, Diabolik drives her mad and Tina is confined to an asylum.[clarification needed]
- Dr. Alberto Floriani - A famous neuropsychiatrist who treats Elizabeth Gay during her stay in the asylum and eventually marries her. Part of Diabolik's assault on Elizabeth's sanity involves him visiting her in the hospital, disguised as Albert.[clarification needed]
- Bettina - a girl who should become familiar with Diabolik and Eva, until she becomes like a daughter[clarification needed]
- Gustavo Garian - son of a wealthy family, which will be decimated by Diabolik; he will seek revenge on several occasions
Many of the Diabolik stories are set in the fictional city of Clerville, which is located in a state also named Clerville. However, in the first issues of the series, Diabolik carried out his heists in Marseilles, but the authors decided to invent a new city, so as to avoid having to do continual documentation on the city.
It is clear that Clerville is in Europe, since in 2002, it adopted the Euro as its currency; the city's previous currency had never been named, but had the same value as the Italian lira.
The state of Clerville also includes other cities, such as Ghenf (styled after the German name for Geneva: Genf), the second most important city in the state, which is situated on the sea (Clerville, the city, is located in the interior and is crossed by a river).
Diabolik uses a variety of gadgets and equipment which he uses as an aid in his robberies, to wiretap conversations and variety of weaponry.
The trademark of Diabolik is his black suit, which completely coveres his body except for his eyes, eyebrows, and black running shoes. He uses it as an aid in his burglaries or robberies and to protect his identity. He has variety of gadgets and weapons stashed under it. His outfit can be used as a diving suit since it can keep him warm while underwater, and it's also fireproof. However, it cannot protect him from lethal harm (bullets, knives), but he relies on his fighting skills to cover that up.
Diabolik and Eva Kant use a variety of drugs to stun, kill, or force their enemies into submission. They mostly use Pentothal as a truth serum to force the victims into obeying and aiding the two in their burglaries or robberies. They also use scopolamine to cause amnesia and a variety of sedatives to stun their enemies. They also use cyanide to kill their enemies during a quick getaway, but mostly for their targets.
Weapons and gadgets
Diabolik uses a variety of weaponry and gadgets to stun or kill his enemies. He never uses firearms or owns one, and prefers stealth. He mostly uses stun gas if necessary, but avoids it when he can. He also uses daggers to kill his enemies in seconds. He has a variety of gadgets for quick usage, some of them momentarily as an aid in his robbery. Also, Diabolik carries various radio-controlled equipment, that trigger specific objects into helping him, placed over Clerville (traffic lights to create green waves, sprinklers that spray black paint onto incoming police cars, train ramps, etc.). He even once inserted a device in Ginko's car to activate his airbag during a police pursuit. He also has a variety of weapons inside his Jaguar to aid him, such as gasling guns or heat-seeking missiles. He uses wiretap bugs and mini cameras to spy on others, and he communicates with Eva via a walkie-talkie hidden in his watch.
One of another Diabolik's trademarks is that he almost always uses special designed plastic and photorealistic masks that he uses to impersonate his victims or enemies, and used a multitude of them to help him. Diabolik uses this in almost every burglary he attempts, and Eva sometimes uses it while directly acting with him. He used the masks to impersonate people that are of great use to him, and sometimes only to hide his looks. Diabolik and Eva use it while going somewhere out in public to avoid being recognized (they used false looks once while going out to dinner).
Diabolik was published as a succession of series, most of them one year long. The Giussani sisters wrote many of the stories until the 1980s, passing them gradually to Patricia Martinelli’s - and others' - hands. The main bulk of the artwork is executed by Sergio Zaniboni, who has been drawing Diabolik since 1969 (currently sharing the role with Giorgio Montorio). Other artists working on the series include Brenno Fiumali, Franco Paludetti, Enzo Facciolo and Lino Jeva.
- Prima Serie, 1962-1964. Issues #1-24.
- The first issue, Il Re del Terrore (in English: "The King of Terror"), appeared in print on 1 November 1962. This was issue #1 of the first series. The next issue appeared on 1 February 1963, followed by monthly issues up to issue #24 in December 1964.
- Seconda Serie, 1965. Issues #25-50.
- Publication switched to one issue every two weeks, with each series being one year and 26 issues long.
- Anno V, 1966. Issues #51-76.
- The series began to be named for the year of publication since the first issue.
- Anno XII-XVI, 1973-1977. Issues #233-351
- The first 12 issues of Prima Serie started to be re-released, 2-4 a year, in place of regular issues. "Il Re del Terrore" was rereleased as Anno XII, No. 6
- Anno XVII-XIX, 1978-1980.
- 24 issues a year, published twice a month.
- Anno XX-XXV, 1981-1986.
- 14 issues a year: published monthly, plus an extra issue in July and August.
- Anno XXVI-XXVII, 1987-1988.
- 12 issues a year, published monthly.
- Anno XXVIII-XXXII, 1989-1993.
- 7 issues a year
- Anno XXXIII, 1994. Issues #566-574
- 9 issues were published this year. Starting in July 1994, publication returned to once a month.
- Anno XXXIV-XLII, 1995-2013
- 12 issues a year, published monthly. In October 2013, the 800th issue was published.
Reprints and digests
In 1986, Pacific Comics Club published 2 digest-size issues. Since 1997 a series of annual books with more complex stories has been released. In 2000, Scorpion started to publish digests, reaching 6 issues before stopping.
Some American reprints have appeared.
Diabolik in India
Diabolik was translated in Tamil Language and introduced to India in Dec 1987 by Prakash Publishers under their imprint Lion Comics. His very first adventure was aptly titled Danger Diabolik. Though the story and the character got tremendous response, for various reasons, this was the only story that got published until 2013.
In June 2013, Diabolik made his comeback via the same publisher, however this effort had more impact. It was launched in the Comic Con 2013 in Bengaluru with the storyline titled Kutra Thiru Vizha (A Carnival of Crime). Based on the positive response for the story arc and the style, in December 2013, Diabolik made his third appearance in Operation Tornado.
Lion Comics publishes these books in high standard digest format and they are priced at INR 40.
Diabolik around the world
Diabolik was translated in Croaian language on several occasions. First appearance was in Superstrip biblioteka #43 published by Vjesnik - 25 episodes were published (1968-1971). New episodes were published by Art Print - 1 episode in 1999, Slobodna Dalmacija - 18 episodes (2000-2002) and Ludens - 4 annuals (2007-2010), 4 episodes (2017-still in print)
Serbian translation was introduced in by Maverick Kraljevo in 2002, 2 episodes were published.
Italian filmmaker Mario Bava adapted the story for a 1968 feature film, Danger: Diabolik, produced by Dino De Laurentiis and starring John Phillip Law as Diabolik, Marisa Mell as Eva, and Michel Piccoli as Ginko.
The film was used in the final episode of the 10th season of the long-running television series, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Live Action TV series
In 2012, Sky TV, in conjunction with Sky France and Sky Italy, started work on a TV version of Diabolik. A teaser trailer was made for the production, but by 2015 the production had not been released and there was no further information released by the studio.
On 1 January 2000 an animated series, produced by Saban International Paris, premiered in Europe on Fox Kids, and lasted for 40 episodes, before ending on 1 January 2001. The series featured Diabolik and his companion Eva, as they fought and gradually exposed the Brotherhood and Dane, while evading Inspector Ginko. It was directed by Jean Luc Ayach with Paul Diamond and Larry Brody as head writers.
|Diabolik remiscenes his childhood being raised by King and making his escape from prison 9 years later and faked his death which was then under heavy investigation. Later he got revenge by decimating the Brotherhood.|
|2||"For Old Times Sake"||TBA|
|Diabolik seeks to meet his old saviour Rana and save her from a terminal disease, but realises this was a lie to raid a tomb of its gold. For that Diabolik ensures Rana is safe but arrested.|
|3||"Track of the Panther"||TBA|
|While hiding, Diabolik remiscenes about his operation in Paris last year to recruit Eva Kant as an assistant thief on a heist to recover her heirloom from Dane and the Brotherhood.|
|In Hillton Academy, Philip is being recruited by the Brotherhood to steal from the London Gem Tower. Diabolik manages to save Philip from corruption while Eva nabs his evil mentor.|
|Inspector Ginko is framed for numerous crimes. While clearing Ginko's name, Eva and Diabolik find the setup was done by someone in the Internal Affairs and prevent a hacking attempt linked to the setup.|
|6||"A Sporting Chance"||TBA|
|Diabolik and Eva root out Micky's crime scheme to get a fortune by blackmailing the Brazil soccer champion into losing the big game. Diabolik and Eva rescue the champion's family and thwart Micky's scheme.|
|7||"Sea of Gold"||TBA|
|Micky is making a bombing threat on twelve oilfields, under Dane's orders, but has other plans to profit better. Diabolik puts the threat to a halt by placing the bomb on the sea bed.|
|Diabolik is requested by Janice Keegan to rescue her presumed daughter from Dane, who wants his inheritance from the Swiss bank. After the rescue Diabolik prevents Janice from robbing King's bank account.|
|9||"Under the North Pole"||TBA|
|Diabolik and Eva aided by Ivan Fedorski make haste to recover a deadly Russian-made Particle Gun from Leonov's submarine. Diabolik makes a difficult escape, with the submarine being destroyed along with the particle gun.|
|10||"Chinese Puzzle Box"||TBA|
|The Chinese Golden Triad forms an alliance with Dane for the final puzzle box. Diabolik steals it and replaces it with a replica for the triad to find, the triad convinced this was Dane's doing.|
|11||"Question of Survival"||TBA|
|Diabolik is stranded in a jungle with little equipment, chased by Ben Darris' men, until he manages to rendezvous with Eva to repel Dane's pirates from the Miramar Cruiser.|
|12||"Her Father's Daughter"||TBA|
|Eva follows who she thinks is her father. While searching for Dane's ledger, Diabolik finds out that Eva's father is an impostor to lure her into a trap. Diabolik rescues Eva and the impostor.|
|Diabolik suffers partial amnesia reverting him back to his 8-year-ago self. He steals some jewels for King. Dane captures Diabolik followed by Eva, but Diabolik recovers in time to strike back.|
|14||"Hide and Seek"||TBA|
|Diabolik and Eva follow Dane's secret cryptic clues to a hidden treasure, evading both Dane's men and Ginko's police force, but managing to stay one step ahead of Dane throughout the treasure hunt.|
|Ben Darris is after the treasure of Mesocotyl. Diabolik blends in with Ben Darris' expedition, while Eva is taken to Mesocotyl. Both Diabolik and the Mesocotylians drive Ben Darris and his men away.|
|The Brotherhood are about to gain control of an advanced US Satellite. Diabolik undertakes a difficult task through tough security to put Nagget's duplicate control key out of action.|
|17||"Lights! Camera! Diabolik!"||TBA|
|Micky is using some of Diabolik's mask technology to trick imposter actresses into robbing jewellers. With famous actress Belle's help, Diabolik and Eva thwart the robberies and expose Mr. Stanford.|
|18||"The Kindness of Strangers"||TBA|
|20||"Eye of Storm"||TBA|
|Dr. Edmond Veest has a weapon that can create unnatural rainstorms, so the Brotherhood can cover their tracks from a robbery. Diabolik thwarts the bank robbery while Eva blocks the Brotherhood's escape route.|
|Wolf is intent on a hunting game with Diabolik as his prey with a personal revenge against him. After a couple of close shaves with Wolf, Diabolik has Eva trick him and has him arrested by the police.|
|Diabolik trails a group of counterfeiters led by Danton. He discovers that a woven dress had security threads laced in it. Diabolik and Eva attract the attention of Danton and get him arrested by Ginko.|
|Akira and Yuko have a dilemma in family matters. Diabolik and Eva discover Nagget is the cause of the families' continuous feuds to conquer Tokyo, but they ensure his plan is in ruins.|
|24||"Rust in Peace"||TBA|
|M.L. Tory has invented a quick rusting oxident, but Micky is milking it out of him. Diabolik rescues Tory and with the aid of counter-agent, thwarts Micky's attempt to destroy a suspension bridge.|
|Hoping to throw off Diabolik and Eva, Wolf plots three separate heists. Diabolik solves this problem by including Inspector Ginko to secure the artifacts in one place, allowing Diabolik and Eva to thwart another heist.|
|26||"Merchant of Menace"||TBA|
|Diabolik and Eva tail James Packard and his escaped superior Stone after they steal the QSB armoured car. Once Diabolik takes control of the QSB, he mows down Ben Darris' house and crashes it off a cliff.|
|While Diabolik is on a heist to get some blackmail photos from Leonov, he reminisces a heist that lost him his car. Diabolik impersonated an Italian mechanic to rebuild the car and recover it from Dane's hands.|
|28||"The Wrong Side of the Tracks"||TBA|
|Diabolik and Eva board a train to steal Napoleon's Secret Diary in Wolf's possession, while Inspector Ginko tries to corner them. Diabolik and Eva caught between Wolf and Ginko, make a narrow escape.|
|Diabolik and Eva infiltrate Micky's HQ under full surveillance by an intelligent computer based on the hostage Selena. After a difficult trek through the building, Diabolik destroys Selena's central core, thus abolishing Micky's master plan.|
|Diabolik and Eva investigate a double theft of information and materials for Project Primal. Diabolik proceeds to steal the project's ionizer and prevent the Brotherhood getting hold of it.|
|31||"The Thief who stole Tomorrow"||TBA|
|Diabolik and Eva stage Ben Darris in hospitalisation to expose the Brotherhood's plan to conquer Brazil. Using this information, Diabolik and Eva hijack Darris' plane and abolish the plan of conquest.|
|32||"The Detective's Obsession"||TBA|
|As Diabolik thwarts a diamond theft, Inspector Ginko captures Eva, hoping she'll lead him to Diabolik. Diabolik impersonates the Commissioner to ruin the Brotherhood's plan and rescue Eva.|
|34||"Daggers And Swords"||TBA|
|35||"From the Depths"||TBA|
|Diabolik impersonates a salvage expert to intercept Ben Darris' search for the golden Idol of the Storms. Once underwater, Diabolik gets tangled with Stone and some sharks but manages to get away with the idol.|
|A girl called Sophie is being used by Dane to track Diabolik. Diabolik and Eva mislead Wolf and his men and uses Inspector Ginko to take out Sophie's would be kidnappers. Diabolik then gets hold of a stash of King's money.|
|Dane is contacted by Sersi and she offers the Brotherhood her foresight, presumably killing Diabolik and Eva. Sersi was actually hired by Diabolik so he could get hold of Dane's treasure and Nagget's vault plans.|
|In an Ogala Tribe Contest for title of Chieftain, Diabolik sabotages Lightning Horse's rigged efforts to prevent Micky getting hold of a land of gold. Whirlwind Soldier wins the contest and Diabolik claims Micky's prize stallion.|
|39||"Final Justice Part 1"||TBA|
|Diabolik is after King's Ledger which is locked in a high security safe requiring five keys and security codes. Meanwhile an investigation against Dane ensues. Diabolik and Eva ensure it stays that way, giving them the chance to locate and get the five keys.|
|40||"Final Justice Part 2"||TBA|
|Diabolik and Eva steal the five security keys and replace them with duplicates to keep their cover and in the process manage to turn the Brotherhood leaders against Dane. Diabolik confronts Dane, then helps Inspector Ginko to obtain King's Ledger, exposing the Brotherhood once and for all.|
A total of 12 Diabolik games were developed and released in 1993 by Simulmondo for the Commodore 64 and Commodore Amiga line of computers. The games were in Italian and were made specifically for the Italian domestic market, seeing only limited distribution elsewhere.
The popularity of Diabolik spurred a long series of characters directly or indirectly inspired to him, generally noticeable by the "criminalizing K" in their name. Some of them are a kind of satire.
- Max Bunker (writer) and Magnus created in the 1960s two of these "K" characters, Kriminal and Satanik, the second being a feminine and horror version. Both are distinguished for their greater realism and for a more substantial sexy style.
- Killing, an Italian comic book.
- Paperinik (Duck Avenger) is the volatile superheroic alter-ego of Donald Duck created by Elisa Penna, Guido Martina and Giovan Battista Carpi in 1969.
- Cattivik is a humorous version of Diabolik created by Franco Bonvicini in 1967: cattivo means bad, evil in Italian.
- Dorellik is the name of a film starring singer and actor Johnny Dorelli.
- Fantomex is a character created by Grant Morrison during his run writing X-Men. He is a master thief using technological gadgets and his uniform is similar to Diabolik’s, but coloured white. He is assisted by an artificial intelligence called E.V.A.
- Mike Patton had decided on either Fantômas or Diabolik for his avant-garde metal band, ultimately called Fantômas.
- The Beastie Boys music video for the song "Body Movin’ " is a direct parody of Danger: Diabolik and features many clips from the movie itself.
- Millar & McNiven's Nemesis
- A racing driver named Diabolik who races in the Superstars Series, who never takes off his balaclava.
In real life, Matteo Messina Denaro, a prominent figure in the Sicilian Mafia considered to be a candidate to become the next capo di tutti capi, is nicknamed "Diabolik", after the comic book character.
- Migliorini, Bruno; Tagliavini, Carlo; Fiorelli, Piero. Tommaso Francesco Bórri, ed. "Dizionario italiano multimediale e multilingue d'ortografia e di pronunzia". dizionario.rai.it. Rai Eri. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
- Canepari, Luciano. "Dizionario di pronuncia italiana online". dipionline.it. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
- Diabolik - Il giornale
- Kenneth D. Nordin, Joseph Ursitti, Understanding the funnies: critical interpretations of comic strips, Procopian Press, 1997
- Luca Raffaelli, Il fumetto: un manuale per capire, un saggio per riflettere, Il Saggiatore,1997
- Cronologia Diabolik, official site. Retrieved October, 2013.
- Diabolik issue #800, official site. Retrieved October, 2013
- "Danger Diabolik – Operation Tornado Lion Comics No 223 Dec 2013 ~ Tamil Comics Ulagam - தமிழ் காமிக்ஸ் உலகம்".
- Jeffrey, Morgan (20 February 2014). "Sky1 adapting Italian comic Diabolik as new TV series". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
- Diabolik on IMDb
- TV.com. "Saban's Diabolik". TV.com.
- "Game's name is like:diabolik". Hall of Light. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
- Media related to Diabolik at Wikimedia Commons
- Italian Wikiquote has quotations related to: Diabolik
- Official website (in Italian)
- Diabolik on IMDb
- Diabolik’s entry at International Catalogue of Superheroes
- Beastie Boys Body Movin' video featuring excerpts from Danger: Diabolik!
- Screenshots of the Diabolik: Original Sin video game
- Diabolik in India
- Pilot for Sky TV series