The "Fumetti neri" name comes from "cronaca nera", the Italian name for crime news. Among the inspirations of the genre there were the Gothic literature, the French feuilleton and the Italian horror cinema. In a local market characterized from comics devoted to an young audience, the immediate commercial success of Diabolik revealed a niche of adult readers interested in adult and sometimes exploitive themes characterized by violence and sex references.
The heroes of fumetti neri were more anti-hero or villain than traditional heroes, and Diabolik himself was very loosely based on the French Fantômas character. The subsequent main characters in these comics were all inspired on Diabolik and often had a K in their names. They included Kriminal (a more violent version of Diabolik by Magnus and Max Bunker), Satanik ( a female version of Diabolik by the same authors but with supernatural and horrific elements) and Sadik.
The large success of this genre led in 1965 to public campaigns against them, and even to trials and judicial seizures. As a result, from 1966 some comics remarkably reduced violence and erotic situations, and tried to open themselves to a younger and wider audience, while others, the so-called "vietati ai minori" ("restricted to the minors") exploited their status, increasing the levels of sex, and sometimes becoming openly pornographic.
It was in the scene set by the fumetti neri that fumetti d'autore/auteur comics—comics published in magazines such as linus (1965ff.), Il Sergente Kirk (July 1967 – December 1969), Eureka (November 1967 – November 1967), Il Mago (April 1972 – December 1980), Frigidaire (December 1980ff.)—found a favorable ground for development in Italy in the middle sixties.
- Simone Castaldi. Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s. University Press of Mississippi, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60473-749-3.
- Gino Moliterno (ed.), Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Culture, Routledge, 2002: "comics".
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