My only memory of Diabolik coincides with the skits that Johnny Dorelli played in Johnny Sera, a 1966 show, where he played Dorellik, a parody of the elusive Diabolik. Ah, the mythical variety shows of black and white TV, where Dorelli’s pale and fake sardonic face, wrapped in tights, stood out!
Aldo Dalla Vecchia dedicates his latest effort to the comic Diabolik, an essay entitled “Diabolik behind the mask”. Diabolik is a character born in 1962 from the imagination of the Giussani sisters, for the Astorina publishing house. He harks back to illustrious predecessors of the caliber of Fantomas, Rocambole and Arsenio Lupin.
Forerunner and progenitor of Italian black comics, Diabolik has been a transversal phenomenon that has endured from 1962 to the present day. The protagonists are a thief capable of spectacular transformations, his beloved partner named Eva Kant — beautiful, cold and sensual — and the counterpart who hunts him, the historical enemy, Inspector Ginko, flanked by Altea.
Attractive, with a sculpted physique and cold eyes, merciless but in love and jealous of his Eva — with whom he forms an unmarried cohabiting couple, scandalous for the years in which the comic was conceived — Diabolik is a master of disguise, thanks to the masks with which he reproduces the features of anyone. He has his own moral but he is not a positive character and this is his perverse charm.
Although the subject is treated in a didactic and rigorous way, Dalla Vecchia’s passion for this all chiaroscuro, glossy, refined in language and subtly sensual, without ever being vulgar, comic overflows. Chapter after chapter he studies the origins of the work, the story of the sisters who conceived it, the character of Diabolik, that of his opponent and of the two women. Then he analyzes the imitations and parodies — mythical that of Paperinik -, the attempts at cinema reproduction, from the cult trash of Mario Bava to the winning version of 2021, and the merchandising.
An essay full of details, anecdotes, curiosities for lovers of elegant comics.