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Diabolik and the myth of the Jaguar Type E

The mythical cartoon character created by the Giussani sisters

By Gianfranco Gatta

On December 16th, the film dedicated to Diabolik, the mythical cartoon character created by the Giussani sisters, Angela and Luciana, in the mid-1960s makes its debut in cinemas. It was born from an intuition of Angela herself, on a gloomy day in Milan, while she was sitting on a trolley bus; she noticed that most of the people next to her, rather than reading the newspaper, were holding a “Giallo Mondadori” much more practical to read in their hands.

She decided at that time to create a new type of comic, based on that format, called paperback. For the protagonist she was inspired by some French characters, who were the first to make famous “The geniuses of evil”.

Diabolik is in himself an amoral who in life steals and kills as if he were going to work in the office, he uses a thousand tricks including special face masks that make him the double of whoever he wants; he never moves without having a valid escape plan, in line with all the major criminal projects and above all he drives a wonderful English car: the Jaguar Type E. And he is immediately an icon of the 1960s.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Diabolik - Il Film (@diabolikfilm)

In reality, this model of car, despite being beautiful and futuristic, is nicknamed “the flying coffin” because it is totally unstable when cornering at high speed. But this is another story.

Our protagonist has his own evolution, if at the beginning he was only a ruthless murderer after the meeting and subsequent association with Lady Kant, the two give each other a code of behavior: never hit poor people, steal from the rich and only kill criminals .

Eva Kant is immediately Diabolik's alter ego; from their first meeting, while the thief steals her famous pink diamond, which will turn out to be fake, she Eva she stands up to him ready to challenge him. She is never secondary but co-protagonist on an equal footing in the riskiest businesses.

The rival of the two is Inspector Ginko, the eternal second who accompanies the Countess Althea, a noble of high society and marginal character in the many stories. As a counter-altar to the English Jaguar, Ginko drives a French Citroen DS (Desiree Speciale), the pride of the French automotive industry.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Diabolik - Il Film (@diabolikfilm)

The success of the comics on newsstands is amazing right from the start, so much so as to create various followers, also very successful. From the award-winning firm Max Bunker and Magnus come characters such as Satanik and Kriminal, then the global success of Alan Ford with the TNT group will be born.

If Diabolik is set on an unlikely French Riviera, Kriminal is totally English. He has a partner, Lola, who respects the stereotype of the “gangster babe”, while as an antagonist he confronts Commissioner Milton, who is also an eternal second.

In the land of Brittany, Kriminal traces the exploits of Diabolik but, despite the ghostly skeleton costume, has a less icy and more popular characterization. To understand the English imprint: almost all the characters drive a Rover 3500 TC, the one with the spare wheel fixed on the rear hood, so to speak.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Diabolik - Il Film (@diabolikfilm)

It is curious to note that contrary to what happened in the cinema, censorship has never been taken for the world of “evil comics”, except for a criminal trial against Angela Giussani herself for distributing the comic strip for free in front of schools, for promotion.

The charge was of inciting the corruption of minors, but was acquitted thanks to a cover that showed Diabolik in handcuffs with a guillotine behind. Legal Byzantinisms!

While the film is out, as already mentioned, Diabolik enters the Uffizi not as a challenge, perhaps to steal Michelangelo's David, but because of the artistic dignity of the designer Stefano Piscitelli, former keeper of the Gallery itself.

This was discovered by the director of the Uffizi, Eike Schmidt, who recognized his remarkable artistic value by allowing him to exhibit his works, drawings by Diabolik, Zagor, Dylan Dog and countless Roman matrons, alongside Michelangelo's masterpieces.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Diabolik - Il Film (@diabolikfilm)