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Francesco Vanagolli
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Posted: 13 August 2005 at 12:19am | IP Logged | 1  

I don't know if you agree, but one of the things I'm interested in comin' here is to know how American comic books are published in the rest of the world. So, I'd like to know how Marvel and DC are published out from the US... And begin myself with the story of superheroes in my country. Let's start with the ones arrived first: DC heroes!

The first DC superhero in Italy was Superman. He arrived in 1939, published by Cremona Nuova in GLI ALBI DELL'AUDACIA (Eng: "BOOKS OF BOLDNESS"). In that period we had Fascism, and one of its law didn't allow the importation of foreign books, comics and movies. By the way, Superman and other US comics arrived because they were often redrawn, and names were changed. And, 'cause the Italian edition was too next to the original one, the publisher began the production of Italian stories (I'm sure that American collectors would pay a lot of money to have them! I'd like to have them, too...). These were giant sized, newspaper format comics.

Superman's name was changed in "Uomo d'Acciao" (Eng: "Man of Steel"), while Clark Kent became "Dan Garrett", like the first Blue Beetle. The costume was heavily modified, becoming more similar to Martian Manhunter's (no complete costume, only boots, slips, cape and a chest protection). 

Superman appeared in various mags, then he settled himself in COLLEZIONE UOMO MASCHERATO (Eng: "THE PHANTOM COLLECTION"; "Uomo Mascherato", i.e. Masked Man, was our name for Lee Falk's avenger). The series changed name into COLLEZIONE L'UOMO D'ACCIAIO.

In 1948, the publisher suspended his production, and the Man of Steel vanished from our newsstands. Meanwhile, Batman and Green Lantern appeared, too, but only a few stories arrived.

For the return of DC Comics In Italy, we had to wait until 1954.

- To be continued! 

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John Mietus
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Posted: 13 August 2005 at 7:16am | IP Logged | 2  

Fascinating stuff, Francesco. Keep it up!
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Francesco Vanagolli
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Posted: 16 August 2005 at 3:12am | IP Logged | 3  

And here we are again!

Superman vanished from Italian newsstands in 1948.

In 1954, one of the most important Italian publisher, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, began a new series: GLI ALBI DEL FALCO (Eng: "BOOKS OF HAWK"). That was a biweekly pocket comic book, containing stories published in the US a few months before (so, a big part of the Golden Age never arrived here).

This comic was one of the greatest successes in the Italian comics biz, so it become soon weekly. It featured not only Superman, but Superboy, Batman, Martian Mabhunter, the Flash and other characters, too. But there were heavy changes to the original stories.

First, Superman's name. The word "Superman" reminded us a not so good period (the alliance with Hitler was a too recent, too sad event), so it was changed in "Nembo Kid" (Eng: "Cloud Kid"; "nimbus" is the Latin for cloud). Other names were different: Lois Lane was "Luisa Lane", Supergirl "Nembo Star", Bizarro "Duplex", Superboy "Nembo Kid da ragazzo" (Eng: "Nembo Kid as a boy"), the "Daily Planet" "XX Secolo" (Eng: "XX Century").

Then, we had a sort of Italian Comics Code, which decided to erase or correct whatever was considered unfit for young readers. The best example is an old cover. In the original version, Supergirl is upon a dragon, and she holds its horn. But the censorers said "A decent girl can't hold a long object in her hand", so it was canceled and Kara in her hand holds... nothing!

'cause the success of the ADF, the publisher started a new series, SUPER ALBO NEMBO KID, which lasted 85 issues. Then, Batman had his own mag in 1966, too, but it was soon cancelled. GLI ALBI DEL FALCO was cancelled in 1970 with issue #651. No Italian comic book reached that record, for now! Meanwhile, with issue #573, the series became SUPERMAN. At last, the character had his original name. 

A month after the end of the series arrived here Marvel Comics books, but DC didn't disappear.

-To be continued!

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Francesco Vanagolli
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Posted: 17 August 2005 at 12:55am | IP Logged | 4  

In 1971 another publisher, Williams Edizioni, bought the rights for DC Comics in Italy. So, 3 new series arrived: SUPERMAN (backup: Superboy, the Legion), BATMAN (bu: Aquaman) and FLASH (bu: Green Lantern), featuring recent stories. These comics weren't so lucky, and they were cancelled after an year (SUPERMAN with issue #11, I don't remember the others). In 1972 they tried again with SUPERMAN NUOVA SERIE (Eng: "SUPERMAN NEW SERIES) and BATMAN NUOVA SERIE, but they had a brief life, too. The last try, SUPERMAN: COLLANA SUPER (Eng: "SUPERMAN: SUPERMAN COLLECTION") lasted 27 issues, and was closed in 1974.

Williams comics had a lot of problems... bad covers, made using inner panels and a bad graphic; the provenience of the stories wasn't mentioned, so readers couldn't know where the stories were published in the US (as in the Mondadori comics); certain stories weren't published. An example for this chaos is SUPERMAN NUOVA SERIE #10: the cover is from SUPERMAN #149, first Terra-Man, but the book containt the 2nd Terra-Man exploit... And the first is unpublished here! Sigh.

During part of 1974 and the whole 1975 no DC books here. In January 1976, at last, the Distinguished Competion was in Italy again with SUPERMAN and BATMAN by Editrice Cenisio. Good editions, this time. Cover graphic similar to the original (but with no DC logo... It arrived just in the early '80s), original edition mentioned, some explanations for new readers in the early issues.

Of course, there was some problem: some stories weren't published, even if important (one was "The Luthor nobody knows!"); after an year circa, the books became half black and white, like Mondadori's; there were changes of format: standard comic book, pocket, giant sized; sometimes, when 2 part stories were published in the same issue, there wasn't page 1 of part 2; certain stories were published in a strange chronological order (in 1978 ACTION featured the Amazo saga and SUPERMAN the Atomic Skull saga; they were published one inside the other...!). But, despite it all, Cenisio books weren't a bad editon. In fact, they were probably the best DC Comics published in Italy. Then, the publisher began to release other books: FLASH and WONDER WOMAN, which had a brief life, plus SUPERMAN SELEZIONE (Eng: "SUPERMAN SELECTION"), a quarterly book reprinting old Superman and Superboy stories, plus some unpublished one. Besides, several giant sized special arrived in our newsstands.

In 1984, though, only SUPERMAN was still on sale. Meanwhile the DC Bullett appeared on the covers, ACTION COMICS wasn't published anymore (and so, if there was a crossover, the SUPERMAN issues involved were not published, too), stories not related to the Superman Family appeared in the book (like the Masters of the Universe miniseries). SUPERMAN was cancelled in the late '84 with issue #108, containing part 1 of the "Man who would president" saga by Elliot Maggin and Curt Swan... Who wanted to read the end had to buy the original comic books.

A dark age for DC Comics in Italy began.

- To be continued!

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Lars Johansson
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Posted: 17 August 2005 at 10:27am | IP Logged | 5  

Let me just post this, Byrne's first.

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Francesco Vanagolli
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Posted: 18 August 2005 at 12:42am | IP Logged | 6  

Post other images if you want, Lars!

In 1984 superheroes vanished from Italy. No more DC and no more Marvel (you'll see it in the Italian Marvel topic soon). So, Italian readers could read Disney's books, Bonelli's (our most important comics publisher) and French BDs.

In 1988 one of the most important Italian publishers, Rizzoli, made DC return here, but it wasn't really a good news. Do you know Corto Maltese, by Hugo Pratt? Rizzoli published a giant sized magazine named after the character, containing his stories plus other comics (especially for a more mature audience). They decided to put inside CORTO MALTESE a special insert using some of the most important comics produced by DC in those years... With tragic results!

They began with THE MAN OF STEEL limited series, published WITHOUT COVERS (they put the big MOS logo on page 1). Then, the rebooted Superman continued his run, but with certain issues unpublished, i.e. important stories like #1, various crossovers tie in and every ACTION COMICS issue. You can imagine that readers weren't glad for this! But Superman wasn't the only victim: the DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, V FOR VENDETTA and WATCHMEN were published in special inserts, too... And the Moore/Gibbons limited series became the backup of Superman inserts: 10 pages an issue! It was a nightmare... In the mid '80s Italians began to read comics in the US edition, but the biggest part of the audience didn't do it, so they could only read these bad editions.

Before, in 1986, another publisher, Labor Comics, released some tpbs like SUPER POWERS, but then failed in less than an year, so Rizzoli was the only DC publisher in Italy.

In 1990, a big change: Edizioni Play Press, which already published some Marvel series, started new DC books: JUSTICE LEAGUE and GREEN ARROW. At last, some DC title well published. They contained the recent post-Crisis relaunches of JLI (with the LEGENDS prologue), FLASH and WONDER WOMAN (JL) and GREEN ARROW, BLACKHAWK and GREEN LANTERN (GA). There were introductions, mail pages, notes for the new readers... Not bad. The only true problem was the... Er, I don't know how you call it... Brochure? I mean, what makes the difference between a normal comic book and a tpb. The books weren't bound, but pasted, so the pages could fly away, if you didn't pay attention.

Then other series arrived: PLAY SAGA and PLAY EXTRA, which contained miniseries (PS #1/8 were CRISIS), AMERICAN HEROES, a magazine containing TEEN TITANS, DOOM PATROL, ANIMAL MAN and other series. But Superman and Batman, the big ones, were still at Rizzoli's. Besides, they weren't published anymore... Rizzoli owned the rights, but didn't used them. The only exception were a special Superman story produced in North Europe, which I have never read (if Lars and others can tell me something more, it would be useful!) and a new Batman title, published not by Rizzoli, but Glenat (a sort of Rizzoli's international branch, if I recall correctly). This new BATMAN was hated by readers, because there were stories published with no order... In the same issue, you could find stories released in 1990 and 1940!

But things were about to change...

- To be continued! 

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Fernando Carvalho
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Posted: 18 August 2005 at 9:02am | IP Logged | 7  

interesting story.  Now i am searching and wrting about the Brazilian´s comics story. As soon i finished it i share with you.

Now a italian´s office named PANINI controls the publishong here on brazil, not so well to say.

FC

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Francesco Vanagolli
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Posted: 19 August 2005 at 12:37am | IP Logged | 8  

In 1993, after 5 years, Rizzoli left the rights for Superman in Italy. At last, Play Press could publish a new DC title! They began with the Italian edition of the DEATH OF SUPERMAN TPB and, a few days later, a new Superman regular series arrived in the newsstands after almost 10 years. The biweekly SUPERMAN by Play Press was one of the greatest success in the super heroes history here, at least for an year. Soon new series arrived, while GREEN ARROW, JUSTICE LEAGUE and all the rest were cancelled months before. The new series were LOBO, SUPERMAN CLASSIC and FLASH. LOBO was another greatest hit, SC was the chronological and complete edition of the post-Crisis Superman, FLASH started with the Waid/Wieringo run and GL as a backup (with the Hal's madness saga).

That was a very good period for DC, because there were good comics in a good edition. Superman became really popilar, so there were several projects about him: GLI ARCHIVI DI SUPERMAN (Eng: "SUPERMAN ARCHIVES"), an 8 issue miniseries containing the first 4 SUPERMAN ARCHIVES in lowpriced softcover; SUPERMAN: LE PIU' GRANDI STORIE MAI NARRATE (Eng: "SUPERMAN: THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD"), a 3 issue miniseries presenting the stories reprinted in the US in the old tpb; special issues in new series like DC COLLECTION and DC PRESTIGE, which presented miniseries and specials.

In 1995 BATMAN Glenat was cancelled, so Play Press had the rights for Bruce Wayne, too. BATMAN was another popular book, and the publisher relased a lot of Bat special and miniseries. BATMAN SAGA published the Knightrilogy and LE AVVENTURE DI BATMAN (Eng: "BATMAN ADVENTURES") was the comic book version of the animated series (arrived before the main title).

PLAY MAGAZINE was the flagship title, with comics and articles about DC. The mosaic was completed by WONDER WOMAN/CATWOMAN, a flip book started with the "Wonder Artemis" saga and the new Selina series by Grant and Balent.

This was probably the best period for DC in Italy. But it couldn't endure.

In 1997 a great crisis hit the Italian market: just like in the US, there were too many comics, often low quality ones, and nobody could buy everything. Several Image and Dark Horse were cancelled, so various Marvel reprints. And what about DC? Play Press cancelled several series, so only SUPERMAN, BATMAN, LOBO NUOVA SERIE, PLAY MAGAZINE and the new JLA title were left. In 1998/99 the situation became more tragic, because SUPERMAN and BATMAN became monthly books. In summer, 1999, SUPERMAN was cancelled with issue #124/125 and BATMAN with #81/82 (note: in july PP made "double issues" because in august they didn't release any comic). In fall they tried again with SUPERMAN NUOVA SERIE and BATMAN NUOVA SERIE. They contained the Berganza relaunch and the "No man's land" saga, and were very good. Cancelled JLA and LOBO NS, they were the only DC books left. In early 2001, respectively with issue #15 and #20, these series said goodbye to Italian readers...

- To be concluded!

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Francesco Vanagolli
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Posted: 20 August 2005 at 12:15am | IP Logged | 9  

The 2001 crisis caused several troubles to Italian readers, and of course DC titles were the most important victims. But Play Press didn't fail! In fact, the publisher cancelled the newsstands titles, but began their publication for comics shops only. A situation similar to yours.

So, in 2001 started the quarterly SUPERMAN TRADE PAPERBACK and BATMAN TRADE PAPERBACK, which continued the run of the previous monthly series. Well, readers weren't so glad to read Superman and Batman in that more expensive form, but it was better than to see they nevermore.

Plus, in the comics shops arrived new collections of the most recent titles, like GREEN ARROW (the Smith series), WONDER WOMAN (from the Jimenez run on) and JSA (but only tpb 1 was released). These series were added to JLA TPB, which started in 1999 after the conclusion of the monthly series. These editions aren't so bad, except for certain defects like "flying pages" (luckily, this isn't anymore).

Meanwhile, in 2000/01, Panini Comics, another Italian publisher, bought the rights of DC for Germany. Several readers hoped to see the Panini Logo on Italian DC books, too, but it never happened, so Play Press still owns the rights for Superman and the rest of the gang.

In 2003, a good news: at last, a monthly series again (but for comics shops only): DC UNIVERSE. It's a low priced book containing 3 stories (it costs 5 €, i.e. $6, 70 circa...), chosen among the most popular DC comics released in the US. It presented stories like "Hush", BIRTHRIGHT, FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE... Not bad.

Now there is a good quantity of DC publications here: SUPERMAN TP, BATMAN TP, GREEN ARROW, OUTSIDERS, WONDER WOMAN, DCU and some special tpb like IDENTITY CRISIS.

The big change arrived in march: at last, 4 years after the cancellation of SUPERMAN NS and BATMAN NS, Play Press released a new newsstands title: BATMAN MAGAZINE. And, in summer, another series: SUPERMAN MAGAZINE. It was about time: in the past years Marvel, Wildstorm and Vertigo, too, were in newsstands expositors... But not the DC Universe. And, who knows, things could be better!

Our problem is that we haven't a "DC culture", here. We hadn't DC Comics in important periods like the mid '70s and the late '80s, when Marvel was alone and, so, the most popular. But DC has several fans, here... Who want to read DC superheroes in every way, for example purchasing the American editions (me, too). I hope that the return in newsstands can really better the situation: DC has great character, and they deserve a larger audience.

I hope you enjoyed with all this... Because we arrived to

                                                -THE END- 

Next: Marvel Comics in Italy!

 

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