This is a blast from the past. For those of us who loved comics, this is a chance to remind ourselves of our heroes from the youth and for others, this is a chance to learn more about them.
A brief history of Italian comics (fumetto)
The history of Italian comics is a very long one. Let’s start with explaining where the word “fumetto” came from. “fumetto” is plural from the word “fumetti” that refers to the cloud (balloon) that contains text or thoughts in comics.
We all know that “balloon” very well as it is one of two crucial ways that present a story to us, with pictures/illustrations being the other important element.
Now when we know where the name came from, let’s take a brief look at the history of Italian comics. It all started in 19th century, when magazines started publishing illustrations for educational and propaganda purposes. What happened later is simply amazing. A number of classic comic books were produced and a number of authors became real stars among this public. I will mention some of them while describing stamps from this sheet.
But first, let’s say a few words about the country that issued this sheet.
City of San Marino
For those of you who are maybe not aware of San Marino’s existence, I think you should know that San Marino:
- claims to be the oldest republic in the World;
- is one of the wealthiest countries in Europe (and even in the entire World);
- is a small country with a population of around 35.000;
- is surrounded by Italy from all sides;
- used Sammarinese lira as a currency until 1st January 2002 when it introduced Euro. Sammarinese lira was pegged to the Italian lira and was used in Italy and the Vatican City.
The Guaita fortress
The capital city of the Republic of San Marino is the City of San Marino. Although it’s a very small city, there are some very interesting places you should visit there. One of these is the Fortress of Guaita, the oldest of the three towers constructed on Monte Titano.
18.09.1997 – San Marino
This is the date when San Marino issued the sheet below. It was issued before the 1st January 2002, so the denomination is 800 lire on all stamps. As said before, this is a tribute to the development of Italian comics during the ages.
1st row – Quadratino, Signor Bonaventura, Kit Carson, Cocco Bill
2nd row – Tex, Diabolic, Valentina, Corto Maltese
3rd row – Sturmtruppen, Alan Ford, Lupo Alberto, Pimpa
4th row – Bobo, Zanardi, Martin Mystère, Dylan Dog
I’ll now go with more details about each of these comic book series. They will be presented in the same order as on the sheet, row by row, from left to right.
#1 Quadratino was created by Antonio Rubino and was published in Corriere dei Piccoli (Courier of the Little Ones) from 1910 to 1911. The main characters are Quadratino, his grandmother Nonna Matematica and the tutor Trigonometria. On six-panel board, Quadratino manages to behave badly, get his head transformed into the geometric shape, understand his mistake and get his head returned to the normal shape.
#2 Signor Bonaventura (Eng. “Mr. Goodluck”) was created by Sergio Tofano (later, Gilberto Tofano and Carlo Peroni). It was active from 1917 (in Corriere dei Piccoli) until 1943 and after the Second World War.
#3 Kit Carson is not the American frontiersman Christopher Houston “Kit” Carson but a famous sidekick of even more famous comic book cowboy hero Tex Willer.
#4 Cocco Bill is a good guy from Far West. He loves chamomile tea and hates to be mocked. And he has guns. He was created in 1958 by Benito Jacovitti (good Benito, not the bad one 😊 )
#5 Tex Willer is a Texas ranger and a chief of the Navajo tribe with the Indian name – Eagle of the Night. And not only that, he has his comic book series named after him, simply – Tex. This is even better than Kardashians. We’ve already mentioned Kit Carson, who helps him to fight the injustice. And he’s doing it so since 1948 when writer Gian Luigi Bonelli and illustrator Aurelio Galleppini gave him a birth. His good deeds were very popular not only in Italy, but also in Brazil, Croatia, France, Greece, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, and others.
#6 Diabolik is an anti-hero of his stories. Together with his sidekick, partner, and a lover, Eva Kant, he steals mostly from criminals as Inspector Ginko stays on his way. He was created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962.
#7 Valentina Rosselli, oh Valentina. She is a photographer with strange dreams and nightmares and really weird stories. Guido Crepax started drawing his character in 1956 and in 1967 she got her own comic book. Crepax used Valentina and through her character, he fought sexual taboos that were present at the time due to the domination of the Catholic Church in the Italian society at the time.
#8 Corto Maltese is as the son of a sailor and a witch prostitute. With such a start, he could only go far. He could be seen around Enver Pasha, Butch Cassidy, James Joyce, Hermann Hesse, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London and even Merlin and Red Baron. There was even a situation when Joseph Stalin saved his head. And all of that comes from Hugo Eugenio Pratt, staring in 1967.
#9 Sturmtruppen is a series of anti-war comic books created by Franco Bonvicini (Bonvi) from 1968. In this series, we follow the life of a German army unit. Although it’s not explicitly stated that these events happen during WWII some similarities in the books are obvious.
#10 Alan Ford is named after the central character of this series. Number One, Bob Rock and Otto Grunf are other notable members of the TNT group. Superciuk is the most important villain in the series. This series started in 1969 and was created by Max Bunker (Luciano Secchi) and Magnus (Roberto Raviola). Everything after that is history. It was very popular in Brazil, Denmark, and France, but Yugoslavia (and successor states) is the place where it gained cult status. Bands, computer games and weapons in computer games, catchphrases and even the university departments used names of phrases from this series. Nothing compares to Alan Ford here, really nothing.
Please forgive me, but I simply must add some quotes here:
“Better to live hundred years as a millionaire, than one week in poverty!” – Bob Rock
“If you want to win you must not lose.” – Number One
“Easiest way to turn defeat into a victory is to put on the enemy’s uniform.” – Number One
“Better strategic retreat than dishonorable defeat.” – Number One
“The one who flies is worthy. The one who is worthy flies. The one who doesn’t fly isn’t worthy.” – Grunf
#11 Lupo Alberto conflicts with Moses trying to reach his girlfriend Martha. Alberto is a blue wolf, Moses is a sheepdog and Martha is a hen. Their adventures started in 1974 when Guido Silvestri (Silver) gave them life.
#12 Pimpa was published by Corriere dei Piccoli from 1975 until 1995. Pimpa is a sweet red dotted dog that lives with MR. Armando. Francesco Tullio Altan is responsible for this one.
#13 Bobo is created in 1979 by Sergio Staino and is in many ways author’s self-portrait.
#14 Zanardi and his buddies Colasanti and Petrilli live a life surrounded full of amorality, sex and drugs.It was created by Andrea Pazienza in 1981.
#15 Martin Mystère was created in 1982 by writer Alfredo Castelli and artist Giancarlo Alessandrini. As the name of the main protagonist says, he’s involved in many mysteries mostly in New York and USA but he doesn’t complain if he need to travel abroad to solve a mystery or two.
#16 Dylan Dog was created by Tiziano Sclavi in 1986. The main characters protect good monsters from bad ones and specializes in undead arts. Yup, that’s pretty cool and they also think so in Croatia, Denmark, Macedonia, Netherlands, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Sweden.
I hope that I brought at least a smile on your face or at least something you didn’t know about (so much). Until next Thursday!
Please subscribe and read more on the main page.