July 2, 1939: the Italian debut of Superman

July 2, 1939: the Italian debut of Superman

July 2, 1939

While all over the world, traditionally, all the sites dedicated to comics and / or more generally to pop culture and entertainment celebrate Superman Day on June 12 each year (taking up the cover date of the legendary debut album or Action Comics # 1) clashing with the purists who, on the other hand, rightly celebrate a parallel one on April 18, that is the day when that same book actually debuted on American newsstands in 1938, on Cultura Pop we wanted to break a little this tradition and this funny diatribe celebrating instead the date of July 2, 1939 or the Italian debut of Superman.

The Italian debut of Superman

Make way for Cyclone, the man of steel Cyclone: ​​the apocryphal adventures From Cyclone to Superman (almost) Superman publications starting from 1945 By cyclones and cloud boys

Make way for Cyclone, the man of steel

The Italian debut of Superman takes place on 2 July 1939 on Gli Albi dell'Audacia 19. The intuition to bring this hero, who united mystery and science fiction, it is the publisher Lotario Vecchi who took over the reins of the publications (Gli Albi dell'Audacia are already in their second series) from the Vittoria Publishing House in a delicate moment for Italian comics.

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Long, but dutiful, introductory hat to explain two "phenomena" that will accompany these very first Superman publications in our country. The first, as easily understood, is linked to the name: there is no trace of Superman but our hero is more autarchically called Cyclone. The second is that, as was the practice of the time, all the material came not from the thriving, but new, market for publications in comic book format, but from the cheaper and more familiar strips that were published in newspapers.

This second aspect is absolutely not to be underestimated because the Superman strips began to be published in American newspapers only starting from January 16, 1939 which would have led to a fairly rapid exhaustion of the material available. The welcome was not triumphal but still good enough to guarantee Ciclone a monthly frequency.

Ciclone: ​​the apocryphal adventures

The strip that appeared in Gli Albi dell'Audacia 19 is interesting because it is choice of the first strip for the newspapers of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster of which, however, the names are omitted. Obviously it is not a slavish publication but a replacement and adaptation signed by the brothers Zenobio (drawings) and Vincenzo (texts) Baggioli entitled "Cyclone The Man of Steel". Clearly the first detail that is changed is the swimsuit with the showy S shield that is canceled. | ); } Strangely, the origins of the hero are not affected except by the names of Jor-El and Lana (the biological parents of little Kal-El) who are transformed into the more mystical Aldebaran and Liama.

The second strip published on Gli Albi dell'Audacia 25 and entitled "Il Re del ring" is also a replacement and adaptation of those of Siegel and Shuster by the Baggioli brothers . Here even the hero is mentioned as Superman while Clark Kent (the hero's civil alter-ego) is transformed into Dan Carrett (the alter-ego who will also return after the war as Don Carrett).

For this the original strips are used by the Baggioli brothers only as a simple canvas. In fact, Zenobio, while trying to imitate Shuster's style, gradually moves away from it, it is said that in this phase of the production of the character's stories he had developed an obsession for the S on the chest of the hero which, however, was not able in any way to reproduce in a manner dynamic by opting for what must have been a stylized cyclone on the chest but which in reality was no more and no less than a black sphere.

Even Vincenzo by now had completely departed from Siegel's texts. The adventures become less immediate and dynamic than those of the original Superman in favor of urban ideas that rapidly evolve into exotic settings and adventures very much in vogue in pre-war Italian comics obviously influenced by the various Raymond, Foster and the first masters of Anglo-Saxon comics. br>

Also for this reason the whole narrative structure of Ciclone is distorted. No secret identity, calling himself simply Dopp when he is in civilian clothes, and above all no regard for human life as he demonstrates in "The Stone Giant" by making a building collapse on the head of the antagonist on duty even without checking who was there. inside exclaiming triumphantly: "They were all leftovers from jail: I believe justice is done!"

In November 1939 a new strip appears in the Albogiornale 39 of the Vittoria Editions entitled "The Condemned City" and then moved to the Juventus Albi (the Vittoria Publishing House had in the meantime changed its name to the Juventus Publishing House) with the numbers 47 and 55 respectively of January and March 1940 with two adventures entitled respectively "The Mysterious Valley" and "The Solitary Aviator". In the latter, Cyclone saved intrepid Italian aviators in the North Pole from perfidious American bankers.

At this point the character, or rather this Italian version, is even exported to Francoist Spain as Ciclon El Superhombre while his alter-ego becomes Carlos Sanz chronicler of the newspaper La Jornada.

However, its creators are now overworked. Vincenzo Baggioli especially since he had also launched another all-Italian character (or almost) Dick Fulmine who saw his popularity grow (also due to a greater adherence to a certain regime narrative) leading him to abandon the creation of apocryphal strips.

From Cyclone to Superman (almost)

Starting from January 1940 with L'Audace 316, however, the "original" strips of Siegel and Shuster had reappeared, but always reworked, reassembled and renamed as Ciclone . They will appear up to number 324 of March 1940: among these strips the original strips are also re-proposed.

The proposal of the original strips moves again on the Juventus Albi from 59 to 82 from April 1940 to September 1940. This series of strips is proposed chronologically respecting the American ones but the daily strips 112-114 (originally released on 25, 26 and 27 May 1939 in the United States) are skipped because they portrayed the hero destroying an artillery position and shooting down a zeppelin of clear para-Nazi matrix.

At this point Italy officially enters the war and the MinCulPop launches extremely strict provisions that make all the heroes of foreign origin disappear from the children's weeklies.

You want start reading superman? Retrieve our article Superman: The Essential Comics.

Superman publications starting from 1945

After the Second World War and the Fascist regime fell, DC characters (and not only) began to reappear on the market as early as 1945 Italian thanks to Cino Del Duca and his Milan Publishing House (later Edizioni Mondiali) which publishes a character destined for great fortune in the Masked Man Collection 19, or Wing of Steel, better known as Batman, but this, as they say, is another history.

No longer Cyclone but a more respectful Man of Steel appears in the Masked Man Collection starting from 7 May 1946. The daily strips of the period 1941/1942 designed by Jack Burnely are proposed, moreover, with all due respect to the evident typographical problems, the strips, albeit reassembled and reworked (not without gross errors as can be seen on Masked Man Collection 14 in which the man d 'Steel and the Phantom Man, or the original Blue Beetle from Charlton Comics, were sensationally exchanged by the unsuspecting and anonymous designer probably executed in France from which Del Duca took the tables for Italian publications) are quite faithful to the originals just look the presence of the S on the chest of the Man of Steel.

This leads to a rapid and dizzying growth in the popularity of the character, also thanks to a more stable and continuous exposure, so much so that the Masked Men's Collection is transformed, starting from 73, into the Men's Collection d'Acciaio (in the meantime a certain Wayne Boring arrived at the drawings) hosting above all the Superman and Batman strips and becoming the first real "DC magazine" in Italy. It was these pages that Lex Luthor and Mister Mxyzptlk will also debut, two enemies who later became classic for the Man of Steel.

Del Duca has well understood that he has found a small gold mine and launches the weekly Urra all 'interior of which, from the first issue of April 1947 until 28 November 1947, the historical strips of 1939/1940 are published first (the same origins proposed in Gli Albi dell'Audacia reappear with a new adaptation) and then jump to those of 1945/1946. At this point Superman will disappear for about a decade from newsstands, and therefore from the hands of Italian readers.

Of cyclones and cloud boys

Indeed Superman aka Man d'Acciaio had lived a second youth after the war but so had his alter-ego Ciclone which had been relaunched by Carlo Cossio, starting from 1945 on the new series of the Albogiornale of the Juventus Editions, transforming himself into the archetypal good-natured man but strongman who had had in heroes like Dick Fulmine and in the mythical Maciste lucky comic book predecessors.

Unfortunately, some bad habits will be resumed of these incredible comic book debuts of Superman when Mondadori launches her very successful series of Gli Albi del Falco in 1954. In fact, there will still be no evident trace of Superman: the hero will find himself affixed to the evocative name of Nembo Kid. The S reappeared on the chest thanks to Cino Del Duca disappears again as before the war while the alterations to the tables will continue for over a decade in a more subtle and certainly professional way but not so much as to escape the eye of an attentive reader.

That of Nembo Kid (who later became Superman / Nembo Kid and finally Superman) while going through various editorial phases (between format changes and summary) remains today one of the most successful publications of the character in Italy . Superman then moved on to Williams (who published perhaps the best stories of those years) ending briefly first at Cenisio and then at Glenat and finding stability with Play Press whose baton was first picked up by Planeta DeAgostini and then by RW Lion up to to Panini DC Italy. But these too are definitely other stories to tell.

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