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album: The thousand faces of Diabolik (Panini)

stickers: 276 (1-276) + 50 cards (C1-C50)

starter pack: album + 3 packets 4,90€

box: 36 packets (4 stickers + 1 card per packet) 1,00€ each

“Houston we have a problem”. A few weeks ago we reviewed with some enthusiasm the celebratory album of Spider-Man’s 60 years, pointing to it as a potential album of the year in our 2022 chart, leaving us only with the doubt that, who knows, there was still time, even at home. Panini, to overcome an already excellent collection. Attention, maybe they have really succeeded.

Diabolik is an iconic character in comics, not only Italian, he has a following of loyal fans and hundreds of thousands of people, both men and women, well to remember, who have read it and maybe, even after years, if it happens to do it again, they don’t back down. Finally, there are collectors, Diabolik has many, thanks also to its fan club which is one of the longest-running and active in Italy.

This album is for all of them, better, for all of us. It is an album that exudes myth and passion, curiosity and history of comics, a work certainly done in 4 hands, where the publisher Astorina sat at the table with the Panini staff, who know just a little about stickers and have thought “let’s create something to be proud of” and which, also or above all, is a tribute not only to comics but to its loyal audience.

The result is excellent, the previous album had already proved to be a good product, this far exceeds it, while maintaining a very similar editorial line. Same number of stickers, same size, special always silver and shiny, the shaped ones.

The encyclopedic setting of the album can be seen from the first pages, where we find references to the birth of the character, to the great actors of the time from which it was inspired, as always happens, at least until a few years ago, with the characters of Italian comics. Did you know that the beautiful Eva Kant is inspired by the Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly?

They are interesting drawings, where there is also an unripe trait, a novice Diabolik even for the cartoonists who will follow him over the years. After all, it is common practice for all comics characters, try to go and see the first stories of superheroes, Tex, Asterix or even Peanuts.

The pages dedicated to the individual protagonists are interesting, it is incredible how a comic can last without actually going out of the mold created since the 1960s, certainly renewing itself, but not denying itself. So here is the double couple, Diabolik and Eva Kant, Ginko and Altea. For each of them a rundown through the interpretations of the various designers. To this could only be added, of course, the legendary Jaguar, which also houses its alter ego, the inspector’s Citroen DS.

In general, the choice of the same stickers is appreciable, certainly not an easy job, much less immediate. We find images that for many will also seem unpublished, it is not a convenient choice, it is an opportune desire to tell the character, from his beginnings, up to the time of King’s Island, when Diabolik was not yet .. Diabolik.

In the album we find two comic stories, to be completed with the shaped stickers, an extra effort to attach them correctly, well. The first of these stories is unpublished, written by Mario Gomboli, the man who, after the Giussani sisters, we can define as the heart of the Astorina. Comic in 10 pages rather nice and spot on, where fans can discover cameos of known, real, not fictional faces. We anticipate one, Alfredo Castelli, creator (among others) of Martin Mystere, a comic also named in the story. So that three comic book publishers are involved in these pages, Astorina, Bonelli and of course Panini.

The comic story is a pleasant interlude of the album, which subsequently restarts with other aspects of Diabolik’s story, starting with the covers, difficult to choose a few among over 500. The “pencils and inks” page is certainly designed for lovers of the Ninth Art as a whole, less for occasional and unwary readers. Without going into too much detail, with a few words and some figurine drawings, here is how the drawings of the “king of terror” are born.

The album’s first trip abroad is to France, where in 1997 a cartoon was created designed for a young audience, not tied to the classic canons of comics.

Diabolik and cinema is not a recent novelty, there is the late 1960s film by director Mario Bava. Collectors have always looked for comic books at comic book fairs, as well as posters for this film. To which the current production of the Manetti Bros also owes a lot, despite the captivating scenery of a Bologna transformed into Clerville. The space equally divided between the two film productions is another symptom of how much we wanted to make an album as a whole.

An eye to collectors but also to the curious is the next part that navigates the variegated world of Diabolik, among those who over the years have wanted to pay homage through art, satire, alternative comics and objects, starting from works created by the same authors and up to the present day, including statues, board games, tarot cards and decks of cards.

If you enjoyed the trip to France in the previous pages, Diabolik was printed in different parts of the world, some of them are mentioned: Israel, Greece, Argentina, Mexico, Denmark, Turkey and the very rare editions in Tamil and Chinese.

Before the aforementioned pages, there is the second comic in the album, always to be completed with the shaped stickers. History entirely in black and white thanks to the texts by Tito Faraci and the drawings by Claudio Villa, many will also remember him for the splendid Tex covers.

New is the coupon found inside each packet, which allows you to participate in a competition to win one of the 60 sketch cards designed by the current Diabolik artists, alternating in the pocket and in the special volumes you find on the newsstands. Commendable initiative, on the site it is not necessary to register, just enter the code (including dashes) and only in case of victory will the details for the shipment be requested.

Speaking of cards, in the 2017 edition you could find unique sketch cards in lucky sachets, now those drawings are within everyone’s reach, becoming the 50 cards to collect to complete the album. It may seem like a comfortable choice, in reality it is extremely valuable. Instead of inventing cards on the spot, why not use a wealth of unpublished drawings that Panini was already “at home”? If we then consider that the cards of the 2017 collection were not particularly successful, these little jewels are welcome.

Everything splendid? For the most part yes, we like it when Panini, like other publishers, puts heart, soul and experience to create a memorable product. The real sticker albums are actually these, more than the sports classics, which we also collect, but they are very little compared to editorial works like this. Too bad for some unsuitable choices for a collection that promises to be very successful. The box with just 36 packets (with the joke that the box is made to contain fifty), understandable for low-profile collections, but inconsistent in this case. Above all, hoping that the stickers can be found even in a month, unlike those of Spider-Man sold out and, to date, never reprinted. At the same time that Panini invaded the newsstands with products that will obviously remain unsold.

The return to the hardcover edition for collectors is excellent, at a price (unchanged compared to Diabolik 2017) in line with the edition of 1000 copies. A gesture that we personally appreciate, the market has established that the “low cost” hardcover edition does not have encouraging sales figures to continue, but at least the “hard and pure” can be satisfied. We rarely give information on the exclusive products of the Panini site, believing that newsstands and / or comic shops must be the main point of reference for the public, but in this case we consider the choice understandable and acceptable.

We then, we admit, are among those who stick the stickers on the stapled album to keep the limited edition sealed. Improved quality of the album paper as we had already seen with the latest Panini productions, perhaps and finally the warehouses have emptied of the batch of unacceptable paper.


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