Saturday, January 4, 2014

Early Marvel comics in Italy

In Italy the publication of the now classic Marvel series (Fantastic Four, Daredevil, etc.) started in 1970. The publisher, "Editoriale Corno", began publishing "Uomo Ragno" (the Italian edition of Amazing Spiderman) and "l'Incredibile Devil" (Daredevil) in 1970. They were an huge success, and one year later Editoriale Corno began the publication of two other comic magazines: "I Fantastici Quattro" (from Fantastic Four) and "Il mitico Thor" (From Journey into Mystery and later Thor).

These magazines had various peculiarities compared with the standard American comic book.

Each issue had 48 pages, published twice a month, and for this reason Editoriale Corno decided to team up some other Marvel series inside the book. Typically 2 and 1/2 original stories were printed in a single issue.
l'Uomo Ragno had, as a partner in the magazine, various characters: Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, Hulk.
I Fantastici Quattro partnered with the stories of the "La Torcia umana" (Human Torch) taken from Strange tales, and later with Captain Marvel, Sub Mariner and a bunch of short horror and sci-fi stories.

The second peculiarity was that, since color printing was expensive, all these magazines had two color pages followed by two b/w (lineart) pages, then two color pages etc...
You could really admire the details of Kirby's, Ditko's, Colan's, Romita's etc. drawings, but I have to admit that back then, as a kid, I was not very happy about that. Now I absolutely love it!

Anyway, this is an example: the first two pages of the first FF annual, published in Italy in "I Fantastici Quattro 15" from my own collection (Annuals were not published separately, and they are not still today)
I Fantastici Quattro 015 p1  I Fantastici Quattro 015 p2 

You can check the differences with the original US pages below. You can see that the Italian color pages were completely recolored with respect to the originals.

FF Annual 01 p1 FF Annual 01 p2
I do not know for sure but it might be possible that Editoriale Corno only received from Marvel Comics the black and white films, and they were forced to recolor the pages. Colors in later comics are the same as in the US counterpart

Speaking of recoloring, below are the same two pages taken from the Marvel Masterworks reprint series, recolored...
FF Annual 01 (Masterworks) p1 FF Annual 01 (Masterworks) p2
With a different coloring yet, the same two pages taken from Fantastic Four Special Edition 1 (1984)
Fantastic Four Special Edition 01 p1 Fantastic Four Special Edition 01 p2
And finally, the recent web digital edition from Marvel Comics, which has probably the colors most similar to the original.
Fantastic Four digital edition 01 p1 Fantastic Four digital edition 01 p2
Recoloring is a common practice when reprinting old comics. It is debatable if the original colors should be preserved as much as possible or not. One might argue that the original artists (Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers here above) only did the lineart, and that's what we must restore and preserve. Well, maybe. I guess it's a matter of philosophy. But I still prefer the original colors.

Dario Bressanini


  1. In my opinion, the re-coloring in the italian version works better to establish depth and focus. We agree on that preserving the lineart is what matters the most.

  2. Yes. I think it was a matter of necessity: back in 1970 Marvel Comics used to send to foreign publishers only the B/W film, so they had to recolor everything. I will post some example of Italian covers too