Monday, January 28, 2008


Gabbia d'oro (Golden Cage) is a pre-war Italian jungle perils comics album published in 1938 by Nerbini which is of interest due to both the name behind it and also for its disreputable content.
Both the art and the story are credited to Giove Toppi (1888-1942). Toppi was initially an illustrator for the Florence-based publisher Nerbini. When Nerbini started publishing comics, Toppi joined in the staff of this craft as well. He single-handedly earned his name a permanent place in the history of European comics by making a gag-comics featuring Mickey Mouse for the cover of the first issue of Nerbini's Topolino comics weekly in 1932:
However, Topolino had been started without license from Disney and from the 3rd issue onwards, Mickey Mouse proper would have to be dropped from the magazine upon Disney's legal intervention until Nerbini would get the rights of Disney comics for the Italian market. In the meantime, Toppi made gag-comics featuring another (non-Mickey) mouse for Topolino:
When Nerbini became the legal publisher of Disney material, it would be Toppi who would illustrate most of the covers of the first series Italian Disney comics albums in 1935, such as the below cover:

Another retrospectively interesting episode in Toppi's career came when he collaborated with Federico Fellini in the comics field! In 1937, long before he would embark on a famed career in cinema, then 17 years-old Fellini had moved to Florence and began working for Nerbini as a writer. When Italy's fascist government banned the import of American comics in 1938, Nerbini would begin producing local-made versions of these popular comics and Fellini was among the script writers of this obligatory fad with Toppi at the art chores. The fruits of the collaboration between Fellini and Toppi reportedly include one Flash Gordon comics.

Gabbia d'oro, on the other hand is a solo effort by Toppi. It was published in Turkey as no. 22 (Oct. 1941) of 1001 Roman's monthly special issues. The Turkish edition might be slightly abridged as there are some unresolved sub-plots. Nevertheless, the main plot appears complete in its essentials. The hero is an Italian named Mario who is accompanying a British archeolog and his daughter Alice in an expedition in black Africa. Despite Mario's objections, Alice secretly joins a research party to locate the treasures of a "savage" tribe and eventually gets captured. The natives see in her the return of their divine Daughter of the Sun (Alice had landed in an aeroplane). She demands to be released, even calling the natives' chief as an "ape-man". The chief says that the "civilization has made her rebellious", but that he "knows how to tame her." Consequently, she is locked up in a golden cage to stay there "till her nerves calm down." Mario saves her by massacring the whole tribe with a machine gun and the archeolog confiscates the natives' treasure, including the golden cage. The comics end by Mario warning Alice that he will lock her up in the golden cage whenever she makes him angry and she submissively replies as "understood, love".
The obvious colonialist trajectory of Gabbia d'oro need no elaboration as it is apparent from the above plot summary. It suffices to add that the portrayal of one non-savage black character, "a faithful servant", is also very derogotary as his 'foolish' amazent at the westerners' technology such as aeroplanes and radio is depicted as a matter of ridicule, as in the below panel:

And yet, it shouldn't be missed that this colonialist/white-supremacist context also serves as a background for another dynamic in Gabbio d'oro, that is the fantasy for the subordination of 'rebellious' women. It is ironic that in that case, the 'savages' serve as a double for Mario himself.


'Women in cages' is an iconic image in sado-erotic imaginary and it is naturally very recurrent in exploitation cinema as well. It is also a matter of fact that comics in general has served as inspiration for many filmmakers. Jesus (Jess) Franco is one prominent European exploitation filmmaker with a professed devotion to comics. Franco has made several 'women in cages' films, but one of his more obscure movies include one episode which apparently has some semblance to Gabbia d'oro in particular. Franco's Sex Charade (1970) feature one scene where a white woman is held in a cage in what appears to be a jungle setting (see above still). Though the natives holding her captive are not African but Indian and the cage is not golden, the concomittance of 'woman in cage' and jungle natives tentatively reminds Gabbia d'oro, esp. given the fact that Franco is known to be well versed in European comics. Franco would later be involved (as assistant director) in another movie titled Une cage doree (1976) without any natives but with a golden cage holding captive women.

The Films of Federico Fellini by Peter E. Bondanella
'Manacoa Files' by Alain Petit in Cine Zine Zone

Sunday, January 20, 2008


La pista d'argento (The Silver Track) was a western comics album published in 1941 as part of Florence-based publisher Nerbini's 'Collona albi grandi avventura' series. It is signed by Italian artist Mario Tempesti. I couldn't find much info on Tempesti other than the fact that he was a staff artist of Nerbini's comics magazine L'Avventuroso; he also seems to have made cover illustrations for publications outside of the comics media.
La pista d'argento was published in Turkey twice during the war era. In its first edition, as the headline comics of 1001 Roman's monthly special issue no. 27 (March 1942), it was titled as 'Gümüş İz' (The Silver Track). The story concerns an expedition to find a team of geographers who had been lost in the wilderness. The search party gets captured by American natives whose chief has plans to organize an uprising to set up an "empire" by uniting all native tribes.
Even though it is a mediocre comics in all aspects from art to story, it had a second edition in Turkey two years later in the same series, the first and only time a comics was published twice in 1001 Roman. The no. 57 (sept. 1944) of the monthly series headlined it as 'Ölüm Yolcuları' (Voyagers of Death). This 2nd edition was not a reprint, but an abridged version with a new Turkish translation. The heroine's name was given as Violetta whereas she was Miss Edna in the earlier edition. The 'Ölüm Yolcuları' edition expanded on the dialogue between the tribal chief and the leader of the captured search party. In the 1st edition, the hero simply calls the chief's plans as "madness", but in the 2nd addition, he strikingly also adds that they are "a minority and should be content with the amount of land they have". In this manner, the story not only assumes a blanket identification with the white people over the non-white people, but also attempts to provide a generalizable justification for the suppression of 'minorities'' aspirations.

In the subsequent monthly issue, the editors of 1001 Roman published a reply to the readers who had apparently written letters to point out that this comics had already been published earlier in the series. In this rather unconvincing reply, they claimed that this was not a case of an unintentional mistake on their part, but they had decided to go ahead with a second edition because the earlier one had sold out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The first post of this blog was devoted to an overview of ‘Tim Tyler’s Luck’; and synopsises and reviews of ‘Tim Tyler’s Luck’ episodes published in Turkey were promised for future posts. A total of five ‘İki İzci’ (Tim Tyler’s Luck) episodes were run in the Turkish weekly comics magazine 1001 Roman between 1940-43. The source of the Turkish editions appear to be the French ‘Raoul et Gaston’ albums published by Moderne as part of their Collection Appel de la Jungle series starting from 1938. The below images corresponding to each episode are the covers of the post-war reprints of those albums.

no. 39-59 ‘Örümcek ile Karşı Karşıya’ [Against the Spider]
A villian named Spider has escaped from prison and seeks to take revenge on the Ivory Patrol. This is one of the better 'Tim Tyler’s Luck' adventures, largely due to the extraordinary persona of the villain in question: Spider has a habit of weaving webs in between trees and hanging his victims on it. Visually, he is presented to the readers often as a silhouette or in shadows. This strategy functions to depict him more as a menacing ‘presence’ and not merely as a figure. It is hard to accept that this particular episode is the fruit of the same mind who conceived the other Tim Tyler’s Luck episodes. It should also be noted that the name of the villain in the 1937 movie serial was “Spider Webb” and this strip episode is probably its follow-up.
French album title: Contre l'Araignée (1st ed.:.1938, repr.: 1949); Italian album title: Il ragno ritorna (1938);

No. 60-82 ‘Siyah Gözlü Mona’ [Mona with Black Eyes]
The Turkish edition of this episode appears to start with actually the finale of a seperate adventure where African natives (“savages”) attack a fortress of the colonial forces; I think that particular episode, which the Turkish readers were presented only the last fragment of, was the episode titled as Lo spirito di Tambo in the Italian editions.
The ‘Mona’ episode truely kicks off with the subsequent arrival of a beautiful brunette to the fortress. The routine and undistinguished story revolves around a pack of diamonds which have been stolen by her brother and ex-suitor. Spud does not appear in this episode.
French album title: Mona aux yeux noirs (1st ed.:.1938, repr.: 1948); Italian album title unknown.

no. 83-113 ‘Mis Larsen’in Milyonları’ [The Millions of Miss Larsen]
This episode starts as if a modest ‘jungle perils’ adventure with a safari, the highpoint being a rhino attack. However, after the safari ends, events take a new turn and the episode evolves into a different and rather engaging direction. The captain in charge of the Ivary Patrol begins to develop a romantic interest to the rich girl of the safaring party even though she has another suitor from her companions. The two men fight and the foreigner gets shot and critically wounded under mysterious circumstances. The captain is naturally the main suspect and gets arrested for court-martialing...
French album title Les millions de Miss Larcet (1st ed.:.1938, repr.: 1948); Italian album title unknown.

No.114-146 (18.5.1942) ‘Vahşiler Geliyor’ [The Savages Are Coming]
This is a very simple, action-oriented episode in which a violent tribe of African natives wearing Falcon corpses as head-wear attack a watch-tower manned by Spud. The action sequences are very well-done, but the colonialist position of the episode is obvious.
French album title unknown; Italian album title Fra gli uomini Falco (1941).
The serialization of this episode in 1001 Roman corresponds (1941-42) to the peak of paper shortage in Turkey stemming from economic hardships of the war era conditions and the weekly magazine suspends publication for more than a month between issues no.135 and no.136. After this episode ends, no new ‘Tim Tyler’s Luck’ comics appears in the weekly magazine until a final one several months later.

No.175-188 ‘Trebor’un Esrarı’ [The Mystery of Trebor]
A very mediocre adventure revolving around the question of whether a stranger is a wanted fugitive or not.
French album title L'énigmatique M. Trébor (1st ed.:.1938, repr.: 1949); Italian album title unknown.

In addition to its run in the weekly magazine, 'İki İzci' was headlined in several of 1001 Roman's monthly special issues; the synopsises and reviews of those episodes will also appear in this blog in the near future.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Largely forgotten today (for example, it doesn't have an entry in, 'Radio Patrol' was one of the above-average strips of the pre-war era. It was created for a local Boston newspaper in 1933 by crime reporter Ed Sullivan and staff artist Charles Schmidt, but picked up for syndication by King Features. It had been initially titled as 'Pinkerton, Junior', referring to the kid character who helps the cops, but was retitled by King to capitalize on the public's infatuation with the introduction of the two-way radio into police force's fight against crime. It would later be once again retitled as 'Sergeant Pat of Radio Patrol' even though the protagonists of the strip were a team, nominally led by Sgt Pat due to his rank, and consisting of a female cop named Molly, as well as the kid Pinky and his dog.
'Radio Patrol' is considered noteworthy for its realistic look and feel in terms of its characters, settings and stories, as opposed to the 'larger than life' protagonists, situations and villains featured in other crime-fighting strips. Even the physical geographical depictions of Boston locales is said to be true-to-life.
What strikes me most in ‘Radio Patrol’ is the cinematic look of it. Not only the art, but even more significantly, the compositions and the pacing is excellent, with dynamism of the scenes established by the masterful sequencing of different ‘camera-angles’ positioning the view-point of the readers. Indeed, pursuing an analogy with cinema, while most pre-war comics, however ‘beautiful’ their artwork might be, look like the works of Edison, ‘Radio Patrol’ looks more akin to the level of Griffith (not in terms of duration, but in terms of mastery of filmic 'language').
In 1937, the strip was adapted to the screen as a serial and four 'Radio Patrol' 'big little books' were published between 1935-40. Starting from 1941, the strips were reprinted in King Comics. Nevertheless, the strip couldn't survive for decades and would cease in the early 1950s.

It was one of the popular American strips in Italy in the pre-war era, with 11 Radio Pattuglia albums being published by Nerbini between 1935-38.

In Turkey, it debutted in the weekly children's magazine Çocuk Sesi published by M. Faruk Gürtunca in 1937, retitled as 'Küçük Yılmazın Maceraları' [Adventures of Little Yılmaz]. While the top-billed Pinky was given a Turkish name, the rest of the cast had preserved their original names. In 1943, 'Radio Patrol' resurfaced in rival publisher Tahsin Demiray's comics weekly 1001 Roman, starting with no. 189 (15.3.1943) where it replaced the outgoing 'İki İzci' [Tim Tyler's Luck] on the magazine's last page. In 1001 Roman, it was titled more properly as 'Radyolu Polisler', but the character of Pinky was once again Turkified, this time renamed as Oğuz.


‘Radyolu Polisler’ serialized in the weekly 1001 Roman starts with the first-ever syndicated ‘Radio Patrol’ episode and follow the original sequence of the first four episodes in the strips from their start at 16.4.1934 till 12.1.1935. They also correspond to the first four Italian Radio pattuglia albums published in 1935. As published in 1001 Roman, the episodes did not have separate titles.

No.189 - No.204: It starts with Pinky and his pet dog catching a criminal and getting introduced to Pat and Molly who take him for a ride in their patrol car. Upon an announcement on the police car radio of a bank robbery, they fall on the trail of the robbers. This is an action-packed adventure involving car chases, shoot-outs, Molly getting kidnapped, and ending with a fatal fist-fight on a ship. While the ‘Radyolu Polisler’ pages in 1001 Roman were initially printed in mono-chrome for the first 13 issues, enabling a faithful reproduction of the original b&w art, the Turkish publishers later began to colorize them and poor color printing demolished their quality somewhat.
Italian album title of this episode was simply Radio pattuglia della polizia.

No.205-217: Pinky’s dog finds the lost dog of a lady who in turn invites him and Molly to her sea-side house. At night, a male corpse is found on the raft off the shore. In contrast to the previous adventure, this is more of a police procedural story with less action even though the second night-time attack in the house is once again masterfully depicted visually.
The Italian album title was Il mistero del galleggiante (Mystery of the Raft). This and the previous episode would later be re-printed in traced versions as filler space in the weekly Red Kit [Turk. ed. of Lucky Luke] comics magazine (no. 12-19) in 1965.

No. 218-?: A contractor is resisting bullying from racketeers and our heroes come to his aid. Unfortunately, issues featuring the conclusion of this episode are missing from my collection (as are those with the start of the next epissode), but a scene along the way on the catwalks high atop a construction was breathtaking.
The Italian title was La distruzione degli intoccabili (Destruction of the Untouchables).

?- No.263: When Pat is sacked for meddling in affairs outside his jurisdiction and Molly resigns in protest, Pinky uncovers the plot behind a stolen race horse. Pat and Molly are re-admitted into the police force after a very dynamicly visualized finale.
The Italian title was I filibustieri dell’ippodromo (Filibusters of the Hippodrome).

In addition to its run in the weekly magazine, 'Radyolu Polisler' was headlined in two of 1001 Roman's monthly special issues: no. 48 (Dec. 1943) and no. 51 (March 1944). Unfortunately, these special issues appear to print only the concluding segments of two episodes. The former is titled as 'Kalpazanlar Çetesi' [the Gang of Counterfeiters] and start with a raid on a counterfeiters hideout and feature the eventual capture of the ringleader who evades the raid. It is almost certainly the strip episode about the counterfeiters from 1938-39. The latter is titled as 'Gece Baskını' [Nightime Raid] and features the capture of another criminal who has evaded arrest. I couldn't identify it precisely, but it must also be a strip from 1938 or onwards as it includes the assistant prosecuting attorney Buster among the cast who had began appearing in the strip in 1938.