Matt Blake, who runs the excellent Wild Eye website and wrote the essential Eurospy Guide a few years back has recently published this book on Italian fumetti neri style films of the 1960s and 1970s.
Extensively illustrated with posters, lobby cards and stills from the films and featuring quite a lot of interview and review material that hasn't been previously available in English (at least to my knowledge) it's an essential purchase for anyone with an interest in this comparatively under-explored area of Italian cult cinema.
Taking a comprehensive but not all encompassing approach, Blake looks at films that were made by Italian directors – so no Modesty Blaise or Mr Freedom – and which either presented direct adaptations of fumetti characters (Diabolik, Kriminal, Satanik, Isabella, Valentina etc.) or were clearly influenced by the comics (The 3 Supermen series, Vittorio De Sica's contribution to the anthology film The Witches, the Johnny Dorelli vehicle How to Kill 400 Duponts and so on).
The films are discussed in chronological rather than alphabetical order, allowing the reader to better chart the development of the filone as a whole and particular series within it. This is especially helpful when it comes to the likes of the long-running 3 Supermen series, since the personnel involved often changed from one film to the next, for better or worse.
Thankfully there's also a comprehensive index of titles for those wondering whether a specific film is one of the better, worse or average examples of the form.
While the reader will inevitably disagree with some of Blake's evaluations of the films, his reviews are invariably intelligent, informative and insightful, indicating why he rates or does not rate a given film, filmmaker or performer.
So, for example, of the 3 Superman films, Blake identifies those directed by Sabata's Gianfranco Parolini as ranking above those by Black Emanuelle's Bitto Albertini, with both in turn preferable to those directed by their usual producer and writer Italo Martinenghi – precisely the kind of stuff you need when, like me, you've got a whole load of them in your virtual to-watch pile and were not sure of where to begin.
Page for Fantastikal Diabolikal Supermen on The Wild Eye.