Saturday, December 13, 2008


Maciste is the most prominent hero of Italian popular cinema and also probably the oldest recurring character in world cinema. He was featured in a long-running series of Italian films from mid-1910s to late 1920s in the era of silent cinema and was revived in Italy in the 1960s with more than a dozen further Maciste films in the first half of the decade (Since most of the 1960s movies were re-named as Hercules movies when released in the US, he is not as well known in the English-speaking lands).
Maciste had actually made his first appearance as a side character (and a black-skinned one) in the seminal Italian silent film Cabiria (1914) before rising to hero status in the follow-up series. Cabiria tells the story of the misfortunes of a Roman maiden, the title heroine, abducted to Cartagha. Maciste is the side-kick of the hero who rescues her from ritual sacrifice.
A comics adaptation of Cabiria, co-illustrated by Raffaele Paparella and Antonio Canale, was serialized in the Italian weekly comics magazine Topolino no.'s 527-554 in 1943 which was later reprinted in Turkish comics weekly 1001 Roman in 1945-46 (no.'s 306-337) under the title 'Kabria'. The above panel (all scans in this post are from the Turkish edition) is the first appearance of Maciste (spelled as 'Masist') in this comics adaptation. The plot synopsises of Cabiria refer to Maciste as the lead protagonist's slave, but the Turkish text refers to him as his servant. Below is another panel with Maciste, breaking his chains a la Hercules:

The comics appear to be a pretty faithful adaptation of the movie, as witnessed in the below panel and its corresponding still from the movie:

Below is another impressive panel, depicting the march of Hannibal's war elephants, reprising another scene reportedly in the film ('though I couldn't find any stills of it on the net):

UPDATE: Armando Botto from Italy kindly informs that the Turkish edition in 1001 Roman has been re-colored as the original Italian edition in Topolino was in black and magenta; he also adds that some panels in 1001 Roman have been re-formatted together with some other changes such as "while your "temple" panel is just a part of the original one, the"elephants" one has had some details added (part of the mountains in the background,and also a few elephants)." Thank you once again, Armando..

1 comment:

Smurfswacker said...

What a treat to see more "Cabiria" pages. I have a few Italian reprints in the pages of "Il Fumetto," but that's it. Some SUPERB work by Canale in this strip (not to slight Paparella, but all the reprints I have are Canale).