In the early ‘60s, a distinctive anti-hero theme emerged in Italian comics. It was typified by Diabolik and Kriminal—both masters of disguise, and both thieves who preyed upon other criminals. Diabolik came first, in 1962, and Kriminal followed in 1964, adding the wrinkle that the protagonist was also a remorseless killer.
And in 1966, Killing blew both of them out of the water. The title character swiped Kriminal’s costume—a skeleton costume topped with a skull mask—but Kriminal’s was bright yellow, and Killing sported a more standard Halloween-issue black and white union suit. Killing (a/k/a Satanik, a/k/a Sadistik, a/k/a Kilink…) further upped the ante in the violence department by eschewing comic book style drawings in favor of photo illustrations, so all the violence was represented graphically with Grand Guignol theatrical effects. The resulting book was misogynistic as hell and utterly without redeeming value, so naturally it became a trans-oceanic phenomenon, published under the various names listed above not just in Italy, but Germany, Belgium, and several South American nations.
Killing’s covers varied from nation to nation, but all seemed pretty strictly templated. Interstingly, the predominate template features a cheesecake pose out in front while our “hero” is killing a man in the background. Very little of the interior art I’ve been able to dig up has depicted violence against a male victim, it’s overwhelmingly weighted towards the too-familiar scantily clad damsel in distress trope.
The character was the subject of a 2007 documentary called The Diabolikal Super-Kriminal and a revival by Comicfix’s Mort Todd, who has made English translations of selected comics available under the Sadistik name, and even published an origin story (traditionally illustrated, not a photo comic). Here are some trailers for the doc—the motion footage is likely from Turkish films made of the character under the Kilink title.
Cover images from a Flickr album collected by Dr. Odio.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Wonderfully lurid and macabre posters from the Grand Guignol
Classic covers from ‘The Monster Times’