Brunel University’s Screen Media Research Centre announces comics events

The Screen Media Research Centre at Brunel University has announced two upcoming seminars about comics

Il giallo a fumetti: Diabolik, fumetti neri and the ‘Fantomas gene’
Presented by Leon Hunt, Wednesday 24th October, 4.00pm

The creation of Italian comic book character Diabolik in 1962 both looked back to one of the founding pulp supervillains Fantomas (enjoying a revival at the time) and spawned a wave of fumetti neri (dark comics) featuring masked characters whose names invariably featured the letter K (Kriminal, Sadik etc.) 50 years later, three editions of Diabolik (two of them reprints) appear every month on Italian newsstands as well as two Il Grande specials per year – with enviable market penetration, it remains a huge cultural phenomenon. 

Mario Bava’s Diabolik/Danger: Diabolik (Italy/France 1967) adapted the comic into a much-loved cult film that outside Italy and France is probably the best known incarnation of the character. But in some ways the film, with its counter cultural hero, pronounced eroticism and pop art opulence, provides a misleading impression of the comic.   

Diabolik is a comparatively conservative and formulaic comic, mostly aesthetically unadventurous, its titular character never having undergone the kind of overhaul that American comic book heroes like Batman and Spider-Man have enjoyed.  Nevertheless, the character proliferates both as a comic and across different media – a triumph of the iconic and the formulaic.  This paper from Leon Hunt examines Diabolik as a continuation of the ‘Fantomas gene’ (pulp media’s mystery-villain archetype), as Italian cultural phenomenon and as popular icon whose 50th anniversary is being celebrated this year.

Leon Hunt is a Senior Lecturer in Screen Media at Brunel University.  His most recent publications include Cult British TV Comedy (Manchester University Press 2013 forthcoming) and co-editor of East Asian Cinemas: Exploring Transnational Connections on Film (I.B. Tauris 2008) and Screening the Undead: Vampires and Zombies On Film (I.B. Tauris forthcoming 2013). 

The Superhero City: Film, Comics and Urban Imagery 
Presented by Federico Pagello, Wednesday 21st November, 4.00pm

For the last 15 years film adaptations of superhero fiction have been one of the most successful trends in Hollywood cinema. Influenced by features of the original comic books such as their peculiar approach to visual narrative, their work on time and space and their typical serial structures, superhero films reveal key characteristics of contemporary popular cinema. Thought the analysis of the varied and contradictory uses of the urban imagery of superhero fiction in films such as Superman (1979), Batman (1989), Spider-Man (2002) and The Dark Knight (2008), it is therefore possible to address the aesthetic and cultural meaning of the genre, to examine the connection between film and comics and to highlight the way in which influential directors such as Richard Donner, Tim Burton, Sam Raimi and Christopher Nolan have used superhero stories to express their personal take on contemporary American cinema and society.

Federico Pagello was awarded his PhD from the University of Bologna in 2009 and is currently a visiting scholar in film studies at King’s College, London. His dissertation, focusing on the image of the city in the film adaptations of superhero comics, was published as a book in 2010 (Grattacieli e superuomini: L’immagine della città tra cinema e fumetto, Genoa: Le Mani). He was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bologna (2009-2010) and Limoges (2010-2011).

• For more details of venue, please contact: Geoff King, Director, Screen Media Research Centre, School of Arts, Brunel University,

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