April 20, 2019


One of the most interesting characters I've discovered while researching pre-WWI pulps and serials is Zigomar, a criminal mastermind who debuted a couple of years before Fantomas. Created by Leon Sazie in 1909, Zigomar played an important role in early crime pulps and the evolution of genre cinema. I've been casually looking for a scan of my favorite Georges Vallée's original pulp cover for my (slowly building) Spy Vibe book and came across the very image I needed on an upcoming release by Black Coat Press. Michael Shreve, who worked on adaptations of the Madame Atomos series for Black Coat, has, from what I can tell, completed the first English translation of the early Zigomar stories. Very cool! From the press release: "Zigomar is a character dreamed up by Léon Sazie in 1909, two years before the now much more celebrated Fantômas. An evil, nefarious character, a criminal genius, Zigomar was so popular in his time that his picture could be found on bags of bread, pipes and matchboxes. Masked, hooded, or in disguise, Zigomar constantly bedevils the law. The first of the masked super-criminals, he shares with Fantômas a taste for gratuitous, melodramatic crimes, imaginative atrocities (typhus-bearing mosquitoes being only one such example), murder, kidnapping, robbery, and torture. His inevitable escape from the clutches of the law, his perpetual evasion of justice, made him very popular with the public and he left his mark on the history of crime fiction. Of Basque origin, Léon Sazie was born in Algeria in 1862 and died in an accident in Suresne near Paris in 1939. When he was still a child, his father committed suicide after being ruined in a bank fraud. Sazie eventually became a journalist, before turning to theater and, eventually, to serial fiction. He created Martin Numa, King of detectives, in 1908, and Zigomar a year later. He was also a brilliant fencer who fought several duels. This volume, translated and introduced by Michael Shreve, contains a translation of the first of the six Zigomar novels, plus an introduction, bibliography and filmography (Zigomar was adapted three times for the screen in silent movie serials)." Publishing on May 1st. More info at Black Coat Press and Amazon. Below: the wonderful cover I was searching for; a cool, stylized costume with sinister dashes of early tech and even steampunk sensibility. Spy Vibers, please check out my new book (over 700 pages!) about one of America's most successful cartoonists: Talking Mort Walker: A Life in Comics. Enjoy!

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