Italian Detective Comic Discovers Dieselpunk

Cover of the Martin Mystère anniversary edition
Cover of the Martin Mystère anniversary edition

Martin Mystère is an Italian comic published by Sergio Bonelli Editore. It was created in 1982 by Alfredo Castelli and its protagonist, the Martin Mystère giving the title to the series, is a professor that investigates on impossible facts denied by official science.

During thirty years of monthly publications, “the Detective of the Impossible” and his companion, the Neanderthal man Java, dealt with Atlantis and other lost realms, UFOs, parapsychology, supernatural and worldwide conspiracies.

The series is set in the present day and the character grows old year after year, an event almost unique in comics. For the thirtieth anniversary of publication, Alfredo Castelli decided to publish a celebratory album, called Anni 30, where the series is moved to the 1930s.

It is not a question of time travel or any other strange plot device. The characters are the same, they just live and act in the thirties, as though they always have.

This allows the Martin Mystère to meet an incredible number of characters from the popular culture of the era, making this adventure a must for every dieselpunk fan.

In short, while Mystère is trying to rescue the Maltese Falcon, he is requested by Inspector Travis (an espy for Inspector Dick Tracy) to stop a giant gorilla that climbed up the Empire State Building in New York. He is involved in a story of gangsters (Flattop, the famous Dick Tracy’s enemy, makes an appearance), crazy scientists (Doctor Cyclops), giant monsters and more.

The experiment is very interesting. As Castelli states, “in the last thirty years [Martin Mystère] has become so recognizable that it is possible to transfer it in other epochs or other worlds without any need to give explanations and without fear to loose its identity.”

The album has an appendix where all references to 1930s are exposed and, as a bonus, the first version of the first Martin Mystère album, when the protagonist was still called with the work in progress name of Doc Robinson, “the Doc,” a reference to Doc Savage, who was an inspiration for the character, closing in this way the circle and returning to the 1930s.


  1. “Martin Mystère” is really cool! I wish I can see make it a movie or make something even better! I been watching the other story Martin Mystery! It’s really cool too…. I wish it can be revived…. so i can watch it!

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