Nick Carter stories firstly appeared in Italy as part of the international effort of the German publishing group Eichler, Street and Smith's German licensee. In Italy, Eichler's controlled company was known as Casa Editrice Americana (American Publishing House). Its dime novels indicated a fictitious New York address for the parent company, presumably a more believable address than Dresden, Germany for the publisher of serials about American detectives. The Italian branch was located in Milan, originally in the (then as now) fashionable Via Montenapoleone, although before 1911 the Italian novels were printed in Germany. Between 1908 and 1911 Eichler's Casa Editrice Americana published 150 issues of Nick Carter, il gran poliziotto americano ("Nick Carter, the Great American Detective"). No. 1 was a translation of The Master Criminal (from New Nick Carter Weekly no. 408), and the series included the whole Dr Quartz saga. A second series of 39 issues (renumbered from "Serie II, no. 1") was published in Milan by Casa Editrice Americana in 1911-1912, all translations from the New Nick Carter Weekly. In 1913 the whole enterprise of Casa Editrice Americana was sold by Eichler to Società Editoriale Milanese of Milan, later a part of the Bietti publishing group. The latter published 23 issues of a third series titled Nick Carter il più grande detective americano ("Nick Carter, the Greatest American Detective") between 1913-1914.
Nick Carter's publication in Italy was interrupted by World War I.
After the War, the Eichler international publishing empire became a scapegoat for crusades from different quarters about "immoral" dime novels. The Eichler family was accused by nationalist and anti-semitic milieus of consciously spreading immorality: in Germany, because it was Jewish, and abroad, because it was German. In Italy, Street & Smith licensed Nerbini. Originally a Socialist publisher, Nerbini had emerged as the most important dime novel and comic publisher in Italy between World Wars I and II, and as a licensee of many leading American companies of the field, including Disney. In 1919 Nerbini started its reprint of the 150 issues of Americana's first series of Nick Carter, il gran poliziotto americano, although for reasons unknown it "forgot" issue 110 ("Tre volte derubato", i.e. Three Times Stolen from New Nick Carter Weekly no. 646) so that the original no. 111 was renumbered 110, and so on. Nerbini added another 50 issues, from no. 150 to no. 200 (published in 1923) and translated inter alia the Dazaar cycle. The whole series was reprinted from 1930 to 1933 as Nick Carter lo sterminatore dei malfattori ("Nick Carter, the Exterminator of Criminals"), and the first 100 issues again between 1947-1949 as Nick Carter, il grande poliziotto americano ("Nick Carter, the Great American Detective", grande being just a form of the Italian word for "great" which had become more "modern" than gran). Nerbini never reprinted Americana's second and third series. 35 issues from these were reprinted between 1928-1929 by Nerbini's Florence competitor Attilio Quattrini. The title was the same used by Nerbini before 1930, Nick Carter il gran poliziotto americano, and it is unclear whether Quattrini was licensed either by Nerbini or Street and Smith. Occasionally, Quattrini was not above publishing pirate reprints.
A curious and certainly unauthorized series was Lord Lister contro Nick Carter, 36 novels (although 40 were originally announced) which were reprinted for three times in 1934-1935, 1938-1939 and 1945-1946 by Edizioni Illustrate Americane of Rome. Lord Lister disputed to Nick Carter the title of most successful and published dime novel hero in Europe. It had been created in 1908 by Kurt Matull (1872-1930?) for Verlangshause für Volksliteratur und Kunst. Eichler's rival in Berlin, although the copyright was later assigned to Eichler itself. Lord Lister was a gentleman thief in the tradition of the French Arsène Lupin, and ran into copyright problems by using the pseudonym of "Raffles", created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, Ernest William Hornung (1866-1921) for yet another gentleman thief. Thanks to Matull, however, Lord Lister was not simply a derivative hero. He was genuinely fun, and its fight against hypocritical gentlemen and policemen betrayed Matull's socialist and anarchist political persuasions. Eventually, many other writers authored the Lord Lister dime novels, which continued with literally thousands of new titles in Holland and Belgium up to 1967, when the final issue (no. 3687) was published in Dutch. A Lord Lister Club (www.lordlister.com) still exists in the Netherlands. The crossover of Lord Lister and Nick Carter was however due to an Italian author, Fernando Bellini (1903-1974), the son of the owner of Edizioni Illustrate Americane. Although not memorable, the Italian pirate serial had its funny moments.
Nick Carter, however, was less popular after World War II than it was before. A pocket series by Nerbini, Nuove avventure di Nick Carter ("Nick Carter's New Adventures"), in fact reprinting some of the early issues, survived only for ten issues between 1949 and 1950. By 1950, a new generation of comics and fumettes ("photo-novels") had replaced dime novels as the favorite popular reading in Italy.
The Nick Carter of the Killmaster series had some issues translated into Italian, but was never very popular. A completely different story was the revival of the original Nick Carter as a humorous detective in "TV comics" (e.g. cartoons where characters do not move), children's books, and comics by Bonvi (pseudonym of Franco Bonvicini, 1941-1995) between 1972 and 1991. This story has been told by J. Randolph Cox in this very magazine. Although the name of Nick Carter would immediately conjure the image of the Bonvi stories in most Italian readers, Bonvi himself did know and appreciate the original Street and Smith's character, who still has a small but dedicated number of affectionate collectors in Italy.