Protagonist of a long-running series of Italian fumetti (comic books for young to mature
adults) created by Tiziano Sclavi and published by Sergio Bonelli.
Issue 1 (L'Alba dei morti viventi) appeared in 1986, and the series reached its 308th issue (La sea madre) in 2012.
Dog (that's his name, "Mr. Dog") is a former member of Scotland Yard
who lives in London. He bears the features of the English actor Rupert Everett,
and consistently dresses in hushpuppies, bluejeans, red shirt, and a black sportcoat.
A reformed alcoholic and serial womanizer, his profession is the most interesting
thing about him: "Indagatore dell' incubo", "Nightmare investigator."
Dylan is a mixture of Ghostbuster, Quatermass, Carl Kolchak,
Scully and Mulder, Man in Black, Sam Spade,
and perhaps a little bit of James Bond. He operates out of his house/office
on 7 Craven Road in London, to which clients often come when some inexplicable
occurrance has happened to them and the police are no help. His clients' first experience
is the horrible monster roar of his doorbell, followed usually by the appearance
of Dylan's sidekick Groucho opening the door. If Dylan has the face and build
of Everett, Groucho has that of the famous Marx brother. Groucho
can always be counted on to tax your Italian by letting go a long stream of
very bad puns, and to cop a feel of the beautiful young female clients who come
calling (before Dylan inevitably beds them and then they die horribly).
Groucho exemplifies two important facets of the Dylan Dog stories. They are
highly prone to sophisticated word play, and they borrow
characters and story situations from all across the board of horror and science
fiction (and occasionally reality, as when Dylan takes on a modern Jack the
Ripper, #2, Jack lo squartatore), mixing and matching them in a vast
game of genre swapping, allusion, and sometimes, one gets to feel, outright
plagiarism. When the stories are well written, they are astonishingly good;
but when a promising concept does not pan out into a good ending, there can
be very frustrating moments, as when, for example, the monster we saw clearly early
on turns out to have been a subjective hallucination of the victim, who turns
out to have been a murderer projecting his or her guilt outwards. The play
with language is conscious, and occasionally occupies the whole field of view,
as in #136 (Lassú qualcuno ci chiama = Someone up there is calling us),
which begins with a Carl Sagan Contact scenario and features a "professor
Coe" who is a thinly veiled Umberto Eco.
Dylan is aided at tough points by his former boss, Inspector Bloch, who can
usually be counted on to get Dylan out of trouble with the law, and to show
up at the right moment with the cavalry. Bloch is a
long-suffering time server who wants very much to do the right thing, but also
complains continually that his actions on Dylan's behalf will lose him his pension.
On those occasions when Bloch can't get there in time, the day is often saved
by Groucho's opportune tossing of Dylan's old revolver to
him ("Groucho! La pistola!").
Dylan also has some recurring enemies, such as the evil but attractive
Dr. Xabaras, whom we meet in #1 ( L'alba dei morti viventi, = The Dawn of the Living Dead). Xabaras has an interesting history (as
we see in #100, La storia di Dylan Dog, = The History of Dylan
Dog: I won't spoil it here), and while he is a little like the reanimator,
he is wont to be a sort of alter-ego to Dylan (he looks somewhat like an emaciated Dylan Dog with a goatee and a string tie). Xabaras has now had a sequential pair of very important issues (# 241-242, 20th anniversary, in color) devoted to him. Dylan has acknowledged Xabaras as his father, but Xabaras seemingly passes into another dimension at the conclusion of this double issue. Since then, issue 300, Ritratto di famiglia, also in color, has focused upon Dylan's ostensible childhood in the 16th century with his parents Xabaras and (unexpectedly, Dylan's long-time reincarnated love interest) Morgana.
Dylan Dog issues are artistically significant enough that they should be translated
into English. An American audience (which I name because of economics only)
would justify the effort.