In the beginning.
In a grey October in 1986 a new comic strip series came out signed from a promising scriptwriter grown in Bonelli, such and such Tiziano Sclavi.In that period the Italian comic strip for antonomasia was the evergreen Tex. Now, 10 years later, after
a brief anonymity, that series indeed,became the symbol of a white and black world . Yes, Dylan Dog represents comic strip in Italy: Tex fans, don't bear me , but it's undeniable that Dyd's fame has crossed,with the overbearance of a winter sea-storm, the thin borders of the cartoons, for landing on magazines, newspapers, diaries, case box, role's games, videogames. And still symposia, debates, books, wise, thesis of degree. The melancholy face of a London ex-bobby brings a lot of money to the far-sighted publishing, fame and honors to the genial (and bashful) inventor, dreams, tears and blood to his readers.
drawing by G.Gentili
Blood, above all blood: innocent blood, blue blood,ectoplasmatic blood, false blood. Blood in each sauce however, because before each other definition Dylan is Horror.After Tarantino's pulp revolution, the red squirts are ordinary in the fiction (drawn and not), but in the climbing '80s there was not still this hematic atmosphere. Certainly '50s are so far, but the first breakup element of the new series stays in his thematic: the horror. Not a bloody detective story, not a bloody fantasy: no, no, quite a splatter horror comic strip .Maybe that's why the Dylan-bomb could not be foreseen: who threads 96 pages about serial-killer, murders in all the sauces, axe strokes, heads that burst, vampires and assorted monsters. How much? 20.000-30.000 readers. 50,000 to be generous.
...not horror. Instead we all know how it has gone. Skipping (by now) each consideration about the series artistic/literary qualities, the most smooth thought to do is that probably we needed such a comic strip. We needed his cinemas and narrative pastiches,we needed his irony,
his power to speak about everything pretending to speak about horror,we needed sad histories but not desperate,we needed a master's and popular comic strip.
Rupert's face and other faces.
Or the ingredients of success, part I.
The dragging of the series is Dylan obviously. It's everything appropriate in him, from the face, (now everybody knows, but when he came out, cinema experts apart, who did realize it?) English cult-actor Rupert Everett's one. Not inspired to Rupert. Dylan IS Rupert. Precise. A plagiarism, but a winning plagiarism. Clear complexion, black hair a little bit disarranged,tumid lips, the blue and melancholy eye of beautiful tenebrous. The rest Sclavi put, building adventure after adventure a character second to few others for thickness and recognizability.Ironic and autoironic, na´ve and rash, impulsive and romantic, a shade of boring sadness (but not depressive),
a vocation as hero by force (or by love) falsely repressed, one million of mincing ways and of idiosyncrasies. And the insuppressible tendency to fall in love.
The gentle sex: horror and love.
Or the ingredients of success, part II.
Dylan and the customers, always or almost very handsome, always or almost yielding. But the beautiful of Dyd, that makes girl-readers dream (beyond to the big blue eyes) and entangles the boy-readers, it is the innocence of a teen-ager in love, the intrisic romanticism in his conception of affection, with which he approaches the weak sex. Light years distant from a misogynist as Zagor, but also distant from a vagabond of
love as Mister No, Dylan lives in each episode his history of eternal love, except for forgetting in the following number and fall madly in love with the fascinating damsel on duty.
Dylan Dog's universe.
Or the ingredients of success, part III.
Then, it comes all the rest, all what made the series moulded and fascinating beyond of his protagonist. London, meanwhile: never a "true" city has been so fake in a comic strip. The house of Craven Road, n.7, an address by now mythical for Italian fans, more than the "sherlockian" Baker Street n.223. The door's bell that does "UAAARRGH"!. The galleon to finish and already finished. The most demential mail's page in the Italian book industry.The most fatherly and humorous of the commissioners, Bloch. The car with the license plate "DYD 666". Jenkins, Mrs. Trelkovsky, lord H.G Wells, the two-headed infernal bureaucrat, the "bergmanian"
skeletal death, lord Chester. Dylan suffering from giddiness, Dylan suffering from claustrophobia, Dylan not drinking intoxicate drinks, Dylan playing "The trill of the devil" on the clarinet, Dylan not going by plane, Dylan suffering from seasickness. Dylan killing the monster with a bullet to the center of the front. But only if Groucho has thrown him the gun.