Back at the end of August, as I was walking around the Toronto Fan Expo I had my eyes open for any sort of unusual deal or book that I was willing to spend some money on. Sure, I had a few essential pick-ups that I had to make, but I also wanted to walk away with something unexpected, something that I hadn’t considered purchasing when I walked through the door.
Within a few hours I wound up with my pick. It was a mammoth book called The Dylan Dog Casefiles. This was an interesting and appealing discovery. Created by Tiziano Sclavi, Dylan Dog is an Italian comic series about a “nightmare detective” specializing in the supernatural. It began publication in the 1980’s and is apparently still going strong in it’s native country, allegedly selling something like 1 million copies a month (take that one with a grain of salt – damn you, Wikipedia, for your lack of citations. Dark Horse Comics has had the North American reprint rights, but The Dylan Dog Casefiles is the first time the character has been officially published here in nearly a decade.
I’d heard of Dylan Dog from two different sources: our good pal Japer, who had good things to say when he picked up some issues upon his travels to Italy back in the late 90’s. The other source has actually been the mainstream media, who reported last year that Brandon Routh (Bryan Singer’s Superman) was staring in a cinematic adaptation of the series, to be directed by Kevin Monroe. I’ve done some snooping around at the film, which will be titled Dead of Night, is in post-production. It was originally supposed to be out this year, and since all seems quiet on that front, I’m guessing this could be a straight-to-dvd flick. Which would be a shame, since Dylan Dog is one of the more appealing genre characters I’ve come across over the last few years.
I suppose most private detective characters have certain tropes that they have to subscribe to – an assistant always there in the nick of time; the ladies who fall under their spell; a tempestuous relationship with the police; a background that takes its time in revealing itself. The Dylan Dog which we meet in the 7 stories contained in The Dylan Dog Casefiles has all of those traits, which he exhibits all while facing off against a variety of nefarious creatures with help from a variety of characters, including his assistant Felix. Or is it Groucho?
In the original Italian version, Dylan’s assistant is named Groucho and looks exactly like Groucho Marx. This wouldn’t play here in North America (rights and all that) so the character’s moustache was removed and his name changed to Felix. But even with those changes, the enjoyable absurdity of the character remains and is always good for a laugh.
Though there is a certain stiltedness to the stories in the collection, due no doubt because of the translation from Italian to English, I breezed through the 600+ pages of The Dylan Dog Casefiles in relatively short order. There’s an actual mythology contained throughout, as we learn more about Dylan Dog and the relationships he has with the various supporting cast and Xabaras, the stories one and only recurring villain who brings with him a revelation that any genre fan will appreciate.
Zombies, serial killers, mystical worlds – they’re all there in The Dylan Dog Casefiles. If you’re a fan of shows like Supernatural of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, do yourself and check it out.