Who is Dylan Dog
Created by Tiziano Sclavi, Dylan Dog is the most celebrated protagonist of an Italian horror series. In this case, though, "horror" is a limiting definition: in actual fact, Dylan Dog's adventures, published since 1986 by Sergio Bonelli Editore (at that time Daim Press), have always alternated traditional horror with numerous "tributes" to the classical monsters (Frankenstein, the Werewolf, Dracula and many others), with a passing nod to the modern splatter of movies by Dario Argento and George Romero as well. There are also numerous references to the surreal and the fantastic, but always with a pronounced vein of irony, so that over the years the series has evolved into a sort of sophisticated horror comedy. By virtue of this special blend of ingredients, Dylan Dog has undergone a constant development, - slowly at first and then gathering pace until it exploded into a veritable cult phenomenon, become the most widely sold comic strip in Italy (it has achieved over a million copies a month, considering both previously unpublished stories and reprints). And this is not all: for the first time, a very popular comic strip that has a wide readership among the population in general has also become a highbrow literary success, acclaimed by the most famous critics and intellectuals. Dylan Dog is a private detective who deals exclusively with "strange" cases, in all the meanings of the term. He is just over thirty years old, he's British, he lives in London in a house full of "monstrous" gadgets and with a house bell that emits a blood-curdling shriek instead of ringing.
A former Scotland Yard agent, he has a mysterious past, of which little is known, and even the little that has come to light is enveloped in a dream-like surreal dimension. Therefore it is no coincidence that dreams (or rather, nightmares) and everything that seems to lie beyond the confines of reality are the focus of his own personal and professional interests. Those who turn to him for help are not the typical betrayed husband who wants to have his wife shadowed, or any of the normal types of clients of a private investigator, but rather a person who has been touched by - or who perhaps has just had a slight brush with - the black wing of the supernatural: a woman who has seen a dead person rise from the tomb and become a zombie, a man who is obsessed by ghosts, a girl whose boyfriend has been killed by a tentacular monster…
Or maybe a person who's already appealed to the police but the police won't believe a word of the story, person everybody regards as quite crazy and who would in fact often risk sliding over the edge into madness if there weren't someone around who's really willing to help. And this someone is Dylan Dog, the one and only "Investigator of Nightmares" in the world. his fees are low, and often he doesn't even demand payment: he's not interested in money (his wallet is almost always empty and he often can't even manage to pay the rent or the phone and gas bills).
It's fear that fascinates him, the irrational and unexplainable fear of the unknown. And he is no stranger to fear himself: he's certainly not an invincible hero, and in fact sometimes he really can't solve some case or other, or kill the monster, chase away the nightmare. Or rather, more often than not he manages to solve things only partially, and when everything seems to be over the horror reappears…
An anti-hero, then? Not at all: simply a man. A man who, unlike so many, does not reject the unknown but seeks instead to penetrate it and understand it, specially when mystery and horror are buried deep in the unconscious. Ironic, impulsive, problem-ridden, full of doubts about himself and his world, strong and tender at the same time, Dylan Dog hates violence (he has an absolutely ancient pistol, but he hardly ever carries it with him, and in any case he seeks only to defend himself); he loves women (and, unfailingly, in almost all the stories, he falls in love); also, he likes playing the clarinet (Tartini's "Il Trillo del Diavolo") and he has fun building a small mock-up of a galleon that he will perhaps never complete; he is a keen movie-goer, he reads a lot and likes all sorts of reading material, he absolutely adores pizza and he also wears the same kind of clothes (he has an infinite series of black jackets, red shirts and jeans).And despite all the horrors and the ghastly absurdities he has witnessed, it cannot truly be said that he has yet reached the stage of definitely, blindly, believing in the supernatural. In many cases, such as in the case of ESP or UFO phenomena, his motto is: "I don't believe in it, but I place my hope in it".
Like Woody Allen, Dylan is passionately fond of the clarinet (and of music in general, from classical music to heavy metal), but to tell the truth he's no great shakes as a musician. But this didn't prevent him, on one of the very rare occasions when he ventured outside of Britain, from playing a duet, in New York, with none other than the great Woody…. As far as the galleon is concerned, one of the emblems of the series, the small mock-up Dylan dog's been working on ever since issue nr. 1 of the series, and which he will probably never complete, it's become a multiform symbol as the Dylan saga has gradually developed: thus it can represent the ship that takes us on the journey to the world beyond death, or on the contrary it may symbolize hope in life and the power of imagination. In the past, Dylan used to be a heavy drinker, but he has managed to quit thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, and whenever he has a chance he never misses an opportunity to warn people against the dangers of alcohol, which are far worse and far more widespread than the dangers associated with drugs. On the other hand, Dylan doesn't smoke, he's an ecologist and above all a very determined animal rights activist. And women? Perdition or virtue? Certainly, he's had lots and lots of women, but he is the exact opposite of the "seductive" type whose mind is filled with nothing but sex: for Dylan, feelings are the really important aspect, and sex is always and only for love, true love.