Comic Book / Dylan Dog

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The second-best selling Italian comic book, once the first during the "Dylan craze" of the early nineties. Created by Tiziano Sclavi and published by Sergio Bonelli, Dylan Dog is a series focusing on a former Scotland Yard detective now known as the "Nightmare Investigator", who lives on 7 Craven Road, London and fights monsters, demons and many more otherworldly creatures for £100 a day plus expenses, or solves cases about horrifying sociopathic criminals. The series (at least during its early years) managed to deconstruct horror clichés and to create an intriguing, flawed and sympathetic Anti-Hero in a morally complex world. Dylan Dog was also known for the surreal, poetic quality of its writing and its black humour.

Because of a generally acknowledged rule, there was a Live-Action Adaptation called Dylan Dog Dead Of Night, starring Brandon Routh as the eponymous detective and co-starring Sam Huntington, Anita Briem, Peter Stormare, Taye Diggs and Kurt Angle (yes, that Kurt Angle). The storyline of the movie isn't an Adaptation Distillation of any story arc of the comic, but an entirely independent one instead. The film was poorly-received, and has been disowned by most fans of the comic.

Interestingly enough, it can be said that Dylan Dog has already had a movie version, but for the name and some minor adjustments. Based upon a book written by Tiziano Sclavi (the character's creator) around one of the very first drafts of the series (before Bonelli mandated the change from an Italian setting and protagonist to an Anglo-Saxon one, as customary for the Milanese publisher, whose only Italian hero to date was the Swiss-based Napoleone) and played by the very actor upon whose likenesses D.D. was molded (Rupert Everett), DellaMorte DellAmore is a pretty clear expy. Placed on the outskirts of Milan, minus Groucho, but definitely a young D.D., complete with melancholy zombies and a rusty VW Beetle.

Tropes:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: One of the series' trademarks.
  • The Alcoholic: Dylan was this before the beginning of the series - he started drowning his sorrows after the death of Lillie.
  • Alliterative Name: Dylan Dog.
  • Amusing Injuries: Deconstructed. In one issue, a Roger Rabbit expy came to the real world from cartoonland. Carnage ensued, since his amusing slapstick violence actually killed people, but he wasn't aware of things such as permanent injuries and death. It was actually kinda creepy.
  • Anti-Hero: Dylan is lazy, prone to mood swings and depression, anxious, full of phobias (he is afraid of flying, of ships, of heights, of bats, very afraid of closed spaces...) and not particularly brave, strong or sharp. As a bonus, several times he royally screws up his cases.
    • Dylan is also this in the film, but in a different way; basically he's more stoic and withdrawn.
  • Asshole Victim: In most of the stories, the "poor" victims of the Monster of the Week turn out to be unlikeable jerks who did something bad enough to deserve the monster's anger. In some cases, they are revealed to be even worse than the monster itself.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Happens very often. A particularly sadistic example is Dust, a Fallen Angel who was sentenced to suffer by committing evil while being unable to understand it due his nature as an angel, searching for Ash, a devil kicked out of hell and sentenced to bring happiness by helping people have what they wish the most, so Ash will be forced by his own punishment to make him understand evil. It happens, and Dust goes instantly mad.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The series drops a nuke on this trope.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
  • Broken Aesop: The series insisted that physical beauty does not count, and yet Dylan kept bedding only young, gorgeous chicks. Realizing the problem, the writers finally had Dylan sleeping with a much older, ugly, overweight woman.
  • Bungled Suicide: One special issue had a terminally ill man who, after selling his soul to Baba Yaga in exchange for revenge on the killers of his family, tried to kill himself multiple times to uphold his side of the deal, but the Devil continued to interfere in darkly funny ways because the man had sold his soul to him first (he sold it to Baba Yaga when the Devil announced he'd give him his revenge only when he would not be able to enjoy it).
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Jenkins.
  • Captain Ersatz: Mana Cerace the boogeyman is a pretty obvious one of Freddy Krueger.
  • Cartwright Curse: Being a girlfriend of Dylan Dog is really dangerous.
  • The Casanova: Usually, Dylan sleeps with at least a different woman each month.
  • Chess with Death: a story involved literally this, with interesting rules: if the person (who just died) won, he would come back to life (no drawback if he loses) but for every non-pawn piece he loses, a person close to him would die.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Dylan is this trope.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Dylan's appearance was inspired by actor Rupert Everett. Also, Kim is... well, Kim Novak. Plus, Professor Adam looks like an old Sean Connery. Some of the first stories featured characters that seemed to be based on Jack Nicholson, Bette Davis, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins and several others. And then there's Groucho. As a general rule, Sergio Bonelli Editore - the publishing house of Dylan Dog - tends to use this a lot. In reality, almost all of the main cast of every series they published is heavily based upon real actors (Alan Ladd for Tex Willer, Rupert Everett for Dylan Dog, Marlon Brando for Napoleone). Among the major series it publishes, only the protagonist of Nathan Never is not based on an actor... but his main sidekick used to be "Legs" Weaver.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Parodied. When Bloch had been shot and was comatose and not expected to survive the night, Groucho went to his bed... To unleash a long series of his aweful jokes and puns. It's made clear that Bloch could hear him when he wakes up (and survives) just to scream that someone stops Groucho and takes him away.
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Inspector Bloch, recurring character and old friend of Dylan.
    • Also the Good side of Xabaras, an old sword master confined to a mysterious island in another dimension.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Dylan loves this trope.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Dylan and Bloch, mainly.
    • Groucho as well, obviously.
  • Deal with the Devil: The story "Baba Yaga" is centered about two such deals made by the same person. Said person was terminally ill and stole from a gangster so his family could live well after he died, and the gangster in retaliation killed his family after he told him why he had done so. To have his revenge, the man sold his soul to the devil so the gangster and his men would die before him... And then the devil tells him he'll kill them right before he dies, so he won't be able to see them dying and enjoy his revenge. Furious, the man makes another deal, offering his soul to Baba Yaga in exchange for their death. Yaga delivers immediately... And the devil shows up because the man had sold the soul to him first, and refuses to let him die (and thus let Yaga claim his soul) until he can take said soul.
  • Death by Gluttony: In a story, Dylan Dog and other six people representing the Seven Sins are invited in a creepy mansion. The Gluttonous victim literally explodes after eating a mint candy after a gigantic meal. Justified, as Dylan put a bomb in that candy.
  • Death Is Cheap: In Dylan's universe, dying isn't a big problem. Hell, even Dylan has already died several times.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The series during its best years.
  • Depending on the Writer: Pink Rabbit. May be justified and enforced in-universe: according to a fan theory, he was a psycho in Pink Rabbits Kill because the first drawing artist who summoned him was a crazy murderer, and he turned into a Toon who doesn't understand what "death" is in Land of Colored Shadows because the second summoner was a nice guy.
  • Deus Exit Machina:
    • Kim, a young Hot Witch who falls in love with Dylan, was Put on a Bus because: 1) Dylan had to remain single and 2) her powers risked achieving Story Breaker status. To say nothing of her cat Cagliostro, who is even more powerful.
    • Lord Wells, Dylan's only wealthy friend, is always travelling around the world whenever Dylan needs money badly.
  • Deus ex Machina: Often needed to save Dylan's ass.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: This one is fairly common too.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Lampshaded and deconstructed in the film when Dylan tells his would-be killer that he cocked the gun too early, and that he should have waited to see if simply putting the gun in his face would be scary enough.
  • Dumb Blonde: Anna Never.
  • Enemy Without: An interesting variation where A deribelately forces B to become A's Enemy Within, so that A may physically interact with its own evil side. The disfigured villain initially wants to "commit suicide" by eliminating both his good-looking substitute and Dylan Dog, whom he forces to become his serial killer character "Joe Montero". He changes his mind and ends up using Montero to kill himself.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: In one story, Groucho is repeatedly trying trying to tell a joke about three men about to be executed (the guillotine blade keeps stopping just above their necks, so the first two are pardoned due to an Act of God, but the third man announces that he's figured out where the fault is) to a nice old lady who is an unwitting friend and companion of the evil witch, but is constantly interrupted before he can get to the punchline. After the witch is defeated, they later sit down for some tea, and Groucho finishes the joke. She doesn't get it. And then she decides to kill them all, monstering out and revealing herself to be considerably more powerful than her late friend despite acting like a dimwitted old granny the whole time.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: Many villains end up like that.
  • Fallen Angel: The comic once showed us Dust, an angel kicked out of heaven for unspecified reasons and sentenced to wander the world and commit evil and be hated for it, with the added bonus that, as an angel, he's unable to understand evil. He's since taken to committing evil on serial killers and monsters, thus ultimately doing good by making them suffer with imprisonment.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Episode #66 ends with Harvey Burton being condemned to spend the whole eternity in a void limbo because he cheated the Grim Reaper.
  • Fiery Redhead: Lillie.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Dylan is strangely sceptical for someone who has faced all sorts of supernatural occurrences.
  • Freaky Is Cool: Another trope used to nail in the concept that normal humans are the most terrifying creatures.
  • Girl of the Week: There might not be a better example of this trope.
  • Green Aesop: Dylan's favourite.
  • The Grim Reaper: Here, Death is a True Neutral who has its job to do and Dylan just happens to cross its path several times. She and Dylan spend a lot of time together.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Dylan and Groucho.
    • Dylan and Marcus in the film.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Bree Daniels, named for Bridget Fonda's Hooker with a Heart of Gold in the film Kloot.
  • Hot Witch: Kim.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Oh, boy...
  • Impersonating an Officer: This is part of Dylan's shtick when he works on a case. To be fair, he actually was a cop once, and kept his ID card. A running gag is when he uses it and thinks "Hope (s)he doesn't notice it's expired". Often, they do.
  • Just for Pun: Every other sentence said by Groucho.
  • Killed Off for Real: Lillie and Bree. Possibly Kim too.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Inspector Bloch.
  • Knight Templar: Many of Dylan's enemies.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: This is the standard reaction to pretty much anything Groucho says. He actually used it to save a life once: as Bloch lied into coma after being shot with the doctors not expecting him to get through the night, Groucho arrived to his side and unleashed lame pun after lame pun until Bloch woke up screaming that someone dragged him away.
  • Like a Son to Me: Inspector Bloch really cares about Dylan. Even more than about his own family, as it was shown in "200".
  • Loners Are Freaks: Utterly subverted, starting with Dylan himself.
  • Loud of War: Dylan Dog's clarinet rendition of the Devil Trill Sonata is treated as such, owing to it being a work for solo violin and Dylan being bad with the clarinet. During his stint in jail he drove the other prisoners to beg for him to be freed just so he'd stop playing it, and it's one of the things that have driven his neighbour to build a homemade cannon and point it at Dylan's apartment (and could well cause him to shoot it).
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Xabaras is Dylan's father.
  • Mandatory Twist Ending: All the stories written by author Chiaverotti - so much, in fact, that fans now commonly refer to this kind of finale as a "Chiaverotti ending".
  • Mind Screw: Almost every storyline about Dylan's past. And quite a few others, too.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: In an issue, a scientist is looking for a way to unlock the full potential of the human intellect, but all of his test subjects die in predictably gruesome ways. It turns out that an adult's intellect is "atrophied" after a life of underuse, and only babies are flexible enough to survive the process. When the scientist, mentally unbalanced after years of frustrations, experiments on his newborn daughter, it finally works even too well.
  • Newspaper Dating: Subverted in a 1993 storyline, where Dylan wakes up with amnesia in a post-apocalyptic future. It's only near the end of the story that he finds, in the ruins of a library, a collection of (very aged) newspapers running up to 2001, the year civilization ended. Dylan deduces he must be in the early 21st century... Then, not three panels later, he reads on a solar-powered clock it's August 4th, 2560.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Dylan either saves the day... or ruins everything.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Groucho, Dylan's sidekick. Quite obviously so. It's even the same name, even if it's known to be just an actor playing the part all the time (even when sleeping).
    • And Dylan himself is a sosia of Rupert Everett. The author Sclavi is famous for rip-offs.
    • Inspector Bloch is based on Robert Bloch, the author.
  • Non-Action Guy:
    • Dylan, while not totally incompetent in dangerous situations, definitely isn't an Action Hero and gets his ass handed to him fairly often.
      • Lampshaded in the film:
    Dylan: "For someone who thinks he's pretty smart, I sure get the crap kicked out of me a lot."
    • Groucho and Bloch are even better examples of this trope.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Groucho.
  • Occult Detective: Dylan Dog is a penniless nightmare investigator ("L'indagatore dell'incubo") who defies the whole preceding horror tradition with a vein of surrealism and an anti-bourgeois rhetoric.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Twice in "Johnny Freak". Dylan downs a glass of alcohol upon learning that Johnny's physical mutilations (except the deafness) were explants of perfectly healthy organs; and when Johnny's real family takes him away, Groucho gets uncharacteristically sad.
    • It happens again in "The Mirror of the Soul", when Dylan's laughter at Groucho's jokes creeps Groucho himself.
  • Oedipus Complex: Dylan for Morgana, big time.
  • Our Banshees Are Louder: In one story he meets a girl named Banshee, who brings death and bad luck to all those who are close to her. Of course, our hero tries to seduce her and break the nefarious curse by surviving himself.
  • Perpetual Poverty: How Dylan and Groucho live.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Groucho!
  • Pocket Protector: In a story, Groucho gets saved from a bullet to the heart by the Bible he had previously stuffed in his jacket, and lampshades the cliche. Then he reveals that he has at least seven other books inside his jacket.
  • The Pornomancer: Dylan Dog has an uncanny talent for getting in the bed of pretty much every female he meets. And we used "female" in place of "woman" because he had sex with at least one devil. And he doesn't even do that on purpose (hence why one of his suitors was actually the ghost of a witch).
  • Pungeon Master: Groucho again. He keeps telling bad jokes and puns even in the direst situations, in combat and while in a coma.
  • Rare Guns: Dylan owns an antique Bodeo Model 1889. Often Lampshaded by people who can recognize it, who wonder where did he find one (it was in a cave).
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Jenkins. Can't get humor, either.
  • Scenery Censor: Happens all the time (like in other Bonelli comics). Breasts (with *gasp* nipples!) and butts (female and male) are shown but the genitals still need to be covered with strategically placed items, pieces of furniture, or (during showers, baths and similar) implausibly high splashes of water... especially irritating since the rest of the water is often not splashing at all.
  • Serial Killer: An alarming number of them.
  • Signature Sound Effect: "SZOCK", whenever a blade penetrates someone's flesh. And sometimes "KCOZS" when it is pulled out.
  • Shared Universe: Set in the same continuity as most of the modern Bonelli (the publisher) comics, such as Zagor, Martin Mystere (on whom the cartoon Martin Mystery is loosely based on), Dampyr, and others, with some characters moving between series.
  • Shout-Out: Trying to list all of them would be a superhuman task. Stephen King is a favourite target.
    • A fairly important recurring character is called Professor Wells.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Dylan is a hopeless romantic, while the series itself can be rather bleak and cynical.
  • Status Quo Is God: A constant. Even if the story ends with Dylan dying or the world ending, next month the Reset Button will be pushed. Seriously.
    • Usually it is only a dream (Cagliostro's dream in two different episodes). Or some cosmic entity, namely Death, resets everything because "it's more interesting this way". Hell's Bureaucratic Department is good at hiding things, too.
  • STD Immunity: Dylan either has this or is very, very lucky.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Dylan.
  • Toon Transformation: Dylan Dog enters the cartoon world to pursue a homicidal pink rabbit, and gets an "actual" (toon) dog face over his own head. He is eventually able to remove it.
  • Typhoid Mary: There is a short story about a girl born into a werewolf family. While not a werewolf herself, she was a carrier of lycanthropy - anyone who came into contact with her internal fluids (including through sex) would be infected.
  • Vomiting Cop: Bloch, every so often.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Xabaras.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: If you have a problem with ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies or anything supernatural, call Dylan. He comes cheap and he is a nice guy. There's a good chance he will fuck things up and get you killed, though. And if you're a lady, you just might get laid.
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • Xabaras has developed a serum that turns people into zombies. It also happens in the confusing story where Morgana is introduced.
    • And the story "Orrore Nero" (Black Horror) features The Mafia using a Zombie-like serum to fake their deaths.

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