Supernatural investigators are a time-honored tradition in genre fiction. Sherlock Holmes, Randolph Carter, Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, Kolchak the Night-Stalker, Harry D’Amour, Harry Dresden, John Constantine, Fox Mulder. It’s as important of an archetype as, say, the cowboy.
Which explains why, as with cowboys, Italy has appropriated the tradition and made it vaguely more gay and better-dressed, specifically with Dylan Dog. I saw these comics for the first time in Rome in 2004, in Archie’s Digest-format, where they stack them at newsstands along with, well, the cowboy comics. The eponymous character is a macho detective in a black blazer and open-collared red shirt, with a sidekick who is, um, Groucho Marx. Literally. Why, I have no clue. (Also, his boss is named “Inspector Bloch” in an homage to Robert Bloch, Lovecraft protegee and author of Psycho.) All of the stories are pastiches of American movies or fiction, usually with more violence and boobs.
It all works well enough that apparently Hollywood is counter-appropriating it and making a film version, called “Dead of Night,” with Brandon Routh, directed by, um… the guy who did Snakes on a Plane. Actually, that might fit perfectly, now that I think about it…. Fun!