Tag: Dylan Dog

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    Between the Occult and the Detective

    Between the Occult and the Detective

    There are two comic themes that when combined can make for enthralling reading — detectives/private eyes and magic. This coupling of sleuthing and the supernatural (including religion, the occult, sorcery and more) is pervasive in comics and the noir characteristics just heighten the thrills.

    hellblazerAnd no one fits that bill better than the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Created originally in Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing in 1985, it wasn’t until 1988 when Hellblazer #1 hit the stands. Ever since, John has been working his magic in comics, on film in the Constantine movie, and in the short-lived and underrated Constantine television show. He’s  also part of pop culture in general (the Supernatural TV series borrows heavily from John Constantine for Castiel’s character).

    With 30-plus years of this character’s history, it can be daunting to know where to start. A good entry point is a graphic novel. Surprisingly, it’s not the  first volume — John Constantine, Hellblazer: Original Sins, but the fifth volume: Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits. Written by longtime Hellblazer writer Garth Ennis, this volume actually inspired parts of the 2005 Constantine movie.

    The story is pretty simple — John’s dying. All those cigarettes have caused an advanced terminal lung cancer. Knowing that his soul is damned and Hell is ready for him, John moves to cure his disease and save himself. What happens after he sets down this course is truly amazing.

    Another must read Hellblazer arc was created by celebrated crime novelist, Ian Rankin, for Vertigo’s crime imprint called Dark Entries in 2009. This was the first Original Graphic Novel (also called an OGN), meaning it was never released as single issues. The plot involves John trying to figure out why a house on a reality TV program is haunted. Of course, he can’t stop production, so he joins the series and starts to unravel the mystery.

    One of the big draws is the inclusion of religion within the series. It’s not just focused on Christianity. Voodoo magic is used regularly not only by Constantine, but his frenemy Papa Midnight. Although Catholicism is most prominent, the series never ignores the idea of other religions in the world.

    Look Overseas for Great Horror Comics

    Hellblazer isn’t the only series to blend magic and religion. Around the same time, Italian writer Tiziano Sclavi was introducing the world to Dylan Dog. A self-proclaimed Nightmare Investigator, Dylan, unlike John Constantine, was likeable. By 2011, Dylan Dog reached 300 issues, but only a handful made it to the United States.

    Dylan’s occult interactions mainly revolve around the classic monsters like vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Although, demons have crossed paths with him a few times.

    Many were first introduced to this character in the Dylan Dog Case Files from Dark Horse Comics. This graphic novel featured selected stories that were translated and released just prior to the Dylan Dog: Dead of Night film that starred Brandon Routh. The Dylan Dog Case Files is a great compilation of stories from the Italian series, but up until September 2016 it was the only source of Dylan Dog stories available in the U.S. Now, new stories are starting to come out from Epicenter Comics. Reportedly, there will also be reprints of past stories.

    How to Steal a Ghost

    ghostedAnother series that blends crime and the occult is Joshua Williamson’s Ghosted. Williamson is currently heading up The Flash series in DC’s Rebirth, and it’s been great.

    Ghosted, published by Image Comics, is further evidence that Williamson is the real deal. The series follows one of the world’s greatest thieves as he’s pulled into the world of the occult. He’s broken out of prison and offered the chance to steal something no one else has — a ghost.

    Think equal parts Ocean’s 11 and The Shining. Things are never as they seem, and our hero has to rely on more than his wits to get out of this situation. Pulling together a team of experts to help him steal this ghost, he assembles a psychic, an occult historian, a tech guy to record the ghost, and a skeptic. Overall, if you want to add a little heist into your horror, Ghosted is for you.

    Don’t Fear, The Slayer is Here

    buffyWho could really forget about the hit television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Buffy hunts vampires, but her adventures go WAY further than that including her best friend going into full-witch mode on her!

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Buffy Summers, the chosen one in a long line of young women destined to battle evil forces. She becomes “The Slayer” giving her increased physical strength, endurance, agility, accelerated healing, intuition, and a limited degree of clairvoyance. Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Giles, whose job is to train and assist the Slayers. Then it gets more complicated.

    But when the TV show ended, the fun didn’t. After the official comic book continuation of the series in Buffy Season 8, 9, and 10, we’re poised to jump into Buffy Season 11 in November 2016. Unencumbered by network television show budgets, this comic has gone to some great heights in recent years.

    The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator

    hellboyHellboy is one of the longest running, most widely celebrated horror series. With hundreds of issues and dozens of spinoffs, Mike Mignola has done something really amazing with this series by creating a new universe.

    Aside from DC and Marvel, there really aren’t a lot of big universes in comics, especially ones that walk that horror/mystery line so well. Hellboy or the “Mignola-verse” is a rich tapestry that features a variety of complex characters set a world that draws on centuries of folk-tales, yarns, and fables.

    Hellboy remains one of the few series that begs you to re-read the stories regularly. It’s great for curling up with during inclement weather or when you find yourself with an extended weekend.

    There are plenty of other occult and horror comics that split their genre with detective and noir storytelling. What are some of your favorites? Let us know below.

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    Dylan Dog

    Nightmares can’t hurt you. There’s no such thing as the walking dead. Monsters are all in your imagination. We tell ourselves these things to make us feel safe at night, to give us strength against the unknown.

    But there are things in the dark that can hurt us. Just ask Dylan Dog.

    An ex-cop who now battles against evil as a “nightmare investigator,” Dylan Dog is unlike any private eye you’ve ever met. If creatures from beyond the unknown are after you, and if you can hire him, he just might save your life.

    Here’s what one of our employees said about Dylan Dog:
    A brief and frequently repeated scene from my childhood, circa 13 years old:

    “I’ve been walking for about 20 minutes, down windy cobblestone roads, in the unmitigated heat, sweat pouring down my neck. I finally reach the “piazza,” or the central plaza of my little Italian town, and I go to the giornalaio (newspaper vendor) and revel in anticipation . . . you see, today is the day the new Dylan Dog comes out.”

    I grew up with Dylan Dog comics, spending weeks saving up for them, and hungrily devouring them in mere minutes after I bought them. And now you know that anything I tell you about the Dylan Dog Case Files collection of “Seven spine-tingling stories,” as it proclaims on the back cover, will be completely and irredeemably biased.

    However, “bias” is an incredibly useful tool when talking about Dylan Dog. He is a “nightmare investigator,” a fiendishly handsome private eye (looks loosely based on British actor Rupert Everett), with a sharp mind, open to the possibilities of the paranormal, and understanding of the depths of human evil. So: unbiased towards the existence of zombies, vampires, the devil incarnate, and all the other usual suspects. His clients tend to be beautiful and somehow flawed women that Dylan usually falls for. He subsequently consummates his love, and invariably ends up with a broken heart. So now we know he’s heavily biased towards the fairer sex. His wisecracking assistant, Felix (who in the Italian versions is actually a mustachioed Groucho Marx!), is a constant barrage of horrible but guilty-pleasure inducing puns, and most anyone who meets him is immediately regretful of ever making his acquaintance.

    Now you know that Dylan Dog has elements that a young 13-year-old Italian boy finds irresistible: monsters, intrigue, hot women, and slapstick humor. But why should you read it? Because as I grew older, while I could still revel in the simple candy-like, fast-paced action and fantastic and bizarre otherworldly drawing, I started to find that the ideas and feelings that were carefully spun in to many of the books were downright genius. From the touching love and the corresponding mirror of hate that all humans are shown to be capable of in the Johnny Freak story, to the loneliness evoked by Memories From the Invisible World, to the idea of a multi-dimensional Shangri-La in Zed, I am always amazed by how much the comic medium can make you feel. Nothing has ever come closer to fully describing exhaustion better than After Midnight, and Fata Morgana has got to be the best reality-bending dream-state zombie story ever. Period.

    If you happen to pick up this tome (680 pages!) and end up liking it, you should keep your eyes out for the soon to released Dylan Dog feature film Dead of Night (from an AMC blog). A little to my dismay, Dylan Dog has been cast as Brandon Roush of Superman fame. I’m a little concerned that he’ll be a little too “soft.” But, if the movie ends up not doing the comic justice, we’ll still have the innumerable volumes of Dylan Dog to read.

    Anyhoos, get this book, whatever it takes: buy it from us, borrow it from a friend, get it from the library, whatever. It’s a comic masterpiece. But, what do I know? As I said before, I’m biased.

    So what do you think? Still not quite convinced? Check out the First Look.

    To top it off, we’re picking one person who orders Dylan Dog today and giving it to them for free. Yep, all they’ll pay is shipping. You could be that lucky person.

    Wanna take a shot? Order Dylan Dog now and check back tomorrow to see if you won!

    Check out other cool horror stuff on our Horror Month page.

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