The new old Dylan Dog: a Montalian reading – Lo Spazio Bianco

In 2019, with the arrival of the meteor and the subsequent parricidal apocalypse, the revolution took the path of the metacomic. Three years later, in 2022, it is the restoration that embarks on the path of metanarrative, or is accomplished through it. Dylan Dogthe masthead and the character, undergo a zeroing, a return to the origins on the explicit and heralded request of Tiziano Sclavi.

As every fan of serial comics knows, cycles and often recycles are part of the game. Calling them “fresh start”, “reboot”, “crisis” or “beginning of a new beginning”, the result does not change. Sometimes they taste like a breath of fresh air, others like “alright, come on, we were joking”, still others like supercazzola, almost never like “it didn’t go as hoped, sorry and thanks anyway, we’ll make up for it, love us once again”.

With the register # 435 it’s up again to the investigator of the nightmare to start again. After A new life And Deep spaceafter the cycle of meteor and the as interesting as it is ephemeral Dylan 666it’s time to Two minutes to midnight. In this case it is a step backwards, with the hope that it will serve to catch up and take off at the end of the trilogy born from the subjects of Claudius Lanzoniscripted by Robert Recchioni and designed by George Pontrellias regards the first act, and from Barbara Baraldi And Sergio Gerasi for the next two.

The episode that kicks off the restoration opens with John Ghost, the spokesperson for Recchioni’s revolution, who scans the horizon and, resigned to getting lost in his universe now close to falling apart, notices a glitch, “a visual field disturbance”. Unarmed, perhaps even lacking the cognitive tools necessary to understand the situation, despite being a genius, he comments: “The center doesn’t hold up… things go downhill”; then, before disappearing, he thinks: “Reality always finds a way”. Pontrelli’s drawings recreate this glitch-effect with broken lines, jumping contours, offset strokes. It almost seems like reading the comic with a strong migraine attack with aura in progress, only that instead of the colors of the rainbow, the eyes and the brain are harassed by black and white. Translating it into Italian, the term “glitch” can be rendered with our “failure” and “malfunction”. Conceptually, it can be said that it is a discontinuity with respect to the ordinary course of things.

dylan dog 435 int ghost

The poet was a great lover of discontinuity, so much so that he included it in many of his poems Eugene Montale. Playing with some texts from the collection Cuttlefish bones, published in 1925, it is possible to identify some points of contact with the beginning of the trilogy dedicated to Dylan Dog. The collection opens with At the outsetfour verses that evoke significant images such as the wind that enters a closed place and revives it, the crucible in which different experiences are mixed and a saving ghost that offers a way out of the past towards the future. These elements typical of Montali’s page resonate in Pontrelli’s cartoons, in which the protagonist’s daily life is turned upside down by the arrival of a postal package: on the sender’s trail, he enters a hotel that becomes a labyrinth and a portal to another world in which different existences mix and cancel each other out. However, Dog is offered another possibility, since he can take a different path that takes him back to 1986, or rather to his 86 self, also thanks to the help of a mysterious figure.

Yet, with At the outsetMontale introduces the irregularity of the “broken mesh in the net”, refrain that finds itself in it The lemons in the form of “Nature’s mistake”, “dead end of the world” And “ring that doesn’t hold”. They are isotopias that return in the “shabby wall” from Don’t ask us to speak (in the section Cuttlefish bones of the collection of the same name), in the “split” that “he comes” in the concluding quatrain of Arremba on the strinata prodain “splinter out of time” from I wanted to feel rough and essential (in the section Mediterranean), in the “cobweb” that “it rips apart in step” from Eclogue (in the section Noons and shadows) and in the “arid spirals of crevasses” from Clivusup to the lines of the third stanza of House by the sea:

I think that for most it is not salvation,
but some subvert every plan,
pass the gate, whoever wanted to find himself.
Before I give in, I would like to mark you
this escape route
fleeting as in the agitated fields
of the sea foam or wrinkle.

dylan dog 435 int grouchoFor his part, the Dylan of Lanzoni, Recchioni and Pontrelli breaks through the boundaries of a cartoon and penetrates the white space, where he must seek the “psychopath” who had told him shortly before that he would soon be ready to follow him. Once broken, the cage becomes a superfluous grid, tinsel, ring that does not hold and does not support the investigator’s wandering from one corner of the double splash-page to the other, in a curvilinear movement that becomes a fall and a thud. The “limen” has been crossed, the threshold crossed, Dog is in the “other world” in which “monsters live” that he once understood, before they overwrote him, until they turned him into a character “too structured, too defined… too… finished!”.

In order to prevent the end from coming, the three cartoonists try to subvert the drawing, to show the investigator an escape route, not towards the Montalian sea but towards a new beginning. However, there are waters to navigate through, those of the Thames, to once again reach number seven on Craven Road. The recomposed grid houses a submerged London, a bit like New York kamandi and a bit of Neo-Tokyo’s Akirawhile onomatopoeias, such as wave motion, accompany the crossing: the liquid perspectives give way to the monolithic city and the familiar building, in which to welcome Dylan there is an individual who escaped from the glitch. Whether it is a mistake of Nature or a “ghost that saves you” the last two acts of the trilogy will tell us.

We talked about:
Dylan Dog #435 – Two minutes to midnight
Claudio Lanzoni, Roberto Recchioni, George Pontrelli
Sergio Bonelli Publisher, December 2022
98 pages, paperback, black and white – €4.40
ISSN: 977112158000920435

The new old Dylan Dog: a Montalian reading – Lo Spazio Bianco