Fans of Italian comic character Dylan Dog were sent into a spin earlier this month after an “extremely rare American magazine with Dylan Dog cover” was offered on on eBay Italy. They got even more excited when the as yet unidentified cover, carefully anonymised by the seller keen to sell it for an eye-watering price, by British artist John Bolton, proved to be a promotion for an English language Dylan Dog collection that was never published.
While Dylan Dog, an investigator of the paranormal, is hugely popular in Italy and indeed, much of Europe, the character’s publication history in English is, sadly, a bit underwhelming. Dark Horse was the first US publisher to succeed, releasing a limited edition series with covers by Mike Mignola in 1999, subsequently collected as The Dylan Dog Case Files. (Good luck finding a cheap copy of that, it seems).
Today, the stories of ex-cop who battles against evil as a “nightmare investigator,” created back in 1986 by writer Tizlano Sclavi for Italian publishing house Sergio Bonelli Editore have been published most recently in English by San Diego-based Epicenter Comics.
However, back in 1993, Britain’s Atomeka Press, now AtomekaArt, attempted to bring Dylan Dog to English audiences, two series, the character retitled “Damien Darke”, were trailed in Diamond PREVIEWS, and elsewhere: “The Living Dead”, with covers by John Bolton; and “Trapped in Time”, with covers by the late John Watkiss.
“The character rename was purely down to a general consensus that Dylan Dog as a name wouldn’t be taken seriously,” Dave Elliott tells downthetubes. “It was done in conjunction with Sergio Bonelli, who approved the renaming.”
While the promotions for “Damien Darke” in three issues of PREVIEWS in 1993 were in black and white, there was a promotion in colour, too, the source of the Italian eBay seller’s “cover” offer, that sent some Dylan Dog fans into determined overdrive to find the source.
Thanks to them, we now know it ran on the cover of the comic industry preview magazine Comics Scoreboard No. 46, cover dated August 1993, published by Heroes World.
Atomeka Press, also known as AtomekaArt, founded by Dave Elliott and the late Garry Leach, was originally established to publish the A1 anthology in the late 1980s/early 1990s. First operating from 1988 – 1997, the imprint was revived from 2004 – 2005.
In 1992, Tundra set up its UK office and several Tundra-funded titles were published under the Atomeka imprint, including Monster Massacre, Bogie Man, Hugo Tate, Lords of Misrule.
Sadly, it was Tundra’s collapse that meant the planned “Damien Darke” series didn’t go ahead. “We were also going to be publishing manga as well,” Dave reveals. “The first was to have been GON, from Kodansha, that went to DC.”
After Titan Comics launched, Dave worked on numerous titles as part of a co-publishing deal, the publisher’s initial line favouring creator-owned material. This included a further revival of Atomeka’s A1 anthology.
Never one to not keep busy, Dave has continued to work in comics to this day, teasing that, long term, new projects are in the works from Atomeka, which will be revealed in due course. We wish him and his team the very best of luck in their en
• Europe Comics is a great resource for European comics published in English at www.europecomics.com | You might also want to check European Comics, although it appears this site hasn’t been updated for a while
Richard Sheaf is documenting the vintage publishing catalogue of Atomeka on his Boy’s Adventure Comics Blog, as follows
With thanks to Gianni Bevilacqua for sending me on this quest, Reuben Willmott for scans, and, especially, Dave Elliott, for not minding being mind probed about vintage projects!
• This article was updated on Wednesday 24th August to reflect identification of the mystery promotional cover