When taking up the mantle of someone else’s well-known work, the assumption is that you would try to be as faithful as possible to the original source material—to try to keep the characters true to the way the original author wrote them, as much as you can. And, in the creation of a comic, it seems the easiest aspect of this endeavor would be the artwork: Just follow the description that the original author gave. Not that there isn’t room for embellishment or creative license, but the final product should bear at least some resemblance to the character we’ve all come to know.
Therefore, drawing Dirk Gently to look exactly the opposite from the way he was originally described sends a clear message about how the creators are treating Douglas Adams’ work. This isn’t his character. It’s their character, and they’ve just slapped an established and recognizable name on it for branding purposes.
This is clear, not just from the way the character is drawn, but from the entire story. Very little feels like Douglas Adams, and none of it feels like Dirk Gently. Instead of England, Dirk now lives in San Diego. Kate Schechter, whom we met in The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul, now works for the CIA, for no discernible reason. Characters are there because we recognize them, but they bear little or no resemblance to the ones actually created by Douglas Adams.
The thing of it is, taken on its own, without tacking the name Dirk Gently to it, this would actually be kind of a fun story. It’s a little difficult to keep track of, as each issue introduces more and more plot threads, and we move at breakneck pace from one to the other. Still, each of those threads is at least moderately interesting in its own right.
There are the married serial killers who have a long list of their idols and have vowed to commit one murder in the style of each. There are the two working-class ancient Egyptians, Neferhotep and Craig, who have come to the 21st century with aspirations of achieving immortality. There are Susan and Tonya, the married owners of a detective-themed café, who find themselves assisting Dirk’s investigation, while also preparing Tonya for a concert of some sort, I think. And then, there’s Mister Bird, also an ancient Egyptian, who now sucks the life force from homeless people by giving them golden cell phones.
The stories are interesting, and the characters are a lot of fun, especially Neferhotep and Craig, the only ones who actually seem to have a bit of that Douglas Adams spark behind them. I only wish that these characters—all the characters—could have their own stories, rather than being crammed together and tacking someone else’s name to the title. Make no mistake: these are NOT Dirk Gently stories, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still worth reading.