This Wednesday Adam Hughes returns to the Hellboy Universe for a new one-shot tale, “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club.” Obviously, this is a big deal, as his previous collaboration with Mike Mignola resulted in one of the best comics of 2017, so we wanted to have a chat him about what he and Mignola have planned in this new tale.
Adam Hughes: Every year at SDCC, my first act is to go around the other side of our booth block and buy all of Mignola’s offerings. He always refuses my money. I always then give the cash to his daughter, telling her to spend it on liquor and drugs. That year, 2016, I just had my first issue of “Betty & Veronica” come out. Mike, who I’ve known casually since the ’80s, said, “Hey, now that you’re a writer, we should work together.” I was baffled, as I thought he meant that I should write for him to draw, which would be a bad comic book by anyone’s yardstick. But later that year, around December, when I was frustrated with things, I emailed him and said, “Let’s do something.” Hence, ‘Krampusnacht.’
After it won an Eisner for Best Single Issue Mike said, “Wow. I guess we should do another one?” That was the high and low of it.
As for the award itself? I was stunned. I’m at the career stage where I’m past awards of merit, as I deliver the Same Old Same Old all the time. The only awards I have to look forward to are MAYBE Lifetime Achievement awards for simply lasting in American comics an entire career. To win an award for something specific like ‘Krampusnacht’ was a real “WTF?” moment.
A.H.: Mike ran his idea by me, seeing if it was the kind of story I wanted to draw. Are you kidding me? All his stories are instant yeses from me. He’s that brilliant. The only thing he didn’t have was a locale. I pitched him Savannah, Georgia––I live in Atlanta––as it’s an old town with a lovely haunted history. That was the only honing, apart from my first round of layouts being too whimsical and needing revision. I had just finished reading some of the more whimsical “Hellboy” shorts and I totally missed the Sad Ghost Story vibe Mike was shooting for. He corrected me, in his sweet and gentle way.
You’ve spoken before about the difficulty of drawing Hellboy (How much hair does Hellboy have? … How high up should his horns go, and at what angle? … Does Hellboy have lips?). Was he easier this time around or did you uncover some new challenges?
A.H.: NO, GODDAMNIT. I cannot draw Hellboy for the life of me. Every illustration of him is like taking a hill in the Korean War. Why couldn’t he be a sexy demoness with a Right Boob of Doom? But I gave it my best shot.
A.H.: Yeah, Pauline Raskin has just been a bit player in a couple of wonderful short stories, hasn’t she? Because she hasn’t had much to do in the Mignola Legendarium, I felt she was mine to pee on and make my own. (Please excuse the metaphor, we have three cats and people don’t visit much.) So I took her from a Mignola shape in a B.P.R.D. windbreaker with glasses and brown hair that ends in a swoop, and made her into a tough, lanky paranormal lawperson with bootcut jeans who rounds up ghosts for a living. I thought that juxtaposed nicely with the other ladies of the B.P.R.D.
Since ‘The Seven Wives Club’ hasn’t come out yet, I’ll have to be careful how I phrase this question. Mignola often draws human anatomy mannequins and dissected cadavers in his stories, so much so that, like puppets and Victorian apparatuses, they can often be part of what makes a Mignola book feel Mignola-esque. So what was it like for you to take part in this particular tradition and put your own twist on it?
A.H.: Right?!? Mike loves those medical cadavers and gloriously decorates his comics with them like Martha Stewart on crank. I struggled, I’m not gonna lie. We all have our wheelhouses, and Mike’s are not mine and mine are not his. And yet, when we team up, it’s like Bowie and Bing Crosby singing Christmas carols. Or some better metaphor. Leave me alone. It’s been a long year.
Aye, that it has.
Even though ‘Krampusnacht’ was three years ago, you haven’t really been away from the Hellboy Universe—your art has since graced the covers of “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” collections. Can we expect from you in the Hellboy Universe’s future?
A.H.: That depends on how hard Mignola and Dark Horse have been hitting the sauce this pandemic. Working with me must be the worst, but once the bruises heal and you’re holding a swell comic and you have to clear the “Bob’s Burgers” Beefsquatch vinyl off the mantle to make room for all the awards, you start thinking stupid thoughts like “Let’s work with Adam Hughes again.”
Look for “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Seven Wives Club” in comic stores this Wednesday!
Written by Mike Mignola
Illustrated by Adam Hughes
Lettered by Clem Robins
The team behind the Eisner Award-winning one-shot Hellboy: Krampusnacht spins a new ghostly yarn! Hellboy comes to the aid of a young girl whose ghost hunt goes wrong, and a visit to an abandoned medical school reveals sinister layers to a grisly, long-ago murder. Stolen cadavers, vengeful spirits, and more abound in this one-shot.
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola reunites with fan-favorite artist Adam Hughes for a spirit-fueled scream fest sure to excite old and new fans alike!