And we’re back. Welcome to Mignolaversity in 2015. Oh, what a year this is going to be! The are some very big things in store… But of course, if we were to tell you about them, Dark Horse would have us all executed. So in the interest of self preservation, in December we interviewed the only people that have immunity from such measures: Mike Mignola and his fellow writers and artists. That turned out to be quite a lot of people, so this will be the first of five parts. Check back again tomorrow for the next.
HELLBOY AND THE B.P.R.D.
“While I continue to slowly drift [Hellboy] into the afterlife in Hellboy in Hell we are also (finally) going to get more of his less-complicated agent days in Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” said Mike Mignola. “This new series (a series of miniseries) starts in 1952, and will continue with every five or six issues representing another year. Theoretically this will continue on till we get to 1993, when Seed of Destruction (the first Hellboy series) takes place. That’s the plan.”
In many ways the series is a return to the kind of stories found in the Seed of Destruction to Conqueror Worm era, when Hellboy traveled the world investigating monster sightings and kicking the crap out of Nazis. This is “classic Hellboy.”
“That is sort of it in a nutshell,” said editor, Scott Allie. “A return to a simpler time… Before he knew he was the Beast of the Apocalypse, before the B.P.R.D. was actively engaged with saving mankind from a credible threat of Armageddon. Looking back, the number of stories that we did with him as an active member of the B.P.R.D. is pretty small, but it was a great premise when Mike first introduced it twenty years ago. So there’s a lot of potential there.”
“I’ve been excited about this one for a long time,” said Mignola. “There is so much of Hellboy’s life with the B.P.R.D. and Professor Bruttenholm that we have barely even touched on. That is one of the fun things about this whole universe of ours—as it expands we realize just how much room there is to play around and do stuff. At times it’s a bit overwhelming.”
“One of the challenges, ironically, is keeping the stories small enough,” said Allie. “We’re so much in the mode of world destroying, we have to make sure that we keep the stories small and manageable, or else you’d’ve thought that sometime in the Bureau’s history someone would have mentioned that time in Brazil when Hellboy fought Quetzalcoatl and burned Sao Paolo to the ground…”
Mignola also had to be mindful that in 1952 Hellboy was not yet the agent readers are familiar with.
“It was odd writing Hellboy as the new guy,” he said. “That was the biggest thing I had to remember in plotting that first series.”
But this isn’t just about Hellboy. It’s also about the B.P.R.D., and in 1952 readers were introduced to some of Hellboy’s fellow agents, some new, others reintroduced after first appearing in the 1940s stories of B.P.R.D.
“In that way it’s really just a direct continuation of what we were doing in B.P.R.D. 1946-1948, including a number of the same players,” said Allie.
It’s very easy to think of Hellboy going on missions with Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman, but these two only joined him in the field in the late seventies. Hellboy had already been an agent for thirty years by then. These agents in 1952 are Hellboy’s closest friends in this era of his life. But they come with a built-in expiration date.Continued below
“I’ve loved watching Stegner grow as a character, and I’m dreading something terrible happening to Archie someday,” said Allie. “He’s been a great character for a while now, but I notice he’s not doddering around headquarters telling stories about when Hellboy tried wearing boots over his hooves.”
Don’t expect Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. to take a somber turn any time soon though. Quite the opposite, in fact. 1953 will be set during a period of his life when he was traveling with Professor Bruttenholm and Henry Middleton all over the British Isles, a period Hellboy has described as the happiest of his life.
“The first two issues of 1953 will actually be four stories—two in each issue—all set during Hellboy and Bruttenholm’s travels in England—and at least some of those stories will also feature Harry Middleton,” said Mignola. “The focus will really be on how the Professor and Hellboy relate to each other—Something I haven’t done very much of.”
“Like I said, we have to keep it on a smaller scale,” added Allie, “which is nice, because it’ll lead us to do more things like The Corpse. Expect some of the future issues of this series to be like Double Feature of Evil, with multiple stories in an issue.”
“The Twins are two of my favorite artists in the world, in the history of comics… I can’t say it enough,” said Scott Allie. “First time we had them contributing to Mike’s world was in 1947, though I’d worked with them before. I’d advocated pretty hard to Mike to work with them, but them being in South America, he was put off a little by not being able to get on the phone with them that easily, or inexpensively. He does a lot of his collaborating on the phone, even with very full scripts, he gets a lot from talking to a person. But with 1947, Mike naturally assumed we’d have one artist do the book, but he wanted someone who could do two distinct styles, so the reality and dream/nightmare/fantasy stuff would contrast visually. We talked about Craig Russell, but he wasn’t available to take on something like that, five issues by another writer. So rather than one guy with two styles, I said I might have the next best thing.
“Because of the way Gabriel and Fábio work, so closely, and so seamlessly—they’ve done stories with one writing, the other drawing, one penciling, the other inking, and every combination you could ask for. And their storytelling and page layout is very similar. I wouldn’t say this of my other South American twins—Sebastián and Max [Fiumara, the artists on Abe Sapien] also share a studio, but their pages are really different. Their layouts, their approach to figures, wildly different. They can ink each other, do that sort of thing, but it’s not like Bá and Moon, the similarities aren’t any where near as strong.”
Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon did an incredible job with B.P.R.D.: 1947 and went on to do B.P.R.D.: Vampire, which they also co-wrote.
“When we get to Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 we will do some kind of story focusing on Hellboy in Mexico,” said Mike Mignola. “But other than that The Coffin Man 2: The Rematch will be the last Hellboy in Mexico story.”Continued below
Dark Horse Presents #200 will come out next month, and this Wednesday the second issue of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1952 hits shelves.
Please note, this article also contains some quotes from Mike Mignola’s Horse Power article from November 2014.