Tomorrow is the big day, as there will be celebrations across the world for the 20th Anniversary of Hellboy’s first appearance. Mike Mignola’s influence is felt far and wide, in different ways for different people. Some just appreciate his work and the world he created. Some draw on him as an influence for their storytelling. Others? Others say that his work genuinely changed their lives.
But after 20 years, there are so many wonderful stories to choose from that were created by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, Richard Corben and more that it makes it rather hard to choose just one as a favorite. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t try, though, as we’ve asked creators who double as fans of Mike and his beloved characters to share what their favorite Hellboy story is, and why it’s their favorite. Take a look below, and please, share your favorite in the comments.
(“B.P.R.D.” cover artist, co-creator and artist for “American Vampire: Second Cycle”)
“Seed of Destruction” not only introduced me to Hellboy’s universe, but also made me see comics with new eyes. Mignola’s perfectly composed art echoes in my mind every time I have to think a scene or layout a page. Just like a tattoo in my brain that reminds me that, despite of what some people say, silly and fun, are completely different things.
(Creator of “Head Lopper”)
(Skelton Crew Studio)
Don’t get all grossed out, I’ll probably just use clay…maybe.
(Artist for “X-Men”)
(Creator of “Mouse Guard”)
Picking a favorite Hellboy story is a pretty tall order. I love ’em all. I love the multi-part epics that move the mythology forward. I love the standalone hardcovers telling tales from Hellboy’s past. But more than anything, I love the short stories, perfect little atmospheric gems of mood. What makes me admire them even more is that I know crafting a well-told plot in eight or ten pages is a much tougher task than doing so in a full issue. Mike’s done a lot of great shorts; “Goodbye Mister Tod” and “The Iron Shoes” come to mind immediately. But my favorite has to be “Heads” because … well, flying Japanese vampire heads. The story is a delicious balance of horror and black comedy, and Mike’s art evokes Edo-period woodblock prints. For me, “Heads” is the perfect Hellboy story.
Set in Japan it’s about some vampires, but that has nothing to do with why I like it. It’s the storytelling that completely bowled me over, that made it so memorable — and Page Six of this story in particular is what really did it for me. Hellboy is using a rope and an ornamental stone lantern to sink a bunch of bodies to the bottom of a pond, and the economy of storytelling is phenomenal!! There’s NOTHING there that you don’t need to clearly communicate the action. It’s boiled down to just three panels. Three clear, beautifully drawn panels with just enough to tell the reader everything he/she needs to know.
Are there better examples of Mike’s storytelling? Maybe. Probably, in fact. I can’t tell you why this one stuck out, but to this day I still think of “Heads” as something special.
(Mignolaverse Assistant Editor)
My favorite Hellboy story is probably “Hellboy in Mexico.” It’s definitely hard to pick just one, but I LOVE “Hellboy in Mexico.” Combing the talents of both comics legends Mike Mignola and Richard Corben. It’s hilarious and tragic at the same time and one of the few comics that I find fun to read out loud.
(Writer for “Abe Sapien,” Mignolaverse Editor)
My favorite Hellboy story changes all the time, but thanks to some recent rereading, I find myself loving “King Vold.” The scene with Broom and Hellboy is beautiful, there haven’t been enough of those in the comics. I laugh out loud at the establishing panel when Hellboy says, “Norway.” The rundown of Norway folklore, and Hellboy’s dawning realization that he’s being played are all really nice nicely done, but it’s that blurry line between wolf and berserker, and the coins falling through the guy’s hand—the page layout, and the way the coin falls through the page—that I marvel at. I love Mike’s tendency to mix really subtle humor with moody moments, and the way he sees movement across a page. “King Vold” isn’t a story we talk about much, or look back on much, but I had reason to recently, and was reminded how much I love it.Continued below
(Writer for the upcoming “Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland”)
But, for sheer epic storytelling combined with terrific art, it’s hard to top The Fury, which pulls together so much of what’s been foreshadowed about Hellboy’s history and hinted about his future. One of the things I admire about Hellboy is how he strives for autonomy despite all the power players who are trying to control him. Often, his destiny seems immutable, but Hellboy continues to fight against it. There’s also brilliant art by Duncan Fregedo, and as usual Dave Stewart’s colours are perfect. Mike brings Hellboy to the climax of a monumental battle with flashes of his trademark deadpan humour despite the grim situation. I won’t go into my love for “Hellboy in Hell,” as I think I’ve already mentioned too many stories!
It’s a few years later and now I find I return to my original way of thinking, my favourite is the latest issue released: “Hellboy in Hell” staggers me with each new issue, revelations abound in each issue, dealt with deafening understatement. Just amazing stuff.
Of course, we also want to know your favourites. Tell us in the comments section below, and if you’re not sure, maybe refresh your memory with the Hellboy MegaBundle currently on Dark Horse Digital. It includes every single comic to date for only $50, which is especially good for people new to Hellboy. Plus there’s few things better than binge reading twenty years of Mignola’s comics.