It’s Abe Sapien Month at Multiversity! To see all sorts of Abe content, like our “Evolution of Abe Sapien” contest, fantastic original art, interviews and more, click here.
Unless you’ve been in a coma unti this very moment, and somehow you got right to this article without seeing the front page of Multiversity, you must realize that this month we are going whole hog on the B.P.R.D. character Abe Sapien (also – welcome back from your coma). This is a huge month for us, full of incredible artwork, a contest, and special posts talking about Abe and his friends in the Mignolaverse.
But I’m sure that some of you out there are wondering what all the fuss is about. Why does this character, why do these books, deserve such attention.
That’s where we come in.
On our staff, we have a number of big fans of the Mignola books and, in case you aren’t one of them, we are here to tell you why we love them, and why you should too.
Also, make sure to pre-order the newest addition to the Mignolaverse, “Abe Sapien,” #1 using the Diamond Code FEB130010, and also check out our “Evolution of Abe Sapien” art contest.
Columnist, Mark Tweedale:
I love that the Mignolaverse doesn’t flinch in the face of the promises it’s made. They fully commit to their decisions with no backdoors to reset things. Roger is dead, and he’s staying dead. So’s Hellboy. They told us back in 2010 that Abe would become a monster and three years later, he’s a monster. Hell, they told us back in 1994 the end of the world was coming and in 2010 it began, then kicked into high gear in 2012. Instead of sidestepping it like others would, they attacked it head on… and it wasn’t the end of the story. This isn’t the final issue of a story; it’s a massive multi-arc story planned for many years. They really committed to this thing.
I can’t recall another comicbook universe that’s both so enormous and yet so cohesive. They wouldn’t have that if they wanted to preserve their world. By pulling at the seams, they’ve made a fascinating show of the unraveling process.
Columnist, Nathaniel Perkins:
I’m sure most of my colleagues here will be extolling the virtues of the various Hellboy-related titles in the Mignolaverse. B.P.R.D., Hellboy and Abe Sapien are all pretty awesome, for sure, and deserve all the love they get (and more) but there’s one little, semi-related and yet totally independent corner of the Mignolaverse that doesn’t get as much love, but quickly became my favorite title with the name “Mignola” on the cover: Baltimore. In a world where vampires sparkle, get in to relationships, form complex social systems to control humanity and harvest blood like milk from a cow, and get in to blood-fueds with werewolves, it’s refreshing to have a book that takes a more classic approach to vampires as simply the alpha predator of the monster world. In the world of Baltimore, vampires may be powerful, capable of reducing Europe to smoldering ruins in only a few short years, but in the end, they are simply a form of evil to be hunted down and destroyed, and Lord Henry Baltimore is the man for the job. He seeks the vampire responsible for the loss of his family and the infection that cost him one of his legs, but he’s always a step or two behind, and much of the conflict comes from the dangers and difficulties he encounters on the search for his prey, rather than the prey itself. In essence, Baltimore is the Moby Dick of the vampire genre, only a lot more approachable and full of some amazing artwork by Ben Stenbeck and Dave Stewart. My only complaint is that Baltimore comics are so few and far-between.
Podcaster, Mike Romeo:
I think I have two main reasons for loving Mignola’s Hellboy. First, and perhaps it’s an obvious reason to love a comic, is the art. I had seen Mignola’s work plenty of times before, but I remember the first time I really looked at a Hellboy page. I mean really looked. It was the third page of The Baba Yaga, and it creeped me out. “Come out babies… Grandmother wants to see you. …2,3,4…” There she was, flying in some sort of chalice, counting the dead fingers that’ve unearthed themselves. I was lingering on the page, trying to wrap my brain around it all, when it hit me. The page is made up of a collage of shapes. Big blocky shapes that, when taken out of context, would probably not make any sense. But there they were, all these shapes feeding off of each other, making perfect sense. Long, jagged rectangles are headstones on the horizon. Pen tics in the foreground become blades of glass. It shouldn’t work, but it does. And the affect was profound. It cut me to the quick.Continued below
So why did it affect me so? Well, that’s my second reason. Mood. Art, by it’s very definition, should provoke an emotional response. And that’s what Mignola had done. This page, in a half dozen panels, hammered me with ambivalence like no other comic had before it. I was simultaneously afraid of and sympathetic towards the Baba Yagga. I felt like her counting up all the fingers was either sad and innocent, or evil and foreboding. It wasn’t possible for there to be an in between.
Mike Mignola is, without hyperbole, a true modern master. He combines the bombastic energy of Jack Kirby and his New Gods with the quiet horror of Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos. His name is on the covers of the most interesting and dynamic comics currently being published, and they’re out there on an almost weekly basis. Between Hellboy and it’s sister titles like BPRD, Lobster Johnson, Baltimore, and Witchfinder, there is something for everyone to enjoy. These titles take readers from 19th century England, through two world wars, all the way up to a modern day apocalypse and the depths of a really weird Hell. So pick up any of Mignola’s work and discover some of your own reasons to love it. There are plenty to choose from.
Associate Editor, Walter Richardson:
Folklore and mythology are my bread and butter, particularly when it comes to old monster tales. As such, it’s no surprise that I dig the Mignolaverse. While many of the characters involved — from Mignola’s star Hellboy to Multiversity fav Abe Sapien — are original characters, many of the concepts in Mignola’s world have their base in stories that have been around for centuries. Besides generally being able to tell a great tale, though, Mignola’s greatest strength is being able to make the old sound new again. Whenever he deals with a classic concept such as, say, the Arthurian Legend, you know you won’t be getting the same ol’ same ol’. And yet, he always manages to remain respectful to the material he is working with.
By surrounding himself with equally clever and respectful creators, Mignola has made the strongest shared universe in comics in the span of two decades. And, let’s be honest, many of us comic fans love the idea of a sprawling setting filled with dozens of unique characters and intertwining storylines. Guided by Mignola’s steady hand, the brilliant words of John Arcudi, the behind-the-scenes wizardry of Scott Allie, and the inspired pens of many others, you really can’t find any better large settings in comics — especially if you have a penchant for action-y horror (horrific action?).
Editor in Chief, Matthew Meylikhov:
The world of comics isn’t a very reliable place, if we’re being honest. Things reboot, things relaunch, and no matter how attached you may grow to any one thing chances are that by tomorrow you’ll wake up to the announcement that some big colossal change is coming to forever reinvent that thing that you love. That’s why, when it comes to liking superheroes that are in the mainstream, it’s very difficult to get attached in the year 2013; there’s just no guarantee that what you love today is something that you’ll love tomorrow.
But – and pardon me while I use my Laurence Fishburne voice simulator and put on sunglasses – what if I told you that there are mainstream superheroes that you can love and cherish, who you can read about today and not wake up tomorrow to find that there are arbitrary changes done to them in order to help sell more books? What if I told you that there is a series – nay, a few series! – where things interconnect, intertwine and all exist within a shared continuity, scratching your itch that loves fictional mythology while forever building in an upward motion towards stunning climax after stunning climax? What if I told you that this utopia, this place you long for elsewhere, actually exists right now?
You’re in luck, friend, because that’s what the Mignolaverse is. “Hellboy in Hell.” “BPRD.” “Sledgehammer ’44.” “Witchfinder.” “Lobster Johnson.” “Abe Sapien.” If any of those titles sound familiar, it’s because they should. All of these wonderful books exist, published by Dark Horse, masterfully controlled by Mike Mignola and expertly illustrated and written by some of comics’ very best – Scott Allie, John Arcudi, Tyler Crook, Jason Latour, Tonci Zonjic, Cameron Stewart, James Harren, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba to name but a few – are all coming out on a relatively regular basis, and all of them are fantastic series. It doesn’t matter what your particular poison is, whether you love horror, action adventure, thrillers or pulp – there’s quite literally something for everyone in the Mignolaverse.Continued below
So in a world, where things are rocky when it comes to our favorite heroes, it’s nice to know that there is still a place where the fantastic can and will happen on a regular basis, all served just the way you like it. I don’t want to say that this is comics best hidden gem (not with two big budget Hollywood movies), but in a way it is, and if you’ve never stepped into this world before, you’re far overdue.
Associate Editor, David Harper:
There are many, many reasons why I love the Mignolaverse. I mean, it’s obvious I love it, as half of the Mignolaversity team, but there are some really great reasons why that stand out above the rest.
1. The Characters
Whether you’re talking about old standbys like Hellboy or Abe Sapien or randoms like Ashley Strode or Varvara, this world is filled to the brim with top notch characters that I find myself actively invested in early and quite significantly. They’re three dimensional and dealt unbelievable hands handled in truly believable ways. When it gets down to it, the characters are the first and foremost reason why I love these books.
2. The Stakes
It seems like every few weeks there is something that comes out from Marvel or DC that says, “the world will never be the same!” or “will their sacrifice be in vain?!” Spoiler alert: yes it will be, and no it won’t be because they’ll be back in 9 issues.
In the Mignolaverse, they kill people hard. Hellboy? He’s dead and in Hell. Is that the end of his story? No way. That’s his natural progression. They killed Roger. He’s still dead. They kill people, and they die. Hell, they kill cities – there are entire cities that are ghost towns. The world is in shambles. The United Kingdom maybe be almost entirely gone right now! Don’t even get me started on Russia.
Basically, all those stakes Marvel and DC put claim on? The Mignolaverse lives it. It’s not just marketing. They are simply the stories they are telling.
3. The Art
Let’s face it: in March, we are having comics drawn by Mike Mignola, Jason Latour, Peter Snejbjerg, Fabio Moon AND Gabriel Ba in the Mignolaverse. That’s just March. You have Tyler Crook, James Harren (JAMES HARREN!), Ben Stenbeck, Max and Sebastian Fiumara…you name it. The artists in the Mignolaverse are bar none the best collection you can find anywhere in comics, and they just keep getting more and more awesome. It’s beautiful.
4. The Shared Universe
The Mignolaverse team hasn’t just created little slices of a world we can look at, they take us everywhere in it. Time or space, it doesn’t matter. Want to know an event that happened thousands of years ago that will impact stories today? Read The Abyss of Time. Want to see how the events happening now in Russia are impacting the B.P.R.D. in the United States? Welcome to Cold Day in Hell.
Marvel and DC struggle to create a cohesive universe every week, every month, every year. The Mignolaverse is so cohesive, we don’t even know if a random Russian guy at the bottom of the ocean in a two issue Abe Sapien mini-series is going to matter (Hint: he does. A lot).
In the Mignolaverse, every inch of storytelling doesn’t necessarily matter. But it could matter. And it matters to me. I love the Mignolaverse, and so should you.
Associate Editor, Brian Salvatore:
After hearing my fellow Multiversitans gush about these books, I feel like I have nothing else to add.
But that’s never stopped me from speaking before, so here I go again!
To me, to read the Mignolaverse books is to read comics made under the best possible scenario. These are comics where there is a strong writing core of three men – Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Scott Allie (also the editor of the line) – with various others who are brought in by those three guys to work on stories that fit their personalities and styles.
These are comics where the art matters. You don’t see fill in work; you don’t see a stylistic clash due to disagreements over money or schedule. Instead, you get vibrant, exciting, amazingly consistent and unique work that somehow all fits under the same roof, tonally. Above, my cohorts listed some of the regular artists working on these books – they didn’t mention Laurence Campbell, or Richard Corben, or Duncan Fegredo, three artists who have done Mignola work in the last year that most publishers would give a nut to work with. The list of collaborators is always growing, and yet the work never feels watered down.
These are creator-owned comics that break all the usual barriers of creator-owned work. There is a large shared universe, the story that started in 1994 is still continuing today, and the release schedule is (relatively) consistent.
As Mark said, this story has consequences. As Ned said, even the smaller spinoffs are fantastic. As Mike said, these books have a mood that is unparalleled anywhere else in comics. As Walt said, the shared universe is one to marvel at. As Matt said, it is consistent enough to set your watch to it. As David said, the characters are some of the best in comics.
I say just buy the fucking things.