What started at Dark Horse Comics with Hellboy has now branched out into tons of well-loved characters in the Mignolaverse. One of the most fun to read has been the adventures of pulp hero Lobster Johnson. Recently, readers were treated to the start of a new action and suspense filled tale chronicling the characters past in Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown. We talked with writer John Arcudi about the Lobster and how his partnership with Mike Mignola has worked for so many years.
While John’s keeping tight lipped about the remaining secrets of the Hellboy Universe, we do have an EXCLUSIVE preview of next week’s B.P.R.D #143 from Dark Horse Comics.
COMICS BEAT: For those who haven’t picked it up; what’s the sales pitch for Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown?
JOHN ARCUDI: Giant robots terrorize the streets of Manhattan in 1936 – and that’s a little less than half the story! Also, Tonci Zonjic drew it and Dave Stewart colored it! What more do you need?
Comics Beat: Agreed, that first issue’s cover brought up a lot of wonder you’d normally find in Rocketeer stories.
Lobster Johnson’s latest adventure is fantastic. The level of huge action immediately struck me right out of the gate compared to the more methodical build up of a B.P.R.D or Hellboy tale. What sort of freedoms can you take with this character here that you can’t do in the other Mignolaverse books he’s appeared in?
JA: I’m always just trying to tell a good story, and I like to change-up the tone of each one. That’s easier to do with the LoJo one-shots, but this story struck me in such a way that I wanted to start off right in the middle, if you will.
CB: Of course Mignolaverse readers know the ultimate fate of the Lobster thus making all new stories tap into untold periods of his past. As a writer how do you overcome the challenges of creating suspense for a character readers go in knowing he’ll make it out relatively okay in the end?
JA: I don’t think anybody’s ever rooting for the “good guy” to die in a story, so it doesn’t figure into the way I write. And let’s be honest; this is comics. The chances of any character actually “dying” seems to somehow be diminishing every year.
CB: HA! Be careful, one might take that as an omen for an announcement. But let’s continue.
Visually, what do you love most about Tonci Zonjic and Dave Stewart’s interpretation of 1930’s Manhattan?
JA: That’s it’s awesome? Dave is the best in the business, no argument – and Tonci is the best possible artist for LoJo – and plenty of other things. He’s committed to authenticity and when you do a period piece you need that in the artist.
CB: You’ll be wrapping up your tenure on BPRD this year, what do you have planned for the third and final arc of that story?
JA: Well, I can’t very well tell you that, can I? But it’s a real end, that much I will say. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still work for Scott and Mike to do
in the last BPRD arc, but the end of Hell on Earth will not feel like just another “To Be Continued” sort of story.
CB: Having spent a good part of your career playing in Mike Mignola’s toy box of characters, whom will you miss writing the most? What was your favorite story told during your time with those characters?
JA: I’ll miss Iosif for a little while, but I’ll get used to it. Stories end, after all. Or they should. And sorry, I don’t have a favorite. Certainly “The Long Death,” “Garden of Souls,” and “The End of Days”/”Cometh the Hour” arc are highlights.
CB: On the topic of your partnership with Mike Mignola, how has it changed you as a storyteller?
JA: Scott Allie and Mike allowed me to tell long-arc stories, and that’s what I’m best at. I got to develop that skill here in the HBU, so I’m better at it and that makes me happy. Most publishers want slam-bang-get-in-get-out kinds of tales, and I can do that but it’s a lot more fun to really nurture a cast along and see them through.
CB: Will this be the final Lobster Johnson story you tell?
JA: I hope not!
CB: I’ll try to throw my weight around at the Dark Horse booth and make sure it isn’t.
While I do that, you can read John’s current LoJo story in Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown and follow BPRD as it pushes to what’s sure to be another memorable Hellboy Universe conclusion.