The comic, which was released just in time for Halloween, is a one-shot set in a Russian train station that sees Hellboy battling “three sinister interlopers.” It also marks Smith’s first work on the venerable comics franchise. Smith, who is best-known as the creator of the Norse mythology-inspired Barbarian Lord for Clarion Books, was thrilled to contribute to the long-running Mingola-verse, which has inspired Smith’s own work.
Matt Smith recently discussed his work on Helloby and the B.P.R.D.: Long Night at Goloski Station with The Beat. You can find our brief e-mail conversation below, along with preview artwork for the new Hellboy one-shot…
THE BEAT: Matt, I’ve read you quoted about being a fan of the Mignolaverse and thinking someone was pranking you when you got the call to illustrate a Hellboy comic. So, with that in mind, what has this experience been like for you?
MATT SMITH: Now that I know it’s not a prank—unless it’s super elaborate one, and for which I’d have to give the prankster full credit—it’s been great. Mike and the editors at Dark Horse made the whole process welcoming and supportive. I always felt I could ask any question and get all the feedback I could need to try and make a decent go at it.
THE BEAT: What have some of the most surprising things been about illustrating a Hellboy comic?
SMITH: I think just realizing I was illustrating a Hellboy comic at all was continually surprising. Of course it would be normal for stretches, working through layouts and whatnot like any other project, and then trying to draw the big hand right and suddenly remembering—“That’s Hellboy’s hand.” “You’re adding to the history of Hellboy. That guy you like so much.” Generally that would all lead to “Don’t screw it up, don’t make Hellboy mad.” So it was exciting and also a bit daunting at times. That’s sort of more towards the first question I guess.
THE BEAT: I think it’s fair to say Dave Stewart is one of (if not the all-time best) colorist in comics. What (if anything) did you do differently with your illustrations knowing that Dave would be coloring your work?
SMITH: I didn’t do anything different, really, as I just felt completely comfortable knowing it would all land in Dave’s highly capable hands, and he’d make it all look much cooler than what was handed to him—which is certainly how it turned out.
THE BEAT: Barbarian Lord obviously draws its inspiration from mythology, in that case Norse, what was your experience like venturing into the other mythologies and actual history that Hellboy draws its own material from?
SMITH: While I do hold a special interest in Norse mythology, I’m very interested in mythology and folklore in general, and so I felt very at home there. It’s a big part of why I was so taken with Hellboy in the first place when my friend Mister Reusch told me to look into it. Working with history of Hellboy himself was a lot of fun. I love the short story “In the Chapel of Moloch,” so getting to work on a story that connects to it and adds context to it was really cool. Now when I read “Moloch” I can think of where he got those buttons. Those connective threads to other stories made the feeling of adding a bit to Hellboy’s life seem more real, if that makes any sense.
THE BEAT: I know Mike Mignola has said he hopes to have you draw more Hellboy comics in the future. Anything you can tell us about how likely that is now that you’ve gotten this first one under your belt?
SMITH: Well, I’d be game! Put me in, coach.