In a panel devoted to the future of the Hellboy universe, it became quite a task to distinguish between all its various parts currently in motion. But is it perpetual motion, or will it face its abrupt end with Hellboy’s descent into Hell? After all, it seems like fate has finally had its way with the do-gooder devil. HELLBOY in HELL, coming up as the first full series of HELLBOY fully drawn by Mike Mignola in 7 years, is Mignola’s dream come true. As he’s intimated in interviews, he’s been working on the idea for years and saw it as the natural progression of the tensions in the series. From the wide array of other Hellboy-universe works upcoming from Dark Horse, it’s obvious that the story has not ended in the least. Tyler Crook, James Harren, and Scott Allie joined Mignola to talk about a B.P.R.D series called COLD DAY IN HELL, a new Lobster Johnson series, and intriguingly, something called B.P.R.D, VAMPIRE. If you’re used to sinking your cash in the multiple issues of these releases on a weekly basis, stock up on spare change because a steady flood of new work is soon to arrive. HELLBOY IN HELL will be coming out just in time for Christmas.
The informational session from the panelists was brief, intentionally, to allow plenty of time for Q and A. Now that Hellboy is “dead”, one fan asked, is his “fate sealed?”. Mignola not only answered the question but gave a rough outline of the first four issues of the upcoming series. “There’s a whole mess that goes on in Hell”, he said reassuringly. Firstly, we’ll see our hero “settling in to Hell”, he explained, and some of this will involve “resolving” the “predestination” issue inherent to Hellboy’s persona. Unfortunately pancake-eating will have nothing to do with this. Following this mini arc, the series will devolve into a sequence of fairly self-contained single issue stories where Hellboy has “adventures around Hell”. Mignola explained that he is consciously resisting building a single epic, heroic arc for this storyline. His “first priority”, he said, is to make these issues “good” and not to simply leave us “hanging” to keep us reading each issue. His focus on the series now is personal and intense. After 7 years away from the series, he said “now that I’m back, I just want to draw the comic”. Getting down to business has taken Mignola, and his character some unusual places.
Another leading question from the audience regarded Mignola’s biggest influences in conceiving, drawing, and writing HELLBOY. He was reluctant to put the audience on to these influences before reading the work, but confessed that John Milton’s PARADISE LOST had a big impact on his ideas, and more recently, a Grimm’s Fairy Tale that has made its way into issue #5. This prompted several inquiries about secondary characters who are also currently dead, like Hellboy, or MIA. Mignola tried to hold onto some secrets about cameos that might be coming up in HELL, but “When people die in the Hellboy world, they become more interesting”, he hinted. Questions took a fairly serious turn before the panel wrapped up. What advice did Mignola, as a comics creator, have for aspiring writers? “Try doing exactly what you want”, he said, “Don’t do it for a paycheck…do what you want”. Then you create a situation, where if a project works out, “You get stuck doing the book you actually want to do”. An artist, finally, couldn’t resist praising Mignola’s instantly recognizable style of composition. When prodded, Mignola threw out a list of influences and also explained that he never expected to be a comic book artist, but rather an illustrator doing cover-art. Jack Kirby, he said, as well as N.C. Wyeth, Vincent van Gogh, and Edward Hopper have all inspired Mignola’s illustrative style through their “strong dark/light compositions”. A full house of fans at NYCC were clearly waiting eagerly for Christmas to see just how Mignola will illustrate Hellboy’s strangest odyssey yet.
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.