Mike Mignola is known best as the creator of that lovable red-handed devil Hellboy. Since he created the World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator back in 1993, the world has seen countless Hellboy stories and spin-offs, including the ongoing acclaimed BPRD, Witchfinder, and Lobster Johnson. Now, Mignola will return after seven years away from drawing the character that created his franchise to helm the brand new comic, Hellboy in Hell.
Fans got their chance to hear about the upcoming storyline from Mignola himself at a New York Comic Con panel. He was joined by Scott Allie, senior managing editor for Dark Horse comics and Tyler Crook and James Harren, the artistic team for BPRD, to discuss the future of their connected, monster-infested world.
For those who didn’t know, Hellboy was killed last year in Hellboy: The Fury #3 after a battle with the dragon Nimue that destroyed most of Britain. However death isn’t always the end in Hellboy comics and true enough, our favorite pancake-eating demon now has his own comic. But this isn’t a comic book resurrection at all. Hellboy is in fact still dead and living in Hell. It seems someone has saved him a seat – namely, the throne!
“There’s a whole big mess that goes on in Hell,” explained Mignola. “The first four issues… are all about settling Hellboy into Hell and hopefully resolving certain things about Hellboy’s predestination. I’ve been trying, almost since the moment I brought it up, to put all that stuff to bed and get Hellboy back to a guy who wants to walk around and fight monsters.” But what kind of opportunities to fight monsters will there be in Hell? It seems Mignola has carte blanche to do whatever he wants, both with the monsters and the landscape of the underworld.
“Hell is my playground,” joked Mignola. “There are so many variations on hell, the last thing I want to do is say ‘I’m doing this mythology or version.’ Hellboy wandered all over the earth and he probably had adventures in every corner of the globe… So I wanted to continue doing adaptations of various folk tales and have Hellboy interacting with various cultural things and he’s going to continue to do that in Hell.”
With so much new territory to cover, fans can expect to see less resurrection of old enemies and more opportunities for brand new stories, though Mignola did say that cameos wouldn’t be out of the question. When a fan asked if we’d see Lobster Johnson show up in hell, the writer said it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. Allie and Mignola explained that the series was going back to the old format of Hellboy stories, each issue a one-off tackling a different adventure of Hellboy in Hell.
But how will Hellboy’s adventures effect the rest of his universe? Said Mignola, “There are things that are coming up that will link Hellboy in Hell or relate to the current political situation in hell [to BPRD]. So it is a connected world but the connections aren’t super apparent.”
Allie and Mignola talked about the other books in their shared universe, namely the ongoing BPRD storylines, including some earth-shattering events in Return of the Master which will push along a new BPRD storyline that centers around the ruins of Chicago and some new agents who get into the thick of things there. They also talked about a brand new story arc called “A Cold Day In Hell” which will feature the Russian paranormal investigators we’ve seen previously in Hell on Earth: Russia. Mignola made sure to note that one would not have to read the Hellboy in Hell storyline to understand BPRD or vice versa, even though all the books exist in the same world.
Mignola also fielded questions regarding his other projects like the Baltimore series and The Amazing Screw-On Head, but indicated that his focus is on Hellboy. He also nipped rumors in the bud that though director Guillermo del Toro has publically stated that he wants to do another Hellboy movie, there’s been no talk about the project past that. He did drop word that Joe Golem and the Drowned City, his novel with Christopher Golden, has been optioned for a film with Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City) attached to write and direct. There was also hints about another project in the works from Mignola regarding the Hellboy universe that has not yet been announced, so we’ll have to keep our ears to the ground.
Outside of talking about his own work, Mignola offered advice to young writers interested in doing what he does. “Try to do what you want. I’ve seen too many comics out there, or I’ve seen guys trying to sell a TV show, because this other guy is doing something that seems popular. If you really have something you’re dying to do, do it. And do what you want. Because if it works, as it did in my case… you’re stuck doing the book you actually want to do.”
Mignola also joked about a question he often gets from fans: how did he go about creating his franchise? “If I wanted to start a commercial franchise,” Mignola replied, “I sure as **** wouldn’t have called it ‘Hellboy’.”
Hellboy in Hell comes out this December from Dark Horse Comics.
Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com.