I don't write a great deal about Hellboy, because I tend to think of it and its related titles as "new" comics. That's how fresh it is. But the first issue came out way back in March, 1994, which is well within the timeframe for this particular nostalgia-leaning blog. And I'm a big fan of the property and a lot of the people who've worked on it, creator Mike Mignola foremost among them. Man, I dig that cat's art and the weird pacing and tone of his writing.
Mignola is the reason I picked up a Hellboy book in the first place-- and it was the Seed of Destruction collection. At the time, I really didn't care what the story was about or the characters in it. I just wanted to look at Mignola's drawings.
Mignola first entered my particular radar through his work on the Topps comic book adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola's overwrought vampire flick Bram Stoker's Dracula. I picked it up out of curiosity because I'd enjoyed the movie in a campy kind of way and I've always appreciated a Dracula story, any Dracula story. I didn't realize I was actually about to encounter a new artist with whose work I'd become obsessed in the way I had with people like Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Al Williamson, Alex Toth and Mark Schultz over the years. The comic book, written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Mignola and inker John Nyberg, blew the movie away, not the least reason being you don't have to deal with the hammy acting and outrageously bad accents when you read it. Hooked on Mignola from that point, I started copying his art and looking for his other comics. But I went about it in a kind of leisurely fashion, because I didn't buy Seed of Destruction until probably around 1999 or 2000...
And wow, oh wow, when I finally got around to it, I found it was full of stuff that fired up the endorphin-receptors in my brain for a full-on rush of pleasure and good feelings. And from then on, I had to buy every single Hellboy and Hellboy-related comic book I could get my hands on. Nowadays there are so many to choose from, too. The cast has grown over the years and there are spin-offs and off-shoots and even "other world" type, out-of-continuity stories. Two movies, a cartoon. Toys. Other people are involved in the writing and drawing of Hellboy and his friends, but it's still Mignola's world. He has the knack of choosing the best and most appropriate collaborators, too. There are stories I've enjoyed more than others, but I can't think of one that's a real misfire or mistake. Twenty years of quality entertainment.
I think this is the ideal model for how to handle comic book characters, creators and publications. Kudos to Dark Horse for letting Mignola run with this and not trying to screw it up and put their imprint on it the way some other companies might have. When you think of what could have happened to Hellboy if Mignola had been more successful pitching it to a certain other company before landing at Dark Horse... YIKES.
I should have blown up this blog with a major Hellboy write-up back in March, and I should definitely write more about the 1990s-era Hellboy books here. And post some art from them because it's so damned cool to look at.