Hellboy's world is in a state of upheaval, with the prophecies surrounding him and newfound responsibilities weighing powerfully on each decision he makes. Plus, he just lost an eye. But even greater changes are in store for the Dark Horse published demonic hero in 2011, as series creator Mike Mignola takes the reins to both write and draw Hellboy's ongoing adventures. Meanwhile, Richard Corben returns and Kevin Nowlan makes his "Hellboy" debut to present new stories from the character's past. In our final installment of HELL(BOY) ON EARTH, Mignola spoke with CBR News about the first few projects to hit comic shops in the new year and about how good it feels to once again draw his most famous creation on a regular basis.
Before Mignola dives into drawing Hellboy full-time, in the Spring his final arc with Duncan Fegredo will introduce significant changes to Hellboy's world, which he discussed in CBR's first HELL(BOY) ON EARTH interview. Mignola shied away from discussing story points, but did offer an explanation for dividing what he sees as one story - 2010's "The Storm" and the upcoming "The Fury" - into two miniseries. "With 'Wild Hunt,' we screwed up, and we ended up having this giant gap in the middle. So this time we thought, ok, well, let's structure this thing as two miniseries, even though we all really know it's one book," he said. "So 'The Storm' is kind of the setup and 'The Fury' is payoff. 'The Fury' is almost entirely climax. It makes giant, sweeping changes to Hellboy and the world and sets the stage for me taking the book over. So, it's a big one."
With such major changes happening with Hellboy and the new "Hell on Earth" era beginning in "B.P.R.D.," CBR asked whether there might be more interplay between the titles. "Well, everything's related in the Hellboy world. But they're certainly running parallel, as far as, you know, the shit's hitting the fan," Mignola said. "Part of the fun of doing 'The Storm' was I'd run 'Hellboy' in such a different direction than 'B.P.R.D.,' that it was really fun to have Hellboy look up at a TV set and see what's going on currently in 'B.P.R.D.' It was my way of saying this is the same world, they are connected, and maybe these books are starting to converge a little more than they had been."
Though Mignola will be drawing the core, present-day 'Hellboy' series after "The Fury," other artists will still get their crack at the character in stories set throughout the character's history. One that Mignola finds especially exciting is "Buster Oakley Gets His Wish," which will be illustrated by Kevin Nowlan and hits stores in April of 2011. "That's the coolest thing to me. Kevin got into the business just a little before me, I've been a fan of his for a bazillion years, and like everybody else, I've been frustrated and sad to see the guy do covers and just ink people. I'm one of those guys who's been saying to him every time he sees him, 'When are you going to draw comics again? When are you going to draw comics again?'" Mignola said. "I ran into Kevin at a convention in England a couple years ago and I really gave him a hardcore sales pitch for doing an issue of Hellboy. He went, as Kevin does, 'Yeah...hm...yeah, that might...that sounds like maybe something... yeah, I kinda like the sound of that.' I can't say I came away knowing this was going to happen, but on the flight home, I did make up this story just so I'd have it in my pocket. If I got him to actually do it, I would have the perfect Kevin Nowlan Hellboy story. And it's beautiful, really beautiful."
As to what makes "Buster Oakley" the perfect Hellboy story for Nowlan, Mignola said simply, "cows." "Nobody can draw cows like Kevin. It's a very, very odd story. I've never done anything like it. The setting is something I've never done in Hellboy. Even down to the title, I was kind of stumbling around with how - I knew the story, but I didn't quite know how I was going to spin the actual scripting of the story. And when I came up with that title, which I believe came to me in the shower, as these things tend to do, that title made me realize 'Oh! Ok, I know what this story is.' I knew how the action played out, but I didn't really know the tone of the story, if that makes sense at all. Once Kevin started turning in artwork, and we all overcame the shock of seeing Kevin draw comics, it became a matter of, 'How am I going to write this?' Because I work plot-style. From the plot, you see what the action is, but you don't really get the voice of the characters. You don't get the tone of the story. So I adjust that tone based on the artwork. What we came up with here is something really different from what I've done before."
Richard Corben will also be returning to Hellboy with "Being Human," which hits in May. Mignola said the origins of this one-shot were practical in nature, but also allow him to return to a long-lost, fan-favorite character. "We did a B.P.R.D. story a couple years ago called 'The Ectoplasmic Man,' which focused on the Johann character. So we had this one-shot that Ben Stenbeck did a beautiful job drawing, John Arcudi did most of the writing on it, but this thing is uncollected. And Scott Allie is writing a story with another one of the B.P.R.D. characters [Liz Sherman, who will star in 'The Dead Remembered.'] So we started talking about, 'You're doing that story, we've got this Johann story that needs to be collected someplace, we need another piece for this collection.' And since these stories are all about B.P.R.D. characters but sort of solo stories, I said, 'Well, one thing we've never seen is a Hellboy story with Roger the homunculus,'" Mignola told CBR. "There was that first story, where Hellboy encountered this guy and they had their problems, but I figured there was a time there where Hellboy was taking this guy under his wing, as he did with Abe Sapien, as he did with Liz Sherman - there had to be Roger's first mission. So I said, 'Yeah, ok, maybe that would be something to do.'
"As I recall, the story cobbled itself together fairly quickly," the writer continued. "And since Roger the homunculus is so close visually to Corben's Den character, I said, 'Yes, if we do Hellboy and Roger, can we get Richard to draw that?' Because that would be great. I set it in another crumbling old house, in an overgrown cemetery, and no one is better at drawing that stuff than Richard. Nobody can do the texture of a rotting wallpaper better than Richard Corben. It was a Southern Gothic kind of thing, which, again, I'd never done. I'm real excited about it. I actually haven't finished the script on it yet, but Richard, as he does, turned this thing in in the blink of an eye, and it's just beautiful. That will be coming out as a one-shot Hellboy story; ultimately, I think it will be collected as a B.P.R.D. thing with these other stories."
Though his writing load doesn't seem to be getting any lighter, Mignola is happy to be returning to the drawing board for Hellboy's ongoing adventures. "My major job next year is going be returning, replacing Duncan as the artist on Hellboy as far as moving the Hellboy story forward. I'm pretty excited about that." The plan, he said, is to begin "as soon as I get rid of about a month's worth of stuff in front of me that needs to be finished up - scripts that need to be finished, some covers."
Mignola also told CBR News there might also be a change to the series of miniseries format, though firm decisions on that aspect have not been made. "What I want to do, because it is a new direction for Hellboy, what we'll probably do, if it's a four-issue story, we won't call it a miniseries. We'll put out those four issues in a monthly thing, and then if it takes three months or four months or six months in between for the next issue to come out, that would be fine," he told CBR. "I don't want it to be one of these things where I'm leaving guys in the lurch and going away for six months, but I'm also not the fastest guy on Earth. I believe we're just going to number it one through whatever, however high we go, and not structure it specifically as miniseries. So it will be like a series, except that it won't be. It's like those cool independent guys do it, where their books just come out whenever they're done. It will be a series, which is pretty weird for me, because I've never done that. But everything I want to do is in that 'Hellboy.'
"I kind of look at it as my semi-retirement; this is where I settle down, and I'm working full time as a comics guy, but I've done a bunch of different stuff now. Enough stuff that I can kind of go, 'You know what I really want to do? I want to sit down and draw my comic,'" he added. "I made up a comic where I can do whatever I want, why don't I go back and do that? That seems like a really nice way to spend my days."