Comic fans know that Hellboy has a big right hand.
But who knew that the character's fans had such big hearts?
The community on the Hellboy message boards are coming out in droves to the aid of their colleague Rick Cortes. Known as "HellboyOne" on the message boards, people he considers friends, people he hardly knows, and people he considers personal heroes -- like Mike Mignola and Drew Struzan -- are helping their fellow Hellboy fan.
Freelance illustrator and special effects artist Cortes was battling intense headaches, nausea and vomiting for a few days before his girlfriend took him to the emergency room. When the nurses found that Cortes' blood pressure was "more something that cheetahs have," they admitted him and found out the 30-year-old had suffered a stroke.
Doctors were able to treat Cortes and he is now resting at home, once again able to work. But since the artist doesn't have health insurance, Cortes is staring down medical bills even more horrific that the monsters Hellboy regularly faces in the Dark Horse comic.
Even better than the BPRD, the Hellboy fans, as well as some big-name industry pros, have come to the rescue via eBay auctions and donated art. Items in the auction's first wave included a never-published full-color Hellboy piece by Mignola, and the pencil work behind Struzan's Hellboy movie poster. Struzan is best known for his movie poster pieces for such movies as "Indiana Jones," "Star Wars," and "Harry Potter."
"I've been floored by it, by the support of all of them," Cortes says. "All of these people willing to help, including my heroes, people like Mike Mignola and Drew Struzan, it's overwhelming."
Ron Boyd, a Canada-based artist who has worked for both DC and Marvel Comics, was the person to spearhead the auction fundraiser to help Cortes. The two consider each other acquaintances, but have never met face-to-face.
"Someone posted a news piece on the message board that he had a stroke, and that he was a young man, and that he was in the hospital. I thought it was terrible," Boyd says. "At that point, we were just sending our well-wishes. When I heard he was going to have to sell off his Hellboy (original art) collection, I really felt for the guy. I knew there was a good group of artists on the board, and that we could help him out. I would hope that if I ever got into trouble, my friends would help me out, too -- it's a pleasure."
Other artists have thrown in pieces from their own collections to help out as well. David Petersen, Warren Ayers, Lyndon Webb and Ronnie delCarmen are just a few of the names that have donated to help out HellboyOne.
Cortes, who just completed work storyboarding a pilot, has had his own Hellboy art appear in Hellboy Weird Tales # 4 as a pin-up. He also has recently published a story in ZowieComics: One that debuted at the Wizard Los Angeles convention. Now he's seeing pros he barely knows help him out.
"I know (Mignola) is a good guy," Boyd says. "I know where his heart lies. And the piece he's chipped in is solid gold. It's so much above the call of duty. That could be money in his pocket, but he's donated it."
"All the people on the message boards have been great," Cortes says. "It's been emotional. So many strangers giving artwork and time to help me... it's been wonderful."