Books & Graphic Novels

Cold Brew: Hellboy & B.P.R.D. 1954 Series Begins

bellboy, dark horse comics, mike mignola
Dark Horse Comics “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1954: Black Sun” #1, Artist Mike Huddleston

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1954: Black Sun #1
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: September 21, 2016

No Spoilers…

Writers Mike Mignola and Chris Robeson in collaboration with artist Stephen Green and colorist Dave Stewart, bring their most famous creation to an arctic setting. There’s plenty of action and intrigue blended with the deadpan humor we’ve come to expect from our favorite scion of Hades. Fans of 1950’s science fiction will find Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1954: Black Sun an absolute bulls-eye. Issue one is filled with overtones of the John W. Campbell novella “Who Goes There?,” most notably filmed as The Thing from Another World in the 1950’s by Howard Hawks and in the 1980’s by John Carpenter simply as The Thing.

Black Sun issue 1 introduces us to a new B.P.R.D. affiliate, the young cryptozoologist Woodrow Farrier. The character seems named with a bit of a nudge and a wink, as a farrier is a horse shoeing specialist. By the issues’ end the adventure expands beyond a Yeti hunt into unexpected territory.

This Dark Horse Comics series opener skates your way on September 21, 2016.
bellboy, dark horse comics, mike mignolaSkeletonpete Says…
Hmm, as a speculative setting for a third Hellboy movie this might afford director Guillermo Del Toro a gateway to the frosty Mountains of Madness after all .
bellboy, dark horse comics, mike mignola

Books & Graphic Novels

Alas, Poor Hellboy: Dark Horse & Mignola Turn Up the Heat

hellboy, mike mignola, dave stewart, dark horse comics, bellboy in hell
Hellboy In Hell #7
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Mike Mignola
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Scott Allie
Cover Artist: Mignola with Stewart

Release Date: August 26, 2015

I Took a Dog’s Paw, A Hog Jaw, and Tied ’em in a Knot…
There is no rest for the expired when you happen to be Hellboy. He’s dead. He’s in Hell. He’s all messed up. Yet even in death he’s going to have to face a world of deadly problems, possibly the expunging of his eternal soul thereby becoming a hollow howling haunter of hell. He is not without benefactors but their needs are reciprocal and large.

Written and rendered for the printed page by HellBoy creator Mike Mignola and his trusty wingman, colorist Dave Stewart, issue #7 of Dark Horse ComicsHellboy In Hell presents us with the first of the two-part story “The Hounds of Pluto.”

hellboy, mike mignola, dave stewart, dark horse comics, bellboy in hell
Hellboy writer and artist Mike Mignola ponders his creation’s next adventure. (photo by Christine Mignola/Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics)

I Took a Black Cat, A Cave Bat, and Threw ’em in a Pot…
Inspiration can come in the strangest forms, and editor Scott Allie informs us that Mignola found his muse for a key story element in a skeletal feline Halloween ornament. That item is elevated to star status on the cover of HBiH #8 (September 2015).

Mignola brews his stories in a cauldron of classic motifs that often suggest the frames of a silent era film. Caligariesque street-scapes, post grave grudges, glitchy golems and Shakespearean incantations are all part of the mix here. To heighten the effect, colorist Stewart juxtaposes the hard lines and stark tones of Hell’s very active memento mori against subtle watercolor washes depicting Hellboy’s verdant reveries of Alice and the rebirth of existence in the wake of what was once England.

What role must HB play in the rise of the new Albion? Not even those intrinsically involved know for sure, but you can begin your own deductions when this issue hits the bookstore shelves.
hellboy, mike mignola, dave stewart, dark horse comics, bellboy in hell
SkeletonPete Says…
If you want to catch up with just how our hero got to this place in time and space before HBiH #7 is released, check out Dark Horse’s The Storm and The Fury: HellBoy Volume 12 compilation which pulls together the two story arcs you need under one cover.

BTW, if you’re wondering where my lyrical paragraph headers come from give Johnny Otis‘s “Castin’ My Spell” a listen. I particularly dig the version done by Johnny Kid and the Pirates in 1964.

hellboy, mike mignola, dave stewart, dark horse comics, bellboy in hell
Preview of “Hellboy In Hell” #8

Books & Graphic Novels

Strapping Young Lad: Hellboy & the B.P.R.D. (1952)

Hellboy joins the B.P.R.D. for his first mission in 1952.
Hellboy joins the B.P.R.D. for his first mission in 1952.

Portrait of the Agent as a Young Hellboy…
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola (with John Arcudi) spins up a new mini-series for Dark Horse Comics charting the earliest mission of the big red guy. It’s 1952 and the Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense is adding a global vision to its explorations. They’ll be investigating the possible occult nature of mass murders in a small Brazilian mountain town and, at the urging of B.P.R.D. Director Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, taking along their until now sequestered ward.
Mike Mignola's issue #1 alternative cover art.
Mike Mignola’s issue #1 alternative cover art.

Shadows and Tall Trees…
Artist Alex Maleev (George Romero’s Empire of the Dead) renders atmospheric, “hard lit,” panels that convey the nuevo-noir feel of 1960’s – 70’s Italian giallo films like those of Mario Bava and Dario Argento. It’s an appropriate analog to Mignola’s own stark style and to my eye reminiscent of Eugene Colan’s work (Daredevil, The Tomb of Dracula) in the unabashed use of swaths of opaque black. Longtime Mignola collaborator Colorist Dave Stewart(Baltimore) heightens the effect by establishing a monochromatic pallet that makes the Hellboy’s red complection all the more incongruous and striking.

If there are any Hellboy novices left after 20 years of publication and two Guillermo del Toro films, the first issue of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1952 offers readers enough backstory to make this an easy entry point. Issue one hits comic stands on December 3, 2014 and the 5 issue mini-series will run monthly through April 2015. The tale promises to be a core addition to the HB mythos.

A look ahead to Alex Maleev's issue #3 cover art.
A look ahead to Alex Maleev’s issue #3 cover art.


The Light is Winning: Mignola’s Hellboy @ 20 Years Old

Dark Horse Comics Celebrates 20 Years of Hellboy w/ Book and 3.22.14 Worldwide  Event.
Dark Horse Comics Celebrates 20 Years of Hellboy w/ Book and 3.22.14 Worldwide Event.

Dark Horse Comics declares March 22, 2014 Hellboy Day, with a series of world-wide in-store appearances by some of the celebrated franchise’s artists and writers. The event commemorates the first appearance of the red rascal 20 years ago in a 4 page story printed in San Diego Comic Con Comics #2. Series creator Mike Mignola will appear at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, information on other events from Portland to Brazil are listed below.

Dark Horse notes that attendees can expect “a slew of exclusive giveaways” and “an all-new sampler comic featuring two classic Mignola tales, “The Ghoul” and “Another Day at the Office,” as well as two new stories by Mignola, Fábio Moon, and R. Sikoryak!”

To further mark the achievement Hellboy: The First 20 Years, an oversized deluxe hardcover presenting Mignola’s art and curated by the artist himself, will be released to comic shops everywhere on March 19th. The bulk of the book presents gallery style pages of Mignola’s cover art minus the logos or text embellishments.

Mignola’s fearless use of dark space and negative areas has become a hallmark of his style. His distillation of detail down to the extremes of light and dark leaves only the most important visual information in the finished piece. Works like the front cover variant for B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death #1 (page 113) are exercises in simplicity with the artist challenging himself to see how few lines can be used to effectively tell the story.

In the book’s forward Mignola notes how he prefers this evolution in his art, the stripping away of any superfluous embellishment, which makes the smattering of early work seen in this volume now appear overwrought. In many cases original art is juxtaposed with finished work and it becomes clear how colorist Dave Stewart’s use of distinct chromatic blocks adds to the austerity of Mignola’s line work.

HELLBOY DAY EVENTS—Saturday, March 22, 2014

1.Mike Mignola—Meltdown Comics—Los Angeles, CA
2 p.m.
Meltdown Comics
7522 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046?(323) 851-7223

 2. Tyler Crook, Dave Stewart & Scott Allie—TFAW—Portland, OR
7 p.m.–10 p.m.
Things From Another World—Portland Location
2916 NE Broadway Street?Portland, OR 97232?(503) 284-4693

3. Duncan Fegredo, Laurence Campbell & Mick McMahon—Gosh! Comics—London, England
2 p.m.–4 p.m.
Gosh! Comics
1 Berwick Street?London W1F 0DR
+44 20 7636 1011

4. Art Baltazar—Aw Yeah Comics—Skokie, IL
Aw Yeah Comics
4933 Oakton Street
Skokie, IL 60077
(847) 423-2916
Facebook Event Page:

5. Franco Aureliani—Midtown Comics—New York, NY
2 p.m.–4 p.m.
Midtown Comics—Downtown Location
64 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038?(212) 302-8192

 6. Tonci Zonjic—The Beguiling—Toronto, ON, Canada
2 p.m.–4 p.m.
The Beguiling Books & Art
601 Markham Street
Toronto, ON M6G 2L7
+1 416-533-9168

 7. Sebastián & Max Fiumara—Moebius Liceo—Buenos Aires, Argentina
5 p.m.–10 p.m.
Moebius Liceo
Av. Santa Fe 2729
Local 13 P. Baja
1425 Buenos Aires
+54 11 4866 6960

8. Fábio Moon—Quanta Academia de Artes—São Paulo, Brazil
Quanta Academia de Artes
Rua Dr. José de Queirós Aranha, 246
Vila Mariana
São Paulo 04106-061
+55 11 3214-0553

Toys & Collectibles

Vault of Horror: Mezco Turns the Key for Collectors

Jason in a Colorfully Out of Character "Test Shot."
Jason in a Colorfully Out of Character “Test Shot.”

Hot off the Mez-itz 1966 Batmobile bash at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, Mezco Toyz held their first “vault sale.” The two day event was split between an August 15th by-invitation only media and sales gathering, while day two was an open to the public event. Archive items, including many pre-production tests lined the walls of the Mezco’s Long Island City facility. The vault clearing unearthed an array of unique and out of production items. These behind-the-scenes curios represented franchises like Hellboy, Friday The Thirteenth, A Nightmare on Elmstree, Halloween, Thundercats, and Universal Monsters.
Bits and Pieces: Various Cinema of Fear Test Shots
Bits and Pieces: Various Cinema of Fear Test Shots

Parts Is Parts…
Perusing the room on arrival was a sensory overload of all manner of production oddities. Mold “test shots” tend to be created with whatever plastics are currently in the machines, so the outcomes can range from unusual to outright psychedelic, like a headless paisley Leatherface. Cardboard boxes harbored bloody Benecio wolfman samples, bits of Michael Myers, and a headless 18” Abe Sapien with several variations on his noggin sitting at his feet. There were multi-colored collections of limbs, torsos, heads, and weapons from Mezco’s Cinema of Fear series, Heroes, Kick Ass, and of course Mezco’s Living Dead Dolls peered up malevolently from their coffins.

Several “paint masters” were also available. These are used as color and finish control guides during production. The trio of “Scream Grab” paint masters were really exceptional, and I came very close to adding them to my collection. I did however treat myself to a birthday present and scored a beautiful all white Creature from the Black Lagoon test shot. He’s waiting for his close-up and I’ll present him in a future post.

In addition to the more esoteric test shots, another part of the room was stacked with boxes of long out of production collectibles like Scarface, The Notorious B.I.G., and some Hot Topic exclusives.

Fan Favorite Tiffany, aka Mrs. Chucky, gets the Living Dead Doll Treatment
Fan Favorite Tiffany, aka Mrs. Chucky, gets the Living Dead Doll Treatment

Spiked, Not Impaled…
During an onsite SPIKE TV interview Mezco’s Director of Special Projects Mike Drake noted that licensing choices where less than an exact science, but staff favorites, such as the line of Breaking Bad products, has often paid off. The exclusive hazmat suited, fly swatter toting, Walter White figurine drew long lines of customers at the recent San Diego Comic Con. Alternately, fan requests can be the catalyst like the just announced Living Dead Doll version of Tiffany, The Bride of Chucky.

In informal conversation I asked Drake if it was hard to watch so many one-of-a-kind artifacts leave the archive. He told me that the Mezco decided it was better to have these rarities in the hands of collectors who truly cherish their uniqueness rather than boxed away and so the vault sale was formulated.

Several Flavors of Hellboy's Abe Sapien
Several Flavors of Hellboy’s Abe Sapien

SkeletonPete Says…
Mezco’s press release noted that, “Test Shots usually end up on public display at such institutions as The Museum Of The Moving Image, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, or others. This is the only time the vault has ever been opened and multiple test shots made available to the public.” Despite their museum display level of rarity items were priced to sell and lucky collectors scooped up box loads in minutes.

I was really glad PiercingMetal Editor Ken Pierce – a longtime toy collector himself – and I arrived early as it afforded me the opportunity to document these uncommon goodies before they were whisked away.

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