NOTE: An earlier version of this story made error on the particulars of the series. The copy has been updated below.
To readers, Mike Mignola’s pulp hero Lobster Johnson first appeared in 1999, but even then fans knew that the masked man aiding Hellboy from beyond the grave had a deeper history to be revealed. Over a decade later, Johnson’s legend continues to gro deeper and more mysterious as Dark Horse Comics have granted him a number of period solo adventures.
Later this year, reporter Cindy Tynan will go a bit further down the rabbit hole with the 1940s hero in “Lobster Johnson: Scent Of A Lotus” a new two-part miniseries by the regular creative team of Mignola, co-writer John Arcudi and artist Sebastian Fiumara with covers by Tonci Zonjic. Dark Horse quietly announced the news this weekend at WonderCon, confirming for CBR that this book would return to the core Lobster Johnson mythos instead of being another short mystery tale.
“It’s funny. I never heard anybody saying they wanted to know more about him. I just heard people saying they wanted more of him,” Mignola explained of the character’s shadowy appeal. “I always thought the thing that made Lobster Johnson work was the fact that he completely comes out of nowhere, and there is no origin stories. It’s just one of those ‘We don’t know, we don’t ask” things. He’s just this really stern guy who comes in and has no background.”
That take has evolved since the creator handed off the writing reins on the hero to Arcudi, but readers looking for specific clues as to Johnson’s origins or whether this new “Lotus” series will tie him to the Crimson Lotus legend hinted at by B.P.R.D.’s Ben Daimio should just go along for the ride, Mignola said. It’s what he plans on doing. “I did make up a background for Lobster Johnson. I just didn’t know that we’d ever use it. But when John started writing the book, I said, ‘If we involve a character like a reporter’ — which was John’s idea — ‘should we ever get around to her digging in to who this character is, that’s maybe the one way to explain a little bit of who he is.’ And since it’s a reporter digging for information, we’re never 100% sure of how accurate that info is. It’s the same thing I do with the Hellboy stuff. Whenever I unveil big chunks of history — particularly prehistoric history — I love to have a lunatic explain that shit. Because then you have to go ‘Do we trust this?’ rather than have one of those flashbacks that just says, ‘Here’s what happened.’ So instead of doing a Lobster Johnson book that says, ‘Here’s how he began,’ we can let somebody find out and piece together things that seem to explain how it all began. But you’re never quite sure.
“I think this new series will explain a little bit more about him, but I’m not really sure,” Mignola laughed. “I gave John all this backstory on how it can work, but it’s really up to him how much he wants to use. Like with all these characters, I figure out who they are eventually, but you don’t want to dump it out all at once. It’s there for the various writers on the books to use or not use. But it’s nice to know it because it informs how you write things.”
The creator did explain that the noir world of the series will continue to grow in “A Scent Of A Lotus” since “John is so great at that stuff. My involvement in the two Lobster Johnson miniseries is almost nothing. Even with the short stories, I’ve mostly been giving John a breakdown of the kind of stories we’d want to do. But John is best left to his own devices. I’m thrilled with what he’s doing. These aren’t books I could have written.”
Though the writer remained enthusiastic about the work of Fiumara and Zonjic even has he takes less a hand in preplanning for Hellboy spinoffs. “I haven’t been doing much design stuff at all. With Tonci, the most I’ve done is waiting for pages to come in and say ‘Oh, that’s amazing!’ That’s the extent of my creative input on his stuff. John found him, and he’s brilliant, and between the two of them, they work all that stuff out.”
“Sometime later this year, I’m going to be writing a miniseries. And on that one, I’ll probably do some design stuff for it just because it’s what’s in my head,” Mignola explained of where he’s at in terms of designing for his world since returning to Hellboy at full time. “But since Scott [Allie] is doing the Abe book and John is doing B.P.R.D. and Lobster Johnson, they’ve kind of worked that out with their guys. And the guys we’re using are so good that there’s nothing for me to do. Guy [Davis] and I used to bounce stuff back and forth. It’s not like Guy ever needed my help, but I was a bit more of a control freak back then. Now I’m content to let these guys do their stuff.”
And that’s exactly what he plans on doing with “Lobster Johnson” — in part because Arcudi is furrowing away some secrets of his own. “John’s actually very cagey some times. I’ll say, ‘Are you dealing with this at any point?’ because we talk on the phone about where the books are going in general, but it’s not like we go over the plot of each miniseries. We just talk in general about what he thinks he’s going to get done, and I have to call him up sometimes to say ‘Did you do this, or are you still going to do it?’ and John just says, ‘Yeah, don’t worry. Go back to thinking about Hellboy’ without telling me any specifics!”
Stay tuned later this week for more on Mignola’s “Hellboy In Hell” run.