Time flies when you're having fun. That's why it might be hard to believe it was March of 1994 when the first issue of "Hellboy" hit the shelves. For nearly 20 years comic book fans have been enjoying the exploits of Hellboy, a cigar-smoking demon with a right hook for the ages.
To commemorate the occasion, Dark Horse Comics will publish "Hellboy: The First 20 Years" in March, 2014. The deluxe, oversized hardcover retails for $19.99 and includes creator Mike Mignola's favorite covers and illustrations in gallery style, from his first drawings of the character to recent illustrations from "Hellboy in Hell." The book includes raw scans, works-in-progress and never seen before art. Illustrator Peter de Seve pens the introduction, while Mignola writes the foreword.
Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie, who has been working with Mignola since just after the character's inception, spoke with CBR News about two decades of Hellboy, his relationship with Mignola, and how lucky he feels to have been able to learn from and work alongside Mignola.
"It's really gratifying," Allie told CBR News. "I've been lucky to work on a few very significant projects, things I believe will go down in the history books in terms of great comics, and I'm happy to have played a part, to still be playing a part, in things like 'Hellboy.'"
"I love some of Mike's busier covers, because in his love of simplicity, he's obsessive about the composition of those complex pieces," Allie said. "He'd be happy to draw single figures in black backgrounds, so when he does something complex, he's so smart about how he lays it out."
Allie said one of the book's highlights is the ability to see Mignola's original sketches, and over the course of a few pages, how those sketches turn into a finished piece.
"Fans are going to love seeing the sketches and the finishes. We dug up some good ones we hadn't shown before," Allie said. "And there's an unfinished painting. I think that's a real informative piece. The degree to which he talks about it in the intro -- that's great insight."
While Allie mentioned the intro in terms of Mignola's process, it's also the one part of the book Allie is somewhat reticent to talk about. The reason being, Mignola also dedicates the book to Allie within it.
Allie said his first reaction was denial.
"I felt like I had to ignore it. How can I proofread the goddamn thing if it really says that?" Allie said with a laugh. "When I called Mike to go over it, I talked to him about every part of it but that. And he said, 'You did notice I dedicated it to you, right?' I said, 'Yeah, that sort of blew my mind, and I was trying not to think about it.'"
While Dark Horse will celebrate 20 years of "Hellboy" in style, it's gone by in the blink of an eye for fans but not so fast for Allie.
"It does feel like 20 years," Allie says. "But sometimes it only feels like about 5 years, and sometimes it feels like 60, or what I imagine 60 to feel like."
How many more years does Allie have in the tank?
"I think I could do another 30... but then, I'm DONE!"
"Hellboy: The First 20 Years" hardcover goes on sale in March, 2014.