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An All-Star Wake For “Hellboy”

by  in Comic News Comment
An All-Star Wake For “Hellboy”

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains MAJOR spoilers for “Hellboy: The Fury” #3, on sale now. Be warned!

It happened. As the grand finale of their ongoing Hellboy saga, Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo killed off the big red guy in this week’s “Hellboy: The Fury” #3 from Dark Horse Comics.

While the word has left some fans in shock and everyone wondering what’s in store for the just-announced, all-Mignola follow-up “Hellboy In Hell,” perhaps none have been hit harder by the news than the creative talents who have contributed to the characters stories over the years both in comics and on the screen.

To help ease the pain, CBR News sent out the call to creators who have worked on Hellboy all over the creative spectrum for their feelings on what his demise means to them and to comics. This online wake starts with some of the biggest names to touch the character outside of his own creator and end with Mignola teasing some of the incoming twists to the world of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. And be sure to swing over to the Hellboy forum on the CBR Message Boards to offer your own remembrance.

Guillermo del Toro, Director of “Hellboy” and “Hellboy II”: Farewell dear friend. Part of my heart dies with you- a dark, intimate corner reserved only for my most cherished monsters. The world is suddenly a lonely place deserted of your light. I stand amidst strangers wondering about your fate- your ultimate fate- having been born a demon and having raised to become a man. But so much more than a man. Unlimited power was laid at your feet and you resisted the temptation of tyranny and domination- your red right hand guided by the better demons of your nature. Farewell dear friend, I miss you too much already.

Scott Allie, “Hellboy” Editor: For all the great things Hellboy did with his life, I think his chief virtue was in always believing he was just one of us humans. I think he was one of the best of us. I’ve been lucky enough to spend my days with Hellboy for nearly half my life. Seldom has a day gone by that I don’t think of him, don’t say his name. I doubt this will change, now that he’s gone. I know I’m not alone in this.

John Cassaday, Writer and Artist of “Big-Top Hell-Boy” from “Hellboy: Weird Tales” #1: It’s sad to see our big red boy go, but I’m sure he’s in a warmer place. Congrats to Mike on a lovely run and an inventive character that entertained me at every turn. Whatever’s around the next corner for Mike, whatever he does next– I’ll be there.

Christopher Golden, Writer of “Hellboy: The Lost Army”: Hellboy’s death is handled beautifully both in story and art. I’ve known this was coming for almost as long as I’ve been working with Mike and I’ve heard various versions of it over the years. But even knowing it was coming, and as excited as I am about what’s to come in “Hellboy In Hell,” it still got to me. Hellboy’s story is a noble one, but like many noble stories, it is also inherently tragic. The sadness and nobility of this final issue just sucked me in. When he’s asked if he’s ready, and he says “I guess so”–after spending decades trying to deny his nature and his fate — gahhh! You want to cheer and weep for him, all at the same time. As for what’s to come…I can’t wait to see Mike back to drawing Hellboy on a regular basis. Beyond that, I’m sworn to secrecy.

Tad Stones, Producer and Director of “Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms” and “Blood and Iron”: There are pages in “The Fury” where Duncan Fergredo’s art perfectly expresses the incredible scope of Mike’s story. They should be blown up and draped over buildings like the movie ads at San Diego Comic Con. But my favorite Hellboy moments are the smaller ones where he’s drinking with the ghosts of pirates or giving lip to an ancient goddess. Hellboy is best when you can feel the creaking of his bones as he resigns himself to bashing in the head of another giant thing too full of itself to listen to reason. He’s the blue collar working stiff who takes on the crap job because nobody else will and it has to be done.

I forgot who said it, maybe Mike himself, but when people die in the Hellboy universe they just become more interesting. I see this new death of Hellboy as the traditional mode of transportation required to visit his father’s side of the family. Sooner or later he had to return home. I mean it’s in his name, people. I can’t wait to see new Mignola pages from an epic Hellboy tale. Did you know his pens are filled with blood and lightning?

About Mike Mignola, himself: Considering I haven’t visited him in years outside of conventions, I think Mike would be surprised at how often I think of him. I find him truly inspirational.

The man is an unquenchable font of ideas. He can sneeze out a dozen ideas worthy of Hollywood blockbusters on his way to a lunch meeting. He has an incredible work ethic. Too incredible. He recently decided to cut back his schedule to six days a week but keeps cheating because there’s always a cover to be inked or a short story to be outlined. Trading ideas on the “Hellboy Animated” movies were some of my favorite conversations of my career. I take it as a huge compliment when he admits he forgets which of the final bits were mine and which were his.

But most of all I am inspired by his sequential art. Covers are nice but how he chooses to tell a story on a page is something special. It’s not just the panel to panel progression or the spotting of blacks. It’s considering the whole page as a single work of art with the whole conveying more than its parts. When I sit down to plan out a comic story, whether it’s an eight page adventure of Darkwing Duck or the arc of my own graphic novel, I feel Mike’s fingerprints on my brain.

Duncan Fegredo: As the artist I’d had some time to come to terms with Hellboy’s passing, way before reading Mike’s script we had talked of the event. I had long come to terms with the event, after all, it’s not as if Hellboy hadn’t died before… Even when the time came to draw the layout depicting the event, it was an abstraction, a problem to be solved, needs to be met. You’d imagine then that drawing the final art would be no more affecting, and you’d be right, well, maybe a twinge when it came to drawing hellboy’s stunned expression when faced with the reality of his heart before him. It wasn’t until I drew Alice, crumpled in despair in the stairwell that it really hit me, all my time on Hellboy lead to that moment, I’ll be honest, I felt bereft, drained. Still a few more pages to draw, keep it together. Three months later, I still feel exhausted by the experience. But I’m also excited for the future of Hellboy, looking forward to reading the book as I used to, as a fan. I know a little of what Mike has in store for us, and I can’t wait.

Mike Mignola: It’s strange. All these changes, like putting out his eye and now killing him, always seem like they’re so far away. It’s always strange when you get to that point and go, “Oh wait! It’s really here.” It’s kind of like when your daughter takes her first driving test. You knew she was getting older and at some point we’d get to that…but it’s strange when she just hops in a car and drives away. It’s like that. It was weird to write the scene and go, “Are we really doing this?” I knew we’d been talking about that scene, but writing it that way, I went, “Am I really going to do this? Because once I do it, once I type this line out…there’s really no going back.” Then when Duncan draws it, you say “Are we really doing this?” You go through that whole process again! Can I change my mind? So now having the comic finally come out, it’s like “Well…we’ve done it now.” And it’s fine. I don’t have any second thoughts about doing this. You just hold your breath and say, “I hope it works. I hope it goes over the way I want it to go over.”

It would be sadder if I didn’t have all that room to go back and tell stories about the old, classic Hellboy. But I’ve got the best of both worlds. I’ve got the classic Hellboy, and I can move forward into really uncharted territory. Unlike everything I’ve done with Duncan where even if I didn’t know exactly what I was doing it was at least clear that we were going to this place, what I’m doing now myself doesn’t have a specific end point. It’s got certain things it’s got to do, but beyond a certain point, it’s just blue sky. We don’t know what happens to him after that.

There are still stories to do about Hellboy in Mexico. There’s really so many things that I haven’t done with Hellboy in the past. We’ve never seen a story about young Hellboy and the Professor Bruttenholm. Other than “Pancakes,” we’ve never seen a story with young Hellboy. There’s plenty of unexplored Hellboy territory to do. And for me as an artist, what I want to draw are these stories of Hellboy drifting through Hell, but as a writer, I can do a couple more books about Hellboy in Mexico and a lot of other stuff.

It is interesting though, because now that we’ve done it - while Hellboy has been pretty isolated of late, there will now be repercussions from “Hellboy” throughout the Hellboy world. Because we really did destroy England. And Duncan is drawing right now a sort of epilogue that will run in “Dark Horse Presents” that is Kate finding out that Hellboy is dead. There are these ripples. There’s no way we could do this thing and not have it impact the B.P.R.D. a bit. I think we’re all looking around right now and going, “We really did this…so how does it affect this, this and this?” It’s exciting.

“Hellboy: The Fury” #3 is on sale now from Dark Horse Comics. Please head to the Hellboy forums on the CBR Message Boards to add your own thoughts to the wake.

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