I was really struck by the image you drew after the Parkland school shooting in Florida. Aside from its very serious political statement, it stood out as a very Mike Mignola kind of image that had no connection at all to your previous characters. Is that the direction you're being pulled towards?
I guess, maybe. So much of the stuff I've drawn on my own really feels like I'm still dwelling in that kind of Screw-On Head/Hellboy in Hell world with that kind of architecture and Victorian era-looking people with floating skulls for heads. I love that kind of imagery.
But that shooting piece – "Enough" – that one was really an eye-opener. I didn't really think about it at the time, but to do a piece that doesn't really rely on any of my usual subject matter and just funnels basically rage and horror into a piece of art? To not have to think about "Where will this be collected some day" or "Is this the part of a larger body of work"? Instead, it was just directly responding to this one incident. And in fact until you just mentioned it, it never occurred to me to ask "Will that piece be collected in a future body of work?" I guess it could be. But I'm so geared to doing stories and for everything I do being a part of something, it's really hard to wrap my brain around saying, "I just want to do one drawing of something." I don't want to have to say, "If you do something, it needs to be collected. And if it's going to be collected, it needs to have ten pieces with it in a similar theme." I'm trying to break away from that mindset where everything is a book or is part of that larger thing and just draw, paint, whatever you want. That's what my brain is trying to wrap around.
And I'm sure that's no easier when you're sitting down with Scott Allie and the rest of the guys going, "Okay, what is the ending of the B.P.R.D. going to be?"
Yeah. And it's fine. I did start a comic a while back. I feel bad because I promised it to a publisher, and I started this comic. It was a non-Hellboy thing. I actually got 19 pages into it, and I thought, "It's just too much like other stuff I've done, but it doesn't quite work as well as those things." So I scrapped it. And the idea – which is part of the weird place I'm in right now – is that I can do 19 pages of a comic and go, "Nah." [Laughs] Every once in a while, I'll go through a phase where I cook up a bunch of short stories that I want to do, and then I kind of go, "Do I really want to get sucked back in to doing stories right now, or do I want to just draw some old buildings?" Because sometimes I just want to do six drawings of weird, old, rotted doorways. I just want to draw something that has no particular commercial value and isn't part of a book or anything. It's just, "Here's a picture I really want to draw."
Frankly, the Hellboy machine has been running with minimal input from me. So my days are freed up to see what I can do as an artist.