After over twenty years of "Hellboy," including myriad series from Dark Horse and two Guillermo del Toro movies, it's hard to imagine the series ever coming to and end. But at Emerald City Comicon, creator Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie discussed just that. In a panel moderated by Dark Horse publicist Aub Driver, Mignola and Allie were joined by colorist Dave Stewart to discuss moving towards the end of Hellboy's story while continuing to explore the bizarre corners of his world.
The panelists began with "Frankenstein Underground," the new series written by Mignola and drawn by Ben Stenbeck, who is also the artist on "Baltimore." Mignola said that when he pitched Stenbeck on the the idea for a story about Frankenstein that takes place entirely in caves and tunnels, the artist was enthusiastic. While the idea was initially as simple as "this minor character, running around underground and punching monsters, it became this really interesting thing, digging into some weird spiritual backgrounds in the Hellboy universe. And there's still a lot of punching monsters."
Mignola and Allie agreed that with such a wide range of artists all contributing to different series that take place in the same universe, Stewart's coloring has been crucial to making the universe cohesive. Allie pointed to villain Black Flame specifically, as one character that has been interpreted by different artists. "When you see what Laurence Campbell's done with him in the next big arc, he's terrifying. Laurence has taken James Harren's over-the-top design and made it scary, because it's realistic in a way -- but no less outrageous."
For the next arc of "Baltimore," titled "Cult of the Red King," Allie said "the story... starts looking really hard at all of the evil thing happening in the world and looking for the root cause of that. Which basically means that our hero, who's been fighting this amped-up version of Dracula, now he's going straight after the devil. It's not Satan, but it's this character that's the root of evil in his particular world."
"With everything we're working on in the Hellboy world, we have an end in sight," Mignola said. "It's not right around the corner, but I find that it helps a lot when you know ultimately where things are going.
"I now know where this book's going," Mignola continued, speaking specifically about the Hellboy in Hell" series. "I didn't always know exactly where it was going. Hellboy's dead, and now he gets sick, so it's very sad and tragic." As the series nears its conclusion, "We're close enough to the end of all of this stuff that the big secrets are starting to roll out. All of the pieces are on the board."
And this impending ending expands beyond "Hellboy in Hell." "All over the Hellboy universe, everything's kind of there. All of our pieces are there and now it's the most exciting part, where we just get to start knocking down those dominoes," Mignola said, promising that readers should still expect to be surprised by events in the various titles. "It surprised us when we were plotting it. So I figured that if the writers were surprised, the readers should really be surprised.
"My concern is getting the story finished so it doesn't fall to Scott Allie to go, 'Oh, shit -- I know he explained all of this to me,'" Mignola explained. "That's why I want to wrap things up in this finite number of issues, so then I can go get hit by a bus, or whatever."