Mike Mignola Signing at Golden Apple Comics

We swung by Golden Apple Comics Saturday afternoon to check out the Mike Mignola appearance. Ryan and the crew were suited up in their finest occult-fighting Men in Black attire to assist as fans young and old came to meet the creator of Hellboy and participate in the Dark Horse ‘Join the B.P.R.D.’ campaign. Badges were handed out and an awesome photo booth was set up for pictures form the event. We got to meet and talk a little with Christine, his wife, and have arranged to set up an email interview with the man himself, so if you’ve got any questions for Mike, let us know, and maybe we’ll throw yours in!

Here’s some pictures from the event:

Lots of folks waiting...

Mike signs for a fan

Golden Apple's own Matt makes photo booth images on the fly

Mike signs for one of his youngest fans

Mike answers questions as his daughter looks on

Ryan Leibowitz: International Man of Mystery

Ryan Liebowitz: International Man of Mystery

The Mignola Clan: wife Christine, daughter, and Mike

Review: Hellboy in Mexico

Cover to Hellboy in Mexico by Richard Corben.

Yeah, Hellboy *is* beating up a demon luchador.

Note: Chad and I are celebrating our anniversary this weekend. Posting will be even lighter than usual as a result. –J

“Hellboy in Mexico, or, a Drunken Blur”

Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Richard Corben
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letters: Clem Robins

The last year or so of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. have been dense with continuity, leading up to a radical change in direction for both books. I’ve been reading them pretty avidly, but I haven’t felt at all prepared to review them with the thoroughness they deserve. Fortunately, I have no such qualms about Hellboy in Mexico— like Mignola and Corben’s previous Hellboy: The Crooked Man, it stands delightfully and somewhat ludicrously on its own.

While waiting on a BPRD pickup in 1982 Mexico, Abe and HB stumble into a deserted cantina… with pictures of Hellboy and a bunch of luchadores on the walls. HB sighs and admits to Abe that, yes, he’s been here before; in 1956, Mexico experienced a plague of supernatural events thought to be the work of the Devil himself. Cut off from the usual BPRD support staff, HB teamed up with a family of wrestlers to fight the eldritch hordes.

What happens next is… well, even lucha libre can be neatly squeezed into the intricate Hellboy mythos. The brothers believe they’re on a mission from the Virgin Mary, the avatar of a demonic Mayan bat god appears, and everything, as usual, ends a little direly for HB himself. It’s a funny story, and a sad one, and it emphasizes the gulf between Hellboy and the people he loves. It’s hard not to see echoes of Dr. Who in Hellboy here. Like the Doctor, HB works best with companions, people whose brief and brave lives show him what it means to be truly human. Hellboy knows that he’ll always have to go on without them at the end of the day, though, toward that mysterious destiny we’ve seen teased in The Wild Hunt.

Corben does some of my favorite Hellboy art. The Crooked Man found him working in the tradition of underground comics, all deliriously thick lines and bulging eyeballs, and Hellboy in Mexico showcases his talent at brooding, expectant atmospherics. A lot of this book takes place in wide open spaces, lit only by the glare of headlights; it reminds me of early Spielberg cinematography in a good way. The fight scenes are chaotic and crowded, the cantina sequences cheery and bright. As much as I like Hellboy artists like Duncan Fegredo, Corben’s got the right attitude and solid chops to pull off a slightly gonzo Hellboy story like this one.

Soon enough, Mignola’s coming back to handle the art chores for Hellboy, and we’ll see what happens now that HB’s claimed Excalibur and appears destined for the throne of England. Hopefully, all that portentous Arthuriana doesn’t spell the end of these black-humored, North American-based Mignola/Corben stories. I’d miss them terribly.

LA Times Festival of Books: Brubaker, Mignola, Oliver Talk Comics

The LA Times Festival of Books brought hundreds of authors, publishers, and patron to the UCLA campus this past weekend, and those of us in the Department were no exception. We went Sunday for the two panels that interested us the most– first, a lively discussion of comics publishing moderated by Geoff Boucher of the TimesHero Complex blog, and then a new media panel hosted by Jacket Copy Times blogger Carolyn Kellogg.

Simon Oliver's Chas: The Knowledge #1.

Oliver's sticking with Vertigo for a new crime GN.

Boucher’s panel featured Criminal and Secret Avengers author Ed Brubaker, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and Exterminators creator Simon Oliver. Topics ranged from the exact definition of an indie publisher (Mignola: “Does Dark Horse even count as an indie any more?”) to the challenges of moving between comics, film, and TV writing (Brubaker: “There’s always room for more comics, where there’s only so many slots for new pilots or films.”). Superheroes were also on the agenda, with Brubaker discussing his espionage-oriented approach to Secret Avengers and Oliver talking about the mixed fan reactions his no-Spandex run on Gen13 provoked. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mignola is content to be “in [his] own corner;” he’s concentrating all of his creative efforts on the continuing Hellboy mythos, including an upcoming return to art duties on the main Hellboy series.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #1 cover.

...while Mignola's returning to art duties on Hellboy...

Brubaker and Oliver also gave out some hints about their upcoming projects, with Brubaker explaining that he and co-conspirator Sean Phillips are working on the sequel to Icon supervillain tale Incognito. Possibly subtitled “Bad Influences,” the new Incognito should debut in September. After that, there are plans in the works for another Icon pulp series, this one a science fiction adventure. (If you didn’t just emit a bodily fluid of your choice in anticipation, this might not be the blog for you, by the way.) Oliver’s also dipping into the pulp waters with a weighty 200-page graphic novel for Vertigo’s new Vertigo Crime imprint; although I don’t have too much solid information yet, I understand it’s a period piece, taking place on the border during the Mexican-American War.

Incognito #6, by Brubaker and Phillips.

...and Bru's going Incognito again in September.

Also, as if the idea of SF pulp wasn’t tantalizing enough for you, Mignola and Brubaker exchanged a few interesting asides during a discussion of Mignola’s undead pulp adventure hero, Lobster Johnson. Mignola noted that there could always be more Lobster Johnson tales to tell, to which Brubaker said “…gee, maybe I should write one of those Lobster Johnson stories!” Mignola merely eyed him speculatively and said “Maybe you should.” Again, if this isn’t a personal wet dream for you, the Department may not be your kind of reading material– the idea of a Brubaker-penned Lobster Johnson mini seems too good to be true. (Scott Allie! Are you reading? Make that happen!)

Next post, I’ll tackle the new media panel. Stay tuned.