Monday, May 05, 2008


Hellboy and the BPRD

Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, which Georgia and I have both been looking forward to for a while now. Once we were all up and dressed, we headed out the door to Austin Books and got in line for the free goodies (and picked up a couple of non-free items as well, to be fair).

Georgia's favorite was probably the Tiny Titans offering from DC. As a big fan of the Cartoon Network Teen Titans and the associated all-ages title Teen Titans Go, she immediately understood that these were the characters she's familiar with, but as "babies" (everyone smaller than Georgia is a "baby" in her eyes, naturally), and with some extra characters added to the mix. Just why there are two Wonder Girls, though, was something difficult to explain to a four year old.

My personal faves were Atomic Robo, which was my reason for getting out of bed on Saturday morning (and which I wouldn't have been able to get at all, the copies have flown out before I arrived, if one of the staff hadn't generously offered me her own copy, since her fiance already had one of his own) and Hellboy. If you don't known Atomic Robo, pick up the trade collection in June and you'll discover the love. If you don't know Hellboy, well, I don't know what to do with you. There's the movie, another movie on the way, a couple of animated releases, a video game or two, loads of toys and statues, a bunch of novels and anthologies... Oh, yeah, and a whole slew of comics.

The success of Mike Mignola's Hellboy and the related titles is really every creator's dream. The original book itself is such a perfect marriage of concept, character, and style that it's at times difficult to separate the three. Over the years we've seen the gradual expansion of the Hellboy "universe"--Helliverse?--with the supporting titles of BPRD, Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien, BPRD: 1946, et cetera, et al. I mean, just look at all of them. A growing franchise, all overseen by Mignola, who participates in each of them to varying degrees--plotting, scripting, writing, and drawing.

The Free Comic Book Day offering served as a kind of Whitman's Sampler of the current Hellboy titles currently on offer--Hellboy, BPRD, and BPRD: 1946. If you're the kind of reader who enjoys stories about dudes with guns facing off against Cthuloid monsters--and really, who isn't?--the Hellboy franchise really is the gift that keeps on giving. The three stories include a Hellboy short, "The Mole", by Mignola and Duncan Fregredo; a current day BPRD story, "Out of Reach," written by Mignola and John Arcudi, with art by Guy Davis; and a 1940's era BPRD story, "Bishop Olek's Devil," written by Mignola and Dysart, with art by Paul Azaceta. If you've encountered any of the Hellboy media stuff--movies, animation, games, etc--but not sampled the comics, this isn't a bad place to start.

And check out this little bit of awesome from the title page, a mashup of the characters from Futurama with the Hellboy universe. Some of the choices, like Dr. Zoidberg for Lobster Johnson, are nothing less than inspired.

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