The thing that got me into Hellboy was the Alan Moore blurb on the back of one of the collections -- I cannot find it right now but he talks about all the influences that have been synthesized: Kirby, Lovecraft, Toth, world mythology. Hellboy, and his world, is a design triumph, a tremendous artistic success. I just want to grab a few moments where Mignola handles his influences beyond superheroes.
The first panel is split between a haunted castle structure (which turns out to be a broken church with no roof) and a prose diary in courier type-writer font, prose right out of the pulps. An American Sergeant, gruffly skeptical of all the paranormal stuff going on around him, writing in
In his office, the professor says he feels that he has been cut off from his past, that he cannot remember, that he is too old. Hellboy’s first line ever is to tell the professor that he looks fine to him. The line is reflexive: Mignola is telling the audience that the horror comic is not cut off from its past even though superhero comics dominate, that there is a lot to draw on and a lot to remember.
I realized that I was moved to write these posts this week because of Morrison’s most recent Batman story. I was thinking of Hellboy as a better example of artistic synthesis and allusion to many different kinds of comic book history. You may disagree, but I think it is a good thing to consider as a contrast.I also should say that I am not that familiar with how John Byrne fits into all this. I call the character Mignola's because the character is so closely associated with him, but I know it is more complicated than that. Unfortunately, I am not the guy to take this on -- anyone want to give it a shot?