When I began reading comics as a child it was the heroes and villains that drew me to the monthly books. I lost myself in Spider-man’s high-flying battle scenes with the Vulture and Wolverine slashing his way through Sentinels. It wasn’t until I was about 11-years-old that I began to notice not only the pictures of my favorite characters but the style and perspective of the artists that were drawing the comics. The first artist that I remember making an impression on me was Mike Mignola. I was a young Alpha Flight fan when issue #29 hit the stands and I first fell in love with Mignola’s work.
Mignola is the creative force behind Hellboy which sees it’s second big-screen premiere this weekend in theaters with Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. Long before Hellboy made his comic debut Mike Mignola had been toiling away as a comic artist assembling one of the most creative and stylized bodies of work the comics business has seen to date. He began his career at Marvel comics in the early 80’s inking issues of Daredevil and Power Man and Iron Fist.
From his first penciling jobs Mignola was instantly branded an outsider due to his odd penciling style. Fans either loved him or hated him. Unlike other artists of the late 80’s Mignola shied away from the silver-age-style of the late 70’s made popular by artists like Steve Ditko and Neil Adams favoring heavy line work and pitch-black shadows that gave his style a bulky and foreboding feel. Writer Alan Moore once called Mignola’s art style as “German Expressionism meets Jack Kirby”. Mignola’s bulky characters and stark angular backgrounds brought a sinister feel to his art and would give his first creator owned character, Hellboy, a style that would change horror comics forever.
In 1994 Hellboy: Seed of Distruction hit the stands and instantly stood out amongst the glut of stereotypical-gritty-superhero books that litter quarter boxes today. Mignola’s Hellboy comics applied a pulp-sense and his love of classic horror to the super hero-genre that had not been seen before. Fans instantly fell in love with the character’s large stone hand, tail, and sarcasm in the face of unholy terror. Hellboy is a demon that fights on the side of humanity while working for Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. In his Hellboy adventures Mignola, who both wrote and drew the early Hellboy stories, melds folklore with classic horror fiction seamlessly to supply Hellboy and his supporting cast a legion of demons, werewolves, ghosts and vampires to protect humanity from. Though his encyclopedic knowledge of folklore and pulp horror make his Hellboy stories intelligent reads it’s Mignola’s art that supplies the truly creepy and original feel to Hellboy’s adventures.
Hellboy’s instant popularity with fans paired with the relatively low print runs make the first two Hellboy miniseries next to impossible to find. However Dark Horse comics in now reprinting the complete adventures of Hellboy in a over-sized hardcover format available at comic shops everywhere.
Collector’s are paying premium prices for Mignola Hellboy back issues and the prices on the books continue to rise with anticipation of the latest Hellboy film Hellboy: The Golden Army directed by the Oscar nominated director Guillermo Del Toro.
Here is a list of Hellboy’s most collectible comics(all prices listed for comics in Near Mint condition):
San Diego Comic Con Comics #2, Dark Horse, 1992, 1st appearance of Hellboy. $10.00 in Overstreet (currently selling for $50.00+ online)
John Byrne’s Next Men #21, Dark Horse, 1992, 1st regular comic app of Hellboy, $35.00 in Overstreet (currently selling for $60.00+ online)
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1-#4, Dark Horse, 1994, 1st Hellboy miniseries, $5.00 each in Overstreet (currently selling for $10.00 each online)
Dark Horse Presents #88-91, Dark Horse, 1994, Wolves of St August storyline. $6.00 in Overstreet (currently selling for $8-$10 each online)
After 14 years, one movie and two animated features Hellboy continues to thrill horror fans. His latest miniseries, Hellboy: The Crooked Man, written by Mignola and drawn by horror-comics-legend Richard Corben hit comic stands last week and should be available in most comic shops. For more on Mignola’s Hellboy and other new comics check out my other blog, ”This Week in Geek” where I discuss the new comics of the week that could be tomorrow’s hot collectibles. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact me or post your question in the Comic Book community forum. Want to know what your comics are worth? Join Worthpoint for free and post your titles in the “Ask A Question” section.