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Circle of Hell, Boy - Part 1

Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski talk Hellboy!

By Arnold T. Blumberg     January 07, 2002


The final issue of HELLBOY: CONQUEROR WORM (#4).
© Dark Horse Comics
While he doesn't command the attention or the sales of a Man of Steel or Amazing Arachnid, Mike Mignola's HELLBOY has acquired a solid cult following in the comic book realm through a number of miniseries and related collectibles. With talk of an imminent big screen debut for the red-skinned, horned supernatural troubleshooter circulating amongst fans, now is the perfect time to learn more about this unusual hero and his quirky world.

Unfortunately, Hellboy has left the building! In his last miniseries, HELLBOY: THE CONQUEROR WORM, Hellboy left his colleagues at the B.P.R.D. (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development). The new series, MIKE MIGNOLA'S B.P.R.D.: HOLLOW EARTH, represents the first concerted effort to shift the focus from Hellboy to the supporting cast. It's a move that co-writer Christopher Golden is thrilled to help orchestrate.

"As a fan myself, I love the supporting characters," says Golden, who is also responsible for THE BONES OF GIANTS, a new HELLBOY novel (more on that in Part 2). "It's such a rich cast. Mike doesn't produce issues of HELLBOY at the rate we'd all like. We are more than happy to be patient, but we have three or four issues a year, and how much of [those characters] do we actually get? Very little."

Golden and co-writer Tom Sniegoski decided to address the problem by proposing a spin-off miniseries. It took a while, but eventually the two writers, creator Mignola, and publisher Dark Horse all agreed the time was right.

"Tom and I approached Mike about three years ago and said, 'Why don't you let us do a B.P.R.D story?" says Golden. "He was interested at the time, but not a lot happened, and Dark Horse sort of hemmed and hawed for a while. From time to time, Mike and I would talk and say, 'Jeez, it's amazing to me that Dark Horse wouldn't want to do this, because they're great characters.'"

HELLBOY: CONQUEROR WORM saw the departure of Hellboy from the B.P.R.D.

"Chris and I have known Mike for quite some time," says Sniegoski, "and have batted around an idea [to tempt Mike to] let us do a B.P.R.D. series. I think what finally convinced him was that there's so much time between HELLBOY miniseries, and it dawned on him that maybe this might work."

There was little concern on Sniegoski's part that Mignola might feel uncomfortable about letting his collaborators take the reins on this one.

"Chris and I came up with a good enough story concept, and Mike contributed to it, so I don't think he feels he's letting go of his babies. I think this is a very healthy environment for everyone. Everybody's happy with the experience."

"Mike has been very heavily involved in plotting the whole thing," says Golden. "As crazy as this stuff seems, there is a plan. Tom and I came up with the basic story, and then Mike worked with us for months to work out the kinks, and more importantly how it connected to the HELLBOY mythology that Mike has in his brain. So far in each issue Mike has already written scenes that are in the book."

The working relationship between the three creators is also very close-knit, allowing for a harmonious collaboration.

"Chris and I have done a lot of work together in comics," says Sniegoski. "A lot of times we'll read scripts we've done and not even know which one of us did them. The only real addition to this is that we're being very conscious of Mike. I think so much is going on in Mike's head that we're not aware of, that as long as we let him show us that stuff, it's great. Basically he just puts us back where we need to be. And we fix it and it's great."

Mignola's guiding hand is felt throughout the entire project, enabling Golden and Sniegoski to craft a story perfectly in keeping with the HELLBOY universe.

"He lets us do what we've got to do, and at the same time it makes us feel good because we're getting it right for him," says Sniegoski. "At least we hope he's very happy with what we turn in. He's fixing [the problems] and turning the scripts back and giving it the thumbs up. Then it goes over to Ryan Sook, who is an amazing artist. I just can't wait to see some of these pages."

Mike Mignola's HELLBOY

So what can fans expect from this new three issue chapter in the HELLBOY saga?

"HOLLOW EARTH has to do with the B.P.R.D. trying to figure out what happened to [pyrokinetic] Liz Sherman, finding her and also discovering an ancient underground race who have very dangerous toys," says Sniegoski. "Tom and I created a new character that Mike and [series artist] Ryan [Sook] designed, named Johann Kraus."

"At the end of CONQUEROR WORM, Hellboy quit the B.P.R.D. and went off on his own," says Golden. "We'll see him again shortly in his own book, but he will no longer be a member of the B.P.R.D."

He will, however, remain an important presence-if a relatively absent one-allowing his supporting players the chance to shine as well as reflect on the events that brought them into Hellboy's personal circle.

"This series accomplishes a number of things," says Golden. "One is to take the B.P.R.D. characters and bind them together. Each is a member of the group because of Hellboy; the only reason they felt at home or capable of functioning was because Hellboy was there. This story [will show] what Hellboy meant to these characters, what the B.P.R.D. means to them, and why they're going to stay."

TO BE CONTINUED

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