If you've been reading Hellboy or B.P.R.D. recently, you've seen their Earth go through hell... literally, in some cases. And after Liz Sherman razed the world and a group of Nazi scientists turned New York into a disaster zone, 2013 looks to be a year of change for its characters.Mike Mignola is taking Hellboy into the underworld for a hellish family reunion in Hellboy In Hell. Abe Sapien is back from a coma but on the outs with the B.P.R.D. and out to find a place for himself in a new ongoing series, Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible. And in the long-running B.P.R.D. series and a spin-off by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, the world's foremost supernatural squad is finding they're even more out of their depth than they realized.
After the events of 2012, 2013 sees the "Mignola-verse' of titles at Dark Horse becoming the de facto flagship for the Oregon-based publisher, with three ongoing series and a host of miniseries scheduled as well. Longtime editor Scott Allie, who acts as a sounding board, shepherd and sometimes scribe for the line, talked with Newsarama about his and Mike Mignola's plans for 2013 with Hellboy, Abe, the B.P.R.D. and the “Mignola-verse”.
Newsarama: Let's get right to it, Scott. Big picture – what’s coming up for Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. in 2013?
Scott Allie: More end of the world fun! You'll be seeing how messed up things are across the United States, in New York, in Norway, and pretty soon you'll come to understand just how screwed up things are in Hell ...
Nrama: The Mignola-verse as it were is really going through a growth spurt, with ongoings like Hellboy In Hell, BPRD: Hell On Earth and then the new series Abe Sapien: Dark And Terrible joining it. As the line editor and guiding hand of sorts with Mike Mignola, what’s it like to see it become such a big part of the Dark Horse family?Allie: The fascinating thing sometimes is to remember when it was just Mike and me talking, no one else really in the loop, and we would just get a new Hellboy comic on the schedule when we could. It's become such a complex operation, and such a key part of Dark Horse's makeup, that a lot more people are in the loop now, whether it's the marketing guys who shape their year in part around our plans, or the core of me, Mike and John Arcudi talking through the future of the characters, Dan Chabon, my assistant, who has unique responsibilities keeping it all on track—or the dozen or so artists we're working with at any time.
I love the way these books work. I love this team. We built it up from something very small, two to five comics a year, to be something very significant and, I think, of consistent high quality. We built it organically, never trying to think how to milk this thing, how to maximize this line—I was on a call with some business people today and dealt with a lot of that crass kind of talk. We add the books we want to because we feel we have a story to tell. It's a good way to do it, and all the key decision makers—and that includes our publisher Mike Richardson, who wants us to only do it the way Mignola wants it done—have a lot of integrity and vision.
Nrama: The recently launched Hellboy In Hell has slid into place as the flagship of the line, and I don’t thing people fully realize yet it’s not a miniseries but an ongoing. How’d you pull everything into place to do this as an ongoing with Mike?Allie: It's not a monthly, which I'm sure we'd all love. But Mike would have already blown his brains out by now if we ever talked about this being a monthly. But it is ongoing, in that after the first four monthly issues are done, you will have a bit of a wait (cough), and then Hellboy In Hell #5 will come out. As Mike geared up to do Hellboy In Hell, it quickly became clear that he had more stories than he could ever tell. This is the book he was born to draw. He created Hellboy as the perfect character for him to draw, but then he put him in modern times with a government job, and government guys have cars and helicopters. So Mike was certainly the best guy to draw the book from day one, but it always had a lot of stuff he didn't really want to have to draw. Which I imagine you could say of any book, and any artist. But in Hellboy In Hell, Mike finally just gets to draw the stuff he enjoys, he gets to redesign the world exactly as he'd want to, and so yes—ongoing, in that the next comic Mike draws will be Hellboy in Hell, and the one after that, and after that...
Nrama: Just to make sure we're all on the same page, Hellboy In Hell will be Mike writing and drawing for the foreseeable future, just with breaks between arcs like a televison series has breaks between seasons?Allie: Correct. Sorry to overcomplicate the answer. Yeah, now that Mike's finished #4, he has a few covers and other things to catch up on, then he'll be rolling into #5, and this should be the only comic he draws for the foreseeable future, and he should be the only one drawing it.
Nrama: No problem. Just wanted to make sure all us Hellboy fans know what to expect.
Getting into the comic itself, so far in Hellboy In Hell we've see him finally forced to confront his parentage and his birthright. How long have you and Mike been talking about this story being done?
Allie: Well, that aspect of it, forever. That has been circling around Mike's head for a long time. I would say that the idea of this book, of Hellboy having this sort of adventure in Hell, has been kicking around since around the time we were doing Box Full of Evil. A long time ago. It wasn't going to be as big as it's turned out to be—ongoing, that is. How Hellboy would get to Hell has changed, obviously the things he'd do here have changed, but the idea to do a story of him in Hell, facing some of the prophetic baggage he's always carried, has been in the mix as long as I can remember. Which actually isn't saying much, because my memory sucks. And Mike and I do everything by telephone, so there's no email/paper trail.BPRD Cold Day
InteriorNrama: Hellboy In Hell is proving to be a family affair with Hellboy meeting some relatives. What can you tell us about Hellboy’s family and this unlikely reunion?
Allie: We've met Hellboy's father before, and when we did, he referred to Hellboy as his "favorite son." Which sort of suggests there might be other siblings. It makes sense that Hellboy would start to encounter them at this point. And his dad made no secret of who his favorite was—he gave him that god damn hand—so things are tense at the family estate.
Nrama: What’s the status of the B.P.R.D. as an organization now, especially after Liz’s actions recently?
BPRD Cold Day
InteriorAllie: With what's happening in the world, the B.P.R.D. is more relevant, more powerful than ever. But they're also an international organization overseen by the United Nations, so the bureaucracy is bad, and their autonomy is gone. And they have a bigger fight on their hands than ever—most of them believe they have an unwinnable fight on their hands, but it's all a question of perspective.
The world leaders suspect that what Liz did set this all off, but they don't really understand it, and so they don't entirely hold the B.P.R.D. responsible. They're more focused on how much they need an organization that has so much history with this sort of problem.
Nrama: We've talked about what she's done, but I think explaining what it's done to the world is something people who haven't read B.P.R.D. might gloss over. How would you describe the current state of life in America?
Allie: Monsters of all shapes and sizes basically got shoved up out of the earth, bringing about this whole "Hell on Earth" thing. Governments still function, even though a few nations have been lost—England is gone, but that has more to do with Hellboy than Liz. But while there were huge repercussions from what Liz did, the world was able to soldier on.Nrama: Over in the main B.P.R.D. series, we’re currently seeing the agents come face to face with the dreaded Ogdru Hem. Can you tell us about this adventure and what it means to learn more about the Ogdru Hem?
Allie: Yeah, the Ogdru Hem are kid of the Old Ones of Lovecraft lore, set in the Mignola books. They're not exactly the Old Ones, but along those lines. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. caught glimpses of them through the years, but now they're popping up around the world, and causing a lot of devastation. The fact that there are a handful of these appearing around the world strongly suggests that this really is the end ... the main reason we changed the name of the book to B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth is to reflect the significance of these guys showing up. It's really going bad for mankind.
Nrama: Coming up in B.P.R.D. you have the arc “A Cold Day In Hell," after the hellacious last arc. What can readers expect?BPRD Cold Day
InteriorAllie: "A Cold Day in Hell" is the follow-up to the arc called "The Return of the Master." With Return of the Master, we saw the Nazi scientists from the first couple Hellboy series bring about a major disaster centered on New York City, but with ripples spreading out around the world. This was made possible, I guess, by what Liz did in "King of Fear," but it upped the ante significantly. After what Liz did, the world was still livable. After what happened in "Return of the Master," civilization will be eroding a bit faster.
So in "A Cold Day In Hell," we see how this affects the Russian Occult Bureau, and the cute little demon they keep trapped in a glass jar. We've got Peter Snejbjerg, who's worked with Arcudi before on B.P.R.D. and Abe Sapien as well as A God Somewhere, a great superhero book. This is my favorite thing Peter's done for us.
Nrama: As if that weren't enough, you also have Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba returning to the franchise to draw Mike’s script for B.P.R.D.: Vampire. Just who is the vampire, or vampires, in this series?Allie: Actually, Fabio and Ba are writing it with Mike, writing the lion's share of it themselves. We wanted to give them a place to really do their thing, so Mike worked out some of the overarching story for them, and they built from there. The goal was to let them do what they did with Daytripper, a piece of comics gold, but set in this world within this genre. That gives you a book unlike anything else we've done. It's good that it's set in the past, because it isolates them from the big world-shattering changes we're seeing in the modern-day story. As far as what vampires we're talking about, it's basically all the undead of Europe!
Nrama: Being fended off by a character from the twins' last series, B.P.R.D.: 1947, right?
Allie: Correct. Simon Anders, the main character from B.P.R.D. 1947, who was also one of the main characters in the recent John Arcudi/Max Fiumara series, B.P.R.D. 1948. He's got a massive grudge, since he's possessed or haunted by a pair of sister vampires, and the only thing he can think to go is go on a vampire murder spree.Nrama: What would you say the big theme(s) of the B.P.R.D.-verse is going forward with 2013?
Allie: Transformation and adaptability. The world is changing, drastically, and people have to figure out their place in it. This is the same boat every character in our world is in—Liz, every agent of the B.P.R.D. For Abe, it's a little more complicated, as there's a lot of people saying that the changes the world is going through have something to do with him.
Nrama: It seems like the B.P.R.D. /Hellboy line kicked into high gear in late 2012 and now in spring 2013. What prompted it?Allie: The end of the world. It worked out great for us—I mean we did it on purpose, but I feel lucky that it coincided as well as it did, all things considered—that Hellboy's death, Abe getting shot, and Liz blowing up Agartha in “King of Fear” happened so close together. Those three things are inextricably tied, they marked the turning point in the whole Mignola world, and with all our writers and artists moving at such different paces, we managed to hit them at roughly the same time. It's all working out very nicely.
Nrama: And lastly, are there some big plans on the future to see these various storylines come together?
Allie: There will come a time when the Abe ongoing series leads back into the B.P.R.D. ongoing series. The events are very parallel and complementary. Until then, there is the possibility for some sort of crossovers, but we won't do them like crossovers. I mean, you might see an event in one book impact the course of things in the other, you might see a character move through one book from another. Those would all be small things, but we are eventually building to something huge that pulls it together more tightly. It's a ways off, though.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!