Early on in the Hellboy stories, creator Mike Mignola carved out an assortment of eclectic and inventive characters. Hellboy remained at the center, but the company he kept – and the creatures he fought – proved to be just as exciting for readers – and the cartoonist himself. Central to that was the B.P.R.D. – Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
While the BPRD first appeared in a supporting role in the Hellboy titles, it has found its own spot in the sun with various miniseries since 2002. All the while it's been chasing a invasion of frog creatures first seen all the way back in the first 1993 Hellboy story, Seed of Destruction. Through various miniseries, the BPRD has researched, attacked and fought off the frog menace in virtually all corners of the globe. And in the upcoming miniseries BPRD: King of Fear beginning this January, the final story – and final fate – of the Frog War is told.
BPRD: King of Fear wraps up BPRD's Scorched Earth trilogy, which started with The Warning and The Black Goddess. For these, Mike Mignola enlisted the aid of co-writer John Arcudi and esteemed artist Guy Davis to tell the final act of one of the Hellboy world's oldest menaces.
Newsarama: So John, what is this new BPRD volume King of Fear about?
John Arcudi: It's about the beginning of the end. At the same time, it really is the end of the "Frog War" continuity. We're going to wrap that up in a way that will, we hope, give longtime BPRD readers a feeling of satisfaction. They've made it to the end of a story line. But, as in life, endings creates all kinds of difficulties. The BPRD's work is far from finished.
Nrama: You've got readers coming at this from all sides – some are ardent followers of the BPRD comic series, while some may just know of the characters from their appearances in the Hellboy movies. Can you give us a brief primer on the team?
Arcudi: Certainly! The BPRD is a govt. organization that's been investigating (and defending human beings from) harmful paranormal activities in the world since 1947. Hellboy left the BPRD some years back, and since then the Bureau has primarily been battling a giant "Frog" invasion. These strange amphibious creatures are linked to major supernatural forces trying to turn the earth into a breeding ground for the new generation of monster gods. The Frogs are sort of like advance ground forces in a war, and the thinking of the BPRD is, defeat them, and strike a blow to the enemy.Nrama: Originally, the BPRD worked in concert with most of the world's governments… but after the last miniseries, they've really burned their bridge with the United States. How does the BPRD work now?
Arcudi: Not so differently from the way they did before, but just with a smaller budget. Given, however, that they have Liz Sherman, fire goddess, that's probably not so big of a deal. They can still kick ass. Liz in particular kicks a lot of ass. Way more than she should, as it turns out.Nrama: At the end of the last miniseries, it seems the team is heading off in two directions: one to put an end to those damned frogs, but also to save Lobster Johnson's soul. Is the latter what Kate's doing?
Arcudi: Right. She's after peace for Lobster Johnson's soul. Johann's ectoplasm has been commandeered by the Lobster's spirit. He's not malicious about it, in fact, the spirit is disoriented. His body is buried in Austria, and Kate is just trying to help the Lobster's ghost find his way.
Nrama: This is said to wrap up the whole Frog Menace saga, from the original Hellboy: Seed of Destruction to the BPRD miniseries The Warning and The Black Goddess. Is that true?
Arcudi: Everything? Well, no. There are a few little threads we'll be picking up later, things some readers might now believe to be insignificant. But it does tie up the larger threads rather neatly. The Liz story line is resolved, and the Lobster story reaches completion, and other things, too. But the BPRD is a sprawling history book that carries through lots of character development from series-to-series. We can't have everything come back to square one at the end of every arc, we can't have characters return to the way they were in the first issue of that arc. This is not a super-hero book that has to maintain a status quo. Things are changing.
Nrama: Yes. Readers should check out the recent revelations on Hellboy himself in that title.
Going from the BPRD team in the book to the BPRD team that makes the book, what's the collaborative process between you and Mike like these days?
Arcudi: For the ;ast three arcs we've worked together very closely. He had the overarching structure in mind, and I had to fill in a lot of the gaps. On this series in particular, we both knew where it was going, but we had to piece together exactly how we would get there, and some of the bigger revelations were talked about in great detail.
Nrama: And I can't leave you alone without asking about artist Guy Davis. As one of the first people to see the pages Guy does for BPRD, what's it like for you to write with him in the wings to draw it all?
Arcudi: Guy Davis is a force of friggin' nature. Mike and I are not only happy to be working with Guy; we're lucky to be working with him. He can (and does) do anything. The quiet scenes of spookiness, the giant explosions of action, the funny moments, the sad moments. Really, we'd need at least two other artists to replace him. Thank God we don't have to do that.