SDCC '08 - Talking to the BPRD 1947 Team

Dark Horse Comics announced at their San Diego Comic-Con Horror panel a new miniseries delving further into the early days of Hellboy called BPRD 1947: Consider it Hellboy: Year One or The Young Hellboy Chronicles. Joining frequent Hellboy writer Joshua Dysart and colorist Dave Stewart on this five-issue miniseries are the Brazilian artists Gabriel Ba (Umbrella Academy, Casanova) and Fabio Moon (Casanova). This announcement is riding on the continuing wave of success of Mike Mignola's Hellboy, which recently released its second movie and has over ten graphic novels in print.

Serving as a sequel to this year's popular BPRD 1946 miniseries, BPRD 1947 continues the adventures of very young Hellboy under the guardianship of Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, occult investigator. In BPRD 1946, Bruttenholm was on the trail of the Nazi Occult Bureau's experimentation into vampires. Although the Second World War had ended, rogue elements such as the Nazi Occult Bureau hadn't given up.

We talked with the writer and artists, as well as editor Scott Allie..

Newsarama: Thanks for talking with us, guys. What led to the creation of this new miniseries?

Scott Allie: When we were putting together the Hellboy Companion a few years ago, we realized we have this chunk of history with an incredible potential for stories. We started spitballing, and came up with a trilogy of minis set in the early years of the Bureau. I pulled Dysart in to write, and Mike picked Paul Azaceta to draw. We didn't know for sure we'd do the second one, and Paul wound up taking a job at Marvel before we were able to make the decision. By the time we decided to do the second one, we'd also sort of decided we'd spread that original trilogy idea out further—so BPRD 1947 is not the original idea for a second mini. BPRD 1947 spins out of some stuff that came up in BPRD 1946, mixed with some traditional 19th century gothic horror stuff Mike was reading at the time. The vampire character, Konig, from 1946, Mike realized he was the closest thing to traditional vampires we'd done. He wanted to expand on that, and started working out BPRD 1947 with Josh. They quickly figured out that it would have a weird thing going on with the art, that would require two different art styes, but all with the same sort of layout and storytelling. We started thinking of guys that could do two styles comfortably—but they had to be two particular styles, a bold dark and graphic style, sort of like Mike or Duncan [Fegredo], and a lighter, prettier style, lush and warm and inviting. And then Mike happened to be talking to me about Umbrella Academy, raving about that, and asking if Gabriel could do more than one style. And I said yes, but even better, there are two Gabriels. Fabio is his twin brother, and their collaborative process is seamless. Sometimes you can't see where one ends and another begins. They were perfect for what we want, in every way.

Gabriel Bá: Scott told us Mignola had interest on doing something with us and when this series came along, he asked us if we would like to do it. We are already swamped with work, but there's no saying no to Mignola.

SA: Their storytelling sensibilities fit perfectly with where we're at with the Mignola stuff, and they are so fucking smart about everything they do. This is going to be a complex story to tell, and they take anything you give them and make it better. Fabio and Ba are two of the most talent guys I know, two of the best cartoonists in the world. That's a very subjective statement, but it's subjective from the point of view of trying to do good Mignola comics, so I'm in pig heaven.

NRAMA: So what exactly is Mike Mignola's involvement in the series?

SA: He co-writes it with Josh, does the covers, and goes over the art with me as sort of co-editor—art and color.

NRAMA: Let's turn to the creators -- have you talked with Mike Mignola for this project yet?

Joshua Dysart: Absolutely, of course. We wouldn't be announcing it if we weren't intimate with how the story was going to play out. We've been in active development on this thing since Jan. of this year. Mike is very involved in all of the Hellboy comics. That's why there's such a consistent voice across the property.

GB: Not yet. I'm sure we will try to have a good and serious talk about it at the convention.

NRAMA: This series is billed as being illustrated by the both of you. How does the division of work come about for this?

GB: We're not sure yet. For the promotional image, Fábio figured the layout, but then I tweaked the composition a little. Then I did the whole pencil because he was busy with other projects and inked some part of it. After that, Fábio rendered the whole tree line and the background, as well as the floating lady and the owl, to get a more expressive feel only achieved with a brush style.

It'd be crazy to work like this on the whole series and we want to make each one's art to make sense with what is on the page, not a random joke thing. It will definitely be a challenge for us.

Fábio Moon: The art has to work for the story it's telling, and it's the story that will really determine how we will divide the art, but as Bá said, it will be a challenge both in the sense that our brotherly competition will make us try to do always better than the other, and in the sense that the art must not distract the reader from the story every time there's a change of artist.

NRAMA: When can readers look forward to seeing the first issue of this?

JD: Well, I want to hold a lot of details close to my chest (or at least wait for Mike to spill them). I like to leave surprises for the reader, but essentially this is the story of the very first, official, BPRD field team. But of course there's so much more. More of young Hellboy. More Bruttenholm. A little more Varvara (just a dash). A returning villain, and a whole grip of new characters that will become standards throughout our retro-BPRD run.

GB: It follows the story of the 1946 series, as prof. Bruttenholm wants to find out more about the vampire experiments held by the Nazis during the war.

SA: Exsanguinated Nazis and a pancake-fed Hellboy.

NRAMA: Before we go, ca you tell us which previous Hellboy comics would you say are essential reading as prep for this new miniseries?

JD: Well, the only one you really need is BPRD 1946, as BPRD 1947 is a direct sequel to that. BPRD 1946 was designed to be a real jumping on point for the whole Hellboy universe. But you know, you can't go wrong with any Hellboy comic.

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