HELL WEEK: JOHN ARCUDI Builds B.P.R.D. To Year-End Surprise


This year, B.P.R.D. is experiencing Hell on Earth, with monster mayhem breaking loose in multiple titles set throughout the Hellboy Universe.

While Mike Mignola is drawing Hellboy in Hell — the title that will follow the character after his death — the main storyline of the B.P.R.D. characters is being written by John Arcudi, with other writers helping out with tie-in series.

The full slate announced so far is:

- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death, which started this month from Mignola, Arcudi and artist James Harren.

- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror, due in March from Mignola and Scott Allie, with art by Jason Latour.

- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Transformation of J.H. O'Donnell coming in May from Mignola and Allie with art by Max Fiumara.

- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil's Engine begins in May with the regular B.P.R.D. team of Mignola, Arcudi and Tyler Crook.

- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Exorcism! by Mignola and writer/artist Cameron Stewart.

Earlier this week, Newsarama spoke to Mignola about what's coming up for B.P.R.D. and what each of these series brings to the overall story of the Hellboy Universe.

Now, as Part 2 of our Hell Week here on Newsarama, we talk to Arcudi about the comics he's writing and what it's like to work on the evolving world of B.P.R.D..

Newsarama: John, what was the inspiration for letting all hell break loose in the BPRD/Hellboy world like this?

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Devil's Engine #2 Cover

John Arcudi
: Inspiration isn't the right word because when Mike and I started this, we were more or less just fooling around with the universe, much like other shared comic book universes, but as we went along, we started building this coherent story, and we — mostly Mike — started seeing a natural progression. We figured that this stuff couldn’t keep happening and not have a long-term effect, so we just rolled with it

Nrama: After speaking to Mike about these plans, it was striking to discover there are no plans to go back to the "way things were." What do you think of working on a shared universe project that offers this kind of opportunity for evolution of the characters and their world?

Arcudi: Exactly. These events we kept depicting, they changed the world permanently. Nobody dies and comes back, nobody steps into a time machine and resets the clock. The earth is scarred and those scars become important as landmarks of the past and signposts for the future. And I have to tell you, it's going to get worse. As a result, the characters need to grow, or if not grow they certainly need to adapt to the changing world — much as we do as we get older, or our circumstances change. It's fun to have the characters evolve and change with you, and readers seem to respond well to that.

Nrama: There are also a lot of people writing different parts of the Hell on Earth event. What's the collaboration like on all the different elements happening with B.P.R.D. this year?

Arcudi: Mike set the stage with his decision to speed things up a bit more than we had planned, but for the most part I work on BPRD, with capable edits by Scott Allie and Mike, and Mike works on Hellboy in Hell. Mike will also co-write some more books in the near future with Scott Allie, much as they did on Pickens County Horror, but I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to tell you about those yet. Which isn't to say that Mike doesn't call me up and say "Hey, why don'tcha do this?" every now and again. He does, of course, but mostly we work in our own camps. It's very, very comfortable.

Nrama: Then let's talk about the series that just started this month. What can you tell us about the premise of B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Long Death?

Arcudi: We're finally tackling the whole Benjamin Daimio/Johann Kraus dynamic that we established in The Killing Ground. Back then, Daimio — while in the form of a monstrous alter-ego — killed Johann's human body, and the spirit of Johann has been obsessed with that ever since.

It's surprising how quickly the months got away from me — I really wanted to deal with this story sooner — but the timing is perfect because we have artist James Harren doing break-out work on the book. He's just great, and superstar colorist Dave Stewart works so well with him. The book is gorgeous.

Nrama: How will the story in The Long Death and its aftermath affect the B.P.R.D. characters?

Arcudi: Again, it's going to change things. It will change the characters, it will change Johann in a way that may surprise people, and it will make a few other agents more prominent (like Agent Giarocco) in the B.P.R.D. milieu. It's going to close a chapter, but give everybody a glimpse at what's to come.

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: How about B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: The Devil's Engine? What can you tell fans about what's coming in that story?

Arcudi: In its own way it will be just as transformative as The Long Death, both of the direction of the book and of some of the characters themselves.

While The Long Death focuses on Johann and Daimio and Giarocco, The Devil's Engine will focus more on Agent Devon and his new charge, Fenix. Devon's trying to bring Fenix back to B.P.R.D. headquarters, but because the world is different, because things are all messed up, it's not just an easy plane ride.

Also, there will be some focus on what's going on at Zinco — which is plenty.

And we're lucky to have artist Tyler Crook on this series because he just nails all the character stuff, while giving the horrific events a kind a realism that was needed for this to work. He just keeps getting better as he works with us, which is very gratifying to see.

Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the Hell on Earth event this year? Any hints you can give us about what all this leads to?

Arcudi: Only that it's all coming to a head in December with a perhaps the most unexpected return of a character ever. Everything is building towards that.

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