Twenty years ago, I was reading an article in Wizard magazine that was proclaiming the arrival of an amazing new comic called Hellboy by Mike Mignola. I’d been a fan of Mignola’s art since the 1992 Dracula movie – he’d done beautiful artwork for the collectible trading cards, and I still have them – and figured I’d check it out. Two decades later, HB and I are still going strong.
Hellboy: The First 20 Years is not The Art of Hellboy 2, something Mr. Mignola is quick to point out in his Foreward. It is, he continues, a “celebration of Hellboy (and maybe more importantly) his world hitting the 20-year mark”. A celebration it is, showing the evolution of the characters and Mignola’s art over the last two decades, from the hairy, horned and winged demon to the slump-shouldered, noir hero he’s become. There are covers, convention posters, sketches, and paintings in here. It’s a cavalcade of Hellboy art, one picture after the next, that makes me want to buy an extra copy to frame and hang pictures up all over my apartment.
Perhaps most importantly, the book is a passport for a trip through your own memories. I smiled, seeing the cover for Seed of Destruction, and remembered picking it up in my local comic book store – long gone now – at the time, and tucking it into my stack of books for the week. It makes me want to sit down, leaning against my longboxes, and re-read Wake the Devil all over again. I want to revisit more recent books, like Sledgehammer 44 and Lobster Johnson; I want to pull out The Midnight Circus and read it to my toddler, because everyone should know who Hellboy is and why you shouldn’t wander into a weird circus alone, when you’re a kid – whether or not you look like a demon.
Hellboy: The First 20 Years is Mike Mignola’s love letter not only to Hellboy and his friends, but to the fans. Thank you, Mr. Mignola – let’s look forward to another 20 years of stories.
HELLBOY: THE FIRST 20 YEARS
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Mike Mignola
Publisher: Dark Horse
On-Sale: March 19, 2014
Diamond ID: NOV130011