In 1994, Dark Horse released an eight-page story in its San Diego Comic Con comics special, Seed of Destruction #1. The brief tale introduced readers to a new character by Mike Mignola, the sarcastically lovable “beast of destruction,” Hellboy.
Two decades later, Dark Horse has proclaimed March 22, 2014, as “Hellboy Day,” in honor of the humble beginnings of one the publisher’s most popular titles. With comic book stores from London to Buenos Aires and Los Angeles to New York hosting events, here are three ways Hellboy fans can get a piece of the action:
1. Get Dark Horse’s Hellboy: The First 20 Years, which was released on March 19. The anniversary publication takes a look back at both Hellboy and the talent of his creator, Mike Mignola. The oversized hardback shows how Mignola’s style—which fellow comic creator Alan Moore has described as “German expressionism meets Jack Kirby”—has influenced art and illustration both in and outside the world of comics.
The book includes some of Mignola’s most recognizable work over the past 20 years, along with new never-before-published pieces, sketches, and raw scans. It is a great publication for Mignola fans who want a little portable gallery of his work.
“I envy the sheer variety and invention Mignola brings to Hellboy’s world,” award-winning character designer Peter de Séve said of Mignola’s work in the book’s introduction. “[He] consistently manages to depict even the most grotesque monstrosity and make it somehow beautiful.”
2. Rediscover the movies. When filmmaker Guillermo del Toro released the first Hellboy movie in 2004, he and actor Ron Perlman gained the character even more fans. The combination of del Toro’s detail-intensive worlds, from BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) headquarters in the first film to the goblin’s underground city in the sequel, mixed with Perlman’s believable and easygoing portrayal, gave these films an extensive fan following. It also showed off Hellboy’s very sensitive “human” side, as well as his over-the-top-ability to kick evil’s behind.
Between the release of the original Hellboy movie and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, key actors Perlman, Doug Jones, and Selma Blair, lent their voice talents to two animated Hellboy films, Blood and Iron and Sword of Storms.
Both Mignola and del Toro have said the movie and comic plots should remain separate, but del Toro has said he would someday like to see a Hellboy 3. He has even created a story, but no further developments on this project have surfaced.
Parents of younger viewers who might not be ready for some of Hellboy’s scarier elements, will also recognize Mignola’s style in the Walt Disney 2001 animated film, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, for which he served as production designer.
Perlman loved being the character and called Hellboy a “regular bloke (who’ll) do anything for a laugh,” while del Toro has been a fan of the character and comic for many years. He said in a 2008 interview for MyMovies, he got the same feeling reading Hellboy as an adult as he did reading Batman as a boy—and remembering wanting to be the character.
“When I read Hellboy, I was over 30. I felt exactly the same way,” del Toro said. “I was like ‘I want to be Hellboy when I grow up.'”
3. Comic book stores worldwide will be marking the anniversary with giveaways, special guests, and other events on March 22.
Greg Lara of Asylum Comics in El Paso, Texas, said that the store will mark the character’s 20-year milestone in much the same way, by giving away Hellboy 20th Anniversary Samplers, as well as offering discounts on some related items.
The sampler will feature two classic Mignola stories, “The Ghoul” and “Another Day at The Office,” as well as two new stories by Mignola, including “The Coffin Man,” Fabio Moon, and R. Sikoryak.
Lara said Hellboy is just one of those characters that people really seem to “get,” and his image seems to have saturated himself into other stories.
“People love the fact that he is a demon with an attitude. He has been everywhere in pop culture, from comics and movies,” Lara said. “You see his comic cameos in Frank Miller’s Sin City: Hell and Back, The Goon, and The Savage Dragon. You also see him in movies, like Kick-Ass and Dogma.”
Hellboy fans living in the Los Angeles area will get the biggest treat, however, as Mignola himself will make an appearance at Meltdown Comics and Collectibles in West Hollywood for the day’s events, which will also include chocolate Hellboys, BPRD prints, and other special guests.
Lara said as a reader and fan of Hellboy, it is Mignola’s standout art and writing style that he loves.
“The way he brings Hellboy and all his other characters to life is amazing,” he said. “Plus, the fact that after 20 years of Hellboy’s adventures, he knows exactly where he wants to be with his story.”
A list of many of the participating stores hosting Hellboy Day events can be found on the DarkHorse blog.