Mignolaverse

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Séadna

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Just thought I start a thread here for all of the comics taking place in Mike Mignola's universe. Hellboy, BPRD, Abe Sapien and Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder

I've nothing particular to say at the moment, but I'll just give a little advice on collecting the series in Omnibus form.

Basically they have yet to collect the "Hellboy and the BPRD" series and the final series "The Devil You Know" in omnibus format. However more importantly BPRD Volume 2 was released with an error (missing a page). The original run was recalled and the corrected reprints only went out to a few people who had ordered with Dark Horse. For that reasons the prices on ebay and abebooks for Volume 2 are through the roof around $300, where as the other four volumes can be gotten for ~$30. Even then the copies you'd be paying hundreds for are probably the original print run with the error. There'll be a paperback reprint next year (original print was hardback).

Also if you want an up to date guide to reading order see here:
 

spittingimage

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I like Mignola's work. I have all of Hellboy and I'm currently collecting BPRD. I don't recall my copy of #2 having a page missing, but it's entirely possible I read it while drunk.

I have some Abe Sapien, but somehow it doesn't grip me the way the other two titles do.

Have you read any Amazing Screw-On Head? Interested to hear someone's opinion of it.
 

3rik

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I picked up all trade paperbacks of Witchfinder so far. I love the whole MIgnolaverse, but there's a LOT of it. Witchfinder seemed the most manageable series to collect.

Oh, I also own the first TPB of Baltimore, The Plague Ships. Turns out the rest of the stories will only be collected in the omnibuses and not appear in TPB...
 

TristramEvans

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Have you read any Amazing Screw-On Head? Interested to hear someone's opinion of it.


Absolutely love it, I have two favourite types of humour the really dark and the really absurd, and it's a peak example of the second. The animated TV pilot was delightful, it's unfortunate it never got picked up as a series.

 

TristramEvans

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I picked up all trade paperbacks of Witchfinder so far. I love the whole MIgnolaverse, but there's a LOT of it. Witchfinder seemed the most manageable series to collect.

Oh, I also own the first TPB of Baltimore, The Plague Ships. Turns out the rest of the stories will only be collected in the omnibuses and not appear in TPB...

Have you read the original Baltimore novel?
 

Lofgeornost

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Oh, I also own the first TPB of Baltimore, The Plague Ships. Turns out the rest of the stories will only be collected in the omnibuses and not appear in TPB...

I recently got the second (and final) Baltimore omnibus as a birthday present, in part because my local library doesn't have it. I'd recommend it if you're interested in the character, though it is not as strong as the first omnibus, probably--it becomes more of a 'team' book.

Absolutely love it, I have two favourite types of humour the really dark and the really absurd, and it's a peak example of the second. The animated TV pilot was delightful, it's unfortunate it never got picked up as a series.

I'm a big fan of Screw-On Head too. I gather that Mignola's Mr. Higgins Comes Home and Our Encounters with Evil are somewhat in the same vein, but I haven't had a chance to read them yet. I've just finished the fourth B.P.R.D. War with Frogs omnibus.
 

3rik

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I recently got the second (and final) Baltimore omnibus as a birthday present, in part because my local library doesn't have it. I'd recommend it if you're interested in the character, though it is not as strong as the first omnibus, probably--it becomes more of a 'team' book.
I don't own the first omnibus either, only the Plagueships trade paperback. I was planning on collecting the other trade paperbacks as well, but turns out there aren't going to be any...
 

TristramEvans

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It's really some of Mignola's most beautiful work

HellboyinHell-deathcardspread.jpg
 

TristramEvans

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What did you think of the films and animated stuff Tristram?

I really enjoy the Del Toro films, but only by completely disassociating them from the comics. I was involved with them as they were being made, so I knew going in how far away from the comics they were, and just accepted them as "alternate universe takes on the Mignola characters. I enjoy the Golden Army a little bit more than the first one. I will say that I now always hear Ron Perlman's voice as Hellboy when I'm reading the comic, he owned that role.

The two animated films were closer to comicbook adaptions, but they aren't great animation, and the pacing is a bit off. They're OK, but left me overall unsatisfied.

In the end, I think Bryan Fuller's Screw On-Head pilot, posted above, was the closest we've gotten to a really good adaptation of a Mignola comic onscreen.

The newest Hellboy film was a train wreck.

Disney's Atlantis is interesting, if you want to see a film animated in Mignola's art style, until the execs stepped in and said "too dark" and had them remove all the eponymous shadows.
 

spittingimage

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The thing that bothers me about Mignola's style is that he draws men without shoulders.
 

TristramEvans

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Atlantis had a lot of potential, it was supposed to be Disney's first foray into animation aimed at adults, but the studio chickened out hafway through production, so we got a film with one foot in, one foot out. I enjoyed it - the mix of Jules Verne with Edgar Cayce - but it's one of those ones that I read all about the director's original plans and I really wish I could have seen THAT film.

Emperor's New Groove was similiar, it was originally a super-serious film about Incan mythology called Kingdom of the Sun, but became a 40's screwball comedy - though in that case, I really like what we got so much that while I'd like to see Kingdom of the Sun as concieved, I wouldn't want it to have replaced New Groove.
 

3rik

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Different characters have different body types?
Looks to me like Mignola kind of stylizes/exaggerates the body shape, also dependant on pose. An effect perhaps comparable to how certain clothes can make you seem shorter, smaller or thinner. I really dig it.

I will say that I now always hear Ron Perlman's voice as Hellboy when I'm reading the comic, he owned that role.
We love Selma Blair as Liz Sherman, possibly more than the comic version.

tumblr_mqnnbiaM7n1rc1rm4o3_500.gifv
original.gif
 

Lofgeornost

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I feel kind of sheepish posting in this thread, since I don't have any neat Mignola art to share, like Tristram Evans. I've been reading a lot of the Mignolaverse material over the last couple of months, though, and have a few random observations to share.

I enjoyed the omnibus of B.P.R.D. 1946-48, but the standout year for me was 1947, the story arc about chasing vampires. The plotting and storyline were engrossing and I liked the tone more than 1946, which was a little too campy, somehow. I also thought the series did a good job of contrasting the horrors that the early B.P.R.D. agents had seen in World War II with the supernatural horrors they now face. Simon Anders' ordeal in a lifeboat in the South Pacific was expertly handled and the D-Day sequence was good as well, if perhaps a bit derivative of Saving Private Ryan.

It occurred to me that one of the strengths of these early B.P.R.D. books is that the agents can die, and frequently do. That makes the series more like horror, where the hapless individuals caught up in the story often don't survive. You could say that the later B.P.R.D. titles have the same quality--a lot of the rank-and-file agents end up dead. But because those books ultimately focus on the super-powered agents, so to speak, the normal characters seem more like red shirts in an old Trek episode--you rather expect that they are there to come to a sticky end. In these early B.P.R.D. stories, the only one with script immunity is Bruttenholm (well, and young Hellboy), and he is not a field operative. In the 1947 sequence, he is mainly behind the scenes, and the agents go out without any super-powered leader. In a strange way, this seems to make their fate more meaningful, if that makes any sense.

Of course, Mignolaverse titles aren't averse to killing off the main, super-powered characters either. But their deaths are usually heroic and part of a major arc. That again is not entirely in keeping with horror as a genre, or at least much of it.
 

TristramEvans

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I feel kind of sheepish posting in this thread, since I don't have any neat Mignola art to share, like Tristram Evans.

Oh don't let that put you off, I personally much prefer posts with content such as yours.

I agree with both your points, there is definitely a different feeling to those stories that involve a team of regular agents investigating, that are more like traditional horror (or survival horror post-Plague of Frogs), and that the tone of stories changes when one or more of the major supernatural agents are involved.

I recall an early storyline in the BPRD comics when Kate Corrigan is off on her own and gets caught up in a "Hotel California" situation (being deliberately vague for anyone who hasn't read it yet), and it was genuinely terrifying. This was a character I'd gotten to know over 20 years, but she rarely does fieldwork and this was the first time she was faced with something without Hellboy there.

I think the BPRD series in general was really effective as a juxtoposition against the Hellboy main title showing how devastating that really was for them to lose him. Hellboy's stories have a very different feel, I'd say more "pulp hero", as you never really have to be scared for him.

Incidentally, in an early interview with Mike Mignola I have from a comics magazine I have from the late 90's, he mentioned some of the primary influences on the creation of Hellboy, which were in large part a lot of the "supernatural sleuth"-genre late Victorian and Pulp magazine stories such as Eveleigh Nash's Carnacki The Ghost-Finder and Manly Wade Wellman's "John the Balladeer". Hellboy very much straddles the line between this genre and superhero comics, whereas BPRD managed to find it's own identity, thanks in large part to the contributions of Guy Davis
 

Lofgeornost

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I recall an early storyline in the BPRD comics when Kate Corrigan is off on her own and gets caught up in a "Hotel California" situation (being deliberately vague for anyone who hasn't read it yet), and it was genuinely terrifying. This was a character I'd gotten to know over 20 years, but she rarely does fieldwork and this was the first time she was faced with something without Hellboy there.

Is that "The Universal Machine" or a different story? I enjoyed that set of issues, though one of Kate's actions towards the end seemed really off:
After she has deduced that de Fabre, her captor, gets his power from Sixtus V's ring of Solomon, she casts it away--leading to its being swallowed by what I thought was a homunculus but turns out to be a demon de Fabre has enthralled. As things turn out, the demon, Marchosias, drags de Fabre off to hell, letting Kate escape. But she could have kept the ring and used it to bargain with de Fabre, for her release and for the book The Secret Flame, that would have allowed Roger to be restored to life. There doesn't seem to be any reason for her to throw the ring aside as she does.

One thing that impresses me about the Mignolaverse in general is its underlying mythology. This is clearly inspired in part by the Cthulhu mythos, and the notes to the omnibus frankly describe the Ogdru Jahad and Ogdru Hem as Cthuloid. But it's bigger than that and incorporates elements of other mythologies and legends in a way that the Cthulhu mythos doesn't, I think. The Mignolaverse apparently has a creator god, and room for Satan and the demons as real entities. The story of Anum's theft of vril has resonances with Prometheus, while the 'watcher angels' in general seem reminiscent of the Greek titans, the nephilim, or the Enochian 'watcher angels.' And their rebellion and creation of the Ogdru Jahad is a doubling/precursor of the fall of Satan and his rebel angels. Hecate makes appearances in the mythology (and the comics) repeatedly, and there are references to many real gods in the series. Even the seven serpents of the Ogdru Jahad are based on specific ancient gods or demons.

All of this gives the Mignolaverse mythos a greater scope and the ability to draw on a wider range of archetypes (both beings and themes) than you find in the Cthulhu mythos, I think. Stories of a positive cosmic force or a happy afterlife have little purchase there, given what Lovecraft wanted the mythos beings to represent--the horror of an unimaginably strange cosmos indifferent or hostile to humanity.

But I could be wrong about all this. It's ages since I read all of Lovecraft, and his mythos has grown and changed in the hands of other writers since--and he was not entirely consistent in his picture of it anyway. So it could be I'm contrasting the Mignolaverse with a simplified version of Lovecraft's cosmos.
 
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Lofgeornost

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Among my other Mignolaverse readings lately I've worked by way through the Lobster Johnson books. I really enjoyed volumes 2-5, but 1 a good deal less so. I'm not sure if that's because the first volume was trying to cram too much in (the Vril energy suit, Memnan Saa, Nazis, some old opponents of the Lobster, etc.) or if it was mainly the art. I really like Tonci Zonjic's rendering of the Lobster, and the less cluttered (so to speak) stories of those later books.

It's interesting to me that Lobster Johnson has no real origin story. There are hints in some of the comics, but they are legends that the reporter Cindy Tynan collected--and they don't explain the Lobster's personal background.

That's fine by me--origin stories can be interesting, but only if they're well done. I'm struck by the fact that movies based on superhero characters are often their origin stories, even if this is not really that necessary. I'm thinking of the Iron Man movie in particular; I enjoyed it, but you really don't have to explain how a billionaire inventor comes to make a combat suit.
 

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After finishing B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, I started the next series: The Devil You Know. Events in it made me think I needed to go back and re-read Hellboy itself, so in the last couple of weeks I've been doing that as well, working my way through the omnibuses. I'd read a fair amount of it before, some years ago, but not all.

I was surprised at how much of the basic setup, including many of the major villains, were present from the very beginning of the series. I'd somehow forgotten that over the years. I also found myself wishing that Mignola had given himself a little more license to continue the Hellboy in Hell series. His notes at the end say that he had originally planned to include a good deal more of Hellboy wandering around hell having random encounters with its denizens. I really enjoyed some of those stories and wouldn't have minded a few more. I was also struck by how much of the central activity in that part of the series actually happens off-stage, so to speak.

This morning, I finished Ragna Rok, the last of The Devil You Know series. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. In some ways, the entire series reminded me a bit of some James Bond movies in the 90s. These would reach an apparent end--supervillain dealt with, crisis averted--and then include a final 10 minute sequence where Bond has to deal with yet another threat (or the villain, who had miraculously survived) before the credits roll. That is, I think I might have been happier if the whole Ogdru Hem storyline had been finished with the end of BPRD: Hell on Earth.

Of course, that would have invalidated a lot of the prophecies and loose ends that Mignola had inserted earlier in the series, and it would mean that all of that would happen without Hellboy's direct involvement. But the current ending in a way invalidates the end of the Hell on Earth arc--that big finish seems to have meant nothing in the end. Maybe it would have been better if Hell on Earth had not concluded with such a 'big finish' and major character deaths, but just some minor victory that then led into The Devil You Know.
 

TristramEvans

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I wish Hellboy in Hell had gone on for maybe twice the length as well, though I was very happy with what we got just because Mignola had already been retired as a comicbook artist for almost a decade at that point, having handed over the reigns to Felgredo. It took me a whie to warm to Felgredo, because I love Mignola's art so much, but eventually I did, but still to have Mignola back was one of the highlights of my life at that point.

I think Hell on Earth concluded the main BPRD storyline, which is why it was so big, while I view Devil You Know as more a denoument of the Mignolaverse as a whole. But I agree, read in succession, it does have sort of a "and then" quality.
 

Séadna

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So some discussion points

So there's a few things I've been wondering about. Rather than doing them all at once I'll take it one at a time.

God is described as a self-created "power". The choice of power specifically over "being", "entity" or similar makes me wonder if God is just the Vril and nothing more. There might be some kind of intelligence or will there but it is maybe more like the Force than an actual singular personality.

The Ogdru Jahad themselves are then created with and contain the Black Flame. This seems to be an opposing or complimentary power to the Vril and seems to have a name attached to it like God is with Vril, namely Ereshigal. However just like God I'm not sure if Ereshigal is really a being.

So I'm just curious what people think differentiates the Black Flame and Vril and whether God and Ereshigal are genuine actors/personalities in the setting,
 

TristramEvans

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According to The Island, the spirit Anum stole some of God's power (Vril) with it's right hand, using this to craft the Ogdru Jahad out of Mud, but the Ogdru Jahad did not come to life until that night when it was exposed to the darkness. My interpretation is then that the Black Flame is Vril combined or corrupted by the primordial darkness,

As to the nature of God in the Hellboy universe, one thing to keep in mind is that Hellboy's mythology is heavily based on the teachings of the Theosophy cult established by Helena Blavatsky, and one of the core tenets of this belief system is the concept of "emanations", in that there is one absolute source of everything (essentially the Platonic Monad), and all existence is formed from emanations from this source. I think God being described as "Power" is reference to the fact that it is essentially the energy of the universe, so God and Vril are pretty much synonymous, the concept of God being the self-aware Vril
 

Séadna

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Ah I see.

So would the Primordial Darkness and/or Ereshigal simply be another emanation of this primal source or genuinely something different?
 

TristramEvans

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I'm not certain about Erishkigal. It certainly could be the name for the Primordial Darkness, as that seems to be what Rasputin implies. But I don't think there's enough info to say whether the Primordial Darkness exists antecedant to God/Vril, as in the contradiction or opposing "God" in a Dualistic sense, or it is simply another emanation of God. I mean, I could speculate, but I don't think we have enough info. My theory is that there's a gnostic underlying premise, in that Erishkigal would represent the Antideluvian God, which matches the Theosophical idea that physical reality is an illusion.
 
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