The Mignola Front

When other artists started drawing regular runs of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy series, I regarded the move with trepidation. Mignola is not only my favorite creator but also my favorite artist (as anyone reading this probably already knows), and the idea of other people taking on his signature character seemed like a losing proposition. And certainly, you will rarely find me saying that I’m glad when Mike Mignola didn’t draw something, but so far most of the other artists who have come on board have been great.

Duncan Fegredo has been drawing the regular Hellboy mini-series starting with Darkness Calls, and he’s done a fantastic job. Meanwhile comics legend Richard Corben has been doing shorter Hellboy stories and one-offs. His first contribution to the Hellboy mythos was “Makoma” (as collected in the back of The Troll Witch & Others). I liked “Makoma” well enough, but I certainly wouldn’t put it anywhere near the top of my list of favorite Hellboy stories. More recently I’ve read “Hellboy in Mexico” and, now, “The Crooked Man,” and I have to say that, while I’m hesitant to suggest that any story shouldn’t be drawn by Mike Mignola, I’m also not sure that anyone could’ve done either of these stories quite like Richard Corben did them. They’re some of the best Hellboy stories I’ve read (and I’ve pretty much read them all), and Corben’s art hits the tone of them perfectly. “Hellboy in Mexico” is probably my favorite of the two (and one of my favorite Hellboy stories, period), but “The Crooked Man” has some of the best and spookiest images I’ve ever seen in a comic, bar none.

As I said in my Goodreads review, for a Hellboy book with only one story illustrated by Mike Mignola, The Crooked Man & Others is a classic. It helps that “In the Chapel of Moloch,” the story illustrated by Mignola, is a great one, but the majority of the book is concerned with “The Crooked Man,” Hellboy’s first foray in the Appallachian folklore of Manly Wade Wellman, a favorite of both Mignola and myself, though I admit that I’ve only managed to read a handful of his stuff.

I also recently got a copy of Nesting, a single-story chapbook by Christopher Golden and illustrated by Mignola, in the same style as their novel Baltimore or “Mechanisms,” their contribution to the Hellbound Hearts anthology. Like “Mechanisms” it’s only got a handful of tiny illustrations, most of them of rocks, which is a little disappointing. I still liked it, but I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to pick it up in chapbook form. (Especially since I liked “Mechanisms” better.) I’m hoping that eventually Golden and Mignola will put out a collection or something of short stories illustrated in that style, featuring both “Nesting” and “Mechanisms.” That I would definitely buy.

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