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DF Interview: Scott Allie talks 20 years of Hellboy
By Byron Brewer
It was two decades ago that the fantastic creation of Hellboy sprang from the creative mind of Mike Mignola and went on to become a comic book and film franchise.
Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie has worked side by side with Mignola many years and has had a creative hand in the vaunted Hellboy-verse.
Now, as the comic book world celebrates 20 years of Hellboy, Dynamic Forces pins down Allie and goes behind the scenes into some Hellboy history.
Dynamic Forces: As Dark Horse’s editor and a comic book fan, is it hard to believe that, two decades ago, the release of Seed of Destruction would lead today to a worldwide Hellboy Day?
Scott Allie: No. We’re overdue for Hellboy Month.
DF: As one who has worked closely with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, tell us to your understanding how this popular character was conceived for the comic book page.
Scott Allie: He was a doodle that Mike liked doing at shows, and he drew him enough that he evolved quite a bit. After co-writing an issue of Batman, and after a couple years of Dark Horse begging him to do a creator owned book with us, Mike built a team up around that convention-sketch character, but ultimately decided that that character himself was the main attraction. And that decision has worked out beautifully …
DF: Hellboy is not only a cool character but a franchise, branching off into such spin-off series as BPRD, Lobster Johnson, Sledgehammer ’44, and my personal favorite, Abe Sapien. Thoughts?
Scott Allie: Well, I guess initially conceiving it as a team book had its benefits. Mike’s got an explosive imagination. Ideas roll out of him with ease. Arcudi and I are jealous. He makes it all look really easy, the way some little bud in a story can quickly and organically evolve into a new title.
DF: As an editor who sees dozens of properties, would you have ever foreseen Hellboy becoming a movie mogul?
Scott Allie: No, before the Hellboy movie happened, it didn’t seem like anybody would make a movie called Hellboy. Richardson stuck with it, del Toro stuck with it, and to Mike’s great surprise, the movie happened. A couple times.
DF: Your opinion: Ron Perlman as Hellboy?
Scott Allie: He was great. Perfect for what Guillermo wanted to do.
DF: Something I have always wanted to ask: Can you explain the Crooked Man?
Scott Allie: Mike reads a lot. He reads a lot of older horror and folklore stuff, and that someone he read a lot of was Manly Wade Wellman. He incorporated a lot of Appalachian folklore into his sort of horror/fantasy stories, and Mike loved that stuff. The Crooked Man was Mike’s way of boiling some of what he loved about Wellman down into a single story, and of course he had the perfect artist for it in Corben. No one could have drawn that book better, Mike included. It’s one where Mike let Hellboy play second fiddle because he knew what he really wanted to do in the book, and sometimes it’s okay for Hellboy to sort of observe.
DF: What are some of your favorite Hellboy moments, in no particular order – except maybe you can ID your favorite?
Scott Allie: Right now all the stuff I’m most excited about hasn’t happened yet. I think my favorite moment of all time might possibly be in “The Corpse” when the guy hanging on the gallows points and the little elf bastards are approaching. I love in “Wolves of Saint August” when Kate talks to the little girl who says, “God hates me,” Kate says he doesn’t, and the girl says, “He does, he made me this,” and turns into a wolf. And I love when Hellboy finds Alice dead in “The Wild Hunt,” leading him to draw Excalibur, and then he gives Baba Yaga his eye in “The Storm and the Fury.” And I loved when we finally revealed Ed Grey’s story in “Hellboy in Hell.” That was a very, very long time coming.
DF: As editor, tell us: Who is most talented? Mike Mignola The Artist or Mike Mignola The Writer?
Scott Allie: The cartoonist. And that’s not exactly me trying to have it both ways, but I’ve always thought the best thing about Mike is his layout, his pacing, his storytelling. I like his pages more than his covers, and I don’t know that would be true if it were as simple as “He’s a better artist than writer.” And with a couple of exceptions his stories are always best if he draws what he writes. But it’s putting the two together, the writing and the art, where he’s best.
DF: Scott, tell us how you became a part of Abe Sapien with Mike.
Scott Allie: Endurance.
We realized that the direction Arcudi was taking BPRD was increasingly apocalyptic, big, world-crushing stuff. And we wanted a horror comic. So we dabbled with a couple BPRD horror stories, that Mike and I co-wrote, and we liked doing that a lot, and realized that Abe granted us the opportunity of doing that on a regular basis. So the reason I’m writing Abe as a monthly is that we wanted a regular horror book set in our end of the world milieu. We also had some vampire stuff we wanted to do and John said he didn’t want to write vampires. That one blew our minds. Mike and I love vampires …
DF: Finally, what does the 20th anniversary of this great character mean to Dark Horse as a company?
Scott Allie: It means a great backlist of amazing books that we’ll always keep in print, and it means a closet or two full of awards.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Scott Allie for taking time from his busy schedule to answer our questions, and we congratulate Dark Horse on 20 years of Hellboy!
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