On the 23rd of March comic publisher Dark Horse and fans around the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of Mike Mignola’s bight red creation Hellboy. The character that arrived on earth as a demon conjured up by Nazi scientists has surprisingly made his way into the hearts of millions as his no nonsense, cigar smoking fight for good has continued to entertain fans everywhere. This celebration caused readers to return to the books, head to comic shops for signings and special offers and more and of coure submit their own fan art of the grumbling devil himself. But how has such a seemingly evil character become so loved by so many?
Firstly, although his origins are of course very dark, Hellboy has lived his life fighting for good. His iconic look is composed of his fiery red skin, his pointed tail, the giant ‘key’ hand and the two cylinders on his head. For those who don’t know, these are where his devilish horns should be, but in an attempt to physically repel the fate he has been given, Hellboy painfully cuts them off and shaves them down to the stumps we see regularly. This rebellion against what life has thrown at him is a very important element, and shows the humanity of a character who’s name even indicates he is the opposite of everything good. This of course reflects in the reader and has brought many to help resist the parts of their lives that seem to be leading them down a track they wish not to take, this journey continues throughout Hellboy as the issues of his family and those aiming to use his abilities as a tool are constantly pushing and pulling on his path to the future.
Not only is this fantastic character development already established in the early issues, but the events that Hellboy goes through are otherworldly to say the least. From fighting ghosts to vampires, a homunculus, Mexican wrestlers, a sea monster and everything in between Hellboy’s adventures are fun and mysterious. The dark tone that surrounds many of the antagonists can get a little creepy, but their villainous monologues are often hilariously broken by our hero simply shouting “Shut up” followed by a hit from that giant stone hand of his. Added to the mix are a cast of loveable (and hate-able) side characters including the enigmatic and intelligent aquatic creature Abe Sapien and the fiery pyrokinetic powered Liz Sherman, who make for equally inviting additions to the tales.
Of course, Mignola’s unforgettable art style is the first thing to notice about the books. His use of blacks seemingly everywhere help bring the tone of shadowy figures and spooky buildings to the forefront, while characters look terrific pronounced from the blackness. With many people first turned onto Hellboy thanks to the movies starring Ron Perlman as the lead, more fans will no doubt get aboard as the new film releases later this year featuring David Harbour as the title character instead. With an astounding impact on comics, film, animation and more, Hellboy (who saved earth from countless threats over the years) and its creator are more than worthy of celebration.