In 1991, a small comic book convention was organized and held in Salt Lake City, Utah. A few creators were invited to attend, including Chris Claremont, Dave Dorman, and Mike Mignola. Mike had been working on a character concept for what was to become Hellboy. His first illustrated iteration is demonstrated at the bottom of the post. Although he looks nothing like the fellow we have come to know and love(?), it is interesting to note that he had one sweet-ass belt buckle.
We know what Hellboy has become, but what of his origins? How is it that Mike took Hellboy from the moment of epiphany to the actual fully formed manifestation? We thought it would be ever so neat to roll back before GSLCC’91 to learn of that copulation, impregnation, and gestation period whereupon Mike dreamed up the character. But, since it would take some effort to research the backstory of the character’s creation and we’re too lazy to do just that, we’ll make one up instead. For those of you looking to glean some sort of factual chronology about Hellboy, so sorry. To accomplish that, call Mike directly: 001 866-666-4355 (toll free) or 202-944-3126 to schedule an appointment with him at his office. So, here’s our version of the story:
Since even before his mother can remember, Mike has always dabbled in the occult. Given that his Jewish grandparents were run out of northern Italy by Germans during the 2nd World War, he also had a loathing for Nazis. His obsession with both themes eventually merged into a cesspool of evil darkness that spawned an entire library of arcane literature. And curiously plush toys.
Ever the researcher, in the mid 80’s Mike spent a stretch of time living with Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin fame, not James Page the uninspiring but adequate barrister from Cirencester) at Aleister Crowley’s Boleskine House estate. Not long after arrival, Mike learned that prodding Jimmy for secrets of the mystic realms was useless – Jimmy preferred to carry on about how Margaret Thatcher had brought his country back from the precipice and made Mother England relevant again. So, Mike took every opportunity he could to sneak away (which was easy since Jimmy was often catatonic) and go exploring. Boleskine has an unusually large number of doors – most of which open to brick walls. This perplexing discovery caused no small excitation on the part of Mike but elicited a lukewarm response from Jimmy who, like us, is just too lazy to go too far on an adventure. One day, Mike convinced Jimmy to help him break through one of the walls hoping it would lead into a tomb or ritual room or something just as nefarious. And … nope. Just a big dusty room with a small table, a single chair and three books on table shakers. Apparently, Alastair was a salinopiperophile. And it appears there was nothing particularly sensational about his hobby. What the hell.
Anyway, severe disappointment took its toll. Mike eventually left Jimmy’s abode and returned to New York City. Yada, yada, yada. And now we have Hellboy.
Quick humorous side note: During a flight in the 1980’s Barney chatted up his next seat neighbor. He discovered that the guy was Chris Claremont. This was during the mid-1980’s when Claremont’s “X-Men” were all the rage. Well, they were until a new series from Marvel titled “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” surged past for a period of time. It was during that surge that Barney spent a few moments with Chris. Perhaps unintentionally, although perhaps quite the opposite given his snarky demeanor, Barney said something to the effect that it was cool Chris’ work on the Uncanny X-Men series had been so popular but it appeared the title’s moment had passed since it had been bested in publication numbers by G.I. Joe. This didn’t seem to sit well with Chris. He was fairly closed mouthed the rest of the flight. It probably didn’t help much that Barney also said some disparaging things about the New Mutants (Cypher – seriously Chris – Cypher? And Cannonball’s an obnoxious hillbilly – bleh). Too bad. We might have gotten a preview of the Mutant Massacre storyline that had yet to be launched.
True story. Not like the one about Hellboy. Still, just as interesting, huh?