30 in 30 - Day 8: Hellboy—Seeds of Destruction / by Frank Gogol

Hellboy is one of those comics that had always recommended to me, but that I never had quite gotten around to reading. But after reading Battlefields—Dear Billy yesterday, Hellboy’s connection to World War II, coupled with my growing interest in the topic, made Seeds of Destruction a fine choice for today’reading.

Synopsis

Title: Hellboy—Seeds of Destruction
Storytellers: Mike Mignola & John Byrne
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Year of Publication: 1994
Page Count: 128

When strangeness threatens to engulf the world, a strange man will come to save it. Sent to investigate a mystery with supernatural overtones, Hellboy discovers the secrets of his own origins, and his link to the Nazi occultists who promised Hitler a final solution in the form of a demonic avatar.

SPOILERS FOR HELLBOY: SEEDS OF DESTRUCTION BELOW

What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Writing

What’s so interesting about this Hellboy book is that it doesn’t follow that standard comic book story routine. Rather than a write conceiving the story, writing the script, and then working with an artist to bring it to life, it’s the artist’s brainchild. Not that this a revelation to me, but this book highlights that those relationships exist in comics. It’s hard to tell where Mignola’s story stops and Byrnes expert scripting kicks in, but fascinating to think about where that divide does actually occur. 

It’s impressive how this entirely new mythology—that’s couched in this WWII-paranormal pseudo-historical story—is sprinkled in and incorporated into the story. By that same token, the pacing is on the money, too. In spite of the large info dumps that occur at least once per issue, there’s always more fast-paced scenes to break it up. 

What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Art

Again, it’s hard to know where Mignola ends and Byrne begins, but because this universe is Mignola’s, I think it’s safe to say the artistic side of things is almost exclusively his design. And what’s so incredibly apparent is the mood that he was going for. This book feels dark and moody, a perfect match for that occult-focused angle the book leans so heavily into. Because this book was created out of the sort of standard comics creation model (beginning with the writer), the look and feel of the book probably existed very early in its conception. 

The look and feel of my stories isn’t always something that I think about until the scripts are done. But there’s value in having those ideas fleshed out. Hellboy works, in part, because it looks exactly like it should. 

Recommendation: B (Entertaining, worth a read)

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