Mike Mignola’s collaborator discusses his contributions to the Hellboy universe in this MIGHTY Q&A.
Dan Greenfield: What’s your secret origin of working with Mike Mignola?
John Arcudi: Back before BPRD, we’d been trying to work together on something for years and it never panned out for one reason or another — but then when Mike and Dark Horse decided to launch a BPRD book, and once his first arc was successful, it seemed a perfect opportunity. Seems like it was — or as close to perfect as I’ve found in this industry.
Describe how you two collaborate on stories. What’s that process like?
There’s no set way. On the first BPRD arc we did, “The Dead,” Mike wrote half (the Abe storyline), I wrote half (the BPRD storyline). But sometimes we talk plot on the phone and I go ahead and write the script, and frequently I submit my own plots and then write them up and Mike serves more in a consulting capacity, so it just depends on what arc you’re talking about.
What do you think Hellboy as a franchise has contributed to the comics world?
It’s raised the level of sophistication in horror comics, hasn’t it? Not just the art, because that’s obvious, but in storylines. Mike’s early Hellboy arcs were not simple Lovecraft pastiches — which (for the most part) was just about the most you could hope for in horror comics prior to then — but complex character stories and long arcing plots that had ramifications for those characters.
What part of the Hellboy (and BPRD) universe that you’ve been involved in are you most happy with?
It’s nice that people have responded well to the characters that I’ve either brought to the Hellboy/BPRD universe — or have developed, like Johann. To have given them a kind of “life” and place in this world, that makes readers want to come back and see what they’re up to, that’s very gratifying. Any writer will tell you that having that opportunity to tell stories — and all kinds of stories, really — is rare and very rewarding.
What story didn’t work out as well as you wanted?
The scripts never work out as well as I want! But fortunately, I work with the best artists in comics (James Harren, Laurence Campbell, Peter Snejbjerg, Max and Sebastian Fiumara, Tyler Crook, Tonci Zonjic, etc.) and they always save my ass! ALWAYS! Thank God!