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Hellboy and Genre
Bar Harbor
kestrell and I have a running joke / piece of wisdom about how important it is to know what genre of story one is in.

I recently read the latest issue of Hellboy, which included a major story element that has been recurring in various forms in most Hellboy stories since the beginning. And it struck me that what that element *is*, is an argument about genre.

The Dark Chthonic Forces tell Hellboy: "This is a horror story. You are the destined Dark Prince, the Antichrist who must inevitably take up his Crown of Evil and bring about the Apocalypse."

Hellboy says back to them: "Screw that noise. This is a pulp adventure story, and I'm the two-fisted hero. Yeah, yeah, so one of those fists is an ancient demonic stone artifact, so what? I'm still gonna use it to punch bad guys like you in the face." *WHAMMMM!!!*

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Rock on. That is so Red. All snark and sarcasm. Love it.

I think I just fell in love. Clearly I need to read me some Hellboy. Is this something in a nice graphic novel format with a mostly linear narrative I can pick up at 1MYPicnic or Pandemonium?

Basically yes. The caveat is that there are a large number of spin-offs and alternate versions and whatnot. These are generally fun, but not of the high quality of the core story.

The core story is all currently in print under titles of the form "Hellboy Volume #: ". I might actually recommend starting with Volume 3, a collection of excellent self-contained short stories, with writer/artist Mike Mignola at the top of his form.

Oh, and of course loans are available, if you wish!

Ooh, yes, I'd definitely like to borrow one to start and see if I want to invest further shelfspace in it.

Sure thing. You gonna be around for MK Christmas, or Buttery New Year?

It's worth noting: while there appears to be an overall arc, it moves *very* slowly. Hellboy is essentially a series of moderately self-contained graphic novels (some of which don't even include Hellboy, most notably the BPRD series of stories), each of which advances the arc a little bit.

It's well worthwhile -- just keep in mind that, after 10-15 years, I *think* we're probably about halfway through the story...

That is, in a sentence, why I like Hellboy.

The movie wasn't tragically bad, either.

The movie wasn't tragically bad, either.

Faint praise, but appropriate. I thought it was actually a pretty fun flick, and it captured many of the important essentials of the Hellboy vibe.

It did miss tragically on some others, though, such as the misguided notion that the story needed an ordinary everyman viewpoint character.

Not having read the comic (yet), I also thought it was a fun flick.

I don't know if, for the mass audience, the everyman was such a bad idea. Sure, fans don't need it, but folks who don't know a thing about Hellboy may want the reminder that, really, this story takes place within the context of a world which has no idea. Having a character in place allowed them to show this, rather than just exposit it.

Which is not to say this could not have been accomplished by other means, but those other means may have been somewhat more tortuous than the everyman's presence.

a world which has no idea

Actually, that was another big change for the movie. In the comic, the BPRD isn't at all secretive; they're a fairly well known organization, and Hellboy himself is a minor celebrity. The comic never spends any significant amount of time with people who are unaware of or disbelieving in the paranormal. Most of the cast are either paranormal themselves, or have been hanging out with the others long enough to be somewhat jaded to it. There are occasional victims/witnesses/bystanders who are new to this stuff, but none of them seem terribly surprised by the idea that the world contains such things -- just surprised that *they* happened to see them.

Dead on.


"I'm gonna be sore in the morning."

Wow. That really summed up Hellboy in a nutshell. Excellent work.

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