A Modest And Belated Birthday Celebration For Mike Mignola
If you were to pull a random sampling of professionals from across the comics industry and poll them on their favorite modern-day creators, Mike Mignola's name would doubtlessly rank near the top. Since he burst on the scene at Marvel in the early 1980s, pencilling an obscure limited series about a talking space raccoon, he's matured brilliantly – from his seminal work at DC Comics (pencilling books including World Of Krypton, Cosmic Odyssey, and Batman: Gotham By Gaslight), to his work at Topps, Marvel, and other companies in the early '90s (on Ironwolf, Bram Stoker's Dracula, various X-books, and many other titles), to his move into creator-owned comics with the mighty Hellboy, he's maintained a unique voice and an immediately recognizable art style, bettering himself with each successive project, evolving and refining his voice at every opportunity.
Mignola's vision is of course best expressed by the empire of "Hellboy-verse" comics, which includes the titles B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth, Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, Witchfinder, and even inspiring a kid-friendly spin-off series Itty Bitty Hellboy. They're all set in his own supernatural horror-heroic world that blends spooky atmospherics and bizarre humor to create some of the best, most distinctive American comics ever put to paper.
Outside of comics, Mignola's designed for animation (Atlantis: The Lost Empire), created concept art for a number of acclaimed films (Pan's Labyrinth, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Blade II), and even branched out into writing and illustrating prose novels (Baltimore, Joe Golem). His own creations have been adapted to both live-action films (Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army), and cartoons (Hellboy: Sword Of Storms, Hellboy: Blood And Iron, The Amazing Screw-On Head).
Whether it's baby Hellboy eating a forbidden breakfast, a snake and a magician flying kites, or a robotic super-spy with a detachable head in the employ of President Lincoln, there's a dry-yet-absurd tone to Mignola stories that drips with the glee of innovation and possibility, yet manages to keep it all contained within straight-faced third-person storytelling. And so, today, a few days after his 54th birthday, we're excited to celebrate Mike Mignola's career with a few fellow fans (who also happen to be notable comic-makers in their own right).
Hellboy by Justin Sane, creator of Bloody Dreadful, co-creator of The Woodland Welfare Manifesto
Mike Mignola astounds me because I respect people who find their lane and then continually refine their craft. Frank Miller's style evolved in leaps and bounds throughout his career, which is equally impressive, but there's something about what Mignola did that sticks with me. A Mignola comic now resembles a Mignola comic then, but his grasp of staging and pacing, and the way he works with colorist Dave Stewart, are light-years beyond where he once was. Mignola can bring you to tears with a single panel of a single face, or he can give you the jitters with an inset of a flower. He's a devastatingly great creator, and there are no pretenders to his throne. Mignola stands alone.
Mignola really influenced the whole generation of comic artists today. In his Toth-ification of Kirby's style, he takes a lot of the greatest things about classic comic art and builds his own legacy. You aren't going to mistake a Mignola page for anybody else's work. It's unique, but it's also ultimate--almost archetypal in how well it suits comics and how well it speaks to the people that influenced his work and the people influenced by him.
Baby Hellboy by Christy Sawyer, letterer and illustrator
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