This week, Dark Horse announced the plans for the next year of Hellboy and BPRD stories, and while there's something that I think we all expected, there's also one pretty big surprise mixed in there, too.

First, the one we all knew was coming: There's going to be another Hellboy series kicking off this October, with Mike Mignola and Frankenstein Underground artist Ben Stenbeck launching Hellboy and the BPRD: 1953, continuing the chronicle of Hellboy's earliest adventures in ghost-hunting. The surprise, though, is that after 11 years writing the ongoing BPRD series alongside Mignola, writer John Arcudi will be ending his run next year with BPRD: Hell On Earth #147.

As you might imagine, 1953 is a follow-up to Mignola and Alex Maleev's Hellboy and the BPRD: 1952, which told the story of Hellboy's first mission for the organization. This time, Mignola and Stenbeck are structuring the story as two one-shots that the official press release describes as being along the same lines of short stories like The Corpse, and that's a pretty exciting change. As much as I've enjoyed the ongoing story of Hellboy over the past few years, short stores like The Iron Shoes and Wolves of St. August are some of the high points of the character, and getting more stories like that is a welcome change.

Arcudi's departure comes at the end of a run on the BPRD titles that started in 2004, launching out of Plague of Frogs to become one of the most reliably enjoyable supernatural adventure stories in comics. As Arcudi says in the press release, though, eleven years (twelve by the time he finishes) is a long time:

“I won’t lie; it’s kinda sad,” said John Arcudi. “Mike and Scott handed me this universe so long ago, and to say it’s been a creatively rewarding experience doesn’t even start to cover it. From day one on up, I always worked with some of the very best artists in comics, and we’re talking about eleven straight years here! Of course I’m happy about that, and about having seen the Hell on Earth arc through from beginning to end -- but I know there’s still a lot of story to tell, and I don’t want to go stale on this team after the huge solid they did for me, trusting me to play in this fantastic universe. That wouldn’t be right. I want to go out while the stories still feel fresh to me, and to Mike, and to Scott."

 

Although Arcudi's departure will mark the end of the BPRD series, there won't be a hole in the lineup. Dark Horse also announced a new ongoing Hellboy and the BPRD series, written by Mignola and iZombie co-creator Chris Roberson (with whom I have previously worked) with art by Paolo Rivera. Roberson will also co-write a story with Mignola in January's Hellboy Winter Special with art by Michael Walsh before the ongoing series launches.