"Hellboy: The First 20 Years" Book Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Dark Horse Comics


Illustrated by Mike Mignola
2014, 136 Pages, Reference
Book released on April 1st, 2014


It's hard to believe that Hellboy is already 20 years old.  It seems like only yesterday that he came into our world, a bushy-tailed little demon with one giant hand.  Since then, he's been through quite a lot, including but not limited to fighting vampires with Mexican wrestlers, finding out his lineage dates back to King Arthur, and literally dying and going to Hell.  Additionally, creator Mike Mignola has grown Hellboy's universe to include several spinoff titles, new characters, prose novels, animated features, and big-screen movies.  To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the character's creation, Dark Horse Comics has put together a collection from Mignola himself, showcasing a brief history of Hellboy.

Hellboy: The First 20 Years is like a wet dream for any Mignola fan.  Original penciled pages, fully completed covers, rough sketches, and water color paintings fill this volume.  Aside from an introduction and foreward, there is no text.  Instead, the pictures do the talking, showing how the character has grown and changed over the past two decades.  

Click images to enlarge

As you go through the book, you'll start to see some new faces instead of the grim look of Hellboy.  He was later joined by likes of Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien at the B.P.R.D. He had adventures with Lobster Johnson.  Jumping back to the past, you'll find Witchfinder and Sledgehammer '88.  What started as a would-be king of Hell coming to our world has evolved into a vast universe with many moving parts, overseen by Mignola.

Hellboy has encountered a wide variety of strange creatures over the years.  This book is a reminder of just how weird and creepy some of the comics have been.  Dragons, snakes, giant squids, and those pesky frogs are just some of the monsters that fill these pages.  

Click images to enlarge

What I am most impressed by are Mignola's paintings.  He explains that he has a love-hate relationship with the medium, swearing them off after completing one but “chomping at the bit” to do another after six months.  There are only a handful included in Hellboy: The First 20 Years, all of them gorgeous.

Almost every page of Hellboy: The First 20 Years is worthy of framing and hanging on a wall somewhere.  It's not quite an art book and there's no information regarding Mignola's process or an annotated history of the character.  Instead, this book really shows an appreciation for Hellboy and what has been accomplished in his life so far.  Here's to another 20 years.


Overall: fourstars hellboy-the-first-20-years-cover
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James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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