Writer Thomas Sniegoski spoke with Monkeys Fighting Robots about his new series, Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land. Written by Sniegoski and Mike Mignola, with art by Craig Rousseau, colors by Dave Stewart, and letters by Clem Robins, Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1 is a fun, pulpy adventure with a joyful tone. It follows Hellboy as a child, flying with Professor Bruttenholm on a project for the BPRD. But when the airplane crashes near an island full of giant mythical creatures, anything can happen!
MONKEYS FIGHTING ROBOTS: While Young Hellboy is clearly dealing with all the same characters from the Hellboy universe, something about it all seems brighter and full of fun. And it’s not just because Hellboy is younger. We’ve seen a young Hellboy before, just not quite as bright-eyed and swashbuckling. What were some of the ways you began to stake out a new tone for the character?
Thomas Sniegoski: Mike and I love when a plan comes together. That whole ‘brighter and fun’ feeling was purely intentional. We wanted this particular Hellboy mini-series to have a strong sense of fun, and adventure, very much like something out of the old 1930’s pulps, or those cool jungle movies that we all used to watch on Sunday afternoons. So yeah, we wanted this take on the character to feel ‘younger’ more full of life and excitement–very much like your typical 10 year old boy.
MFR: As big a role as Bruttenholm plays in Hellboy’s life, it feels like we don’t get to see much of the character. We definitely don’t get a lot of moments of the two interacting. It’s exciting to see so many pages featuring the professor. But clearly, somewhere down the line, they become much more distant. How would you like the dynamic that you show between them to affect how readers see the older versions of the characters?
Sniegoski: I think we always got a sense from the previous Hellboy stories that he and the Professor had a strong, father and son type relationship, but in Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land we wanted to actually show it. We wanted to show them interacting, show that they really do care a great deal for one another. I think our take on the Professor and Hellboy’s relationship in this mini just solidifies that they did indeed love each other, and consider themselves father and son. It was really kind of cool getting to write their relationship.
MFR: You introduce a new character to the Hellboy Universe: Scarlett Santiago, the Sky Devil! What were the inspirations for this character and do you hope to bring her back for more Hellboy appearances in the future?
Sniegoski: Scarlett was an absolute blast to write. She’s pure pulp adventurer… something right out of Thrilling Air Stories. And most definitely, we would LOVE to do more with her… especially since she’s got a little secret that’s exposed in our mini series that makes her even MORE interesting.
MFR: This feels like such a classic set up for an adventure: stranded on an island with giant mythical creatures. It’s King Kong style fun! What about this set up made you want it to be young Hellboy on the island, instead of showing one of his lost adult years?
Sniegoski: Mike and I thought that were was so much untapped potential for fun in this time period, as well as being some pretty serious formative years for our young hero. If you think about it, what better sort of an adventure could there be for him at this age. He’s still very young, still looking at the world around him with wonder. This kind of over the top adventure story is perfect for that sort of “Gee Whizz” attitude.
MFR: The last page takes us from being in a swashbuckling adventure that could be told just about anywhere, to being firmly rooted in the Hellboy mythos. It just goes to show how new and fresh this story feels. What was some of your process, trying to make sure enough established Hellboy-isms were sprinkled in, while telling a story that goes in a bold, new direction?
Sniegoski: Mike and I were bound and determined that this mini-series was going to be fun and exciting and filled with more cool crap than you could shake a stick at… but it also had to be, and feel like a Hellboy story, and there are certain types of things that need to be present for it to feel like a Hellboy story. There’s mood, a connection to an ancient past and all the funky legends that are connected to that nearly forgotten past, and most importantly–a sense of humor. Can’t be a Hellboy story without that weird sense of humor. So, we took all that stuff, threw it in a cauldron, gave it a good stir and BOOM! Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land! Personally, I think everybody involved did an amazing job. I’m very proud of this series.
Check out Dark Horse’s Young Hellboy: The Hidden Land #1, out on February 17th. It’s loads of fun, and as Sniegoski makes clear, it’s only going to get more fun!