Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Today sees the release of your new Hellboy series, Swords of Hyperborea! For returning readers, where will this new series find our favorite characters in the world of Hellboy?
Rob Williams: Howards was a key player in the B.P.R.D. series, an agent who picked up an ancient sword and suddenly found himself "possessed" by the spirit of a barbarian warrior, Gall Dennar, from the Hyperborean age. Howards sort of became a man of two worlds, a berserker warrior who killed monster after monster as the giant Ogdru Hem overran the planet. In the finale of B.P.R.D., Howards sacrificed himself to allow some of the last living human beings to escape to safety deep underground. That's something we show at the beginning of Sword of Hyperborea #1. Now, thousands of years in the past, Gall Dennar is cursed with the knowledge of what is to come, how humanity loses to the monsters. He sets out on a quest to try and find the powerful ancient warriors who gave his sword such power. If he can find them, maybe he can change the future…
BD: How would you describe your experience in expanding the Hellboy universe and working with the creative team to bring the story to life?
RW: It’s been a real treat. I was a fan of the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics for years. For me they’re some of the most enjoyable comics of the last few decades. I’d never have imagined I’d be contributing to that world. Laurence Campbell, our brilliant artist, has been drawing B.P.R.D. comics for five or six years now. He’d been talking to Mike Mignola and Dark Horse about maybe doing a Gall Dennar story. Laurence had the idea for a series where we meet the different sword-bearers over the years, and tell the tale of how the sword got to Howards. Laurence and I had recently done a book called Old Haunts together for AWA. I was asked if I’d be interested in coming onboard. Mike Mignola had some ideas for where Gall could go. It was all very collaborative and team-built.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that this particular Hellboy story will connect with and impact readers?
RW: I hope it’ll engage them emotionally and viscerally, certainly. If there’s one thing you can guarantee of the Mignolaverse books, it's that they’re some of the most spectacular-looking comics, real high points in visual storytelling and style. Laurence certainly makes that the case here. And from a narrative point of view, if we’re doing our job right, we’re going to make you care for these people––the brand-new sword-bearers you’ll meet in issues #2 through #4 are characters we’re really excited about––and then take you on a journey with them. They’re going to be tested in character and put through the wringer. Hopefully, we’ll tweak your heart a little along the way.
BD: Are there any additional projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
RW: Out, my World War II vampire horror series, is currently being published by AWA. I like to think that’s in the wheelhouse of people who love Hellboy and horror comics. It’s The Great Escape but what if there was a vampire in the camp with the prisoners of war. There's beautiful art by Will Conrad on that book, too.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Swords of Hyperborea and your other work?
RW: That we’re going to take them on a mythic journey through different ages with this book via some epic horror storytelling. In one issue you’ll see World War I, in another World War II, and then we’ll be linking in the lineage of rock n’ roll itself as a lone bluesman moves from the deep south of America into electric Chicago blues. There are worlds and dimensions colliding––giant monsters, mysterious wolf spirits, a tale spanning different eras of mankind, all beautifully drawn. And there's a great magical sword as our connective tissue. What more could you want?