The following is an interview with writer bestselling Christopher Golden and acclaimed illustrator Matt Smith regarding the upcoming release of the their new mini-series, Hellboy in Love, with Dark Horse Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Golden and Smith about their shared creative process of working with Mike Mignola to bring this story to life, the experience of reuniting Hellboy and Dr. Anastasia Bransfield, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of the new mini-series, Hellboy in Love! Where does the new series find our favorite occult adventurer?
MS: Thank you! Our new series literally finds our man asleep on the job. Ha! Goblins put a quick end to that, though, and the story never stops moving from there.
CG: The story picks up at a time when Hellboy had long since settled into his life as a BPRD agent, but when he’s been internally chafing at living in the shadow of his father figure, Professor Bruttenholm. I don’t think he’s really aware of how much he’s been wishing to have a little life of his own, outside of the Professor’s orbit, when he meets our intrepid archaeologist, Anastasia Bransfield, on a case in England involving country goblins and stolen artifacts. When she openly flirts with him, all kinds of alarm bells go off. This is not the sort of thing he’s used to, and it all unfolds from there.
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process in bringing beloved characters like Hellboy and Dr. Anastasia Bransfield back together again?
CG: One of the greatest things about working with an artist of Matt’s caliber is that it’s like having a creative safety net. He’s not only terrifically talented as an artist, but he’s a storyteller, so when he begins to layout the script, he’ll see something that could better communicate what I’m trying to get across, or will punctuate a line or a moment, and he’ll reach out (or sometimes just slot it in) and make the story better, or more human. I love seeing what he does with the scripts. As we go forward, I hope to start catering more to things he wants to draw. We first worked together on The Bones of Giants, which was wonderful, because it was a passion project for him, and I want to make sure to give him things to draw that he’ll be equally passionate about. It takes a lot longer for an artist to draw a single comic book than it does for a writer to write it, so as a writer, the first person you have to entertain is the person drawing the book.
MS: All of the story details have been worked out in the script before I get involved. My end is taking what’s in that script and trying to bring it across as best I can. That being said, Christopher gives me plenty of leeway in getting the vibe of what he’s written across.
BD: Likewise, given your previous work together on Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, did you find that there was a creative shorthand in your collaboration?
MS: I think I started out trying to cleave as closely as I could to the script and as time went on I got better taking advantage of that leeway I was being offered from the start. The idea that a writer might not only be ok with the artist seeing things a little differently than the exact written script, but even counting on it. Maybe that’s something like developing a shorthand, getting familiar with that collaborative understanding.
CG: I think that’s something we develop in time, but what’s more important that shorthand is trust. I’d like to think we trust each other now.
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 Hellboy in Love’s will connect with and impact readers?
CG: Though Hellboy is far older than the typical person first going out on their own, I’d like to think this story will connect with people who are stepping outside their protective umbrella or their comfort zone for the first time. Hellboy’s life has been in danger dozens of times by this point, but he’s still had an anchor, a home base. This is the first time that he’s putting that behind him and striking out on his own, becoming his own person. It’s also a story about people who are learning to trust their instincts and also stand up to the authority figures in their lives who think they know better. There’s a lot of growth in these rollicking adventures.
MS: I can only speak for myself, but these moments—finding a person you weren’t expecting to find, trying to figure out what it means to you–simultaneously incredible and scary as hell. It’s all enough on its own that you don’t usually need goblins around making things even more volatile. Letting defenses down and opening up for a personality like Hellboy or, for Anatasia, finding yourself indescribably attracted to someone you could have never imagined in your life—these are experiences we know or certainly understand.
BD: Are there any additional projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
MS: Between deadlines, I’ve been reformatting a handful of one-shot Barbarian Lord issues that I self-published around the time of the BL graphic novel was released. I’d like to have them all under one cover and available again for anyone into borderline psychotic but not entirely unlikable poetic barbarians. It’s been fun to spend some time with that guy again and revel in the unvarnished tone of the Icelandic Sagas that inspired him.
CG: I’ve got a couple of unannounced projects with Dark Horse, as well as an upcoming Audible series, a screenplay I’m working on, and my new novel, All Hallows, will be out in January.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Hellboy in Love and your other work?
CG: You can always find more information about my work at my website, www.christophergolden.com, or follow me on social media. Regarding work with Mike Mignola, I highly recommend the Mike Mignola’s Art group on Facebook.
MS: For Hellboy in Love specifically and more of Anatasia, I’d point readers to Christopher’s book, The Lost Army. For another collaboration from the same creative team, I’d suggest the recently collected Hellboy: The Bones of Giants. You’ll find less romance and more Norse mythology—but if what you love is frost giants and giant wolves, then it’s more or less a big, ol’ grim and frostbitten lovefest.