Mike Mignola

Swamp Thing Annual 5 (June 1989)

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Neil Gaiman sure does think he’s an inventive writer. The third person narration of the annual’s feature is exceptionally annoying but damn if Gaiman doesn’t write good dialogue. He tries too hard to show he’s familiar with Swamp Thing characters and situations, but when he’s got Chester sitting down and talking, it works. And Gaiman’s aloof, drunken secret agent guy is hilarious.

Gaiman’s writing doesn’t actually matter very much, however. The artwork from Richard Piers Rayner, Mike Hoffman and Kim DeMulder is so lovely, Gaiman could write just about anything. He’s inexplicably got Firestorm showing up for a scene and, while there’s a funny punchline to it, he must have just wanted him there because Rayner draws him so beautifully. The art is simply breathtaking.

There’s a backup with Floronic Man–Mike Mignola illustrates. It’s annoyingly over-written too and not as pretty as the feature, but it’s not bad.

CREDITS

Brothers; writer, Neil Gaiman; pencillers, Richard Piers Rayner and Mike Hoffman; inker, Kim DeMulder. Shaggy God Stories; writer, Gaiman; artist, Mike Mignola. Colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Tim Harkins; editor, Karen Berger; publisher, DC Comics.

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Ka-Zar the Savage 28 (October 1983)

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Mike Carlin takes over the writing reins and does a fine job. He handles Shanna’s personal crisis well, though he doesn’t stick with it as long as Jones would have. And Carlin’s Ka-Zar is a far more assured protagonist than Jones’s. It might help this issue’s Ka-Zar has been maturing the last twenty-seven issues.

Another Mike–Mignola–inks Gil this issue and the result is mixed. Mignola sharpens Gil’s pencils, giving them a good amount of shadow, but he also removes some of the life. Ka-Zar looks boring, even though it’s full of action.

Carlin’s big problem is tying everything together, something Jones had to leave the Savage Land to avoid. This issue seems to kick off a longer arc where the entire Savage Land cast reunites, including the bad guys.

It’s a good comic book, but I’m a little wary without Jones at the helm.

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction 4 (June 1994)

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Rasputin still doesn’t get identified by name—but based on all the expository dialogue, it’s surprising Hellboy couldn’t figure it out. I guess he never took any history classes.

The series winds down with some more big action sequences, one involving Abe and Liz Sherman. Well, not exactly Liz Sherman. Mignola and Byrne had very little use for her (Hellboy talks about her in the narration more than she talks in dialogue). It makes her feel like a fifth wheel, only around because the comic book readers must have a pretty face.

Also interesting is how passive Hellboy and Abe are in the grand conclusion—Hellboy gets a little moment alone with Rasputin with foreshadowing—but the big part is resolved somewhat without them.

Still, it’s decent.

The Monkeyman backup features Adams screwing up tenses in his first person narration. There’s little else to say about it, except weak art.

CREDITS

Writers and letterers, Mike Mignola and John Byrne; artist, Mignola; colorist, Mark Chiarello. Who Are Monkeyman and O’Brien?, Chapter Three; writer and artist, Art Adams; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis. Editor, Barbara Kesel; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction 3 (May 1994)

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Adams (sorry, starting with him again, I know) must intentionally draw bad faces. Everything else is so detailed… faces not. So it’s a choice. A bad one, but a choice.

Mignola and Byrne get a lot of content into this issue. I don’t think Rasputin ever even gets named, just his history introduced—the majority of the issue, besides an opening fight scene, is expository dialogue.

The best thing in the issue is a two page scene with Abe seeing these frog monsters take their human mother down into the bog. It’s the only time Byrne and Mignola take the time to do anything neat. The rest of the issue is all necessary just to get the story told.

It’s far beyond the regular supervillain revealing his evil plan scene. Byrne and Mignola turn it into an issue. I kept wondering where the cliffhanger would be.

Questionably—but impressively—dense.

CREDITS

Writers and letterers, Mike Mignola and John Byrne; artist, Mignola; colorist, Mark Chiarello. Who Are Monkeyman and O’Brien?, Chapter Three; writer and artist, Art Adams; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis. Editor, Barbara Kesel; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction 2 (April 1994)

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You know, if Adams stuck to the way he draws in medium long shots… he’d make a good comic strip artist. Sorry to talk about the Monkeyman backup, but I thought I should open with a nice comment about Adams. It’s probably never going to happen again.

The Hellboy part of the issue is very strong. There’s the problem with the narration again, like Byrne can’t find a voice for Hellboy—also when they switch over to Abe Sapian’s narration and the narration boxes are the same format.

And there’s some weak art from Mignola, but weak even in the Mignola sense. The issue is very thoughtfully designed, then he abandons it for the last few pages. It forces the comic out on a low note.

Or would, if the plotting weren’t so interesting. It’s a Lovecraft homage and it’s compelling and interesting. Bad ending aside, it’s starting to work.

CREDITS

Writers and letterers, Mike Mignola and John Byrne; artist, Mignola; colorist, Mark Chiarello. Who Are Monkeyman and O’Brien?, Chapter Two; writer and artist, Art Adams; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis. Editor, Barbara Kesel; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction 1 (March 1994)

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All right, so Mignola and Byrne conceive Hellboy as sort of a hard boiled detective. Not in the content so much, but in the first person narration Byrne writes for him. It also doesn’t really match the way Hellboy talks in dialogue either.

But the big problem is the way the story’s split. It opens with a mostly text (though illustrated) telling of Hellboy’s origin. Then it switches to a regular narrative (where presumably main characters is instead killed off before he can resonate). The modern day stuff is all action too—except the end reveal—and the issue wouldn’t feel like it had any weight if it weren’t for that prologue.

The art’s okay—the worst thing is Mignola’s Hellboy, who seems inconsistent-.

Inexplicably, there’s a Monkeyman & O’Brien backup. Adams’s art is lame and the writing is awful. It does have a couple King Kong references, but so what.

CREDITS

Writers and letterers, Mike Mignola and John Byrne; artist, Mignola; colorist, Mark Chiarello. Who Are Monkeyman and O’Brien?, Chapter One; writer and artist, Art Adams; colorist, Matt Hollingsworth; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis. Editor, Barbara Kesel; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 151 (February 2000)

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Mignola’s Hellboy is inexplicably pointless. Hellboy’s sort of the main character, but it’s really this secret group of people out to… kill him? Study him? Mignola never specifies and it makes the ending flop. The first part is decent—it is nice how Mignola works out a three-act structure even in eight pages or whatever—but it quickly descends into pointlessness.

Then there’s Armstrong and Doc Thunder. Now, Armstrong’s name seems a little familiar so I’m wondering if he’s become someone. Here, he’s doing a really bad Kirby homage. Armstrong can almost do the buildings and city skyline, but when it comes to characters his artwork is terrible. As for the writing… it fails to make an impression. Once it’s clear he’s going for Kirby-esque, the art’s failings command ones attention.

Finally, Von Sholly does a fumetti mixing King Kong and The Most Dangerous Game with Nazis. It’s fairly awful.

CREDITS

Hellboy, The Nature of the Beast; art and story by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau; edited by Scott Allie. Doc Thunder, Part One, Terror From Planet X; story, art and lettering by Jason Armstrong. Hell Island; story, art and lettering by Pete Von Sholly. Edited by Randy Stradley and Tim Ervin-Gore.

Dark Horse Presents Annual 1999 (August 1999)

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It’s a “theme” annual—characters in their youths.

It opens with Wagner, Chin and Wong on Xena. The art’s a little rough, but Wagner’s writing is solid.

Mignola’s Hellboy is adorable (as young Hellboy stories tend to be). It’s a cute couple pages.

Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo drags. It’s way too didactic. Sakai’s art some okay moments and some not okay ones.

Shockingly, the Ghost story is good. Zanier and Mariano’s artwork is excellent and Kennedy’s writing isn’t bad. It’s confusing for a new reader, but quite decent.

This issue also has the first Groo I’ve read. Though Aragones’s art sometimes gets a little too dense, he and Evanier write a fine story.

Chadwick’s Concrete story is lame. It’s maybe the worst writing I’ve read from Chadwick.

Norwood’s Star Wars thing bores. Surprisingly weak art from him too.

The finish is Geary’s take on The Mask. Some decent art, but pointless.

CREDITS

Xena: Warrior Princess, The Worm; story by John Wagner; pencils by Joyce Chin; inks by Walden Wong; lettering by John Workman; co-edited by Scott Allie and Dave Land. Hellboy, Pancakes; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau; co-edited by Allie. Usagi Yojimbo, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Tournament; story, art and lettering by Stan Sakai. Ghost, My Sister’s Keeper; story by Mike Kennedy; art by Christian Zanier and Marvin Mariano; lettering by Steve Haynie. Groo, Groo for Sale; story by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier; art by Aragones; lettering by Sakai; co-edited by Allie. Concrete, Orange Glow; story and art by Paul Chadwick; lettering by Bill Spicer. Star Wars, Walkabout; story and pencils by Phill Norwood; inks by Shannon Denton; lettering by Amador Cisneros. The Mask, Angry Young Mask; story, art and lettering by Rick Geary. Edited by Randy Stradley, Adam Gallardo and Chris Haberman.

Dark Horse Presents 142 (April 1999)

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Presents does Lovecraft homage; they do it well.

The weakest is Mignola’s Dr. Gosburo Coffin (with Sook on art). It’s basically just standard Mignola (sure, there’s some Lovecraft influence, but the whole thing plays like an 1800s B.P.R.D. to some degree). Also, either Sook started out as a Mignola mimic or he’s just really good at matching styles. It’s not bad, just not particularly special.

The Devil’s Footprints from Allie and Showman is the strongest story in the issue. Allie manages a first-person narrator, getting a first act in for his story, and comes up with a decent plot. Showman’s artwork is fantastic, very illustration minded. It’s a nice little story.

Hartley and Giarrano finish the issue, giving it a nice, downbeat end Lovecraft might appriecate. Giarrano’s artwork is so good, I’m a little surprised I’d never heard of him before. Hartley’s writing is decent.

It’s a nice issue.

CREDITS

Dr. Gosburo Coffin, The Book Room Horror; story by Mike Mignola; art by Ryan Sook; lettering by Pat Brosseau. The Devil’s Footprints, Worm Song; story by Scott Allie; art and lettering by Galen Showman. The Keyhole; story by Welles Hartley; art by Vince Giarrano; lettering by Clem Robins. Edited by Randy Stradley, Scott Allie and Ben Abernathy.

Dark Horse Presents Annual 1998 (September 1998)

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The annual opens with Mignola doing a retelling of Hellboy‘s origin. I guess it’s all right. Kind of pointless, but fine.

Weissman finally gets a two page Phineas Page and shows why he should have stuck to a page.

Van Meter and Ross team for the first comic book appearance of Buffy. The writing is more lame than not, but it’s maybe the best Ross art I’ve ever seen.

Watson’s Skeleton Key is a fairly charming little story about a witch and a little kid. I’m assuming the character’s a witch, otherwise it’d be pointless. Some wacky art mistakes though.

The Ark is a long setup with aliens as pay-off. Verheiden’s got some okay writing and Randall’s art isn’t bad.

Guadiano’s art is the primary selling point on he and Seagle’s My Vagabond Days. It’s not terrible though.

Burke and Bolton’s Infirmary is confounding, but Boltan’s art is gorgeous.

CREDITS

Hellboy, The Right Hand of Doom; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Phineas Page, The Bookshelf Phantom; story and art by Steven Weissman. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, MacGuffins; story by Jen Van Meter; pencils by Luke Ross; inks by Rick Ketcham; lettering by Steve Dutro. Skeleton Key, Witch; story and art by Andi Watson. The Ark, Part One; story by Mark Verheiden; art by Ron Randall; lettering by Sean Konot. My Vagabond Days; story by Steven T. Seagle; pencils by Stefano Gaudiano; inks by Pia Guerra; lettering by Charity Rodriguez. Infirmary; story by Matthew Burke; art by John Bolton; lettering by Ellie De Ville. Edited by Randy Stradley, Jamie S Rich and Ben Abernathy.

Dark Horse Presents 107 (March 1996)

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I’ll start with the worst—Devil Chef. Pollock threatens a second installment. He can draw, this story shows, he just choses not to. It’s an unfunny strip with a lot of details and zero charm.

On the other hand, Purcell and Mignola’s Rusty Razorciam is quite a bit of fun. Mignola’s not a good fit for sci-fi (it’s hard to tell what he’s trying to convey, action-wise, at times), but Purcell’s got an amusing set of characters. The protagonist narrates an incomplete adventure. It’s really rather nice, even with the art problems.

French’s Ninth Gland is weird and ominous. Not much happens this issue (the emphasis is on making the reader uncomfortable), but French’s art is fine; the story works.

Pope’s at a bridging point in One Trick. It’s a Paul Pope talking heads story, actually. It’s a good installment, very cinematically paced.

Geary does another inconsequential page.

CREDITS

Rusty Razorclam; story by Steve Purcell; art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Lois Buhalis. The Ninth Gland, Part Two; story and art by Renée French. The One Trick Rip-Off, Part Seven; story and art by Paul Pope; lettering by Michael Neno. Devil Chef, Part One; story and art by Jack Pollock. Humiliation and Debasement; story and art by Rick Geary. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 100 2 (August 1995)

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The opening Hellboy story has, just on the surface, one major problem. Hellboy wrote Abe a letter, the text of that letter is the story’s narration. Hellboy writes letters where he sounds like an expository narrator. How uninteresting. Then it turns out the story’s actually Hellboy’s secret origin (he’s the son of a demon and a nun). Should be interesting. Isn’t. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t have any dramatic oomph.

Campbell’s got a sort of creepy, sort of not Alec story. It’s well-done if somewhat pointless.

Apparently Dark Horse thought they needed some cartoonists in Presents so they get three. Pollock’s Devil Chef is stupid (being vulgar doesn’t make a comic strip good). Neither does ripping off Ed the Happy Clown like Musgrove does in Fat Dog Mendoza. Gregory’s Bitchy Bitch art isn’t good, but the writing works.

The issue ends on a sublime, lovely note with Pope.

CREDITS

Hellboy, The Chained Coffin; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau. Alec, The Snooter; story and art by Eddie Campbell. Devil Chef, The Shining; story and art by Jack Pollock. Fat Dog Mendoza, The Secret Life of Leftovers; story and art by Scott Musgrove. Bitchy Bitch, Dream On; story and art by Roberta Gregory. Yes; story and art by Paul Pope. Edited by Bob Schreck and Scott Allie.

Dark Horse Presents 100 0 (July 1995)

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This teaser for Dark Horse Presents 100 has some great stuff in it… but it also has some unbearably long entries.

Chadwick’s Concrete—though it’s always fun to read Concrete assuming the worst about humanity—goes on forever and turns out to be a prologue. It’s a little lame, though Chadwick’s art is decent.

LaBan’s Emo and Plum is relatively painless. It’s short, anyway. However Musgrove’s Fat Dog Mendoza is awful.

Paul Pope’s got a couple pages and it’s lovely (kind of an interactive discussion of Picasso). Some great figure work.

Brubaker and McEown tease their entry in 100, as does French. The Brubaker and McEown one seems a lot more compelling, with Brubaker’s writing strong even in the one page.

Then Mignola has an endless three page preview for his Hellboy story. It’s got a lot of expositional dialogue.

Still, this teaser’s better than many of the regular issues.

CREDITS

Eno and Plum; story, art and lettering by Terry LaBan. Concrete, The Artistic Impulse (excerpt); story, art and lettering by Paul Chadwick. Fat Dog Mendoza, The Secret Life of Leftovers (excerpt); story, art and lettering by Scott Musgrove. Pistacho!!; story, art and lettering by Paul Pope. Bird Dog (excerpt); story by Ed Brubaker; art by Pat McEwon. The Ninth Gland (excerpt); story, art and lettering by Renée French. Hellboy, The Chained Coffin (excerpt); story and art by Mike Mignola. Edited by Scott Allie and Bob Schreck.

Dark Horse Presents 91 (November 1994)

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You know, Mignola doing a fight scene isn’t particular impressive. In fact, Hellboy had a fairly boring finish. Mignola tries to maintain the minimalist tone for the fight and so the fight is lame. There isn’t even any resolution to the story itself. It’s just Hellboy versus a big werewolf, who may or may not turn into leaves when he dies. It’s a weak finish… somewhat harmless, but weak.

Baden has its conclusion too. It’s McCallum’s best art on the story, some really nice panels. Too bad Alexander’s script is confusing and dumb. I think it turns out the whole thing is meaningless, but maybe not. Unfortunately, the final panel threatens of a sequel.

Then there’s Blackheart. I knew Quitely had some art in this issue but I forgot and read the story thinking about the great art. It’s some lovely work. Morrison’s script’s mediocre at best–way too overdone.

CREDITS

Hellboy, The Wolves of Saint August, Part Four; story and art by Mike Mignola; lettering by Pat Brosseau; edited by Barbara Kesel. Baden, Part Three; story by Jim Alexander; art by Rob McCallum; lettering by Clem Robins. Blackheart, Part One; story by Robbie Morrison; art by Frank Quitely; lettering by Robbins. Edited by Bob Schreck and Edward Martin III.