Hellboy: The Bones of Giants

When it comes to popularity of a character, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy stands up to just about any you could mention. With that popularity, comes many stories in both comic and prose form. One such book was Hellboy: The Bones of Giants. Written by renowned writer Christopher Golden along with illustrations by Mike Mignola. The Bones of Giants tells the tale of Hellboy looking into a discovery in Sweden. Soon, he finds himself intertwined in Norse Mythology. Starting with Thor’s Hammer and the aftermath of Ragnarok.

With the 20th anniversary of the publishing of The Bones of Giants, Golden and Mignola have come full circle releasing Issue 1 of a four part comic mini-series adapting the tale. Published by Dark Horse Comics, it features art by Matt Smith, colors by Chris O’Halloran and lettering by Clem Robins. With that in mind, we were able to get a moment with some of the creative team behind this exciting project. And when we say a moment, we mean just that. But when you’re talking Hellboy, we are happy to get that moment. So let’s welcome artist Matt Smith, writer Christopher Golden and the man behind Hellboy, Mike Mignola to GVN’s Talking Comics. And let’s start with Matt Smith:

Artist Matt Smith

GVN: Thanks for sharing a bit of your time Matt. Let us start with a bit of your background. When did you take an interest in comic art and whose work most influenced your developing style in the beginning?

MS: There are 2 different points for me with comics. I make a distinction because I grew up with comics, but I didn’t really start working on them until I had spent many years as an illustrator working mainly in kids’ lit. I was at a point while ghost-drawing chapter books that I didn’t have much interest in. In truth, I was appreciative of the work, but was also slowly and surely losing interest in drawing. Not to mention I also had a full-time, non-art-related job. Eventually, I was able to put the brakes on freelance work to focus my spare time on something with zero commercial prospects but completely made of things I love––sort of a saving throw to remind myself why I like drawing.

That was my comic Barbarian Lord, largely a tribute to the medieval Icelandic sagas, Norse mythology, and Conan the Barbarian. Hellboy comes in here as well. Leading up to this point I had become a big fan of the series, which was fundamental to my approach in comics. Hellboy and Jeff Smith’s Bone were the two main influential poles I leaned into. Growing up I was given Tintin books, which I still love, and then the first comics I found on my own were Star Wars comics and Walt Simonson’s Thor. ElfQuest came in at some point, too––dovetailing with the fantasy lit I was finding around the same time––Dragonlance and then into Tolkien.

Affinity for Elves, Dwarves, Wolves, and Giants

GVN: You have shown a talent for many genres but have professed to a fondness for “Elves, Dwarves, Wolves, and Giants.” What was it that enthralled you so about those kind of stories?

MS: Thanks very much. This is one of those things you just lean toward or you don’t, maybe. Some kids I know now just glom onto these things, while their brothers and sisters raised in the same house don’t. It also has to do with the great book collection that was lying around my house thanks to my mother. Tolkien, CS Lewis, Andersen and Grimm’s fairy tales, illustrated books on Greek mythology, this kind of stuff. I didn’t make too much of it back then, that all these appealing books were sitting in bookshelves in the house and I could just crack one open at any time. They were just there. I’m pretty damn appreciative of it now.

The intimidation of Hellboy

GVN: You were given the prime assignment of doing the art for the comic book adaptation of Hellboy: The Bones of Giants. Did you have any trepidation taking on this job and did Mike and Christopher give you any guidance or did they let you do you?

MS: Oh, for sure. Lots of trepidation. Here’s a novel dealing my favorite myths that features a character who is not only a favorite, but a main influence on my understanding of comics. That’s something that you might both jump at the opportunity for and simultaneously run from in fear that you’ll screw it all up. Mike and Christopher were very welcoming and seemed confident that I would be a good fit for the series, which took some of the edge off. Of course in the end, you have to know for yourself that you could be of service to the story. For guidance, the main thing was to pull from the source material of the myths for the visuals, and not other interpretations from films, etc. I was completely game for that.

GVN: Thanks for sharing with us Matt. Before I turn my attention to Christopher and Mike, do you have any other projects you are free to tell our followers about?

MS: I wish I could! I’m looking forward to talking about them once they’ve been made public. Hopefully that won’t be too long off.

Writer Christopher Golden

GVN: Thanks once again Christopher for sharing a brief bit of your time. Since I am only allowed one question, we’ll cut to the heart of the matter. When you and Mike were originally working on Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, did you have plans at that time to one day adapt it to a comic book or was this something that evolved later?

CG: Of all the conversations Mike and I have had over the years, we absolutely never considered that any of the novels would one day be adapted into comics, and the odds are that we would never have adapted “Hellboy: The Bones of Giants” if Matt Smith hadn’t told Mike he really wanted to draw the comics version. I’m so glad he did. Matt is so talented and enthusiastic, and I look forward to everything he does.

Writer Mike Mignola

GVN: I really appreciate a bit of your time, Mike. A single question…oh the pressure. Let’s go with this: When the plans were set into motion for adapting Hellboy: The Bones of Giants to comic form, did you immediately think of Matt Smith to handle the artwork, and do you ever have any hesitation when allowing another artist to interpret Hellboy?

MM: First part last—I’m always a little nervous about seeing somebody else draw Hellboy. I’ve gotten better about it over the years, and the more I work with an artist the easier it gets. But I had ALMOST no nervousness about Matt Smith. I was a big fan of his Barbarian Lord stuff, and my gut told me he would be a perfect fit for Hellboy. And I was right. And, as Christopher mentioned, I don’t think I ever would have considered adapting any of the Hellboy novels to comics.

But Matt was such a fan of that book, and the book was so full of the stuff he is great at drawing—how could I say no? Even if I had thought that adapting the book was a mistake (I didn’t), I probably would have said yes to the idea just to keep Matt happy. I want him to be happy. I want him to stick around and draw Hellboy for a long, long time.

Coming November 3rd

GVN: I don’t know about Matt but if I read that Mike Mignola had said that about me, I would be no good for the rest of my days. It was great spending some time with the Hellboy: The Bones of Giants creative team. If you’re a fan of Hellboy or the talents of Christopher Golden, Mike Mignola and Matt Smith, do check out Issue 1 of Dark Horse Comics, Hellboy: The Bones of Giants. Releasing today (November 3rd).

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