This week I first narrowed down my choice to two books: BPRD and Hellboy. But when in the store, I was in a bit of a hurry, so I had the man deliver both, so that I might decide between the two at my leisure. When I revisited my choices, I realized that what had most attracted my attention were the two covers, both of which were drawn by Mike Mignola. Now, if you know me, (I realize you don't), you know I'm not usually drawn in by things like red skulls and creepy wings. But something about the overall "package" both those books have is just so attractive to me. I flipped through both books briefly and ended up settling, happily, on the BPRD. Possibly because of the added bonus of 1947...I love that era, I love historical fiction, and I love this FONT!
I will tell you, as I often do, that I don't have much of an art vernacular. Just now, in the previous paragraph, I was reaching for the right words to describe what I liked about the cover and realized I don't even know technical or semi-technical terms. So, forgive me, but I'll just have to gush, Nina-style. (Yes, you may get phrases like "wack-a-doodle" or "bingy." I am sorry.)
The colorist's (i asked how this was made) used a technique that I have come to love and find in all of my favorite-ish comics. They employed only 3 or 4 major colors per storyline. Not only is this so pleasing to my eye, but it helps me follow the story, a story I haven't read the first three issues of. In this issue, the plot jumps back and forth through time, and that coloring choice was the major thing that helped me to keep it all straight.
On the drawing side, I loved the use of...would it be "perspective"? The way that the panels slowly "zoom-out" over a series of frames. Revealing one cat, and then two, and then ten, and then a frame that shows what seems like hundred of cats on the ground in the trees, etc. That scene, I'm guessing, probably has more meaning or impact to those who read BPRD regularly. But whether that's true or not, it had a definite impact on me.
I have to pause for a moment and just comment on BPRD as a comic. It's so different and interesting. I'd forgotten what the initials stood for and read the comic thinking to myself, "Oh yeah, this book has some science-fiction-y-weird-supernatural stuff in it...but it's so intriguing!" From the ringleted little girl suddenly appearing, to the cats and the strange old...person and his/her (?!?) information, to the vampire sisters and all their craziness, all within a storyline that had me engaged wondering what was going to happen next and how this guy was going to get rescued, rather than all the "weird stuff" sort of taking me out of the story to wonder if things were plausible. This is smart stuff, but most of all, it's fun.
And on that note, back to the art! (Because I need to applaud more of it.) The subtleties! I was reading the story, just along for the ride, trying to figure out what the deal was with these sisters. The frames in which we first see them kill a man and then sort of revel in his blood immediately reminded me of a scene form True Blood. That one when they showed him and his Maker (that chick) in the 20s or 40s and how they took couples to bed and then devoured them and were just luxuriating in all the blood? Remember? I don't know if it was by design...but that was the only way vampires came into my head. At no time were these beings called vampires. But on the full page where the two ladies are in bed with Simon, on his neck, in contrast to the peachy color of skin and green and yellow dresses are 2 small red marks on his neck. VAMPIRES. And again - never called that. Never mentioned. But they did indeed have to stake them through the heart to kill them. I just loved the simplicity of those two little marks on that great big page.
And then, two pages later? When the team arrives to save Simon, and the sexy, warm room of the previous page is revealed to actually be a decrepit, dark, decaying room with a half-dead Simon surrounded by crazy fanged skeletons? That was an AMAZING contrast. So cool.
Now, I can't let this whole review go by without mentioning cute little Hellboy! I don't really know the significance of young Hellboy. But he sure is cute. I loved the page where he's reading a comic book eating a huge stack of pancakes. I love how the comic book is drawn to look like, well, old comic books. It's even got the typical WWII content of 1947. (Hell yeah, I read Kavalier & Clay. I know what I'm talkin' 'bout!)
And how about that cinematic last page? Hellboy holding his dog, looking up at the plane, and in the panel below, Trevor, through the window and the reflection of the plane that will hopefully return, Simon in tow. Alive.
This was a good one.
-Nina Stone, 2009