22:30 Sun 27 Apr 2008
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I’ve been re-reading Hellboy, one of my favorite comics. I got into it a few years ago and it took me a little while to figure out why I liked it.

The plot is fine, and the art is good, but Mignola brings writing and art together in such a way as to produce a really excellent atmosphere, and it’s the atmosphere that keeps me coming back to it.

It’s like a mixture of great pulp works, with conspiracy/occult/espionage elements combined with Lovecraftian horror and detective/noir attitude. In addition, a significant amount of folklore is thrown in, and he brings it together extremely well.

Deceptively well, because at first I think it looks a lot simpler than it actually is, and while some of the atmosphere is quite overt, there’s subtlety as well.

I wasn’t that fond of the movie, because I thought it didn’t capture the atmosphere too well at all, but it wasn’t appalling (there have certainly been worse adaptations from comics). Hollywood isn’t too good at melancholy or a feeling of creeping doom that lingers even when the protagonist seems to have “won”, so I’m not surprised the screen version didn’t quite work.

I recommend it, and I intend to pick up the later books (volumes six, seven, and eight) shortly.

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