Forgive me for saying “hella.” Sometimes I get meme-flu. I’m better now.

Inspired by the upcoming Hellboy movie, I took steps to fix my lack of knowledge about the title character. I knew he was a creation of comic artist (and writer) Mike Mignola, whose shadowy, Kirby-esque work I’ve really liked over the years. Nobody else draws like Mignola.

I’d never really looked at Hellboy, though, because it looked like it was perhaps some weirdness-for-the-sake-of kind of thing. That and I rarely ever read comics anymore for sheer grumpy financial reasons (as in, a $4 comic that’ll take me 8 minutes to read is less entertainment for the moola than a $7 paperback that’ll take me a few days).

Little did I know that Hellboy wasn’t just a grand adventure strip, it’s pure pulp. And we’ve established I loves me some pulp.

Reading several Hellboy tales over the past week, I found them to be great fun, soaked in Lovecraftian atmosphere, told with great wit. What really surprised me, though, is that reading Hellboy is like reading folk tales or myth, because Mignola starts in those realms and builds his stories the way a good shaman would build a lesson tale.

And Hellboy himself is quite a character. He’s supposed to be a key figure (on the wrong side) in the Apocalypse, but, well, he refuses. So he fights the good fight against creatures much like himself. Oh, and his right hand is this great big slab of red rock, sometimes called “The Right Hand of Doom,” and it holds the power to end the world, and while he’s not inclined to use it that way, others are, and sometimes try to get it off him.

Great stuff.

Can’t wait for the movie.

EDIT: If you’d like to read some of this stuff for free, check out the e-comics at http://www.darkhorse.com/zones/hellboy/downloads.php . Also, the “Animation” bit is very cool.

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