Secrets In The Sea For The B.P.R.D
Jul 09, 2017
by Vince Brusio
Hellboy finds himself embroiled in the turmoil of the Cold War in Hellboy And The B.P.R.D.—Occult Intelligence (JUL170096) from Dark Horse Comics, and we’ve got writer Chris Roberson on board to give us an exclusive interview for the book. The debate this time is what constitutes “intelligence.” Is the thing slipping under the ocean intelligent? Is it intelligent to find out? In this latest Hellboy series, Chris Roberson explains there may be a new way of looking at the occult.
Vince Brusio: Chris, what’s the background scenery for Hellboy And The B.P.R.D.—Occult Intelligence? The front cover sort of has an Indiana Jones feel to it, and we here at PREVIEWSworld want to know if that Ark of the Covenant was unboxed. Not that we’re asking you to spoil anything, but does this 3-issue series venture into territory where we might see Hellboy running in front of a giant bowling ball with an idol in his hand?
Chris Roberson: No giant bowling balls this time out, but don’t rule out Hellboy having to deal with a giant SOMETHING. But any resemblance to everyone’s favorite adventuring archaeologist is purely coincidental. Cover artist Paolo Rivera was actually going for a more “Cold War spy thriller” vibe with the covers for this storyline, which gets to the heart of the kinds of stories that we’re starting to tell with the series.
Vince Brusio: How does this mini-series figure into the continuity of Hellboy’s association with the B.P.R.D.? For those who may be new readers, can you give them a leg up? If they looked at a timeline, what would they see?
Chris Roberson: Hellboy became a field agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense in 1952, about eight years after he first appeared on Earth, so by 1956 he’s been out in the field for just a few years, but he feels like a seasoned veteran of the team. As he will soon discover, though, he still has a lot to learn.
Vince Brusio: A lot of YouTube videos will attest to the number of people that swear they’ve captured UFOs both exiting and entering the ocean. The preview for the book on page 49 of the July PREVIEWS teases us with such a possibility. Yet, the book’s title is “occult” intelligence. Not “alien” intelligence. So a sea monster of some sort is much more likely a culprit for the pilot’s strange sighting. But might there be some connection between extraterrestrial life and the occult? Is it possible to cross that bridge?
Chris Roberson: We’ve played around with possible connections between aliens and UFOs and the occult in series like The Visitor: How And Why He Stayed And the earlier Hellboy & The B.P.R.D. storyline, “Black Sun,” but in the current story we’re playing around with the double meaning of “occult,” both in the sense of something that is hidden from view (monsters, perhaps?), and something that involves the supernatural. As for the “intelligence” part of the equation, that has multiple meanings as well.
Vince Brusio: Did you find yourself being careful with the plotting and pacing of this story? Getting into theories of the occult can be heady stuff, and sometimes getting too cerebral can bog down the pacing of a story. What are your thoughts on finding the right mix of balancing theories with compatible sequence of actions? Is there any mapping done before you attempt to conceptualize the right dialogue? And does Mike Mignola pull that lever, or do you both share that chore?
Chris Roberson: It varies from project to project, but usually a story begins with conversations that I have with Mike or with our editors, Scott Allie and Katii O’Brien, starting with a germ of an idea and gradually developing it into a rough outline, that we bat back and forth until everyone is happy with how it has come together. And as much fun as it is to dig deep into weird theories or historical oddities, when you’ve got Hellboy in the mix it’s always important to bring some kind of monster or baddie on stage for him to punch!
Vince Brusio: What does Brian Churilla bring to the table for this series? If you could sit down at a keyboard, and write at length about what Brian is doing visually, what would you tout? And does he stay on target with your expectations, or is he known at times to pull the carpet out from under your feet, and show you something you never saw coming?
Chris Roberson: I’ve been extraordinarily lucky with the artists that I’ve collaborated with on the various Hellboy titles, and there isn’t a single one of them that hasn’t far outstripped my expectations of what they would deliver, and I am invariably thrilled with the results. But working with Brian is an even greater thrill, as he puts SO much time and thought into every aspect of a page, from the design of the characters and creatures, to the layout of the panels and the way that the action leads the eye across the page. I’ve been a fan of his for years now, but I feel confident in saying that the work he’s doing on this book is the best stuff that he’s done to date.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.