First Mike Mignola Cover Art: Dominic Fortune, The Spirit, and Doc Samson

I found this fan mag in another old box of comics. It’s been fun rediscovering things I haven’t seen for over 25 years.

Comic Reader 196 cover by Mike Mignola

This is the cover of Comic Reader #196. It’s Mike Mignola’s first artwork for a front cover. Mike’s drawing of the three iconic characters, Dominic Fortune, The Spirit, and Doc Samson is so different than the angular, shadow-heavy art style that he eventually developed.

The Comic Reader magazine was a monthly news publication that featured articles and brief summaries of upcoming releases.  It’s how people found out about the latest and greatest in comic bookery before the introduction of the paper-killing juggernaut we call the Internet.  I don’t regret the evolution of popular graphical arts at all, but it’s fun to be nostalgic every now and then.

Incidentally, here’s a story about Mike’s early iteration of Hellboy that I wrote for a previous post. Mike’s become an industry icon, but everyone has to start somewhere. I also have a signed copy of Rocket Raccoon #1. I have no idea why it occurred to me to get that particular book signed so many years ago since he was already doing stuff for Dark Horse, but, well, there you go.

And here’s you bonus: Mike’s recent artwork from Hellboy in Hell.

Hellboy in Hell #1 cover art by Mike Mignola Hellboy in Hell Pinup by Mike Mignola

First Hellboy Story – San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2

Well now. We’ve highlighted Hellboy before and figured to do some more after pulling gems out of a box that we haven’t seen in a while. We already showed you the first officially published Hellboy art from the Great Salt Lake Comic-Con program (1991). Hellboy shows up next on the cover of an Italian comic book fanzine called Dime Press (issue #4, published in 1993). There’s no Hellboy story inside and he isn’t quite what he will become but he’s a lot closer.

HellboyHellboy’s first full appearance in his finished design was published as a short story. In the early 1990’s, Dark Horse Comics published exclusive giveaway comics sampling various short stories and art. The comics were distributed at the San Diego Comic-Con and because production runs were very limited, these comics are apparently quite prized today. The showcased characters and stories were popular or coming into popularity at the time so there’s some neat stuff. Star Wars, Sin City (we’ll post a short story of Miller’s creation in a later post), Madman, Grendel … lots of good ‘uns.

The Hellboy story was a black and white 4 page deal-e-o, scripted by John Byrne and plotted and illustrated by creator Mike Mignola. It’s since been collected into the Hellboy: Seed of Destruction trade paperback. The following crappy scans are from the San Diego comic.


Page 1


Page 2


Page 3


Page 4

The Spook (Madman Comics) Glow-in-the-dark T-shirt

Madman Comics by Mike Allred

Here’s one you haven’t seen before. Back in the early 1990’s when Mike Allred’s character “Madman” was first going to print, he was actually called “The Spook.” Allred dropped the name fairly quickly after learning there was another character with the same name and opted in favor of Frank Enstein’s new moniker. But the change didn’t take place until after he had produced some collateral items including a glow-in-the-dark T-shirt.

It helps to know people who know people. Through a connection to Matt Alexander, the original owner of the now defunct Captain Salamander’s Atomic Comics shop in Provo, Utah, we were able to acquire the t-shirt. Our understanding is that Matt somehow knew Mike’s brother and got the item through him. We’re not entirely sure how we came into ownership of it – it must have been a purchase or trade – but we had no idea at the time that Mike’s creation was going to become a long-lived icon. We just thought it was a cool looking character and we liked the fact that the t-shirt glowed.

Since it’s so rare, we’ve fought over its ownership and whether one of us has the right to wear it out on Halloween but thus far, it has only seen the darkness of a closet with an occasional extraction to admire it. Collectors are such dweebs, aren’t we?

And in answer to the question we’ll get from some of you. No, the t-shirt is not for sale. But we’ll trade you for it. Two round trip tickets to anywhere in Western Europe should suffice. We’ll pick up the rest of the tab from there. Yeah, so no…not for sale.

Madman by Mike Allred

Signed by Mike Allred, even.

Madman Comics

Cool, huh?


[By the way, Matt Alexander also organized the Great Salt Lake Comic-Con, where Mike Mignola drew the concept for the Hellboy character. Obviously, things have changed for the Big Red One but it’s always interesting to see the origins of a character. Related side-note (and we’re pulling this from memory, so it’s only partially formed): the sketch somehow ended up in Matt’s hands. If we recall correctly, the drawing was too big to take on the airplane back home, so Mike left it with the intent that it would be shipped to him. Matt held onto it since he was going to Comic-Con later that year anyway. He found Mike at the end of one of the exhibition days and tried to flag him down. Mike must have thought Matt was just another fan boy and made the move to give him the brush off. Matt persisted and when Mike finally gave him some annoyed attention, Matt turned the drawing over to Mike. The story gets muddled here, but if our consensus on the issue is correct, Mike was so appreciative that he gave Matt a talisman that renders the owner invisible. And that is why we have not seen Matt Alexander since. As for us, we would have kept the sketch and periodically sent Mike scans of it posed in front of various Baptist churches throughout the United States – kind of like the whole Amélie gnome thing except we would have been original since Amélie didn’t come out until 2001.]

Hellboy – the Secret Origin

Great Salt Lake Comic Convention '91In 1991, a small comic book convention was organized and held in Salt Lake City, Utah. A few creators were invited to attend, including Chris Claremont, Dave Dorman, and Mike Mignola. Mike had been working on a character concept for what was to become Hellboy. His first illustrated iteration is demonstrated at the bottom of the post. Although he looks nothing like the fellow we have come to know and love(?), it is interesting to note that he had one sweet-ass belt buckle.

We know what Hellboy has become, but what of his origins? How is it that Mike took Hellboy from the moment of epiphany to the actual fully formed manifestation? We thought it would be ever so neat to roll back before GSLCC’91 to learn of that copulation, impregnation, and  gestation period whereupon Mike dreamed up the character. But, since it would take some effort to research the backstory of the character’s creation and we’re too lazy to do just that, we’ll make one up instead. For those of you looking to glean some sort of factual chronology about Hellboy, so sorry. To accomplish that, call Mike directly: 001 866-666-4355 (toll free) or 202-944-3126 to schedule an appointment with him at his office. So, here’s our version of the story:

Since even before his mother can remember, Mike has always dabbled in the occult. Given that his Jewish grandparents were run out of northern Italy by Germans during the 2nd World War, he also had a loathing for Nazis. His obsession with both themes eventually merged into a cesspool of evil darkness that spawned an entire library of arcane literature. And curiously plush toys.

Ever the researcher, in the mid 80’s Mike spent a stretch of time living with Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin fame, not James Page the uninspiring but adequate barrister from Cirencester) at Aleister Crowley’s Boleskine House estate. Not long after arrival, Mike learned that prodding Jimmy for secrets of the mystic realms was useless – Jimmy preferred to carry on about how Margaret Thatcher had brought his country back from the precipice and made Mother England relevant again. So, Mike took every opportunity he could to sneak away (which was easy since Jimmy was often catatonic) and go exploring. Boleskine has an unusually large number of doors – most of which open to brick walls. This perplexing discovery caused no small excitation on the part of Mike but elicited a lukewarm response from Jimmy who, like us, is just too lazy to go too far on an adventure. One day, Mike convinced Jimmy to help him break through one of the walls hoping it would lead into a tomb or ritual room or something just as nefarious. And … nope. Just a big dusty room with a small table, a single chair and three books on table shakers. Apparently, Alastair was a salinopiperophile. And it appears there was nothing particularly sensational about his hobby. What the hell.

Anyway, severe disappointment took its toll. Mike eventually left Jimmy’s abode and returned to New York City. Yada, yada, yada. And now we have Hellboy.

First concept for Hellboy Character

See a write-up on Hellboy during his “lost” period. Rummage our small collection to see if there are any comics of particular interest for sale or trade.


Quick humorous side note: During a flight in the 1980’s Barney chatted up his next seat neighbor. He discovered that the guy was Chris Claremont. This was during the mid-1980’s when Claremont’s “X-Men” were all the rage. Well, they were until a new series from Marvel titled “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” surged past for a period of time. It was during that surge that Barney spent a few moments with Chris. Perhaps unintentionally, although perhaps quite the opposite given his snarky demeanor, Barney said something to the effect that it was cool Chris’ work on the Uncanny X-Men series had been so popular but it appeared the title’s moment had passed since it had been bested in publication numbers by G.I. Joe. This didn’t seem to sit well with Chris. He was fairly closed mouthed the rest of the flight. It probably didn’t help much that Barney also said some disparaging things about the New Mutants (Cypher – seriously Chris – Cypher? And Cannonball’s an obnoxious hillbilly – bleh). Too bad. We might have gotten a preview of the Mutant Massacre storyline that had yet to be launched.

True story. Not like the one about Hellboy. Still, just as interesting, huh?

Marvel Comics


Beelzebub A-Go-Go!

Hellboy has become quite the famous little tyke since he was first introduced during the Hellstorm of Salt Lake City in the summer of 1991. Like all of us, Hellboy went through an awkward, embarrassing period of style mishaps before he lost most of his raven locks due to overuse of hair dryers and has settled into his “I guess there’s no point anymore” approach to personal grooming.

Retro-50’s fashions like the duck-tail hairstyle were popular in the 90’s but Hellboy’s wiry hair made him look like “Kid” from Kid’n Play. To get that just-right look he coveted, Hellboy discovered Dr. Nefarious’ Evil Frog Hell-Gel™. Made from ooze excreted by demonic amphibians, the resulting “Voodoo Hoodoo for the Demon with the Dapper Do!” (you remember the jingle, right?) was Hellboy’s savior on many an occasion when a rockabilly broke out. Can’t do good Razakel rockabilly without the look, baby. Nice singing voice, by the way. Sort of a deep-baratone with smoothness to it some have likened to Rick Astley, another minion of Satan. In this period of his life, he went by the more appropriate moniker, Gelboy. Needless to say, the Anti-Christ and other such creatures of infernal badness couldn’t possibly take him seriously as a Hell-Cop, so it was ironically fortuitous that he went prematurely bald. Too bad. The chicks really dug the “do.” And not just the Undead ones.

Hellboy parody as Gelboy from

Who’s YOUR Daddy?

Elvis Presley and Christopher "Kid" Reid

You ain’t nothing but a hell hound, indeed. Elvis sold his soul to the devil for a canister of hair gel years when he was only 16. Doesn’t Satan make glorious music?