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SDCC Exclusive: Alex Maleev Talks Dark Horse’s New HELLBOY & THE BPRD Series (UPDATED)

It isn’t every day that Hellboy celebrates his twentieth birthday and Dark Horse Comics is making a point of blowing out Big Red’s anniversary in style by announcing a brand new series that brings Hellboy and The BPRD together in spectacular fashion. The aptly titled Hellboy & The BPRD takes us all the way back to 1952 for Hellboy’s very first mission, before he joined the BPRD as an agent, in order to investigate a series of grisly murders in the Brazilian jungle. Fittingly, Dark Horse has assembled a veritable BPRD of creative talent to tackle the title, enlisting Hellboy creator and past Nerdist Podcast guest Mike Mignola and John Arcudi to pen the script, Dave Stewart to provide the colors, and Alex Maleev to craft both the interior art as well as cover paintings. Looks like Christmas is coming in July…except that we’ll still have to wait until December to get our hands on the first.

To tide you over, though, I caught up with artist extraordinaire Alex Maleev to get the inside scoop on working with Mignola and company to craft this new Hellboy tale, the creative challenges posed by the Hellboy-verse, and much more.

HELLBOY&BPRD

Here are the details:

Hellboy and the BPRD #1

Writer: Mike Mignola with John Arcudi

Artist: Alexander Maleev

On Sale: 12/03/2014

A bizarre series of murders and rumors of something worse lead Professor Bruttenholm to send a young Hellboy to a Brazilian village on his first mission. Hellboy and a small group of agents uncover something terrible in the shadows of a sixteenth-century Portuguese fortress . . .

And, now, for our exclusive interview with Alex Maleev:

Nerdist: You have worked within the Hellboy universe before with Hellboy: Weird Tales and now you’ll be returning to Mignola’s wild world with Hellboy & The BPRD. Your watercolor rendering of Hellboy is one of my absolute favorites, so I was excited to learn you were attached to the project. What excites you creatively about this universe? What sort of challenges does it pose to you as an artist?

Alex Maleev: The biggest challenge is having Mike Mignola going over my pages. It’s like being back in art school and having your teacher grading your work. Now I have not only myself and my editors to please, but Mike as well dangling like the Right Hand of Doom over my neck. The project keeps me very much on the edge of my seat.

N: As I understand it, you’ll be handling both the interior art as well as the cover paintings. Do you prefer one medium to the other, painting versus illustration, when it comes to comics?

AM: Of course I prefer having to do one illustration over twenty-two pages of a comic book. Isn’t it much easier to comfort a demanding crowd with one dish than a twenty-two course meal? Drawing a full book is like walking through a minefield. The possibilities to step in the wrong direction are magnified.

N: We’re obviously very excited that these two titles will be coming together at long last. What sort of madness and mayhem can we expect from the series?

AM: This a question for Mike. I prefer not to stay ahead with my scripts; I’d much rather find surprises just like the reader would. It makes the project double-sided: I am the fan and the executioner. Of course, I am aware of the main storyline, but the fine details I’d rather leave obscured.

N: How closely do you work with the writers to craft the visual aesthetic of the story or do they give you a certain degree of creative freedom to run wild?

AM: Mike and I share design ideas of the world in which the story takes place. He has created the Hellboy universe and, stylistically, I have to stay within these boarders. I am free to design some stuff but, in my opinion, a Hellboy book has to be a Hellboy book that Mike has a great part in. I don’t mind that at all. I am not, by any means, restricted by what has already been established. The artistic uphill battle for me is to add my own ingredients without throwing the world off balance.

N: Likewise, when it comes to colorist Dave Stewart, he has a way of breathing new life into already stellar artwork with his palette. Do you work closely with the colorist or is that a conversation from which you’re removed?

AM: Dave has how many Eisners? I stopped counting too. So, Dave is an institution in his own right. I might have some notes for him, but I expect Dave to do his magic like he always does. We worked on Daredevil together already, we know each other’s work. Should be a breeze.

UPDATE: 

Because we love you guys and because our pals at Dark Horse were feeling extra generous, they hooked us up with Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth’s full 8-page “Still Born” story from the upcoming hardcover version of Hellboy: Weird Tales, the only other time Maleev has collaborated with Mignola.

HBYWTV1 TPB PG 091

Click to expand the thumbnails below.

Dark Horse Comics’ Hellboy & The BPRD will be available on December 3, 2014. What are you hoping to see in the series? Let us know in the comments below. 

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