Hellboy: Krampusnacht - An Interview With Adam Hughes

Christmas just came early.

Hellboy: Krampusnacht
Dark Horse

Although Hellboy's story might have ended (somewhat fittingly) in Hell itself the other year, everyone's favourite stone-fisted occult investigator has shown no signs of fading since, be it on the screen, or off.

Filling in the gaps of the character's sixty year history - moving from his youth in the forties, all the way up to his resignation from the B.P.R.D. in the millennium - Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been kept more than busy since the hero's trip to Hell. Spin-off titles, like Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. and Rasputin: Voice of the Dragon, are recent examples, but now the scribe is teaming up with superstar artist Adam Hughes for a new one-off Christmas special.

It's not just any special either. This one, features Krampus, German folklore's very own (and very terrifying), Bad Santa.

It gets better too. In the run-up to the book's release this Wednesday, we managed to sit down with Hughes for a quick interview and discuss what, exactly, Krampusnacht brings to the Hellboy mythos, as well as whether or not this could be the first of many collaborations to come.

Read ahead for the full interview below.

Hellboy: Krampusnacht Panel 1
Dark Horse/Adam Hughes

Ewan Paterson: First of all, for those not in the know, what is Hellboy: Krampusnacht all about? At what point do we meet Hellboy when he heads to Austria?

Adam Hughes: HELLBOY: KRAMPUSNACHT is about Earth’s greatest paranormal investigator and his yule time meeting with the legendary Krampus. Spooky stuff!

We meet Hellboy in 1975, when he’s just trying to be a regular joe, working for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.

Dark Horse/Adam Hughes

EP: How did you get involved with Hellboy? Is he a character you've always wanted to draw?

AH: I’ve known HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola for something like 27 years. At San Diego 2016, he said we should do something together. Last Christmas, I called him on it!

I’ve always wanted to work with Mike, he’s one of my toppermost favorite comics creators, but Hellboy himself has always intimidated me. He’s such a Mignola character. I was nervous every single time I drew him. I need my medicine now, just thinking about it.

Hellboy: Krampusnacht
Dark Horse/Adam Hughes

EP: I must say that Krampus looks terrifying. How did you go about conceptualising your version of the character? As far as mythical creatures go, he's up there with the scariest.

AH: Well, I had to start with two ‘editorial’ dictates: he had to be goat-like – because that’s the legend – and he had to look like he could give Hellboy a run for his money. And then I just went with what would scare me when I was a little fella. I was terrified of scarves.

Dark Horse/Adam Hughes

EP: There's a specific moment in the issue where Krampus sort of takes Hellboy into this dream-like dimension. It's super atmospheric, but how did you go about creating that environment?

AH: I tried to give it that gentle otherworldly quality of dreams where you don’t think to question the unreality of what’s going on. The birch trees have no branches; they’re just trunks that go on and on into the clouds. It’s snowing, but ONLY on Hellboy. Weird little things that are just slightly to the left of accurate, like in dreams.

Hellboy Panel 3
Dark Horse/Adam Hughes

EP: I kind of also want to say that Hellboy in flared pants is amazing. With the Mignolaverse titles following a linear path - following on from WWII all the way up to the present - were you excited to depict an earlier moment in the character's history? I don't think we've seen much of Hellboy in the seventies, but I hope we get to see more!

AH: I was very excited to draw Hellboy in the seventes; that’s why I gave him the flared pants! Also, I gave Trevor a giant “David Niven at the Oscars” bow-tie. And I changed the BPRD logo. I was there in the seventies. I’m hip.

EP: At the end of the book, there's this amazing little photo album that longtime fans of the character are sure to appreciate (and maybe well up a bit too). Do you have a particular favourite from the selection? Abe at the New Year's party is absolutely wonderful.

AH: That’s tough... I like each one for their own little emotional beats. Don’t make me pick! I’m glad we got to do the Christmas album. I think it’s the final little touch that makes the issue a bit of a Christmas present to the Hellboy fans.

Hellboy: Krampusnacht Krampus
Dark Horse/Adam Hughes

EP: Do you think you'll be doing more Hellboy stories in the future? We've seen quite a few spin-offs in recent years, but if you were to tackle a specific moment in the character's history, is there any period you'd like to explore?

AH: That’s up to Mike Mignola. He hasn’t asked and I haven’t mentioned it, because I don’t want to put him in that kind of awkward position if he’s not interested. I’d rather make passive-aggressive use of a public forum, like, say, an interview, to subtly imply how much I’d kill my own mother to work with Mike again.

EP: Lastly, major congrats on the issue. Can't wait to see what you have planned for next year!

AH: Thanks! I’ve lost all perspective, I can’t tell if it’s any good any more. Can’t see the forest for the limbless trees, any more.

Hellboy: Krampusnacht releases this Wednesday, December 20, and we really can't wait to read it! Let us know if you'll be picking it up in the comments below and, before you do, be sure to hit WhatCulture Comics up on Twitter and on YouTube. Y'know, because it's Christmas.

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Comics Editor
Comics Editor

WhatCulture's very own Comics Editor. Cats, comic books and spaghetti westerns are my thing. Rants about stuff @EwanRuinsThings