Christopher Golden is a novelist and comic writer, and is no stranger to Hellboy’s world. Along with editing the short story compilation Odder Jobs, he wrote the Hellboy novels The Lost Army and Bones of Giants. He also co-wrote the graphic novel B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth.
How did you go about assembling the cast of authors for Odder Jobs?
It all started with Frank Darabont. Mike and I had always said we were going to do a second one. Frank asked Mike whether we were going to, and Mike said that we were, but that we weren’t sure when. A few days later, Mike got the story in the mail from Frank, with a note that maybe it was time we got going. So Frank prompted the whole thing. He also brought in Dave Schow. Everyone else were writers that I recruited mainly because I wanted to see their take on Hellboy. Except Guillermo, of course. We always wanted to get him in there and Mike asked him, and we were thrilled when he agreed. Our one rule was that we wouldn’t have anyone from the first book in the second one. Eventually we hope to do ODDEST JOBS, and we already have a few people in mind for that.
What input did Mike Mignola have on the book? How involved was he?
Mike looks at everything. All of the story ideas are run past him first, and he sees all of the finished stories before they go to press. If there are changes he wants, we make sure they get made. Obviously, he also does an illustration for each story.
How did you first discover Hellboy?
In Diamond Previews. I bought the first issue when it was published and have loved it ever since. At the time I was supplementing my income as a novelist by doing journalism in the comics industry. That’s how I met Mike.
You wrote the original Hellboy novels, The Lost Army and The Bones of Giants. What was the experience like for you to adapt Mignola’s creation?
On THE LOST ARMY, it was a process of picking Mike’s brain, trying to get into what made Hellboy tick, what worked as recurring themes in the comics and also what made it as humorous as it was. I really enjoy THE LOST ARMY still, but I think I was working really hard at trying to get in some of the gags that Mike used a lot in those days. Floors buckling beneath Hellboy’s feet, technology failing on him, that sort of thing. Several years later, on THE BONES OF GIANTS, though it opened with an idea of Mike’s, it was really more of a natural flow for me as a writer. Instead of trying to do what I thought Mike wanted, I was doing what I wanted. By then I suppose I knew the characters better, so I was more comfortable. I think it shows.
Army and Giants have roots in real history (Cambyses) and mythology (Norse Gods). Do you have an avid interest in legends, folklore, history, and/or mythology?
Oh, yeah. Always have. I was a double major in college in English and history (European). A lot of my work has ties to history. I used my love of Byzantine history in my vampire series, THE SHADOW SAGA, and it’s shown up in lots of other places. I enjoy mythology, but LOVE Norse mythology, not because of Thor (which I never read in comic form as a kid), but because I discovered a wonderful book of Norse myths as a child and read it fifteen times in about a year.
There are more Hellboy novels coming down the pike: who are the authors, and when can we expect them?
The first one comes out in October and they’ll be published every six months thereafter. All of the writers have written Hellboy before, in the anthologies, which were sort of the testing ground for this book series. The first is HELLBOY: ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HELL by Brian Hodge. It’s a wonderful novel full of Vatican intrigue, Angels, demons, and has some especially wonderful Liz Sherman stuff. The second is HELLBOY: THE NEW ARK, by Tim Lebbon, and it concerns an old mad scientist/magician who manages to create a process by which he can summon extinct or nearly extinct creatures of myth out of what he calls “the Memory,” the place where those myths are relegated. He gathers up a virtual army of them. It’s probably the broadest scope Hellboy story ever and has all kinds of monsters and great stuff with the whole cast, especially Abe, who has a special relationship with a recently recruited BPRD member, a female werewolf named Abby Paris. Tom Sniegoski is working on the third book, HELLBOY: THE GOD MACHINE, right now. That, you won’t believe when you read it, is based upon a true story. It’s the one Mike is most excited about doing the cover for. It’s about a group of people who once tried to build their own god. Knowing Sniegoski, it’ll be completely bizarre. And then I’ll be writing the fourth one, though I don’t start it for a long time. It’s tentatively called HELLBOY: THE DRAGON POOL, and it involves Chinese myth. After that, we’ll have to wait and see how successful they are. If Pocket wants to do more, I’ve already got writers in mind for a bunch of them.
What projects are you working on right now?
Currently I’m writing the novelization of Peter Jackson’s KING KONG. I recently finished the first book in a new trilogy for Bantam called THE VEIL. The first book, THE MYTH HUNTERS, will be out next spring. I’m also working on collaborative series with Sniegoski (the second book of the MENAGERIE, called TEARS OF THE FURIES, hits this month) and Amber Benson (the first GHOSTS OF ALBION novel, ACCURSED, hits in October). And Mike Mignola and I are actually going to be doing a book together, a major undertaking for both of us. It’s going to be a lavishly illustrated novel based on an idea by Mike and fleshed out by both of us, that I’ll write and he’ll illustrate. We just made the deal for that with Random House, but I don’t want to say more just yet.