The demon with a good heart heads out on the open water this spring in Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea. To celebrate the graphic novel's April 19th release in comic book shops (followed by a May 2nd release in bookstores), Daily Dead was honored to catch up with artist Gary Gianni for our latest Q&A feature to discuss collaborating with Mike Mignola on Into the Silent Sea, what readers can expect from the unique Hellboy story, an upcoming release that should excite Prince Valiant fans, and much more.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Gary. How did you initially get involved with Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea?
Gary Gianni: Mike and I have spent 20 years discussing comics, movies and books. The notion of working on a comic together just sort of fell in place naturally.
What was it like working with Mike Mignola on this story? What was the collaboration process like between you two as you put this story together?
Gary Gianni: Actually, our tastes are pretty similar. I think readers will have a difficult time discerning who did what. Mike provided a great outline, I filled in some areas, and then Mike tweaked the whole thing. We really didn't write the dialogue until all the art was done.
Coming onto this project, were there any challenges with maintaining the pre-existing expectations and continuity of the Hellboy universe?
Gary Gianni: Into the Silent Sea is a stand-alone story, although it fits snugly into the Hellboy timeline. If there were any continuity problems, I'm sure Mike would have recognized and adjusted things.
I love that this graphic novel takes Hellboy on this epic oceanic journey, bringing him to places that might surprise even longtime readers. Was that part of the appeal to you in telling this story?
Gary Gianni: While the story takes place on a ship at sea, there are some colorful flashbacks and backstories along the way. I enjoyed creating some of the unusual set pieces that the characters find themselves in. Nice thing about all the Hellboy stories: he strides across a large stage where any artist ought to be able to find some personal connection to draw on.
What type of a tone—both visually and narratively—can readers expect to find within the pages of Into the Silent Sea?
Gary Gianni: Well... the short answer: a cosmic, Gothic, adventure, drama, comedy, horror pulp story. With some poetic references sprinkled throughout for good measure.
What was the most challenging or rewarding scene to write or illustrate on this project?
Gary Gianni: Illustrating the story wasn't difficult, although it required some heavy pre-drawing reference. The sailors' dialogue fell into place smoothly as well. What meant the most to me was the opportunity to write some of Hellboy's dialogue and Mike keeping it intact.
What elements of Into the Silent Sea are you the most excited for readers to experience?
Gary Gianni: There are probably some diehard fans who feel Mike should exclusively write and draw the Hellboy comics. But fans who trust him to make executive decisions and bring other artists like Fregredo and Corben on board have not been disappointed. I'm excited to see if Gianni can bring some slight nuance to Hellboy that Mignola may never have the time or chance to get to. I guess we'll see...
One of the people you dedicated this graphic novel to is the great Jack Kirby. Did his work especially influence you on this project in particular?
Gary Gianni: Not in particular, but Jack is always lurking in the back of my head somewhere when I'm drawing comics. Even when I'm not drawing comics—he's just part of my DNA.
Would you and Mike be open to continuing this story in future graphic novels?
Gary Gianni: No, Hellboy and Into The Silent Sea is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That's not to say Mike and I couldn't work on something else together someday...
You’ve worked with incredibly creative people throughout your career, including George R.R. Martin, Ray Bradbury, Michael Kaluta, Michael Chabon, and Harlan Ellison. Looking back at these amazing collaborations, do you have a favorite memory that stands out?
Gary Gianni: When the Creepy horror magazine first came out in the ’60s I, like many of us, was swept away by the art and the stories. Most of those stories were written by Archie Goodwin. Years later, Al Williamson introduced me to him. Sometime after that, I had the chance to work with him. Looking back at it, those are some pretty cool memories to have...
With Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea coming out this spring from Dark Horse, what other projects do you have on deck that you can tease, and where can our readers find you online?
Gary Gianni: Dark Horse is rereleasing a comic I wrote and drew, The MonsterMen mystery comics . Most of these stories originally appeared as a back-up feature in Hellboy. If you like the Hellboy story Into the Silent Sea, you might want to check my MonsterMen series out. Flesk Publishing is going to release a collection of eight years' worth of the Prince Valiant newspaper strips I did with the aid of the remarkable Mark Schultz. Look for that sometime late summer. Currently, I've started a project that is much too early to even tease about. I have a website, www.GaryGianni.com, but you can find me on Facebook as well.