Hellboy the Midnight Circus
By Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo & Dave Stewart
It’s been a long time coming, but Hellboy: the Midnight Circus is finally here. From the moment that it was announced that Duncan Fegredo would once again draw a Hellboy story, fans were excited. The fact that this is a self contained, original graphic novel of a young Hellboy was even more of a bonus. Fegredo’s work with Mike Mignola’s Hellboy series has been some of his best, and some of the best in the long history of our favorite rock-handed demon.
Starting in 2007 with Darkness Calls and ending in 2011 with the nail biting mini-series The Fury, Duncan Fegredo has proven himself to be the preeminent artist on the Hellboy series, surpassed only by Mignola himself. His style just works within the confines of the Mignolaverse because it’s such a mirroring parallel to Mignola’s own work, but with a twist and a little Fegredo flair. His added details to everything on the page, from characters’ faces to the backgrounds, set him apart from other Hellboy artists including Mignola himself. If you look at a panel from Mignola and compare it to a panel from Fegredo, you can see the similarities, and that might stem from Fegredo simply being influenced by Mignola, and you can see what makes them unique artists.
Another aspect of this OGN that sets not only Fegredo above the rest, but this book as well, are the panels involving the Midnight Circus. From the moment Hellboy approaches the tent, the coloring, look and feel of the book transforms into something totally different. Seeing some of the earlier pages, it appeared that Fegredo had actually gone ahead and ink washed his pages before Dave Stewart—master colorist and long, long time colorist for all things Mignola, not to mention more Eisner awards than one can count—added his final touches to the pages. This effect seems to almost give the page a dreamy look to it and when the pages start cutting between the circus and the outside world, for lack of a better term, it just looks fantastic. This book is a visual masterpiece from the very first page. Fegredo executes this perfectly, with the help of Dave Stewart’s master color work, and his ideas for this ink wash-like look is absolutely brilliant.
Mike Mignola could not have picked a better artist than Fegredo for this story. A story weaving into some of what’s happened and what’s happening in the current Hellboy/Mignolaverse timeline, set years before any of it took place. A story of 4-year old Hellboy in 1948 is something that fans have wanted since the original Pamcake short—those who have seen this know what I’m talking about and those that haven’t need to go look it up—and as usual Mignola does not disappoint. For those that haven’t been following Hellboy, it’s still an awesome, intriguing story and might even make a good introduction to the character. For those that are familiar with the 20 years of Hellboy, there are lots of little details and hints that are going to make you go, “Oh!” and, if you’re anything like me, it’s going to make you want to go back and re-read some Hellboy.
This story really feels like something that was done for the fans. People wanted more stories with young Hellboy, so Mike Mignola went out and wrote an awesome one. People wanted more Duncan Fegredo on a Hellboy book, so that’s exactly what we got. If you’re a fan, this was for you and it was an absolute treat. Any time you get Mignola and Fegredo together it’s going to be special, and this was no exception. New fan or old, go out and pick this up. There’s no way you’re going to be disappointed.