It is difficult to remember them, but there used to be happier times for Hellboy and Abe Sapien of the B.P.R.D. You know, before the big red guy died and went to Hell, and before our fishman friend was shot and declared brain-dead, then recovered and struck out into the world to discover his connection to the apocalypse. But in the not-too-distant past, Abe and Hellboy investigated strange phenomena together, with a better outlook and enjoying less fatal adventures.
And that's where we find the duo in Abe Sapien #23, the standalone flashback story written by Dark Horse Comics editor-in-chief Scott Allie, with art by Kevin Nowlan -- the master artist who returns to the Mike Mignola-verse after his 2013 Lobster Johnson tale "Satan Smells a Rat." On the road in British Columbia, Hellboy and Abe investigate reports of an Ogopogo sea serpent attack, but the mysterious beast may not be the biggest threat to contend with.
In the interview that follows, Allie discussed why he wanted to do a flashback issue with the most famous agents of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. He also discuss why the Ogopogo was the perfect "monster of the week" for the story, and where Abe's story will go from here when we return to the present. Also, don't miss our eight-page preview of Abe Sapien #23 below, exclusively at Blastr.com.
How would you define where Hellboy and Abe are as characters in this story? This is before the world literally went to hell, but who are these guys right now?
These are guys living fairly simple lives, doing a job. That's how they view it. Hellboy sticks to that viewpoint doggedly, Abe a little less comfortably, but he follows Hellboy's leads. They're doing a necessary job, doing it well. These were simpler times …
Talk about the context of this issue, and the decision to do a flashback story with Hellboy. Was this just a good excuse to get the boy back together for an adventure? If so, why now, in #23?
Well, why now in #23 was simply that this was when Kevin was available, able to get it done. [Abe Sapien creative team] Sebastian and Max Fiumara aren't quite able to keep the book coming out monthly, but I want them to continue to tell the present-day arc, the main story of Abe in "Dark and Terrible." We keep the book coming out sometimes by having someone else jump in for an issue that doesn't contribute to the main story, and this was one of those ...
The Ogopogo has been featured in X-Files, In Search Of, Unsolved Mysteries and some other great paranormal shows. What was your interest/connection in the creature heading into this story, and how did the idea develop to bring it into the Hellboy-verse?
I knew Kevin Nowlan liked sea serpents and lake monsters, and he wanted to do something in a rural setting with some crusty characters, and we knew we had this story to tell one day, of Abe and the lake monster, a story alluded to in "Box Full of Evil." Kevin copied one panel from this story directly from "Box Full of Evil," when the Ogopogo story was first referred to. We knew when it happened, we knew they were together, so giving Kevin the Ogopogo story meant all those other things you asked about, including the timing ...
Is this a standalone story, or does it tie into Abe's present arc?
Some of the flashback stories do, but this one really does not. Perfectly standalone, just Kevin doing what he does so well, and getting a chance to include Hellboy.
Is it refreshing to do a "monster of the week" standalone story that doesn't revolve around a larger arc?
Absolutely. In the present day story, we generally do two- or three-issue stories, some standalones. I like stories that pay off sooner than later. We just did a five-parter, the only one in the whole run, so it was nice to go monster of the week, completely standalone in contrast.
How'd you lure Kevin Nowlan back for this one, and will you talk about what he brings to this story?
We always have something cooking with Kevin. We love his work, and so we're always planning the next one-shot, just so he always has a toe in the Mignola-verse.
Will we be seeing more of Kevin in the Mignola-verse?
Yes. We have a one-shot coming in a couple months with him providing just a few pages, and then we've already got a script in for his next full one-shot, another Lobster Johnson story with John Arcudi.
Please tease what's ahead for Abe in #24, and future issues.
The other nice thing about this being a one-off, out of continuity, is that after this, we speed up Abe's journey. He's been d***ing around avoiding the truth long enough. Now he's going straight for it, and he's going to start getting it. He's going to be moving in a fairly straight line toward answers, and it will absolutely change the way he sees himself. So didn't he sort of deserve a simple little adventure with his old pal, Hellboy?