Graphic Policy: The Visitor: How And Why He Stayed is an interesting series in that it expands upon somewhat minor characters we saw in Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. What got you to want to expand on that?
Chris Roberson: Having been a fan of Hellboy since the very beginning, I’ve always been intrigued by the aliens that we glimpsed briefly in Seed Of Destruction, and particularly by the one Hellboy met in Conqueror Worm, who had been observing him from a distance his whole life. I brought up the idea of exploring that alien’s story to Mike Mignola and editor Scott Allie the winter before last, which led to a series of long conversations in the months that followed, and now here we are!
GP: When I hear Hellboy, I think horror series, but The Visitor is very much a sci-fi concept. As a writer how do you get science fiction like this work so that it’s seamlessly in a Lovecraftian world.
CR: One of the strengths of the world that Mike and his collaborators have built for Hellboy over the years is that it isn’t limited to the tropes of a single genre. There’s a lot of horror elements to it, definitely, but also a fair amount of secret history, a healthy dose of fantasy, and from the beginning science fiction has been in the mix, as well. It’s all a matter of perspective, I think, and choosing which aspects of the world to feature in any given story.
GP: You’ve got a character that reminds me a lot of the Watcher, but even more focused. There’s an interesting concept of having this potential disaster and not intervening. It kind of gets into that “would you kill Hitler as a baby” debate. Is that concept part of the series? Am I reading too much into it?
CR: No, I don’t think you’re reading too much into it at all! At its core this story is very much about the capacity for redemption, and the potential for individuals to rise above the circumstances of their birth. The Visitor was sent to kill Hellboy the moment he arrived on Earth because of his demonic parentage, but recognizes in him the potential for humanity, seeing that he is as much his human mother’s son as he is his demon father’s.
GP: How much of these aliens’ world has been fleshed out beyond this story?
CR: Quite a bit, actually. A lot of the conversations that Mike and I had as we were working out the story revolved around who the aliens were and where they came from. We won’t be revealing ALL of the mysteries surrounding them, but we’ll be pulling back the curtain enough for readers to get a better idea of what they’re all about.
GP: We’ve seen the BPRD world through the eyes of Hellboy and his team mostly. What’s it like exploring these moments from a different perspective?
CR: It’s been a really interesting opportunity to see moments in Hellboy’s life that we haven’t gotten to see on the page before now. Having the chance to get even a glimpse of “gawky teenage Hellboy” was a real treat, especially when drawn by the amazing Paul Grist.
GP: Will we see familiar moments from that perspective?
CR: Definitely. We tried to strike a balance between revisiting moments that will be familiar to readers and moments that we haven’t seen before. And many of those familiar moments will be put in new contexts, as well.
GP: With the science of it all, have you created rules for all of that? There’s a moment in the first issue about losing contact that makes me think some of it has been fleshed out.
CR: I think it’s less a question of “science” and more one of “rationalization.” We don’t dig too deeply into the mechanics of how the Visitor’s technology works, but instead, establish the basic parameters and then work within those.
GP: You’ve worked on some big properties and done creator own work. The Mignolaverse has been around for so long now and has such history, how does it feel as a writer to step in and add to it like this?
CR: It’s both an incredible thrill and also a little intimidating. I’m a fan of these characters first and foremost, and I’m keenly aware of the obligation to make sure that anything that I bring to the table is a necessary and worthy addition to that world.
GP: Will we see more of these strange Visitors?
CR: This miniseries is a finite story with a beginning, middle, and end, but we certainly could see the Visitor pop up in other stories set in Hellboy’s world further down the line. (Hint: We definitely will…)
GP: What else do you have going on this year that readers can check out?
CR: I’m still hard at work on new storylines for the Hellboy And The B.P.R.D. series set in the Cold War, and there are several other Hellboy-related stories in the works that I can’t talk about yet!
GP: Thanks so much! For folks interested, we have a preview of the first issue below!