I was reading HELLBOY: STRANGE PLACES as part of my 365 Day Graphic Novel Challenge (where I read a graphic novel a day for a year and write about it here: http://365graphicnovelchallenge.wordpress.com/ which you all know about because you follow that blog regularly, right?) when I came upon an unexpected dedication:
“For Hans Christian Anderson,
King of Mermaids,
and William Hope Hodgson,
Master of the Sargasso Sea.”
Now it is obvious to any fan of Hellboy and his creator, Mike Mignola, that there is a very strong Lovecraftian influence throughout Mignola’s work. This was the first that I had seen of an indication that Mignola was also a fan of Hodgson though.
The book is a collection of two stories (“The Third Wish” and “The Island”). Both of these had appeared as separate comic book mini-series. “The Third Wish” is where the Hans Christian Anderson comes into play and it is “The Island” that was inspired by Hodgson.
Mignola says the following in his introduction to “The Island”:
“This was a rough one.
“My original idea was a story inspired by the Sargasso Sea stories of William Hope Hodgson (1877-1917) and his novel, The Boats of the Glen Carrig–a graveyard of ships and a strange island overrun with weird fungus and monsters.”
Unfortunately, the story proved to be more trouble than Mignola had anticipated. Despite two separate attempts, he still couldn’t get the story he wanted so it morphed into “The Island” which begins rather Hodgson like with Hellboy coming ashore in a cove of wrecked ships but actually delves more into the original of Hellboy’s world and the terrifying Ogdru Jahad.
Some of Mignola’s pencilled pages are included in the back of the book and they are enough to make us hope that one day Mignola, and Hellboy, will return to the Sargasso Sea and finally tell us that ‘impossible’ tale.