“ITTY BITTY HELLBOY” (Comic Review)
From fighting Nazi abominations to beating up witches to going to Hell itself, HELLBOY has seen and done it all. But there’s one thing even Big Red wasn’t prepared to do: protect his cardboard fortress from the villainy of Dr. Karl Kroenen! Miniaturized for tiny hands, ITTY BITTY HELLBOY shows lighter sides of the grim demon spawn as he goes on ridiculously fun adventures the whole family can get into. A solid introduction to comics for young readers, this new collection mixes together the quirky humor of the Sunday funnies with the established characters of the HELLBOY universe, making this a great read for fans across the board.
The ITTY BITTY HELLBOY collection brings together the first five issues of the series, each story being loosely connected. The comics stick very close to the original characters without going deep into the established mythos, allowing for the silly jokes to resonate with the fans while making clever nods to the characters’ abilities. And boy, oh boy, do they have some fun guests. Among the visitors to this backyard tale of terror are a mini Baba Yaga and the witch goddess Hecate, who both realize they have a crush on Roger, and the Ghost of Rasputin who enjoys playing pranks on those goody BPRD pals. Even a little Lobster Johnson, complete with a talking Lobster, makes an appearance as he attempts to catch the elusive Sasquatch, much to the excitement of Hellboy.
There’s a lot done right here. Most importantly, this is one of the few mainstream comics that are attempting to reach out to kids. The comic industry has spent so much time trying to get away from the label of “kiddie entertainment,” that they stopped creating works for that demographic entirely. It’s thrilling that not only is Dark Horse realizing that there is this untapped market fueled on cartoons and cereal that is more than ready to put down some hard earned allowance for thirty pages of giggling induced fits, but are actually willing to accommodate them with a well written story and solid art. Sure, long gone are the days of Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t kids who wouldn’t read such. Once again, it’s also a good stepping stone to the bigger culture of comic book. A young reader can literally grow up reading HELLBOY, while exploring other options in the vast universe of the illustrated word.
ITTY BITTY HELLBOY is the brainchild of power team Art Baltazar and Franco, a pair of pals with a love for all things cartoony. Both Baltazar and Franco are credited for adapting and writing Mike Mignola’s characters, creating an easily accessible work with plenty of laughs and winks to its base series. The writing is goofy and fun, mixing well with Baltazar’s big-headed art handle. Using a chalk-like style, each character is simplified with round hands and cartoonish bodies, perfect for silly expressions and corny jokes. Baltazar, who is also responsible for TINY TITANS and SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES has had plenty of experience shrinking down popular icons and really brings his all to the latest outing. Here’s to seeing more from this talented duo.