With the release of the Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat one-shot from Dark Horse today, we are delighted to be joined by Matt Smith again. Matt is the creator of Barbarian Lord. Matt has worked on numerous comics, including Hellboy: The Bones of Giants, Folklords, Lake Of Fire, Metal Quest and Jim Henson’s Storyteller.
Hi Matt, it’s such a thrill to have you here with us again.
Thanks! It’s nice to be here again!
Can you tell us about the origins of Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat?
It started out as an exercise, warming up for my first Hellboy outing, Long Night at Goloski Station. I didn’t have a script for it immediately after signing on but thought I could prepare by sketching Hellboy doing various things, moving through an environment, interacting with people. It was fun to loosely sketch in dialogue and suggest a story. Some years down the road, it became an actual story.
How would you describe Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat?
I would describe it as a fairly classic Hellboy story. There’s strange stuff going on, a local folklorist who can give Hellboy some idea of what he’s dealing with, and a couple of familiar faces. I also would say it’s a bit of an extension to Bones of Giants. I loved that novel long before I got to work on the adaptation. And before that, I loved the King Vold story that preceded and connects to Bones. Maybe my favorite Hellboy short. There’s a thread that connects all three.
Did you write a full script for Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat?
Yes. I’d say about four pages are pretty close to those original sketches I was doing without a script, both in layouts and dialogue. But when it was decided to develop it as a stand-alone issue, I got into the script and started to give the story a more solid shape, folding the scenes I had done previously into it.
You are writing and creating the art for the comic. What part of that process do you enjoy the most: writing, pencils or inking?
Hmmm. This time it was writing. I haven’t written a comic since my first book and my own character, Barbarian Lord and almost forgot how fun it can be. Not only that, I was given the chance to write something for Hellboy, adding a point, if a very small one, in the huge story of his life. It was pretty exciting to think about.
How long have you been working on Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat?
I guess it goes back to early 2019 or somewhere around there, before Long Night at Goloski Station anyway. It sat for a long time, but I did pick away at it once or twice in those years, before it really got moving this past summer.
What sort of feedback did you get from Mike Mignola during the process of creating Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat?
Mike gave me a good amount of free space to do it as I saw best. When I sent things his way I’d get some encouraging replies along the lines of “glad you’re doing this.” That was enough for me.
Is the Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat one-shot, new reader-friendly?
I sure hope so. I definitely wrote it as a Hellboy fan with fellow Hellboy fans that follow the character in mind. My hope is, there’s commentary by other characters in the story, who either talk to Hellboy or about Hellboy which will give a new reader enough to work with. I’d be thrilled if a brand new reader could not only enjoy the story in this issue but find that Hellboy’s world seems pretty interesting and worth digging further into.
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
Thanks for giving this a read. If you go on to check out the Yule Cat, I hope you dig it!
Also, I just finished the first issue of Mortal Terror, drawn by one of my favorite artists, Peter Berting, (Frankenstein Underground, Domovoi), written by Hellboy regular Christopher Golden along with Tim Lebbon and colored by Mr. O’Halloran, who colored the Yule Cat. I’m digging this great and weird inversion of the Dracula myth they’re putting together. Recommended!
We would like to say thank you to Matt for chatting with us. We would like to wish Matt and the whole of the Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat team the best of luck with the comic.
Hellboy Winter Special: The Yule Cat one-shot, written and illustrated by Barbarian Lord creator and acclaimed cartoonist Matt Smith, colored by Chris O’Halloran, lettered by Clem Robins, and featuring a variant cover by legendary Hellboy creator Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart.