If you were to walk into any of a dozen comic shops and ask “What was Hellboy’s first appearance?” You might get one of four different answers from all of them. I’m going to go over each of them, for your viewing pleasure. “Why would I want to catalog this?” you may be asking yourself. I love Hellboy. He’s one of my favorite characters and I love chronicling his beginnings. Enjoy!
Dime Press #4
This one was released in May of 1993. It had an extremely limited print run of only 2000 and was exclusively released in Italy. It is the absolute first time we see Hellboy. Albeit, it’s not quite the Hellboy we have come to know and love, and it’s only on the cover. The cover art is a “Prototype” drawing done by Mike Mignola in 1991. In an interview with Mignola he stated “the Dime Press…is the first drawing of the Hellboy that more or less exists today (stone hand, etc)… The ’91 drawing is the first time I used the name Hellboy, but hadn’t yet thought of creating an actual series about the character…the character from ’91 bears little resemblance to the modern version of Hellboy.”
San Diego Comic Con #2
Secondly, we have San Diego Comic Con #2 released in August 1993. It was a very limited black and white comic available only through attending the convention itself or through a special mail order program. Written and designed as a One Shot to help promote the San Diego Comic Con itself, Mignola considers this to be the first appearance of Hellboy with a story and his second appearance overall.
Next Men #21
Then there was Next Men #21 released in December of 1993, in this comic our favorite cigar smoking paranormal investigating demon makes his first full appearance and in color. The issue features a crossover and team up between the Next Men and Hellboy. This issue where Mike Mignola was a guest illustrator is considered by him to be the first appearance of Hellboy in a full length nationally released comic and in color, however Hellboy’s third appearance overall.
Hell Boy: Seed of Destruction
Finally, we have Hellboy Seed of Destruction #1 released in March of 1994. Hellboy launches into life in his own comic, in his role working with the B.P.R.D. alongside Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman and the rest of the B.P.R.D. While in the timeline of Hellboy this would be his fourth appearance overall it is his first appearance in his own standalone self-titled comic.
So the answer to When was Hellboy’s first appearance? Was it Dime Press #4, San Diego Comic Con #2, Next Men #21, or Hellboy Seed of Destruction #1? The answer is… Yes! Each one of these four comics in one way or another help to bring Hellboy to life, and introduce us to that candy bar eating, cigar smoking, gun toting, paranormal investigating demon we love. A special thank you goes out to Mike Mignola for not only giving us Hellboy, but giving us one of if not the most convoluted comic character first appearances in comic history.