‘Hellboy’ Creator Mike Mignola Launches ‘Bowling With Corpses’ Anthology, ‘Lands Unknown’ Comic Universe | Exclusive

“I created a whole new world. Not too different than our world a few centuries ago, but with a lot more gods and monsters,” Mignola tells TheWrap

A split image; on the left is an illustration with the text "BOWLING WITH CORPSES" on top, with subtitle "& OTHER STRANGE TALES FROM LANDS UNKNOWN." The illustration shows a figure holding a skull, a skeleton in an off-white robe, a giant bat, a clock with a pile of bones, and what looks like a large home. On the right is a closeup of a man with light-toned skin, a bald head and a gray beard.
The cover to "Bowling With Corpses" and artist Mike Mignola (courtesy Dark Horse Comics; photo by Allan Amato)

Mike Mignola is best known for creating acclaimed indie comic book character Hellboy, popularized in three feature films, animation, video games and other media — with another film, “Hellboy: The Crooked Man,” set for release this fall. Now, the writer/artist is collaborating on an all-new fictional universe, starting with this November’s “Bowling With Corpses and Other Strange Tales From Lands Unknown” released by his longtime publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

It’s also the first book from Mignola’s all-new Dark Horse imprint, “Curious Objects.” Mignola and fellow artist Ben Stenbeck’s first book from their new “Lands Unknown” universe will be an anthology of folklore-inspired fantasy tales, both written and illustrated by Mignola. While it’s an anthology format, they take place in a shared universe that he’s cocreating with Stenbeck.

“It all started with an Italian folktale about a boy who goes bowling with corpses,” Mignola said in a statement. “I fell in love with the story as soon as I discovered it, but I wanted to play fast and loose when adapting it, so I created a whole new world. Not too different than our world a few centuries ago, but with a lot more gods and monsters. Once I created that world, new characters and stories just started pouring out of it.”

These stories explore many of the same macabre themes Mignola has shown a love for over the years, including tales of the undead, the devil, pirates and sorcerers. “There is a whole lot to play with here and I expect to be at it for a very long time,” he said.

“For a few years now Mike has been emailing me designs and pages and ideas and maps and lists of place names for this world,” Stenbeck added, “and his enthusiasm for this project is indomitable and infectious.”

Stenbeck is also set to write and draw other comics in the world of Lands Unknown — though he knows he’s got work to do to keep up with his imaginative cocreator.

“So often my reaction to these emails is, ‘That’s great, Mike! But I still have two books to draw before I can even move on to this work!’ And then I find myself taking three days off to write a new story,” Stenbeck explained. “Luckily, Mike likes my stories. My first project is set far off in a distant corner of this world. That way, I can’t bump into anything Mike is doing and make a mess.”

Further details of Stenbeck’s own stories remain under wraps, though you wouldn’t be wrong to make a guess: “Spoiler… it will have monsters in it,” he confirmed.

Mignola, meanwhile, has become more expansive in recent years after reaching the end of his core Hellboy story — though he and collaborators continue telling additional tales within that world. The writer/artist cocreated the Outerverse Universe with author Christopher Golden and cocreated a series of gothic mysteries with Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, as well as a number of other projects. Stenbeck has drawn notice for his debut series, “Our Bones Dust,” a post-apocalyptic cannibal survival story.

The case for Mike Mignola’s forthcoming “Pinocchio” with Lemony Snicket (Beehive Books)

The “Bowling With Corpses and Other Strange Tales From Lands Unknown” anthology will be written and drawn by Mignola, colored by acclaimed colorist Dave Stewart and lettered by Clem Robins. It’s set for release in bookstores on Nov. 5 and comic book shops on Nov. 6.

Upcoming feature film “Hellboy: The Crooked Man,” based on a story by Mignola and Richard Corben, stars Jack Kesy as Hellboy in a cast that also includes Jefferson White and Adeline Rudolph. Mignola cowrote the script with the aforementioned Golden.

Prolific creator Mignola has also illustrated a new edition of “Pinocchio” with annotations by famed children’s storyteller Lemony Snicket of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” — with Snicket’s twisted annotations tracking the original story slowly driving Snicket mad. It’s set for release this August.


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