Mignola and Superman

Creator Mike Mignola is today best known for his Hellboy comics and the movie adaptations. But back in the late 80s he did some excellent DC work including some Superman. For someone known for his dark characters and moody art; Superman isn’t a character that springs to mind as a great fit. I think he had a great unique take and a style unlike anyone to handle the character.

Recently the original art for the last two pages of The World of Krypton mini-series came up for sale on eBay. While they were a bit out of my price range the pictures supplied by the seller were a great look into Mignola’s (along with inker Carlos Garzón) work on Superman.


Unrelated to the art, seeing John Workman’s hand lettering like this is very cool. The non-repro blue lines to help keep each line of dialogue straight is something we don’t get to see up close very often. I’m guessing the bubbles were pasted on and have since fallen off from panel two leaving just red marks.


first page original

first page reprint

Above is the original art, a photo of the first printing of the issue, and finally a photo of the current trade paperback reprint. I think Petra Scotese’s colors really shine on the original page. Something I’ve written about several times, but the flat colors of this era don’t translate to new glossy paper and printing methods well. Without the color we can really admire the detail Byrne’s line work. It’s hard to know exactly how much Garzón contributed to this, but the results are stunning.

One thing I often notice when looking at original pages that I don’t when looking at the finished comic is the imperfections in the panel borders. On the above page, in the second panel, notice the top left corner. You can also see lines from Lara’s clothes and headpiece out of the last panel. It reminds me that these panel borders are done by hand. These aren’t boxes created on a computer and I love the draftsmanship.


second page original

second page reprint

I think Mignola’s Superman has the strong grace that the best Superman artists convey. I like Superman best when he’s big, but not scary. Approachable and gentle. Yeah a big blue Boy Scout. We don’t often see Superman cry and we should in a moment like this. His parent’s story is tragic and he feels it. I will admit the tear is much clearer in the reprint than in the original comic. Very clear in the original art, but missed in both the colored comic and the reprint, is the tears in the final panel.

cover original-1

cover reprint-1

Finally, I end with a quick look at the cover. The cover here isn’t by Mignola, it’s John Byrne. But looking at the original printing (shown first) and the version in the reprint, Superman’s face is missing the red in his cheeks. It robs the image of some depth. I’d cry about it too, Superman.

October 12, 2020

Previous post
The Future of Superman Comics With the changes in the Direct Market and DC comics along with the news of Bendis leaving Superman I’ve read a few pieces this week about what the
Next post
Get That Super Life I took time off last week and used some of it to finish the 50 episodes of DC Super Hero Girls. I probably should have spent the time watching