Robot 6

Hell on Earth: Guy Davis leaves B.P.R.D.

On any other day this would have been the very first thing I wrote about, but I figured you may have already been aware, thanks to the high-pitched wails of “NOOOOOOOOOO” that echoed throughout Twitterdom when the news broke Saturday at Emerald City Comicon: Artist Guy Davis is leaving B.P.R.D. The current B.P.R.D: Hell on Earth: Gods miniseries will mark the end of Davis’s run as the regular artist for the core Hellboy spinoff, which along with its parent title formed the heart of the “Mignolaverse.” Newcomer Tyler Crook will take over as the book’s artist with the subsequent arc, Monsters — his second-ever comic from a major publisher. Davis himself will focus on his creator-owned title The Marquis and other projects. Click the links for CBR’s interviews with both artists on the changeover.

Frankly, this is as close to devastated as I’ve ever come thanks to a creative-team change. And this is not at all a reflection on incoming artist Crook. I’ve never seen his work, so not only am I not passing judgment, I stand ready to potentially be delighted; moreover, I trust Mike Mignola’s art direction and ability to select talented collaborators, with Davis himself, and B.P.R.D‘s primary writer John Arcudi, as Exhibits A and B. No, this is purely a reflection on how very, very, very, very, very good Davis was on that book. In a style that looked nothing at all like Mignola’s, he somehow not only fit into the preexisting world Mignola’s visuals had established, but contributed on an equal footing. His creature and character designs were as good as Mignola’s, which is astonishing in and of itself; the Wendigo (above) and the Black Flame (below) in particular are all-time, world-class comic-book character designs. Davis was also able to capture the quiet, despairing horror that was so key to what Arcudi and Mignola were doing in their epic saga of what J.R.R. Tolkien might have called the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense’s “long defeat.” He was an absolute master of those silent beats when something terrible and tragic was revealed. But in addition to conveying funnybook spectacle and melancholy horror, Davis’s work on B.P.R.D. placed equal emphasis on character. Kate, Liz, Abe, Roger, Daimio, Andrew, and even Panya the mummy and Johann the ectoplasm-in-a-suit looked believably weary or wry, depending on the circumstances; when they got angry or upset or sad, you damn well knew it.

In short — and trust me, I plan on writing even more about this in the coming days — Guy Davis was an integral part of what could be argued to be the best ongoing superhero comic of the past decade, one that in many readers’ eyes surpassed the title from which it sprung, creating art that would do any comic from any area of the medium proud. Go with gods, Mr. Davis.

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6 Comments

Agreed.I was devastated by the news. But if Mignola himself helped pick this new guy then he must be good.

Plus this means we will get more Marquis! That’s a yay moment!

I’ll wish Guy well, and I’ll be DANG excited to see his next chapter of ‘The Marquis’. I’ll assume that this is an ‘always leave them wanting more’ moment and be ready for whatever insanity Guy has up his sleeve by way of a next act.

This breaks my heart – the Guy and John team is without reservation my bid for best collaboration in current comics – but Tyler’s a great artist. His Rasputin stuff is gorgeous, and I’m glad they’re going in a nothing-like-Guy-Davis direction rather than using an imitator. I really look forward to seeing the new stuff.

By “Pasha” I assume you mean Panya.
From what I’ve heard, although Guy Davis is steeping back as ongoing artist, he’ll still be around. And Tyler Crook looks promising.

Collin Wiancko

March 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Heartbroken is the right word – I only discovered the joy of this title in the past month and I’ve been devouring the trades like there’s no tomorrow – fortunately I still have a few to go – but still, this was by far one of the best things I’ve read in so long, and so much of it has to do with Davis – hopefully they can recreate the magic with someone new.

Not to slight Mr Davis in the slightest, but the combination of his line art with Dave Stewart’s colors was the best artistic collaboration I’ve seen in… a long, long time. In trying to come up with comparisons, I can only think of penciler-inker combinations: Kirby-Sinnott on FF, Adams-Giordano on Batman, Miller-Janson on Daredevil and Dark Knight Returns, Kubert-Delperdang on Ka-zar; there’s something in each of those (and in BPRD) that is greater than its parts.

As much as I liked what I’ve read of The Marquis in black-and-white; I can’t help but hope that the Davis-Stewart combo will continue.

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