Interview with John Salinas, host of the Hellboy Book Club

Interview with John Salinas, host of the Hellboy Book Club

This is Kevin Alford from Mignolaverse.com and B.P.R.D. News.  Today I’m joined by John Salinas, host of the Hellboy Book Club, available through PodBean, and the usual sources.  We’re going to talk about John's history with the Mignolaverse, Podcasting, and entertainment in general.

John, thanks for being our first interview.

John Salinas:

HELL-O, Kevin! It’s great to be your first interview, thanks for everything you’ve been doing for the Mignola verse community and for all your feedback so far on the podcast! 

Mignolaverse.com:

Thanks go to you that create, not me who aggregates. By the way, that’s a very clever catch phrase.  I’d never have thought of it.

John Salinas:

Yup, that’s my signature sign on. I had the idea from an old Gwar album called “HELL-O”.

Mignolaverse.com:

Oh, an interesting connection.  Gwar and Hellboy do seem a bit like cousins.

John Salinas:

I’d love to see a Hellboy type Gwar show where Hellboy knocks the heads off some monsters and the audience gets soaked in their blood and pus shooting out. Maybe a future stage play? But also seems a little too extreme for Hellboy.

Mignolaverse.com:

That does seem a bit over his usual top, although as you’ve recently covered in the podcast, the violence in Hellboy can get pretty graphic.  I don’t recall ever seeing a hole all the way through Spider-Man’s chest in the past.

John Salinas:

Yeah, I’m pretty excited about what they’ll be doing with an R rating and horror director in the new movie!

Mignolaverse.com:

That does feel like a statement, after the teen-edged previous films.  We should probably avoid spoilers, but it’s possible we could see a certain type of magical surgery toward the end of this film.  Do you prefer that kind of story, or would you like to see a more episodic structure, as they were doing before?

John Salinas:

You know, I’m kinda open to anything right now. I loved the previous movies but also had a lot of issues with their representation of Hellboy and the other characters. I just want to see something a little more faithful to the comic, whether it be episodic or just a one-shot story.

Mignolaverse.com:

And far less romance?

John Salinas:

Yes! [Pained moan] All I can think of in the romantic scenes is that Hellboy knew Liz when she was a little girl, that’s weird!  Yeah, not a fan of the romance stuff 

Mignolaverse.com:

I suppose we’ll know soon enough.  Before you mentioned Gwar, a famously noisey metal band.  I’ve heard you’re in a noisey band of your own, with a Mignolaverse-adjacent name?

John Salinas:

[Laughing], yes!  I like “mignolaverse-adjacent”.  I’m in a rock band called “Only Beast” most Hellboy fans will recognize the name because it’s the only words on one of the greatest pages in the series! We already had the band and a few songs written when it came to the part where we try and come up with a name. We just hit a brick wall and couldn’t agree on anything. I came home and started flipping through my Hellboy comics to look for inspiration.  When I came back to the band with the name and the reason why I liked it, it was a no-brainer. It also really kinda fit with what we’re trying to do with our music as an expression.

Mignolaverse.com:

The “we” in that band includes your co-host?

John Salinas:

[It does]! Plus, a great side note, we met Mignola in 2014 and he signed the Library edition page to the three of us. He also gave us permission to use the word bubble as a logo which we did for a while but since have created our own logo.

The band is Danielle (from the podcast), our friend Pete Bernick and myself.

Mignolaverse.com:

 Co-Signed, you might say  Credit and Signature: Mike Mignola

Co-Signed, you might say

Credit and Signature: Mike Mignola

The “Only Beast” with three heads, then?

John Salinas:

[Laughs] Yes, but we’re like a weird Voltron that combines to make one beast!

Mignolaverse.com:

Fleshy Voltron might be a good song, but I’ll leave the creative decisions to you.

John Salinas:

Hmmmm, I’ll put it in the “maybe” pile…



Mignolaverse.com:

So, speaking of Hellboy, you’re a particularly big fan, yes?

John Salinas:

Yeah, I was just thinking, “I’m in a band with a name that’s a Hellboy reference and I also do a podcast about the Hellboy comics. I'M A FUCKIN’ NERD”.

Mignolaverse.com:

I’m offended that you’d consider anything related to the great Mike Mignola as socially unacceptable.  Now please wait while I go finish my Frankenstein Underground sequel fanfic, alone in a dark room.

 Credit: Mike Mignola

Credit: Mike Mignola

When did you start reading Hellboy?

John Salinas:

Just before the movie came out in 2003 or so; I was just reading the trades at the time and I read them all out of order. I think I actually read Seed of Destruction and B.P.R.D.: Hollow Earth, and then Conqueror Worm.

My brother actually got me into the comic. I’ve been reading comics since I was around 11 or 12, and my brother, who is not really into comics, showed me the cover of Seed of Destruction issue 3 and he was just like “look at this!”

I got totally hooked.

Mignolaverse.com:

As I recall, Hellboy was very different from other comics at the time it began.  I think I recall someone calling him “That Spawn-Monkey” at my local comics shop.

Who’s your favorite character in the entirety of the Mignolaverse?

John Salinas:

Wow! “Spawn-Monkey” would have made me punch a guy, or imagine punching him; I’d give him a good lecturing at least!

That’s a tough one. I’ve always been partial to Abe, but Kate Corrigan is high up there as well. I also think Vavara is an amazing character and I love how she is written. So I’ll probably say that’s my top three today. My answer could be different tomorrow. For a while, during the Guy Davis B.P.R.D. run, it was Johann and Daimio.  It would be easy to pick Hellboy, I mean: he’s great.

AbeSapien.jpg

Mignolaverse.com:

So today, now, oversized-Hellboy gun to your head, you’d say Abe.

John Salinas:

I mean, yeah probably. Abe’s journey has been incredible.

Mignolaverse.com:

That is the correct answer, congratulations.

John Salinas:

It’s a hard question to answer [Laughs].

Mignolaverse.com:

How about a favorite book or series?

John Salinas:

Man, I go back and forth on this. Hellboy or B.P.R.D. Hellboy is entertaining and thought provoking, full of amazing imagery, and a literary masterpiece. But the B.P.R.D. series has broken my heart and made me cry, it’s made me feel emotions that I never thought possible for a comic series. B.P.R.D. is just one of the [most] consistently written comic books out there. I’m very excited to get to it on the podcast

 Credit: Mike Mignola

Credit: Mike Mignola

Meanwhile, Koshchei the Deathless comes out and just knocks it out of the park; one of the best miniseries I’ve ever read.

Mignolaverse.com:

That’s also proof you’re reading issue by issue, as the trade has not yet been released.  Would you say it’s the best limited series?  There’s quite a few to choose from at this point.

John Salinas:

Yes: it was amazing.

Mignolaverse.com:

That’s very high praise, and especially coming out after 25 years of series continuity.  I bet Mr. Mignola and his team would be very happy to hear it.

John Salinas:

Maybe I only feel that way because it’s just so recent, but I think it beats most.

Mignolaverse.com:

Koshchei is a generally small character in the overall Hellboy series, only really appearing in When Darkness Calls, until recently.

Do you have a favorite one-off, or very limited character?

John Salinas:

[Thinking] Probably Koshchei.  Another pretty cool limited character was Anders from the B.P.R.D. 1940s series.

 Enter: Scorpion Rabinowitz  Credit: Mike Mignola

Enter: Scorpion Rabinowitz

Credit: Mike Mignola

If you want a really weird answer, there’s a character on a print with a scorpion on his mask that I don’t think has ever even been in the series.  I’d really like to see that character fleshed out but it’s probably just a one off character design.

Mignolaverse.com:

Speaking of art, who’s your favorite Mignolaverse artist?  Also, it’s generally assumed to be Mr. Mignola himself, so perhaps you should answer for “second favorite artist”.

John Salinas:

Yes, it’s definitely Mignola! But as a second, I’d probably say Guy Davis. I just loved his work on B.P.R.D. so much. His art in “The Black Flame” blew my mind at the time, and still does. I really liked seeing Alex Maleev do some Hellboy in Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.

Guy Davis is just barely beating out Duncan Fegredo, it’s hard to pick!

Mignolaverse.com:

I couldn’t agree more, and I know it’s difficult to even compare them.  I suppose that might be more of a question of your favorite storylines, as opposed to the art itself.

John Salinas:

Yes, it’s almost impossible to separate the two. Did I pick Guy Davis because i love the B.P.R.D. series?  Did I pick B.P.R.D. series because I love Guy Davis?

Mignolaverse.com:

If you were going to advise a brand-new fan, where do you think they should start reading the Mignolaverse?

John Salinas:

I would say, “Pick up Seed of Destruction and follow [along with] the Hellboy Book Club Podcast” [Laughs].  But really, that was one of the main reasons I wanted to start the podcast. I see people on forums or Reddit asking, “Where do I start with Hellboy?” So I thought I would provide somewhat of a guide for people to be able to jump on with.

Mignolaverse.com:

That’s a good purpose.  Is that why you go so deep into the connections and subtext?

John Salinas:

Yes, I get the connections now because I’ve gone back and re-read this stuff a ton of times, so I guess my hope is that new or casual [fans] can get invested early. I’ve had some feedback from listeners saying they’ve gotten back into the series because of the podcast. There are so many shit comics out there selling huge numbers, I feel like people should be going crazy for this super well written, cohesive series just like they would for X-Men or Batman.

Mignolaverse.com:

Is there a comic in general you really hate?  Do you want to bury anyone?

John Salinas:

No, I don’t think I hate any comic. Most comics have good and bad phases. I read popcorn stuff from the big two as well. I guess some of the “event” cycles and “rebranding” have grown tiresome. I don’t like those, but there are some things I do like from the big two. 

Mignolaverse.com:

How about your favorite non-Mignolaverse title these days?

John Salinas:

I have a love-hate relationship with Saga, but I keep reading it so i guess I love it. I fell in love with this series last year called Rockstars, but it’s been a while since an issue has come out.  I really like what [Mike] Allred has been doing with Silver Surfer as well.

Mignolaverse.com:

Do you think there are any series comparable to the B.P.R.D.?

John Salinas:

Never!  Just kidding.  I was SUPER into the [Brian Michael] Bendis and [Ed] Brubaker's Daredevil run.  That’s an amazing series, but still not as good as the B.P.R.D. 


Mignolaverse.com:

Let’s change gears a little, and talk about your Podcast.  You said you started it to help new or returning fans work through, and better understand their series?

John Salinas:

Yeah, but there’s also an ulterior motive: making my two best friends read the comics with me, so I finally have people to talk about this shit with [laughs].

It’s like when you watch a really good movie or TV show: you just want to talk to people about it. I [didn’t] really have people do talk Hellboy comics with in person. I’ve always wanted that, so even if no one was listening, I’d be pretty happy.

But I like I said I thought the podcast could help people come on board the Mignolaverse train! Also, being on the Mike Mignola’s art Facebook page for a while, I’ve learned that there is an awesome community of fans all over who are just the best people. I thought the podcast would be a great way to reach out to the fan community. 

Mignolaverse.com:

In that case, what’s the issue or series you’re most excited for your co-hosts to see?

John Salinas:

As far as series, I want to get to the B.P.R.D., but like deep in there: Plague of Frogs, the Dead, that era.  All that stuff is so awesome and I’m excited to re-read it again and talk about it.

I’m really excited to get into Darkness Calls as well, but that will be a ways off.

Mignolaverse.com:

You’re moving through pretty quickly.  You’re already nearly at the half-way point of Hellboy.  Is the current plan to finish that series, and then move to B.P.R.D., or Hellboy in Hell, or will you jump in another direction?

John Salinas:

I’m loosely following [Mark Tweedale’s] reading order on multiversity.com, so we have a couple of Hellboy short stories episodes to do, then we’ll jump into the B.P.R.D. and be there for a while… That’s the plan for now, but I'll make some changes here and there.

Mignolaverse.com:

So you’re going to cover Witchfinder and Lobster Johnson before you finish Hellboy?

John Salinas:

Yes, definitely before we get to Hellboy in Hell.  It will be weird to call it Hellboy Book Club for all those weeks that there’s no Hellboy [laughs].

Mignolaverse.com:

I’m looking forward to it.  Do you have any special plans for the Pod in the future, such as non-comic related episodes?

John Salinas:

Yeah, for sure. We’ve been thinking about doing some special episodes about the movies, animated movies or even about Mignola himself. A lofty goal is that maybe we can interview some people associated with Dark Horse or the comics someday, but I think we need more street cred before that.

Mignolaverse.com:

Is there anything you won’t cover or plan to skip?

John Salinas:

Not at this time; I think it’s all game. There’s so much to cover and each series connects back to each other. We’ve had listeners ask if were going to do Hellboy Jr. or the Hellboy novels, which I hadn’t really thought of. So, we're down for it all.

 Legends of the Dark Knight #54

Legends of the Dark Knight #54

Mignolaverse.com:

Anything non-Mignola/Hellboy you want to include?

John Salinas:

I love the Baltimore novel, I haven’t read the comics yet but the book was a very satisfying read. I’d love to cover that someday but that would be more like after we finished all the comics, which will be a while.  That Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight issue - I forget the number but it’s called “Sanctum” - would be cool to cover.

Mignolaverse.com:

Last question on the Podcast for today: is there anything in particular you want to hear from fans?  Feedback, opinions, or the like?

John Salinas:

For the podcast listeners, I’d like to just get any and all feedback: on the show, on the stories. My hope is that the podcast is not just a bookclub for us hosts, but for the listener at home. I want the listeners to have a voice on the podcast every week like we do. That’s why I try to read all listener feedback and respond to comments and messages. I’m learning a lot as well, from our listeners. They correct me if I get a reference wrong or if they have a different interpretation of something, and I welcome it all. That’s what I want: a community of Hellboy fans and friends, all (obsessively) reading the comics and talking about it together. 


Mignolaverse.com:

Have you seen the Hellboy Board Game and are you going to play it?

John Salinas:

ResinJohann.png

Yes, I spent WAAYY too much on that Kickstarter campaign but I’m excited for it. To be honest, I’m not a big table top gamer so it will be a learning experience for me, but it looks so amazing. Even if I didn’t think I’d play it, I’d still order if for the art and minis.

I think I skipped out on the dice tray and the resin figures, but I had to have that Johann variant.

Mignolaverse.com:

I hope we see a review and possibly playthrough on your show.  We’ll certainly have a lot of coverage on mignolaverse.com, including an interview with the designer in the next week or two.

John Salinas:

Wow, that’s a great idea! Hadn’t even thought of that. Would it be fun to “hear” people playing a game?

Mignolaverse.com:

Well if you were to narrate the story cards and flesh it out like an RPG, it could make for some good listening. You three seem like you have a little experience with RPGs.

John Salinas:

Yeah, you’re right! Not a bad idea at all. We’d have to practice first.

Mignolaverse.com:

Last question for today: If you were to write a 2-4 line biography of yourself, what would it say, and, what’s the most important thing about you?

John Salinas:

It would say that I mostly try to ride that line between being a fully functioning adult and a man-child who never wants to grow up. The most important thing being to do what you want in the limited time you have and get away from the internet and TV once in a while.

To quote Mignola, “There you go”.

Mignolaverse.com:

That’s our time today with John Salinas, host of the Hellboy Book Club.  You are a wonderful interview. Thank you for your time today and I hope we can do this again in a little while.  Where should people go for your content?

John Salinas:

Join the bookclub on our Facebook page Hellboy Book Club Podcast, you can also check us out on Twitter and Instagram @hellboybookclub. Every week I follow up our episodes with posts of significant things we talked about to keep the discussion going. 

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Hellboy Motion Comic on YouTube

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