33 days until Hellboy Day - Gruagach of Lough Leane
art by Ben Stenbeck
Editor’s note - This is a special character to John from the Hellboy Book Club, so he’s doing a little guest spot on our Hellboy Day Countdown. If you have a favorite, email or comment and tell us who you’d like to biography.
Gruagach of Lough Leane is one of my favorite characters in the Hellboy series; but what’s so special about a little talking pig dude who hates Hellboy? In reviewing The Wild Hunt for the Hellboy Book Club Podcast, we discussed how this nuanced character evoked feelings of sympathy from the reader by appealing to our humanity.
In the events of The Wild Hunt, we find out that Gruagach was once a powerful changeling; he recalls an event in which he rides into battle with the King of his people. Gruagach was equal in status to the king’s sons and witnessed his fairy folk and their kingdom at the height of their power. Gruagach was also in love, and knew love in return; but a tragic twist left him separated from both his love and his power.
Years later, as the fairy folk started fading into darkness, Gruagach and the other fairy folk were desperate to change their fate. They attempted to kidnap a baby, thinking that this baby would help their people live on. From the perspective of the Daonie Sidhe (the fairy folk), this was a heroic act; they were using the last of their power to give their people a chance to live on. Enter Hellboy, the demon who burned Gruagach and foiled their plan, thus ruining Gruagach’s chance to save his own people.
Gruagach lost his love. His people lost their power. His desperate attempts to fight for his people, like he used to when he was a powerful changeling, didn’t work. He fought Hellboy and got stuck in a pig’s body. From there, Gruagach continues to promote the idea that his people should fight instead of going silently into darkness, and it is this motivation that moves him to free Nimue, The Blood Queen, from her prison. Gruagach thinks Nimue’s desires will align with his own, but things do not pan out that way, and he is eventually thrown out of her court; thrown out by the very person he saved from a dark pit.
This individual was once riding out into fields of battle with the sons of Kings, and ended up stuck in a pig’s body, thoroughly defeated. It’s hard not to sympathize with some of the circumstances surrounding this character. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. fight against forces that seek to send humanity into darkness; how is Gruagach’s mission so different? From his point of view, he was doing the same for his people.
This is the kind of villain that you end up rooting for at times, which not only makes for a wonderful reading experience, but is a testament to the brilliant work done by Mignola and Fegredo (and the rest of the creative team) in bringing this complex character to life.
You can read all about Gruagach in...
The Wild Hunt
The Storm and the Fury