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Lord Baltimore Returns in “Baltimore: The Cult of the Red King.” #13DaysofHellboy

13 Days of Hellboy continues today at Bloody-Disgusting as we have the exclusive announcement of “Baltimore: The Cult of the Red King” from Dark Horse comics. The next arc in the dark adventures of Lord Henry Baltimore, the continuation of Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola’s vampire slayer story, past the novel they wrote together a few years ago.

Novel? You say. Yes, they wrote a novel, and it’s getting reissued!

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We spoke to Dark Horse Editor in Chief – Scott Allie about the reissue.

Bloody-Disgusting: What do fans of Mignola’s previous work, have to look forward to with this novel?

Scott Allie: Baltimore has certain similarities to Hellboy, but significant differences, so for me as a fan of Mike, I appreciate both. We all like a hero with a dark side—Hellboy is very goodnatured, but he is half demon, after all … Baltomore is so driven by revenge and bitterness, as well as guilt, he’s much more monstrous than Hellboy, despite being an actual human. However, at the point we’ve now reached in the comics, Baltimore is barely human—that is, he’s lost some part of his humanity—but that’s in the comics …
When Mike created Hellboy, you could see he was less interested in drawing the modern world than all the crumbling castles and witch caves and whatnot. He wasn’t interested in portraying a world with cars driving around in it. With Baltimore, Mike and Chris Golden developed a setting made up of only those things, and they populated it with monsters. So it started as a novel, but it had to lead to comics, because Mike wanted people to see that world.And before Baltimore, Mike had collaborated with Chris on a couple illustrated Hellboy novels. But Chris wrote those on his own, with Mike and me just serving as editors. With Baltimore, Mike and Chris really worked on the story together, really cowrote it. So much of what Mike does in comics comes from his reading of old folklore and old horror and gothic fiction—so Baltimore was his first great chance to really DO that himself. Also, on the Hellboy novels Mike had developed ideas about how to do an illustrated novel with the drawings really complementing rather than simply decorating the text. And the Baltimore novel that we’re bringing out now in paperback is the best version of that he’s done.

BD: How much will fans of the comic series get out of the novel?
SA: Well, the novel is genuinely a must read for the readers of the comics, and the timing couldn’t be better. The novel spans a very long time in Baltimore’s life, and when we started the comics, they were all meant to take place within that timeframe–that is, between the beginning and end of the novel. But now, in the comics, in BALTIMORE Volume 4: Chapel of Bones, we finally brought the character of Baltimore full circle to resolve the quest that ran through the previous comics and through the novel. The vampire he was hunting for revenge, Haigus, who killed his family, was destroyed in the Chapel of Bones, just like he was destroyed in the novel. The comics and the novel have finally dovetailed, and you have the complete picture now—which, incidentally, beautifully sets things up for the next phase of Baltimore’s adventures.

In the novel, we followed Baltimore’s quest to kill Haigus—Baltimore was hellbent on revenge against the vampire who killed his family. He devoted years of his life to that, in a tragic, epic saga—three words often misused, but totally applicable here. Between the novel and the four existing graphic novels, readers finally have the complete saga of Baltimore’s bloody and self-destructive quest for the vampire Haigus, which costs Baltimore his own humanity.

With volume 5, out soon in hardcover, we begin the post-novel stories, which actually represents a sea change in the story.  Volume 6, BALTIMORE, CULT OF THE RED KING is a terrific jumping on point, because now we find Baltimore, a monster fighter who’s lost touch with his humanity, pursuing a mythic being who may be responsible for all the horror in his world. Baltimore has built a company of damaged allies to pursue the Red King, but is the Red King even still in existence…?

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EXCLUSIVE: Reveal of the Witch of Harju trade cover.

BD: How is Sofia joining Baltimore’s company going to change things?

SA: Well, she is the first woman to join Lord Baltimore’s merry band of monster fighters, but this is a Mignola comic, so she’s not introduced just to be a love interest, that’s for sure. The terrible stuff that happened with her husband, she’s signed on board to be part of Baltimore’s team to fight the monsters overrunning the world, more, to figure out what the hell is happening. On a personal level, though, Sofia’s been through the ringer, and she’s not afraid to call out exactly what’s going on with people. She sees through Baltimore, and is a little less awed by his gloom than his male companions. This will help push him to proper action more than once.

BD: What is it like having Peter Bergting return to draw this newest arc?
SA: When I read the scripts, I see how Ben would draw it, and I have to reset my brain, think about how Peter will do it. Peter provides a fresh set of eyes on this world, at just the right time—it really is a new book, sort of starting from scratch with this arc. Baltimore’s solo adventures are behind him, he succeeded in his original quest to kill the vampire that killed his family. That’s over. Now he’s got a much bigger quest—to find the greater evil behind the vampires and the witches and all this horror. So he’s building this coterie of monster fighters, and Peter gets to introduce these characters as his. We hired Peter based on past work of his that we liked, that did some of these same things, like The Portent. He helps make Baltimore feel like a brand new series for all of us. And Peter is so attuned to the folklore of Europe, which is a key aspect of the series, that he’s really bringing a great mood to the proceedings.

BD: How does Lord Baltimore begin this newest arc, and what is he struggling against this time?
SA: His quest is far more complex now. Hunting down and killing that vampire was child’s play compared to this—he’s looking for the sleeping or dead entity behind all this evil, bigger than the vampires, bigger than all of it. He’s not looking for a man on the move—he’s hunting for an idea, a myth. He’ll start by going after the devotees of that myth. It leads to much more complex operations—in fact, this book splits his merry band in two, on separate missions. He literally never could have undertaken this mission the way he did things before.

BD: How far has Mike planned out Baltimore’s story, and can we ever hope for him to fully atone for his sins?
SA: Mike and Chris Golden have it pretty well worked out. There’s room to expand or contract along the way, but they know how it ends, they know how they’re gonna get there. And I don’t know thatBaltimore hasn’t already atoned, but I don’t think he’ll ever think that he has.


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