“Billions” thoughts, Season One, Episode One: Pilot

January 18th, 2016

As a rule, it is better to be pissed off than pissed on. Chuck Rhoades, however, doesn’t play by the rules. Pissed off? Plenty. Played Paul Giamattically by Paul Giamatti, the crusading attorney general at the heart of Showtime’s new show Billions spends the bulk of the high-finance drama’s pilot fuming about one damn thing or another. But during the opening scene, in which a a faceless woman extinguishes a cigarette on his bare chest and then urinates on the burn, he’s happy as a clam. There’s a time and a place for it, sure, but ol’ Chuck rejects your pissed on/pissed off binary. He’s bodyfulid-fluid. Cable drama, motherfuckers! It’s where anything can happen…and usually does!

I’m covering Billions for the New York Observer this season! First up is my review of the series premiere, which was better than that opening scene but still hamstrung by it.

“Downton Abbey” thoughts, Season Six, Episode Three

January 18th, 2016

SPOILER ALERT

Tom’s in his Downton, all’s right with the world. I hope you’re sitting down, but yes, I, Sean Thomas Patrick Collins, am Irish-American. So when it comes to Downton Abbey, I relate to and root for chauffeur-turned-radicalt-turned-suitor-turned-aristocrat-turned-widow-turned-American Tom Branson the way tomboys connect to Arya Stark, or how people who believe sociopaths who slaughter human beings like pigs just need someone to love pull for Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham to finally make it official. So imagine, just effing imagine, my unspoiled delight when I heard his dulcet brogue ring out from off screen during the wedding reception for Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. Picture my unbridled joy when he said he’s back from Boston for good, ready to rejoin the family and the place he loves. Take my hand in yours and pray with me that finally, finally, he and Lady Mary will get together, a romance I ship like the Royal goddamn Navy. And imagine the entire spontaneous outpouring of emotion, complete with cheering and laughing and literal clapping at my TV screen, occurring in the final sixty seconds of the episode, with no prior warning. That’s good television, ladies and gents.

I reviewed last night’s Downton Abbey for the New York Observer. No, I didn’t watch the season as it aired in the UK. No, I don’t know what happens. No, I don’t want to know what happens.

“Downton Abbey” thoughts, Season Six, Episode Two

January 18th, 2016

Hidden pregnancies. Children switched at birth. Scandal in a great family. Nothing happening to Lady Edith, her daughter Marigold, and the Drewes—the family generous and unfortunate enough to have tried to help her out of a jam, only to be repaid by emotional devastation and physical displacement—would be out of place on your daytime soap opera of choice, back when you had a lot to choose from. But if you pick apart this central storyline from last night’s Downton Abbey, you’ll find it’s more than the sum of its suds. As is often the case on this show, the middling or superfluous b-plots that drive many viewers mad matter very little compared to the visual, observational, and emotional strength of its finest moments.

This was lost in my dismay over the death of David Bowie, but I reviewed last week’s Downton Abbey for the New York Observer.

January 11th, 2016

Vic Berger IV Is Vine’s Strangest Political Satirist

January 7th, 2016


Fallon doesn’t want to offend. I am sure he is the nicest guy, and would be super fun to hang out with, but his show appears to be this platform where anyone can come on and paint themselves however they want to appear. My annoyance with him started with Chris Christie constantly being on there, dancing around and doing his dumb skits about how much he loves Springsteen. Christie is such a gross and horrible person. I worked for a decade for the state of New Jersey and can truthfully say he’s done way, way more harm for the state than he’s done good. And the whole shutting down of the bridge bullshit? He denies it all, and then the next thing you see is him on Fallon making light of it and singing a song about it or whatever. Fallon lets these terrible people saywhatever they want. Not that the host of The Tonight Show needs to be a hard-hitting journalist getting to the bottom of things—it’s just that if he’s going to have these people on, at least have some point of view. Don’t just laugh nervously about it. I mean, one of his questions to Christie was, “Heard you hung out with the Romneys! So how are the Romneys? They’re all awesome.”

The other thing about Fallon that drives me crazy is how he will have a guest on and then bring out an iPad and try out some app with them. It’s unbelievable. There are segments where there’s like 30 seconds of him staring silently at an iPad wearing earphones. I’ve made a few Vines using those moments.

Over at Vice I interviewed the brilliant, brutally funny video editor Vic Berger IV, Vine’s strangest political satirist, about his five muses: Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Chubby Checker, Jimmy Fallon, and Jim Baker.

“Serial” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Four: “The Captors”

January 7th, 2016

With a shorter runtime, a tighter focus, a different remit, Serial Season Two could be a harrowing account of life in captivity. Or it could be an unsparing look at the damage America’s torture of prisoners has done to our moral standing and to the individual lives of its victims, theirs and ours alike. Or it could be an examination of military justice, sentencing, and whether Bergdahl’s prospective punishment fits the crime. Or it could be a look at the lives of Taliban fighters, Haqqani operatives, and the civilians upon whom they rely for support, seen through the window of this one event. Or it could expose the truth, or lack thereof, behind the allegations Bergdahl leveled at his commanders, the allegations that prompted his flight and led to his capture, the allegations the show still hasn’t spent so much as a word detailing. It could be any one of those things. Instead, it’s…this. It’s a weekly slog through an overstuffed tale that simply can’t justify the telling, not in this way. As James Whiting, one of of the Evil Newspaper Editors in The Wire Season Five, put it, “If you leave everything in, soon you’ve got nothing.” In this case it’s actually true.

I reviewed today’s episode of Serial, a textbook case of form impeding function, for the New York Observer.

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 44!

January 6th, 2016

A Year of Ice and Fire with Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson

Prepare for a guided tour of The World of Ice and Fire! The co-authors of George R.R. Martin’s ambitious sourcebook for A Song of Ice and Fire — and longtime friends of the podcast — Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson join us to talk about the book, which hit stores in time for the holiday season one year ago. Beginning with a look back over TWoIaF’s reception over the past year, our chat ranges from a discussion of fanfiction to the influence of Lovecraft and Howard; the way using in-world maesters as narrators shaped the writing; the material left on the cutting room floor to avoid spoiling future stories—and the stuff inserted to lay the groundwork for them; and, of course, what’s up with the Deep Ones. And we close with the big question: Are there future collaborations on the history of the setting in store?

Download Episode 44

Additional links:

Mirror.

Our first episode on the book.

Our roundtable discussion of it with Steven Attewell and Amin Javadi.

Sean’s Rolling Stone piece on the book.

Sean’s essay on the Deep Ones.

Stefan’s Tower of the Hand piece on the book.

George, Elio, and Linda’s promotional appearance in Stockholm.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.

“Downton Abbey” thoughts, Season Six, Episode One

January 4th, 2016

Like the House of Grantham itself, Downton Abbey begins its sixth and final season in a much diminished state. The show’s fall from grace with American critics, who once discussed it as PBS’s entrée into TV’s New Golden Age, has if anything grown more precipitous over the past year; given the series’ rather aimless fifth season, perhaps that fate is at least somewhat deserved. And while comparing one’s take on a television program to the consensus is usually a mug’s game, for a show as status-obsessed as this one it makes some sort of cosmic sense. Just as Lord Robert, Lady Cora, Lady Mary and the gang must come to terms with their uncertain future when they visit a fire-sale auction at the former home of their aristocratic friend Sir John, we’ve got to figure out where it’s all headed. With only ten or so hours to go, is there still a place in the world for the Crawleys and their loyal servants?

The answer is yes, in the real world, anyway—though it’s only if you ignore the answer in the world of the show itself that this becomes apparent. Downton has repeatedly painted its big-picture theme of change coming to the genteel realm of the English upper class with Thomas Kinkade–like factory precision, to the point where you can satirically sum it up in a single tweet with, like, half the character count left over. On a plot level, too, the series has largely exhausted the youthful energies that drove it during its first several seasons, as the three people who best personified them—Jessica Brown-Findlay’s Lady Sybil, Dan Stevens’s Matthew Crawley, and Allen Leech’s Tom Branson—departed the show, taking much of its storytelling mojo with them.

Fortunately for you and me, we’re watching a TV drama, not writing a middle-school book report. Downton’s exceedingly circumspect front-line report from interbellum England’s class warfare has little to offer a commentariat trained to respond to a hardboiled cliché-fest like Jessica Jones as if it’s Marvel’s answer to Steinem and Davis, but ideally we’d made our peace with its lack of firepower in this regard several seasons ago. The lack of the Mary/Matthew and Sybil/Branson romances is a more difficult obstacle to surmount—this is a soap opera, after all—but not an impossible one. If, as it did in tonight’s season premiere, Downton simply continues its sharp observations of human behavior among fundamentally decent people, as animated by some of the loveliest faces, voices, and cinematography on the tube, it still has much to offer.

I’ll be covering the final season of Downton Abbey for the New York Observer, and I began with a review of last night’s season premiere. I think I write well about this show; maybe you’ll think so too.

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” thoughts, Season One, Episode Ten: “The Dark One”

January 4th, 2016

SPOILER ALERT

Still, the biggest surprise is that defiantly anticlimactic ending. Anyone hoping for a knock-down drag-out fight between Ash and Ruby, let alone him and the forces she controls, is outta luck. (Save it for your Bruce Campbell/Lucy Lawless fanfic.) What you’ve got instead is an exhausted middle-aged man who wants to save his own ass, keep his friends from getting killed, and give up the fight to go live the good life down in Jacksonville. Ruby talks a good game, claiming her goal isn’t the apocalypse but its opposite — an orderly world in which evil coexists with good under her command. That’s part of why Ash takes the deal, sure. But the real reason goes back to what Kelly said about him last episode: He always takes the easy way out if given the chance.

Maybe that’s what explains the character’s enduring appeal. Campbell, of course, is Exhibits A, B, and C in the case of Evil Dead’s lasting legacy. But Ash isn’t just the cartoon character he comes across as. He often makes decisions that aren’t just stupid, but shitty — something action-horror-comedy hybrid heroes are rarely permitted. His carelessness with the Necronomicon is what got everyone into this mess, and his willingness to fob it off on anyone, even Ruby, appears to have brought on Armageddon. In the end, he saves his friends and hightails it out of there, leaving the entire world to its fate; he gets to the finish line and immediately hooks left. It’s not how heroes, even funny ones, are supposed to act. It’s not how stories like this are supposed to work. But Ash vs. Evil Dead never claimed that it would play by the rules. It’s too crazy and confident to be anything but its own groovy self.

I reviewed this weekend’s season finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead, which did not go as I expected, for Rolling Stone.

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” thoughts, Season One, Episode Nine: “Bound in the Flesh”

December 27th, 2015

When you talk about what makes a TV series succeed or fail, you typically want to avoid repeating the same points over and over. Who wants to sound like a broken record, right? Tell that to John Lennon and Yoko Ono when they made “Revolution 9″ — and if repetition is good enough for the Beatles, it’s good enough for us, and for Ash vs. Evil Dead. The penultimate episode of the show’s first season — “Bound in the Flesh” — gets where it’s going by repeating the same trick it’s pulled since the pilot: taking the gore and nastiness as far as it can, then taking them one step beyond. Like that creepy voice saying “Number nine … number nine …” over and over, it works.

I reviewed this weekend’s Ash vs. Evil Dead for Rolling Stone.

“Serial” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Three: “Escaping”

December 27th, 2015

Koenig notes that this second escape attempt puts paid to the notion that Bergdahl’s a Taliban sympathizer. He’d already been badly beaten as punishment for his first escape; why risk going through that again if he thought these people had some good points? Indeed, the severity of his treatment also calls into question the Army’s decision to prosecute Bergdahl now. If all he’s really guilty of is being a big enough moron to think he could Jason Bourne his way from one base to another in order to call attention to a commanding officer he hated (for reasons still unstated), hasn’t he suffered enough?

But the escape attempts could also be seen as part and parcel of the instinct that drove Bergdahl to run in the first place. He’d already constructed a heroic narrative for himself in which he would address a problem of great moral risk (the Army’s horrible commanders) by taking a great physical risk (going AWOL and making his way through enemy territory). How could a man like that not take his chances trying to escape? Succeed or fail, it would feed into that same legend-in-his-own-mind attitude.

I reviewed the third episode of Serial for the New York Observer.

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 43!

December 21st, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or Episode Seven Kingdoms

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Sean and Stefan discuss the new Star Wars movie! Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Jedi mind tricked us into dedicating this episode of our A Song of Ice and Fire podcast to an entirely different fantasy franchise. How did the film fit in with larger saga? How did J.J. Abrams’s direction differ from George Lucas’s? Is Rey a Mary Sue, and if so, how does that impact the film? What the hell was up with Starkiller Base? We answer all these questions and more, including a discussion of the film’s cinematography, the performances of its actors, the pros and cons of the characters, and even a few connections to the world of Westeros. I’ve got a good feeling about this…

Download Episode 43

Additional links:

Mirror.

Stefan’s review of the movie.

Tasha Robinson’s essay on Rey.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” thoughts, Season One, Episode Eight: “Ashes to Ashes”

December 21st, 2015

SPOILER ALERT

As a general rule, Ash vs. Evil Dead has its tongue buried so far in its cheek it pokes through the side of its own face. True to its splatstick roots, the series cranks up the blood and guts to a more-funny-than-scary degree, and uses its talented troupe of comedic actors to crack wiseass jokes about the carnage. It’s not that it’s making light of violence, let alone celebrating or valorizing it — its attitude is that in the face of evil, death, and the combination thereof, you just have to laugh.

Which makes tonight’s episode — “Ashes to Ashes” — such a shock. From the title on down, it seemed like little more than an excuse to introduce the series’ goofiest antagonist yet: a clone of Ash J. Williams, grown from the stump of his own severed hand. A Bruce Campbell vs. Bruce Campbell fight scene? Groovy, right? But when the evil Ash killed Amanda Fisher — the dogged, surprisingly flirtatious detective who went from nemesis to love interest in the blink of an eye — it was a development that the show’s shits ‘n’ giggles tone made impossible to see coming, and emotionally difficult to withstand.

I reviewed this weekend’s Ash vs. Evil Dead for Rolling Stone. This show has really been a pleasant surprise.

“Serial” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Two: “The Golden Chicken”

December 21st, 2015

By the time Serial Season Two debuted its second episode this morning, events on the ground had already overtaken it. The Army announced on Monday that Bowe Bergdahl will be court-martialed for desertion and “misbehavior before the enemy,” a serious charge that could earn him a life sentence. Sarah Koenig spent the opening minutes of the podcast detailing this turn of events—an outcome that both the Army as an institution and hawks like Sen. John McCain have backed for some time, but which, she says, flies in the face of the opinions of officials who’ve gotten to know Bergdahl personally. For the purposes of Serial, though, the decision is largely immaterial, since it will likely be weeks before we reach this point in the narrative Koenig and company have constructed.

That disconnect is revealing. When presented a choice between focusing on the facts at hand and wandering back into its rambling slow-reveal structure, Serial chooses the latter every time. No wonder the show settled on Bergdahl for its subject this season: When it comes to wild schemes that leave you lost in the wilderness, no closer to the truth you set out to expose, they’ve got something in common.

I reviewed last week’s Serial for the New York Observer.

Interview: Heather Benjamin

December 17th, 2015

Given the cover of Romantic Story this is a weird thing to say, but this seems less sexually explicit than your past books.

Heather: I don’t think that’s weird at all! I view this work as way less sexually explicit, too—which is funny, because there are still gaping vaginas everywhere. I guess I’m just desensitized to that. But there’s not really any penetration or actual sexual acts going on, which is unlike my older work. It has to do with what I was saying before, actually, how my work tends to mirror what’s going on in my personal life. Honestly, at the time when I was making work like Sad Sex, I was mirroring exactly what I was feeling, what I was going through in my life: dealing with different partners, different people, trust tissues, the different dynamics of being single and feeling very alone and isolated and messy regardless of whether I was getting some or not. It’s hard to put it into words; I guess that’s why I don’t too often, and why I was making work about it instead. It sounds dumb to me when I try to explain it, but when I was making work that included fucking, it’s because in my life I was dealing with emotions and complications as a result of fucking.

Now I’m making less explicit, less fully pornographic work, because it’s not the dynamics of fucking that I’m grappling with on a daily basis. I’m less interested in how other people made me feel as a result of being involved with them—unlike in Sad Sex, when I was using text in some pieces, like “you make me feel special” or “I masturbate thinking about your boyfriend,” making really blatant statements about how relations between myself and various people affected my self-perception and my experience. I’m now more interested in my own singular experiences with, and within, myself, not those that are explicitly being generated by other people in the present. It’s more introspective and nostalgic, and less about depicting something generating panic and emotion in the moment. This obviously still has a lot to do with sexuality and physicality, but less to do with sexual acts, unless they’re being performed on oneself, or are being looked back on in reflection and anxiety.

I interviewed the truly brilliant artist Heather Benjamin for Adult.

“Fargo” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Ten: “Palindrome”

December 15th, 2015

When it comes to television soundtracks, there are good music cues, and there are great music cues, and Fargo Season Two has had plenty of both. And then, my friends, there’s “War Pigs.” Black Sabbath’s orgiastic antiwar anthem enters “Palindrome,” the show’s stunning season finale, as a literal nightmare—an accompaniment to Betsy Solverson’s vision of a glorious future of Costcos and Game Boys and family dinners, shattered by the hatred and violence that runs so deep in this land’s veins it’s unlikely to ever be pumped clean. It’s a fucking mighty moment, a sign that showrunner Noah Hawley, director Adam Arkin, and company have an unshakeable grasp of the themes of their show and the period pop-culture they’ve used to advance them. And it’s a prophetic moment as well. The song foretells the day of judgment when the rulers responsible for the slaughter are made to answer for their crimes, as all their plans and strategies come to naught. If you want a picture of the future for the characters we’ve spent the season following, from kings and conquerors to victims and vanquished, you’ve got one.

I reviewed the Fargo Season 2 finale for the New York Observer. This was really some season.

Game of Unknowns Glossary: Every Major Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones Fan Theory

December 15th, 2015

Like the Spanish Inquisition before him, George R.R. Martin’s chief weapon is surprise. The author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series has packed his epic-fantasy novels with unpredictable plot twists — and for every shocking revelation, there’s an equally tantalizing secret that stays hidden, riddle that remains unsolved, or prophecy that has yet to be properly decoded. Game of Thrones, the show based on the books, has largely stayed away from Martin’s mix of hints, clues, visions, and red herrings, which is probably wise; no one wants a repeat of Lost, where fans went so berserk trying to figure out what was going to happen in advance that the show itself became an afterthought.

But readers have had almost two decades to pore over and ponder every line in Martin’s novels, beginning with the first volume, 1996’s A Game of Thrones. From Tumblr to Reddit to major ASOIAF fansites likewesteros.organd Tower of the Hand — as well as my and my co-author’s own sites All Leather Must Be Boiled and the Nerdstream Era, and our podcast, “The Boiled Leather Audio Hour” — self-taught experts and avid fans have advanced literally hundreds of theories about the past and future of the story, from slam-dunk analysis that’s been all but accepted as fact to tinfoil-hat crackpottery that makes the Kennedy assassination look as clear-cut as an episode of Murder, She Wrote. The sensation of stumbling across this incredibly vast trove of deep-cut knowledge for the first time is a memory many readers share: “Holy shit — Ned Stark isn’t Jon Snow’s dad?”

Below, you’ll find 50 of the most popular, compelling, convincing, and/or crazy theories out there. Consider it early prep for Game of Thrones’ sixth season, out in April. Dig in, but be warned: The Song will not remain the same.

With an editorial assist by our own Stefan Sasse, I wrote 10,000 words on 50 ASoIaF/GoT theories. This is the least sane thing I’ve ever been paid to do.

“Serial” thoughts, Season Two, Episode One: “DUSTWUN”

December 14th, 2015

“War is too important to be left to the podcasters.”—Gen. Jack D. Ripper,Dr. Strangelove (paraphrased)

NPR journalist Sarah Koenig’s unlikely cultural phenomenon has its problems, but laziness in the advancement of its narrative is not one of them. How else could you characterize a show that spells out all of its major problems in a single sentence early in its Season Two premiere? Describing her production partner, Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal, and his discursive 25-hour taped conversation with infamous POW/deserter/whistleblower/traitor/fill-in-the-blank Bowe Bergdahl, Koenig says, “Mark isn’t so much after the facts of what happened, though he wants those too, but more, he’s after the why of what happened—trying to get inside Bowe’s head, to understand how Bowe sees the world.” The reliance on an entertainer of dubious reputation to acquire reportorial truth; the elevation of unknowables like intent over tangible, verifiable, old-fashioned who what when and where; the conviction that a self-described Jason Bourne wannabe has valuable, if not unimpeachable, insight into both his actions and the environment that produced them—the immensely popular podcast’s trifecta of fatal flaws are all right there. The message is as unmistakable as it is unintentional: Question the clarity of Serial’s storytelling at your peril, people.

I’m covering the Serial podcast for the New York Observer this season! Here’s my review of the premiere.

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” thoughts, Season One, Episode Seven: “Fire in the Hole”

December 14th, 2015

“Life is hard and dangerous, and sometimes you just gotta chop off somebody’s head to survive.” Wait, since when did Ash vs. Evil Dead become The Walking Dead? We kid, of course. Unlike the smash-hit zombie series, Starz’s resurrection of the beloved splatstick franchise is neither pretentious nor nihilistic enough to serve up that line of dialogue with a straight face. While TWD doles out its sadistic, kill-or-be-killed valorization of violence in all misguided seriousness, tonight’s Ash episode — “Fire in the Hole” — treats it like the joke that it is. In this go-round, Ash J. Williams and his merry band come across a militia full of Rick Grimes–style might-makes-right gun fetishists, and promptly pull their asses out of the fire.

I reviewed this past weekend’s Ash vs. Evil Dead for Rolling Stone.

The Hellboy / BPRD / Mignolaverse Reading Order, updated

December 10th, 2015

1. Hellboy: Seed of Destruction

2. Hellboy: Wake the Devil

3. Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others

4. Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom

5. Hellboy: Conqueror Worm

6. BPRD: Hollow Earth & Other Stories

7. Hellboy: Weird Tales Vol. 1

8. BPRD: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories

9. Hellboy: Weird Tales Vol. 2

10. BPRD: Plague of Frogs

11. BPRD: The Dead

12. Hellboy: Strange Places

13. BPRD: The Black Flame

14. BPRD: The Universal Machine

15. Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others

16. BPRD: Garden of Souls

17. BPRD: Killing Ground

18. Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus

19. Hellboy: Darkness Calls

20. Abe Sapien: The Drowning

21. BPRD: 1946

22. BPRD: The Warning

23. BPRD: The Black Goddess

24. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt

25. Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels

26. BPRD: War on Frogs

27. Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others

28. BPRD: 1947

29. BPRD: King of Fear

30. BPRD: Hell on Earth: New World

31. Hellboy: The Bride of Hell and Others

[31.5 Hellboy: House of the Living Dead]

32. BPRD: Being Human

33. Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever

34. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Gods and Monsters

35. Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury

36. Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest

37. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Russia

38. Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand

39. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Engine & The Long Death

40. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror & Others

41. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master

42. BPRD: 1948

[42.5 Hellboy: The Midnight Circus]

43. BPRD: Vampire

44. BPRD: Hell on Earth: A Cold Day in Hell

45. Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible & The New Race of Man

46. Lobster Johnson: Satan Smells a Rat

47. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Lake of Fire

48. Hellboy in Hell: The Descent

49. Sledgehammer 44

50. Abe Sapien: The Shape of Things to Come

51. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Reign of the Black Flame

52. Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster

53. Abe Sapien: Sacred Places

54. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Wings

55: Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland

56. Abe Sapien: A Darkness So Great

57. Hellboy and the BPRD: 1952

58. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Flesh and Stone

59. Frankenstein Underground

60. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Metamorphosis (due in January)

61. Hellboy in Mexico (due in April)

62. Abe Sapien: The Secret Fire (due in June)

63. Hellboy and the BPRD: 1953 (due in August)

As I’ve explained when I’ve done this in the past, I left out the humor collection Hellboy Junior and the superhero-crossover collection Hellboy: Masks and Monsters because they’re not in continuity; arguably neither are the two Hellboy: Weird Tales volumes but they’re at least in the spirit of the thing. I listed the original graphic novel hardcovers Hellboy: House of the Living Deadand Hellboy: The Midnight Circus as .5s rather than factoring them into the list proper primarily out of pique that they hadn’t been released in paperback yet, though that is now forthcoming with Hellboy in Mexico next April. I used the regular-edition trade paperbacks rather than the larger omnibus-style collections, though I refrained from noting the individual volume numbers within each series just for the sake of my sanity.

Enjoy, and many thanks to Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis et al for this marvelous story!