Sometimes the perks of working for MTV Geek are far greater than anything I could have imagined. Case in point: I now have in my possession, two all-new "B.P.R.D." artifact replicas from Skelton Crew Studio! Read on for an exclusive first look, along with an interview with sculptor Israel Skelton!
Mike Mignola's "B.P.R.D.," published by Dark Horse Comics, has become the flagship book of the "Hellboy" Universe and the first pieces in Skelton Crew Studio's line of collectibles are Bishop Zrinyi's Silver Button & (The MTV Geek exclusive premiere of) Bog Noosh's Nail. Both high-quality collector-oriented relics fit for any agent's arsenal in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense! Both pieces have considerable heft and the extensive packaging not only adds to the overall look, but also makes them a greater value.
I recently had the chance to interview Israel Skelton (sculptor and head-honcho at Skelton Crew Studio) about the "B.P.R.D." artifacts -- and to gently prod him about making props from other comics I enjoy. Selfishness FTW!
MTV Geek: How did the "B.P.R.D." licensing come about?
Israel Skelton: A friend at IDW made the introduction to Mike Mignola's editor, Scott Allie at Dark Horse. I made a pitch for the line and followed up every few months. I also hooked Mike and Scott up with a few "Locke & Key" keys. The next year at the 2012 SDCC, another friend at IDW introduced me to Mike. He'd seen my sketches, we both had the same thoughts on what the line should look like and the Artifact Archive really took off from there.
Geek: Do you use any specific criteria when choosing the "B.P.R.D." artifacts you want to release?
Skelton: Not really, but the general concept is artifacts found or acquired on "B.P.R.D." missions, stuff that Hellboy sometimes keeps in the pouches of his belt. When not in use out in the field, the pieces are cataloged and stored in B.P.R.D's own in-house archive - kind of like a paranormal munitions locker.
Geek: How long have you been working on the first two pieces in the line?
Skelton: The first two pieces came together really quickly. I sculpted the Bog Roosh's Nail in late fall, while we were waiting to announce the line last December. Jamie Macfarlane sculpted Bishop Zrinyi's Button at the same time. Right now I probably have five more pieces in different stages of production and many more to come. One of the future pieces is sculpted by Tim Arp, who did props for the "Hellboy" movie. Very lucky to be working with some talented sculptors, and we're all huge "Hellboy"/"B.P.R.D." fans, but then who isn't?
Geek: What kind of reference did you use when sculpting these?
Skelton: I draw very quick turn-around sketches based on Mike's and others' art in the comics, then break out the calculator and ruler to get the size and scale right. Always have to keep in mind that Hellboy's a big guy and all the pieces have to be in scale with each other.
Geek: What has been the most challenging aspect of creating the pieces?
Skelton: Getting the balance just right in bringing the art to life, being faithful to the design but avoiding what Mike's described as looking too Flintstone-y.
Geek: The packaging for the "B.P.R.D." line really adds to the pieces and is definitely a huge part of the presentation and I'm sure it took a lot of time to get right. Was its design as in depth as the artifacts themselves?
Skelton: Almost! I'm a fan and I wanted to get this right for all the other fans, when it comes to the timeline especially. I wanted the prop to transcend just the piece and extend to the packaging as well. How would this look if "B.P.R.D." actually kept its own archive and signed the pieces out as needed? That's what I was after. Now I hope fans dig it.
Geek: Were there any "B.P.R.D."artifacts that have been scrapped for one reason or another?
Skelton: Not yet. In general, given the many people we work with, we can usually pull it off. Everything about these pieces is made in the USA, which we really try to do as much of as we can through the studio. It's really important to me.
Geek: The work you do is amazing, and your products from Locke & Key, Chew, Mouseguard, and now "B.P.R.D." lead me to believe that you're quite the comic aficionado. Any other comics you have an idea for that could make the transition into the Skelton Crew line? *cough*The Sixth Gun*cough* ...ahem, sorry I must have something stuck in my throat.
Skelton: First, thank you very much for the kind words, man. I learned to read on comics - I've been a fan forever and I've been building props for as long as I can remember. My saucer sleds were only good for one season before they were turned into shields when I was a kid.
Of course there are books I'd love to get my hands on, but I'd hate to jinx anything. For now, working on this line, "CHEW," "Mouse Guard" and "Locke & Key," we just consider ourselves really lucky. I'm working on my favorite books, doesn't get much better than that.
I'd heard of "The Sixth Gun" but have never read it, but after Wiki-ing it, I'm definitely picking the book up.
Both "B.P.R.D." artifacts go on pre-sale Tuesday, June the 25th and you can get all of the details from Skelton Crew's official website! As an added bonus (like you needed one): Mike Mignola will be signing the first 400 Bishop Zrinyi's Button tags and Israel Skelton will be signing the first 400 Bog Roosh's Nail tags!
For now, enjoy a ton of photos:
Thanks again to Skelton Crew for sending along the review samples-- they'll now be stored in my own paranormal armory!