Graphic depictions

Hellboy and The Amazing Screw-On Head

The mind of comic-book writer and artist Mike Mignola is no doubt a weird and wonderful place to be. A respected artist for both DC and Marvel comics in the 1980s, Mignola got his creative breakthrough in 1994 when he created, wrote, penciled and inked Hellboy for Dark Horse Comics. Hellboy since has spawned merchandise, a video game and a live-action feature film, making Mignola’s cranium a relatively profitable location, as well. This week, both his most famous creation and a lesser-known graphic novel he conjured up in 2002, The Amazing Screw-On Head, are given the animation treatment on DVD.

Hellboy: Sword of Storms is the first in a series of animated releases supervised and written by Mignola and producer Tad Stones. Hellboy’s adventures always have the feel of a familiar fairy tale, and here the focus is Japanese legend. A samurai sword Hellboy picks up while investigating a meek professor’s demonic possession sends the hero into an alternate mythological dimension. Sword of Storms mixes noir, horror, folklore and good old fashioned “Hulk smash!” action to create something unlike anything else in comics and animation—especially when filtered through Mignola’s “Jack Kirby meets German Expressionism” art style.

The Amazing Screw-On Head—an unaired SciFi Channel pilot—features Paul Giamatti as the voice of the title character and David Hyde Pierce as his nemesis, Emperor Zombie. In a hilarious and appealingly bizarre story, a robot secret agent in the employ of President Abraham Lincoln battles an undead occult master bent on world domination. At just over 20 minutes in length, it may not be the greatest DVD value, but The Amazing Screw-On Head is undeniably worth witnessing for its sheer originality.