Hellboy is a well-meaning half-Demon (or Cambion) whose true name is Anung Un Rama (“and upon his brow is set a crown of flame”).
Hellboy was summoned from Hell to Earth as a baby by Nazi occultists, spawning his hatred for the Third Reich. He was discovered on a fictional Outer Hebrides Island by the Allied Forces; amongst them, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, who formed the United States Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.). In time, Hellboy grew to be a large, red-skinned adult with a tail, horns (which he files off, leaving behind circular stumps on his forehead), cloven hooves for feet, and an over-sized right hand made of stone (the “Right Hand of Doom”).
He has been described as smelling of dry-roasted peanuts. Although a bit gruff, he shows none of the malevolence thought to be intrinsic to classical demons and has an ironic sense of humor. This is said to be because of his upbringing under Professor Bruttenholm, who raised him as a normal boy.
Hellboy works for the B.P.R.D., an international non-governmental agency, and for himself against dark forces including Nazis and witches, in a series of tales that have their roots in folklore, pulp magazines, vintage adventure, Lovecraftian horror and horror fiction. In earlier stories, he is identified as the “World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator”.
Dime Press #4 was released in May of 1993. It had an extremely limited print run of only 2000 and was exclusively released in Italy. It is the absolute first time we see Hellboy. Albeit, it’s not quite the Hellboy we have come to know and love, and it’s only on the cover.
The cover art is a “Prototype” drawing done by Mike Mignola in 1991. In an interview with Mignola he stated “the Dime Press…is the first drawing of the Hellboy that more or less exists today (stone hand, etc)… The ’91 drawing is the first time I used the name Hellboy, but hadn’t yet thought of creating an actual series about the character…the character from ’91 bears little resemblance to the modern version of Hellboy.”
Next Men #21, December 1993, is the first appearance in a regularly published title and is the 1st color appearance of Hellboy.