Mike Mignola has got quite the little empire going.
The creator of Hellboy has not only reached legendary status in the comics world, but his character’s leap to the big screen with 2004’s theatrical success and an upcoming Hellboy animated special have helped land him the status of pop-culture icon.
Ahead of his appearance as a guest at the 11th annual Fan Expo Canada ( www.fanexpocanada.com) in Toronto from Sept. 1-3, Mignola took some time to talk all things Hellboy and beyond with Metro’s comic book guru Jonathan P. Kuehlein.
JPK: What do you think about having Hellboy as an animated character?
MM: “I think it’s great. It’s certainly nothing I ever expected, but then that’s the case of so much with Hellboy.
“It was fun to create sort of a third version of Hellboy. If you think of the live-action version as being the second version, this is the third.
“In a way, the animated version falls in between the other two. It’s pretty faithful to the comic, but there are a couple of subtle differences that separate it from both the movie and the comic.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve seen, so far.”
JPK: How is work progressing on Hellboy 2?
MM: “It has bounced around a bit, but it seems like it’s settled down into Universal doing it. I expect we’ll be starting pre-production her e in the next month or so.”
JPK: What kind of involvement are you going to have with this project?
MM: “On both the animated thing and on the movies, I’ve had kind of the same role where I kind of co-plotted the stories. Shortly after Hellboy 1 came out, Guillermo and I sat down and came up with an original story for Hellboy 2 and then he went and wrote the screenplay.
“Once we start pre-production I’ve be involved in doing some of the design stuff and working with other designers — very much what I did in the first picture.”
JPK: How excited are you about seeing Hellboy back on the big screen?
MM: “I would love it. The animation thing is fun, but the live action is just such an interesting process. Animation is kind of like drawing and I think ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand that.’ The live-action thing, the idea of designing these characters and designing these things that then actually have to be built and you have to use actors — it’s so different than anything I usually do. It’s really a fun process.”
JPK: Are there going to be any ties from the plot of your books to the second movie?
MM: “The second film kind of reflects the direction the comic is going now, while the first film covered Hellboy’s origin story which has the Nazis and Rasputin and the Lovecraftian creature stuff.
“One thing that’s always been a feature in Hellboy is the kind of fairy-tale, folklore, old-world mythology stuff — none of which was in the first film. This film has all that stuff.”
JPK: When can readers expect your next Hellboy comic: Darkness Calls?
MM: “Darkness Calls has actually been bumped back. I think right now it’s looking like February.
“We had a changeover with artists and that put us back to square one.”
JPK: What’s the experience like for you to hand over the art duties for the first time on a main Hellboy project?
MM: “I’ve got to say it’s a little awkward because Hellboy, unlike B.P.R.D. and other things, is so close to my heart.
“I originally thought up this story, thinking I would draw it. By the time I actually got down to writing it, I knew that someone else would be drawing it. But it’s still dealing with images and ideas that I’ve had banging around for a lot of years. It’s strange to hand over certain things to other people and say “I was going to draw it this way.’ I can either drive this guy crazy trying to get him to read my mind or I can step back and say ‘I trust you’, which in the case of Duncan (Fegredo), I do.
“For the most part I think Duncan is doing a better job then I ever would have done with the material. You get a richness and a detail in Duncan’s work that just isn’t what I do anymore.”
JPK: Your next Hellboy art project is set for this fall’s Dark Horse Book Of Monsters. Do you have any Hellboy art projects planned for after that?
MM: “I will draw things in the future. I think because I’m trying to do so many different things, at least for the foreseeable future, my art involvement will be small.
“At the end of the latest B.P.R.D. series, I stepped in and drew the last five pages of the series. It was a special moment in the book. I think as Hellboy goes on there will be places where I’ll want to step in and do some special moments.
“There are a couple of stories I do want to do someday, but right now my focus is on keeping the Hellboy stuff going with Duncan, keeping the B.P.R.D. stuff going with John Arcudi and Guy Davis and I’m also writing an Abe Sapien miniseries and a Lobster Johnson miniseries and I’m co-writing a novel right now that I’m also illustrating — I’ve got a lot of stuff.
“I’ve also got a lot of non-Hellboy stories and art projects that I want to do.
“I’ve got a billion things to do. If I sat down and tried to draw a Hellboy thing of any length, it would just never get done and I don’t want to get in the way of expanding all this stuff.”
JPK: You’ve just finished up a three-issue writing arc on Conan. Do you have any appetite to work with any other company’s established characters?
MM: “Not at all. There are a couple of characters it would be fun to draw once, but I can’t imagine doing that stuff because now I’m so used to doing my own thing.”
JPK: Looking ahead to Fan Expo Canada 2006, do you enjoy getting out and meeting your fans?
MM: “I love that stuff. And I haven’t been to Canada for years — possibly not since I started doing Hellboy
“I love doing shows. It’s different now then when I was drawing other people’s characters. Now when people want to talk to me about my stuff, it’s my stuff and I have a lot more to say about then if people are coming up and asking me to sign issues of Batman.
“I’m really fortunate that I have a really good audience and, for the most part, it seems to be a very intelligent audience. So I end up having really good conversations with fans about the folklore and the mythology that’s in Hellboy and stuff like that.”