Even as the ongoing “Hellboy” series approaches a major turning point in “The Fury” and Mike Mignola prepares to take the reins on art once again for his most famous creation, word has crept out that Mignola will be teaming once again with artist Richard Corben for the first “Hellboy” original graphic novel.
Corben has already illustrated a number of “Hellboy” stories, most notably “The Crooked Man,” and his next collaboration with Mignola, the “Hellboy: Being Human” one-shot, is due in May. The upcoming graphic novel, titled “Hellboy: House of the Living Dead,” is a brief volume delving into Hellboy’s time in Mexico, an era the demonic hero is loathe to discuss. Mignola himself, however, is only too pleased to talk about this particular adventure, and CBR News caught up with him for an exclusive discussion about the project, which ships in the Fall from Dark Horse.
CBR News: Mike, are we correct in the assumption that this is a follow-up to “Hellboy in Mexico?”
Mike Mignola: Yes. It is.
What made you want to return to this time in HB’s life?
It was so much fun doing the first one! When I did the first one-issue comic, at the end Hellboy mentions that he doesn’t remember what happened the rest of the time he was in Mexico. That was really going to be it, but then I just thought, the beauty of a chunk of time that he doesn’t remember — either he doesn’t remember or he says he doesn’t remember because he doesn’t want to tell anybody what happened — that’s a great period to tell stories, because you can do the craziest stuff and maybe it really didn’t happen, maybe he was so drunk he thought this is what happened. It kind of took on a life of its own.
This story, I made up because I saw how much fun Richard had doing the “Hellboy in Mexico” stuff and I wanted to do a Hellboy in Mexico story, so I made up this story for me — and then realized it would be so much better drawn by Richard. So I turned it over to him. I’ve actually plotted a couple more stories that take place in this chunk of time. So it’s really that whole lost weekend. Five months in Mexico is going to be a significant chunk of Hellboy stories.
So this is the first (or rather, second) of many?
I wouldn’t say “many,” but right now there’s a short story I’m going to be doing for “Dark Horse Presents” that takes place in Mexico and then Richard’s graphic novel. Then there’s talk of at least one, if not two more after that.
You mention that Richard really enjoyed this story, which was quite over the top — what do you two most enjoy about the sort of situations or stories that this setting presented?
I don’t know, I’ve had so little contact with Richard. He’s not very forthcoming with his opinions of things, but he did go out of his way to say he really enjoyed doing it. Which speaks volumes for Richard, for him to say that. The setting, the wrestlers — I’m not sure what it was. This one, “House of the Living Dead,” I’ve got to say, I didn’t think he could do anything that would top “Crooked Man,” but this thing’s right up there. He really did such an amazing job with this book. I gave him a lot of different stuff to do. It’s really a parade of crazy things. It’s sort of a Mexican version of one of those Universal “House of Dracula,” “House of Frankenstein” kind of movies. It’s got a parade of different creatures that come and go pretty fast. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve done.
Aside from Hellboy being upset about what’s happened to his luchador friend, what’s going on in “House of the Living Dead?”
As the story starts, he has become a wrestler. There’s a beautiful opening sequence of Hellboy in the ring, tossing other Mexican wrestlers around. And then he’s hired to fight somebody’s champion. And it’s the “go out to the crazy guy’s old house” [story] and then it’s like “House of Dracula” or “House of Frankenstein.” For whatever reason, there are a lot of monsters in this one place. It’s a parade of crazy stuff. In some places, it’s really funny; in other places, it’s really disturbing. In a lot of places, it’s really spooky, so it does what Richard and I do really well together, which is, stuff where you go “I can’t tell if this is supposed to be funny or not.” Richard, more than I guess anybody I’ve ever worked with, you never really know which way he’s going to spin stuff. Something I might write as so absurdly ridiculous funny might come across very straight the way he does it, and some stuff I had intended as very sober and sad and serious will end up kind of funny. So you have to write a certain way for Richard, where it’s fine if he’s plays stuff either way. In some places I’ll tell him, “this needs to be really sad,” “this needs to be really quiet,” but a lot of it, he’s so good at what he does and it’s so amazing working with him, you don’t always know what you’re going to get. I like to give him as much room to do what he does as possible.
Does Hellboy wear a luchador mask in this story?
He does at the beginning. With holes cut in it so his horns can stick out. At the very end of the “Hellboy in Mexico” one-shot we did, you do see a bunch of kids watching a film — it was actually colored wrong — but it was Hellboy in the ring wrestling. That came about just because I had a couple extra pages and thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be funny if Hellboy became a wrestler?” Again, I never thought I’d address the wrestling thing. But it seemed like such a good idea, I had to go back to it.
What led to the decision to publish this as a graphic novel rather than a short miniseries, as you and Richard usually do?
What we’ve had a lot of these last couple years is one-shots and two-issue miniseries, and with me coming back to do the comic and Duncan [Fegredo] finishing up “The Fury,” I wanted fewer regular comics on the stands as distraction. So I thought, if we’re going to continue to do Hellboy stories set in the past, let’s figure out a different kind of format for them that doesn’t take away from the regular ongoing story. If this format works, we’ll do other stories of Hellboy set in the past in that format, but the comic that will be on the stands will be me doing Hellboy.
You mentioned Duncan finishing up “The Fury.” How close are you two to wrapping that series?
Well, I’ve got a couple scripts to write. When I say “scripts,” the plots are all done, then I write a script based on Duncan’s artwork. So I’ve got to script the last two issues, and he’s, I think, about ten pages away from being done. One of these days, I’ve got to write him something else.
Now that you’re reaching the end of this phase of collaboration with Duncan, how do you feel about what you’ve accomplished together on “Hellboy?”
I’m really happy with it. The whole King Arthur thing kind of snowballed in a direction I didn’t anticipate, but I’m really happy with it. And in a way, I’m happy to be done with it. It was an interesting phase. It took on its own life and it’s always interesting when that happens, but I’m very happy to put a period on this chunk of Hellboy’s life and then move onto this really radically different direction.
Finally, how is your own return to the drawing board going?
I’d like to get there a little sooner! I’m still writing some stuff, I’m still doing covers. You would think I’d have more time; at this point, all I do is the trade paperback covers, but still, somehow, we’ve got a lot of trade paperbacks. I am probably within a couple weeks of sitting down and starting to really draw the stuff. But I’ve started thumbnailing my first couple issues, and I’ve been plotting and replotting them for a couple of years now. So I’m pretty much champing at the bit to get started.