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MORE FROM SAN DIEGO: Mignola talks about Hellboy

by  in Movie News, TV News Comment

On Saturday
afternoon, at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Sony Pictures showed
fans a sizzler reel
for the upcoming “Hellboy” movie. After the
clip, a mix of interview, behind-the-scenes footage and film footage, Hellboy
creator and the film’s executive producer took the stage to answer questions
about the movie.


“The
Good Guys” poster featuring Liz, Hellboy and Abe.

Mignola chaired the panel by himself, as director and comic fan Guillermo del
Toro was still busy working on the movie.

After the clip finished rolling
Mignola said, “I liked it. Did you?”

The crowd responded with raucous
applause. From there the panel went into a Q & A phase:


Mike Mignola (MM): I just got back from Prague on Monday. A lot of
that stuff you just saw; I was sitting there when we shot. This is the first
time I’ve seen it big.”

Q: How committed were the filmmakers to adhering
to you designs while making it a real movie with real people?


“The
Bad Guys” poster featuring Rasputin, Kroenen and Sammael.

MM: What I said to Guillermo the first time I met him, “I’ve done my
version of ‘Hellboy.’ You go do yours. Change anything you want.”

And he
said, “No, I want to make it your ‘Hellboy.'”

So I’ve been involved
with Guillermo for probably six years now…and as soon as we got the green
light and entered into preproduction, I was there from day one all the way
through preproduction, basically putting my stamp on everything.

There were a
couple of art guys who came and went, but for the most part it was a three-man
art department and if I wasn’t actually designing something, I was looking over
the shoulders of a guy as he designed it.


The
maquette of Baby Hellboy

If I wasn’t doing that then I was in Guillermo’s office tweaking the script.

Then
I was in preproduction in Prague. I was on locations in Prague. I was in Prague
for the first couple weeks of shooting and I was just there for three weeks.

If
Guillermo had his way he would have had me sitting next to him the whole time.
So it was pretty unique.

And I’ll be working with him in post-production. He
wants me there.

Q: Hollywood doesn’t like to use the word “Hell” in
the title. Did the ever try to get you to change it?

MM: I don’t know what
else we would have called it.

There was a period where I wasn’t involved in
every meeting that went on. It would be very difficult to get a phone call
saying, “We’re going to make. We’ll know tomorrow if we’re gonna make it.
We’ll call you tomorrow.”


The
maquette of Abe Sapien

And then I wouldn’t hear anything for six months.

But no, I never
heard anything like, “Let’s call it ‘Heckboy,'” or anything like that.

Q:
I heard you were in talks with Cartoon Network about a “Hellboy”
cartoon?

MM: I’ve never talked to Cartoon Network about a “Hellboy”
cartoon.

You’ve been misinformed.

Q: I’ve also heard you’ll be giving out
original art on the Hellsite?

MM:
“Giving out original art?”


The
maquette of the head of ‘The Corpse’

You’ve been misinformed again. Sorry!

Q: Are we gonna see the origin of Abe
Sapien in this movie?

MM: No, no. Abe…I believe his origin is mentioned [in
the movie] the way it was mentioned in the comics, and we don’t get his story.
I’m writing a comic right now that gives, sort of an origin.

Q: What exactly
gave you the idea for Hellboy?

MM: I always liked…my favorite comics were
always these Jack Kirby monster comics. I love old folk tales. I love old movies
like “Bride of Frankenstein.” I love pulp magazine stories like
“Doc Savage” and things like that.

Basically, I though I’d have one
chance to do a comic that combined everything I wanted to do. I’d been doing
comics for ten years and I thought, “Well, let me take one shot and doing
my own thing [I’ll] pile everything I liked into it, because I’m only going to
get one shot at this. No one will buy it.”

I wanted to have something to
put on my shelf so that when I’m stuck drawing fill-in issues of “Iron
Man” I could look back and say, “Well at least once I got to put my
thing on paper.”


The
maquette of the Behemoth, who shows up in the climax of the film.

As it turns out, ten years later, I’m still drawing it. So, I’m kinda glad
that I really cared about doing that one thing.

It’s all my favorite stuff
crammed into a red skin.

Q: Your “Hellboy” comics are very dark.
It’s almost as if they’re printed on black paper. That didn’t really seem to be
the case in the clips we just saw. Was there any attempt to capture that look in
the film?

MM: It’s hard to judge this because it’s so choppy, but
certainly Guillermo is very conscious of both composition and color in trying to
give it a similar graphic feel to the comic.

Red rarely appears in the
film, except as Hellboy.

There’s an amazing scene in the cemetery where you’re
looking out through black bars at white snow with black vehicles, agents dressed
in black and Hellboy comes walking across and it just floors you.

So if it’s
possible to put my stuff in a 3-D, live-action picture, he’s done it.


Another
view of Behemoth.

Q: Was Ron Perlman your first choice? And the same question with Guillermo
del Toro?

MM: Well, it never even occurred to me that they would really make
this picture, so I never gave this stuff a lot of thought. Other directors were
being discussed. Guillermo heard somehow that the “Hellboy” movie was
being discussed. Guillermo presented himself and said, “I’m the guy to make
this movie.”

Somewhere along the line somebody said to me, because I’d
never thought about who would play Hellboy, because they’re never gonna make the
movie…so a friend of mine said, “You know, Ron Perlman should play
Hellboy.”

I couldn’t think of anybody else once he put that bug in my
ear.

When we started talking to Guillermo, or when Guillermo was being
discussed, I thought, “Well Ron has been in ‘Cronos,’ Guillermo’s first
film, so maybe he knows him.”


The prop of the Samaritan
gun Hellboy uses in the film.

So when I first met Guillermo, the way I remember it, it was the very first
thing we discussed. We said, “Who should play Hellboy?”

I know who
should play Hellboy and Guillermo kind of knew who should play Hellboy, it was
just a matter of, when we put our cards on the table, are we both going to say
the same guy?

And we did.

So from day one, we wanted Ron.

Q: Hellboy fans
worldwide want to know: Is Hellboy gonna eat a lot of pancakes in this movie?

MM:
He will eat pancakes.

[applause]

You know that’s the silliest little story
that I made up and it gets turned into a chunk of a live-action picture.

Q:
Are there any new characters in the movie that we haven’t seen in the comics?

MM:
Yes.

Agent Myers played by Rupert Evans. He’s the young FBI agent who begins
his first day working for the B.P.R.D.

Then the other monster, Sammael, is
very much a del Toro/Mignola collaboration.

And there are relationships that
didn’t exist in the comics.

Most of the stuff Guillermo added to the movie is
stuff that, if I had thought of it, I would have put it in the comics. There’s a
wonderful opportunity to go back, after ten years, and say, “Yeah, you
know, it would be better if we did this and this.”

It’s a rare
opportunity for me to revisit this material and get a chance to touch it up.

Q:
Can you tell us what the main plot of the movie is or say something about the
main antagonist?

MM: Yeah. The main antagonist is Rasputin, who has somehow
survived to hook up with the Nazis…it seemed obvious to me, how this Russian
monk would end up working with the Nazis.

What the whole movie comes down to
is, is Hellboy who has been raised in secret to be a good guy being confronted
ultimately with the choice of being what he was born to be, or being what he
chooses to be.

It comes down to choosing between two different fathers.

Q:
How was it working at [now-defunct comic publisher] First comics.

MM: It was
fun. I remember very little about it. My memory is very bad.

I was had been
doing comics for four or five years when I went to work for First Comics. While
I was horrible at the time, it was the first time I got the chance to try to
figure out what I wanted my look to look like.

I’ve never been asked that
question. It was a good experience. It was a good year, a good growing period
for me.

Q: How did you get the idea for Hellboy?

MM: I had gotten to the
point in my career where I had drawn most things in comics. I had done
superheroes. I had done a little bit of everything. I was always looking for
opportunities to go out and do stories about monsters.

When I did
“Hulk” at Marvel, the Hulk is a monster. Various jobs I would take to
get the chance to draw monsters and after ten years I thought, “Gee. If I
made up a book about a monster, who fought monsters then I would finally achieve
my goal of drawing nothing but monsters!”

[laughter and applause]

I’d
finally get out of drawing people going to the grocery store.

Q: Will we get
to see Hellboy tear his horns off his head?

MM: I believe we will.

[loud
applause]


“Hellboy” opens in theaters on Memorial Day Weekend, 2004.