Hellboy fans gathered on Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego for Mike Mignola’s Spotlight panel, an informal question and answer session about the veteran creator and the many works he’s been a part of. Though he claimed to have “no particular announcement of any kind,” Mignola answered fans’ questions about his work.
Mignola started by answering one of the most common questions he’s asked. “Hellboy 3′ — no.” But the writer artist did say he’s currently writing the plot for a new ongoing series beginning this December at Dark Horse, “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” Beginning in 1952, the series will follow Hellboy through his first outing with the B.P.R.D., picking up from previous miniseries. Mignola will be plotting, as well as co-scripting with frequent collaborator John Arcudi. The series will be drawn by Alex Maleev, a newcomer to the Mignola-verse. “Every trade paperback will just be titled with the year,” Mignola said, admitting he has difficultly coming up with titles. The series will feature different creative teams, and Mignola confirmed that he would write or co-write all of the series.
The panel was then opened to questions from the audience, the first of which was about the development of Mignola’s art style. The artist said it came about from “30 years of trial and error,” though he felt it only really started click only in the last 10 or 15 years. “If you don’t know my pre-‘Hellboy’ work, there’s no reason to look at it.”
About filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, Mignola said their collaboration is always interesting. “That’s a whole 20-hour conversation,” Mignola laughed. “It’s been very fun, challenging at times.” During their first meeting about “Hellboy,” Mignola said he gave the director his blessing to put his own spin on the character. “I’d much rather see a successful Guillermo del Toro film than somebody trying to second guess what a Mike Mignola film should be.”
The creator said his trust in his own gut drives his creative process. While plotting, Mignola often feels “not exactly sure why this seems right to me, but if I analyze it and I dissect it, it’s all going to start falling apart. So I want to really trust my instincts, and then let my therapist figure out what it means some time down the road.”
Though he addressed it briefly at the start of the panel, a fan pressed for more info on a third “Hellboy” film. “To try to cap off the movie question once and for all,” Mignola said, “there is, to my knowledge, no interest from anyone anywhere for anything involving Hellboy or any of the Hellboy-related things.” Mignola said a producer from Universal had cheerfully assured him over a lunch that the studio would never ever work with his material again.
The writer/artist then discussed the interesting challenge of integrating Hellboy into the DC Universe, which happened during the “Batman/Hellboy/Starman” crossover. Apart from the commercial opportunity presented by teaming up all three characters, Mignola said he was drawn to the project by his desire to work with legendary DC editor Archie Goodwin. After submitting his first 8 pages, Mignola grew frustrated that he had not yet heard back from Goodwin. When he called DC to complain, Mignola was informed that Goodwin had passed away. After that, “it became the hardest thing that I have ever drawn.” The project also confirmed for Mignola that he did not want to work on company-owned characters.
With no plans to end the “Hellboy in Hell” series, Mignola plans to use the book to tell “odd little stories” after the 4-trade arc resolves most loose threads. “There are some big things that are going to happen,” he said, “but I guess I’m kind of looking for a way for Hellboy to do his job and retire and get some time to enjoy himself.” Even without Hellboy, Mignola said he would be able to continue to tell stories in the world he has created. “It’s not Hell as much as it’s the inside of my head.”
Though Hellboy and his world are closely held creations of Mignola, other writers and artists have contributed to the series as well. With “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.”, Mignola has given more range to Arcudi to flesh out characters and develop stories. He also said that he gave completely free range over particular characters to Cameron Stewart, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. “It’s still my world, but this character that I had no plans for, let these guys take him wherever. Want to make him into a good guy, want to make him into a bad guy, want to make him into a tree: I don’t care,” Mignola said. “I respect them and love what they do; I want them to feel the freedom to take this character and run.”
In expanding his Hellboy work across two different titles, Mignola has already discovered several advantages. The plot- and character-driven stories in “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” have allowed “Hellboy in Hell” to successfully follow Mignola’s instincts into strange places. “I’d like, as much as possible, to put on paper something that only I could or would do,” he said. “It’s very selfish, it’s very self-indulgent.” The simultaneous series have been planned to allow readers to enjoy different versions of the character without rebooting.
One of the final questions posed was about Mignola’s concept of Heaven. He declined to answer, claiming that he was never going anyway. “That to me is so purely abstract. Once you draw the gates and angels, for me anyway, it loses its power.” Hell, on the other hand, is the world Mignola has been creating in the event that he ends up there after his death. “To me, Hell is just a really shitty neighborhood, like Rome right before the collapse.” He joked that Hellboy was cleaning up Hell so that by the time Mignola shows up there will be a nice neighborhood where he can live.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.” and “Hellboy in Hell.”