Mike Mignola entertained a full convention hall Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego. With "Hellboy" editor Scott Allie and "BPRD: 1946" writer Josh Dysart, Mignola opened the floor to questions early and addressed questions of the various "Hellboy" books from Dark Horse, why the films are so different, and why he cannot talk about the future of Hellboy the character.
Starting things off, Scott Allie and Mignola announced Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon will be taking art chores on "BPRD: 1947." Dysart will continue co-writing with Mignola. The book will cover what Dysart called, "The first BPRD ad hoc field team hand-picked by Professor Broom." He also said the material is "radically different" from the previous series, "BPRD 1946."
Mignola will continue Hellboy's journey from the turning point storyline "Darkness Calls" with two more series. "Wild Hunt," an eight-issue story that will lead directly into "The Sounding Horn." Allie called the later book a "sequel to 'Darkness Calls.'" Duncan Fergrado will continue to provide art on the "Hellboy" titles. Allie said the three titles together form a story that "really demolishes the character" from an emotional standpoint.
Starting a theme that would continue for the panel, a member of the audience asked if Mignola would ever reveal the "origin" of the Lobster Johnson character. Mignola initially responded, "It's pretty weird." He went on to explain his has some misgivings about telling any character's origin fully. "I might as well be telling a science fiction story," he joked. The mystical nature of his characters necessitates a certain amount of the unknowable. "Writing supernatural [stories], there always has to be that level of things that happen that are beyond human comprehension."
Allie followed this up by mentioning 2009 will see another Lobster Johnson miniseries with a new creative team. While he could not announce that new team he did say it will be sometime in the summer. Mignola then mentioned, "This will start Lobster Johnson 'Year One.'"
Asked how Dysart first became involved in the Hellboy Universe, he said it was a "perfect storm" of conventions, comic book stores and timing. "We met at the first Wizard World Texas, quite some time ago," Dysart recalled. "Mike had moved to Los Angeles and was looking for a collaborator on '46' and I was already working with Scott [Allie]." Mignola said Dysart's close proximity made him as an ideal collaborator as John Arcudi. "We can sit down together and bat stuff together in person." Dysart was nervous meeting Mignola. He was told by Allie, "Just don't act like a fucking hippie."
Regarding his various film work, Mignola said designing for movies is "an entirely different planet" compared to comics, where Mignola knows a design is his. In a film, he sees a portion of his work added or refined by other artists. "I find, ninety percent of what you do, no one will ever see," he explained. The air of collaboration makes it completely different. "There's much more satisfaction, for me, working in comics."
Asked about seeing a Hellboy story set fifty years in the character's future, Mignola responded that flashing forward even a year in Hellboy's life would give away too much. "Hellboy is a character who is going someplace and I can hint about where he's going, but I can't let you see it yet."
A member of the audience commented on the "freakiness" of the young Hellboy seen in "Hellboy II: The Golden Army." He was also disappointed that young HB was not seen eating waffles, a well-known favorite snack of the character. Mignola shrugged and replied, "You can't do everything."
For Mignola, the "easiest thing to do" was keep the realities of the films separate from the comics. In relation to director Guillermo del Toro, Mignola understood he needed free creative reigns to continue his interest in the idea. "He is not a filmmaker who is going to be slavish to the source material." He is fine with this and continues the separate continuities for each iteration of the characters. It also allows him to keep focus on the one he directly controls.
While retelling how he first came up with Hellboy, Mignola said his goal is to "touch on" as much mythology across the planet as possible. "My idea is that Hellboy has been all over the world," he explained. In relation to the work Fergrado is currently working on, this means English and Irish folklore. "It's a lot of Elf and Fairy stuff," Mignola teased.
As a member of the audience lauded the "aesthetic tone across all titles," Mignola jokingly responded, "I write things vague." He went to explain that style allows for unexpected surprises in the material and flexibility to focus on unlikely characters. "I try not to write myself into a corner and allow things to expand. Even now, every book I do, I'm throwing certain pieces out there." While some of those pieces never amount to an on-going thread or character, others, Mignola says "demand [answers to] 'What about me? What about my story?'"
While Allie and Mignola, along with Dysart and John Arcudi, are not interest in "puttying in all the holes," they are interested in finding spaces of time largely unexplored. This led to the "Hellboy Companion" and "BPRD: 1946."
When the panel was requested their favorite "Hellboy/BPRD" moment, each was ready with a response. Dysart said, "Abe going back in time." Allie offered the death of the Elf King Gada. "We hit the level of Shakespearean melodrama that I was really pleased with," he explained. Mignola said he thinks of the small moments. He offered an example: "There's a bit in 'Christmas Underground' where an old lady's dying. There's this one panel where Hellboy puts his hand on top of her hand because he knows she's going to die and he knows there's nothing he can do about it. And the best he can do is hold her hand."
While readers may see more of Hell and how it functions, Mignola said Heaven will remain much more mysterious. "Once you show how heaven works, you really de-mystify this stuff," he said. "To me, [Heaven] is always going to be over the horizon."
Continuing the origins theme, Mignola said audiences will never know the complete answer about Liz Sherman's fire-based powers. "It's not like she was bit by a radioactive fire," joked Mignola.
Asked if Hellboy would ever cross paths again with the BPRD, both as characters and titles, Allie referenced a scene from the "Hellboy: Darkness Calls" series where Hellboy writes a two paragraph note to his old colleagues after seven years. "He's not much of a letter writer," joked Allie. Mignola said Hellboy's journey is at such a pivotal stage for the next few years, it will take him on a "wildly different path" from the agents of the BPRD.
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