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MORE FROM SAN DIEGO: Mignola talks about Hellboy

On Saturdayafternoon, at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Sony Pictures showedfans a sizzler reel for the upcoming "Hellboy" movie. After theclip, a mix of interview, behind-the-scenes footage and film footage, Hellboycreator and the film's executive producer took the stage to answer questionsabout the movie.

"The Good Guys" poster featuring Liz, Hellboy and Abe.

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

After the clip finished rollingMignola said, "I liked it. Did you?"

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

Mike Mignola (MM): I just got back from Prague on Monday. A lot ofthat stuff you just saw; I was sitting there when we shot. This is the firsttime I've seen it big."

Q: How committed were the filmmakers to adheringto 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 myversion of 'Hellboy.' You go do yours. Change anything you want."

And hesaid, "No, I want to make it your 'Hellboy.'"

So I've been involvedwith Guillermo for probably six years now...and as soon as we got the greenlight and entered into preproduction, I was there from day one all the waythrough preproduction, basically putting my stamp on everything.

There were acouple of art guys who came and went, but for the most part it was a three-manart department and if I wasn't actually designing something, I was looking overthe 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.

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

IfGuillermo 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. Hewants me there.

Q: Hollywood doesn't like to use the word "Hell" inthe title. Did the ever try to get you to change it?

MM: I don't know whatelse we would have called it.

There was a period where I wasn't involved inevery meeting that went on. It would be very difficult to get a phone callsaying, "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 neverheard 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 outoriginal 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 AbeSapien in this movie?

MM: No, no. Abe...I believe his origin is mentioned [inthe 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 exactlygave you the idea for Hellboy?

MM: I always liked...my favorite comics werealways these Jack Kirby monster comics. I love old folk tales. I love old movieslike "Bride of Frankenstein." I love pulp magazine stories like"Doc Savage" and things like that.

Basically, I though I'd have onechance to do a comic that combined everything I wanted to do. I'd been doingcomics for ten years and I thought, "Well, let me take one shot and doingmy own thing [I'll] pile everything I liked into it, because I'm only going toget one shot at this. No one will buy it."

I wanted to have something toput on my shelf so that when I'm stuck drawing fill-in issues of "IronMan" I could look back and say, "Well at least once I got to put mything 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 gladthat I really cared about doing that one thing.

It's all my favorite stuffcrammed 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 bethe case in the clips we just saw. Was there any attempt to capture that look inthe film?

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

Red rarely appears in thefilm, except as Hellboy.

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

So if it'spossible 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 Guillermodel Toro?

MM: Well, it never even occurred to me that they would really makethis picture, so I never gave this stuff a lot of thought. Other directors werebeing discussed. Guillermo heard somehow that the "Hellboy" movie wasbeing discussed. Guillermo presented himself and said, "I'm the guy to makethis movie."

Somewhere along the line somebody said to me, because I'dnever thought about who would play Hellboy, because they're never gonna make themovie...so a friend of mine said, "You know, Ron Perlman should playHellboy."

I couldn't think of anybody else once he put that bug in myear.

When we started talking to Guillermo, or when Guillermo was beingdiscussed, I thought, "Well Ron has been in 'Cronos,' Guillermo's firstfilm, so maybe he knows him."

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

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

And we did.

So from day one, we wanted Ron.

Q: Hellboy fansworldwide 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 storythat 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 beginshis first day working for the B.P.R.D.

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

And there are relationships thatdidn't exist in the comics.

Most of the stuff Guillermo added to the movie isstuff that, if I had thought of it, I would have put it in the comics. There's awonderful opportunity to go back, after ten years, and say, "Yeah, youknow, it would be better if we did this and this."

It's a rareopportunity 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 themain antagonist?

MM: Yeah. The main antagonist is Rasputin, who has somehowsurvived to hook up with the Nazis...it seemed obvious to me, how this Russianmonk would end up working with the Nazis.

What the whole movie comes down tois, is Hellboy who has been raised in secret to be a good guy being confrontedultimately with the choice of being what he was born to be, or being what hechooses 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 wasfun. I remember very little about it. My memory is very bad.

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

I've never been asked thatquestion. It was a good experience. It was a good year, a good growing periodfor me.

Q: How did you get the idea for Hellboy?

MM: I had gotten to thepoint in my career where I had drawn most things in comics. I had donesuperheroes. I had done a little bit of everything. I was always looking foropportunities to go out and do stories about monsters.

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

[laughter and applause]

I'dfinally get out of drawing people going to the grocery store.

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

MM: I believe we will.

[loudapplause]

"Hellboy" opens in theaters on Memorial Day Weekend, 2004.

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