WW Philly: Hellboy's New Horizons

Hellboy roams the world to uncover its secrets, but he might have looked closer to home this Sunday. That was when "Hellboy" creator Mike Mignola revealed a few secrets of his own at a Wizard World Philadelphia panel.

In an hour-long question and answer session, the writer/artist answered fans' queries, along with his "B.P.R.D." co-writer John Arcudi and title artist Guy Davis. During the event, the three discussed their plans for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, some upcoming projects in other media, and what will happen when the lovable, red demon makes it to dry land after three years underwater, in this month's "Hellboy: The Island" #1.

The two-issue mini-series, beginning in June, changes the course of Hellboy's life.

"Things'll be a little different after this," Mignola admits.

The first question of the day was whether Hellboy would ever rejoin B.P.R.D. Mignola answered with a resolute "I don't see it happening," and indicated that Hellboy would follow a new path as his growing role as the prophesized Beast of the Apocalypse makes things "extremely problematic" for him. Mignola did say, however, that Hellboy and the Bureau might meet again.

Much of the talk centered on the Hellboy movie franchise. According to Mignola, a sequel is not definite yet, though he had hashed out "an original story with [director] Guillermo del Toro. He's in Spain working on a film that's delayed, and theoretically working on a screenplay" for Hellboy 2.

The completed script will be submitted to studio heads for approval and budgeting. Mignola said that it was necessary to seek a bigger budget than the first film's $60 million cost because the seminal movie "looked like a $120 million film. Everyone worked really hard, seven days a week in Prague, under miserable conditions."

The new plot deliberately swings in the opposite direction from the Cthuloid monstrosities and Nazi freaks of the original, according to Mignola. Hellboy's opponents this time will be "folklore characters who don't want to fade," says Mignola. These "old-world fairies" want "one last go at making mankind remember why they're afraid of the dark." He admits it's a difficult pitch to producers, who stop listening when the word "elves" comes up.

"But it's better than it sounds," he laughs.

Mignola has also been in talks with Cartoon Network about a Hellboy animated series to air "as a lead-in to Adult Swim." The problem, he says is "I want to do comics." The creator emphasized throughout the convention's dialogue that he was "happy to take Hollywood's money," it's been a hectic few years for him that take him away from the projects swirling in his head, like a Liz Sherman mini, or several Lobster Johnson stories. He also alluded to a possible project, a Victorian-era paranormal detective who has been referenced a few times within the "Hellboy" universe.

There were a few questions about crossovers, which prompted Mignola to dissuade fans from the idea of any more meetings with Batman, though he said Hellboy's appearance in Eric Powell's "The Goon" was fun.

"We're talking about doing it again someday," he said.

Also on the table for Mignola is a hardcover, non-Hellboy novel with co-writer Chris Golden, which was recently picked up after "a small bidding war," the author said. He added that he will provide 100 illustrations for the book, which would have taken him five years if he had attempted to make the story into a comic.

When asked how he linked up with Arcudi and Davis, Mignola was quite frank.

"Guy is the best creature guy in the business," and that he tapped the artist's strange monsters for the Hellboy universe.

"If we didn't have Guy, I don't know that we'd have B.P.R.D."

As for Arcudi's involvement, that answer is simple.

"John's one of the few guys who talks to me," chuckled Mignola. He added, "John was my only choice. It wasn't even a short list," owing to his co-author's "perfect balance between funny and creepy."

An audience member asked if there were plans to introduce any new members of the B.P.R.D. Arcudi's response was a terse, but gleeful, "Yep."

Mignola discussed plans to work with Lee Bermejo and an upcoming project which sees Hellboy having "a very fun year in Mexico" in the '50s, "until Broom sent agents to bring him back." He said that Hellboy "doesn't remember much of what happened that year, but he spent a lot of time drinking and wrestling."

With so much on the table, one fan was led to ask if there was "any stopping point for what you're doing." The answer came easy to Mignola.

"Until the frogs dominate the Earth," he quipped. "If I get to do this for the rest of my life, I've beaten the system. I get to draw monsters for a living."

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