Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters (2022) Movie Script

You mentioned you might
do a quick sketch for us.
Did I?
Is that you wanted to shoot me drawing?
If that's cool.
Yeah, I can, I can do that.
When you're done, just get give
us a quick look into the camera.
Looking for approval and not finding it.
Then everyone goes, "What an
asshole. He's always looking for sympathy."
No, I'm just being
honest. I've done the math.
I know I'm just some guy who gets
away with drawing monsters for a living.
Who is Hellboy?
What's Hellboy about?
- Hellboy.
- Hellboy.
- Hellboy.
- Hellboy.
- Hellboy.
- Hellboy.
- Hellboy.
- Hellboy.
The one and only Hellboy.
Hellboy is a demon brought into
our realm at the end of World War II.
Now, he's an adult demon who's
a wisecracking, sarcastic fella.
And because he was
raised by Professor Broom,
he has a good moral compass
and higher standards to live by.
Although Hellboy is supposed
to be the beast of the apocalypse,
he doesn't want to be the
beast of the apocalypse.
It's this nature versus nurture struggle.
You are being sent to
Earth to destroy the world.
It's either you or it,
what's it going to be, pal?
We all have a devil inside,
and what do we do with that?
He is not of us, but he'd
help us if we'd let him.
He ends up devoting his life to
cleaning up supernatural messes.
This little King of Hell is
just a regular blue-collar guy.
His job just happens to be
paranormal detective kind of stuff.
He's Mike Mignola, who created Hellboy.
He's absolutely a genius.
The way that he simplifies forms
and the way that he plays
with light and shadow,
it's so unique and so good.
He sings with his visuals, with a
voice that you've never heard before.
Mike's universe is like a doorway in
for those readers who
are not immediately visible
in the superhero world.
After Marvel and DC, the largest extended
comic book universe is the Mignolaverse.
Unlike Marvel and DC, it is
the vision of a single creator.
It all began with just a guy sitting
down and just working on the book,
and then it became this.
I'm really just making up stories.
I guess I never thought it
would get this out of hand.
Because most of this is old stuff.
For whatever reason,
I stall out around 1940
as far as the stuff I read.
I think I've got it covered
as far as ghost stories,
I think I've probably got at
least all the really good old ones.
Oh, M. R. James, the
greatest ghost story writer,
except for maybe Sheridan Le Fanu,
and the giant Ghost Story
Anthology edited by Boris Karloff.
He did two of them.
Look at that.
But this is the greatest.
There was a fantasy writer
named Frank Stockton.
This is The Return of Frank Stockton.
This sums up everything I've ever
wanted the Hellboy world to feel like.
Yeah, I'm writing his stories for him
because his ghost showed
up and told me some stuff.
Stuff very much like this is in The
Witchfinder and the Hellboy stuff.
These are the characters
that they're just footnotes
in that Hellboy world.
I was born in Berkeley. I
grew up in Oakland, California.
I have two brothers, and we
were raised by a workaholic father.
We grew up without a
mother, so it's just our dad,
and he worked all day.
So we were just pretty much on our own.
Our dad was total blue-collar.
He didn't understand anything about us.
We were like space creatures to him.
He couldn't say he loved us.
You'd go to leave and
you'd say, "I love you, dad."
And he'd just pretend he didn't hear you.
But you knew it was in there.
He was of that generation where
you can't speak your feelings.
I think his father did
the best that he could,
but it wasn't very warm and fuzzy.
Mike, he was just a little, tiny kid.
He wasn't particularly
well socialized, I don't think,
because he didn't have a lot of friends.
I was such a shy kid.
I don't think any teacher even
knew I was in the classroom.
It's not like I wore a
Halloween costume to class.
I mean, nobody worried about it.
It was a tough upbringing.
He literally doesn't remember a lot of
it, which I think is a safety mechanism.
He was very focused
on what he wanted to do,
and he went home every day,
and he just buried himself in his art.
I was a late reader. I was a slow reader.
I had a wonderful teacher who
just pointed out to me one day,
"What are you into?"
She took me to the library and said,
"Here's books about the stuff you like."
Then I turned into a big reader.
I remember in elementary school,
books I used to check out of the library
over and over and over again.
One was on Norse mythology,
one was a book about true ghosts.
That had a supposedly true
photograph of a ghost on the cover.
So monsters, ghosts, as
far back as I can remember.
No idea why.
To me, it was normal, my
fixation on ghosts and vampires.
Fortunately, I had two
brothers to be an outsider with.
We had very similar interests,
and we did have complete freedom,
so we would just do stuff together.
I was just up the road from Berkeley.
My brothers and I would take the bus
down to Berkeley almost every weekend.
Berkeley in those days was
made of used bookstores.
There was maybe four or five used
bookstores we would hit in a day.
I was reading everything.
We just had the places that we always went.
I mean, Moe's, that one is the
one we spent the most time in.
You can actually see it in The Graduate.
We would spend a full
day haunting the bookstores
and the record stores and
ending up at the UC theater.
It was such a big period
as far as education,
being exposed to
foreign films, and old films,
and authors I've never read before.
Yeah, over there was supernatural,
and over here was folklore,
Western religion, sexuality.
Oh, they didn't have that when I was here.
Dracula was my favorite book.
I was really into Conan,
which opened my eyes
to all the Weird Tales era
'20s and '30s pulp magazine guys,
which led to Lovecraft and everything else.
I can never overstate how
big those few years were,
where it seemed like everything I
read pointed me to something else,
or I would get hooked on an
author and everything was there.
In high school, he didn't
have a lot of friends.
He was always sitting by himself at
lunch with a book in front of his face,
and he'd go home, and he would just draw.
At that point, I had a vague idea
that someday I would
draw monsters for a living.
But where do you go to
draw monsters for a living?
My father was the one who
wanted me to go to art school.
I was in art school for two years.
I was thinking, "I gotta figure
out how to make a living at this."
Somewhere in there, I
started buying comics,
and I thought, "Oh, I want
to do that kind of stuff."
I'd never tried drawing comic book pages.
I didn't think that was something
I would ever be able to do.
I remember looking at Terry Austin.
Terry was an inker.
What is an inker?
According to Chasing Amy, they're tracers.
It's not tracing, all right?
I add depth and shading to
give the image more definition.
No, you go over what he
draws with a pen, all right?
That's tracing.
They are not tracers.
Inkers are people who interpret
what the pencil has put down
for reproduction.
I thought, "Well, maybe I could do that."
I ink my own work.
I can use a brush, I can use a pen.
I can break in as an inker,
and that'll be my main income.
Back in the '80s,
you needed to be in New York, in
the New York area to break into comics,
at that point.
That's where the work was.
You can go to Marvel or DC,
make friends with the editors,
and say, "Hey, I need rent money.
Can you give me some work, please?"
I met a guy in art school, and
his plan when he graduated
was to move to New York.
I went, "Cool. Is there
room for another guy?"
It turned out,
I don't want to say he was crazy,
but he was,
he didn't really plan
things very carefully.
We land in New York, and this is '82,
so New York was still a kind of a scary
place and it was one of those perfect
New York City days you would see in movies.
Everybody is sitting on the stoops,
and you're in the East
Village, and it was like, "Wow."
I ended up in this loft, and I remember
going into this dark corner
that turned out to be a kitchen.
It was that classic skeevy New York thing,
where apparently no one
there had ever washed the dish.
They just piled them on
where the sink used to be.
When you switched on the light,
everything started crawling really fast.
I said, "Dude, I can't do this."
I remember walking through
The Bowery, and this sounds fake,
but I swear to God, this
is the way I remember it.
There was a guy sitting in a
half-collapsed cardboard box,
and he had a plastic leg,
and his plastic foot was
pointed in the wrong direction.
It's like this.
In my mind, it was a G.I. Joe leg,
and his foot was pointed like that.
I just thought,
"I'm not tough enough to
live in a box with a plastic leg,
so I'm just going to die."
At the same time,
I've gone up to Marvel thinking,
"Oh, I'm going to be an inker."
My first inking job was five pages
of an issue of The Defenders,
and I was working over
an artist who wasn't great.
I inked five pages, and they were terrible.
I made it look worse.
But I remember Butch Guice did a
pin-up for the Micronauts, penciled,
and I came in to pick
up this pin-up to ink,
and the assistant editor
who nobody was afraid of,
handed me that pin-up.
I said, "When do you need it?"
She said, "Take your time,
because if you turn in another
job like that Defender's job..."
And she didn't finish the sentence.
That was the scariest moment of my life.
I had no fallback plan.
My portfolio was what my portfolio was,
but my example of me really
working was being terrible.
I'm in New York.
I probably have no place to live.
All your plans have all gone to shit.
I thought, "I'm going to die here."
I wrote letters to my dad.
My brothers said, that my
father, who's a very tough guy,
a couple of times he looked
like he was going to cry
because New York just chewed me up.
If he wasn't in New York
and he wasn't in the doorway
the day Al Milgrom or somebody
needed something inked that night,
it would have been hard to break in.
So Mike got work just because
he was standing in doorways.
Because I wasn't any good
and I was trying to get work,
I would just hang out in the bullpen.
That's how I eventually got work.
Because somebody's like
that poor bastard out there
is pretty terrible,
but we need this book tomorrow,
so if that guy can hold
a pen, give him work.
Thank God, Marvel was
publishing so much back then.
They just needed a warm
body who could hold a pen.
And so my inking career started.
I was in New York,
so eventually a job showed
up, Master of Kung Fu.
They just literally needed somebody,
and I was there.
Master of Kung Fu ended,
and they were rolling me over
with that same artist
on to Daredevil.
I must have felt like, "Oh,
okay, we're up and rolling,"
because I basically left New York
as soon as I thought I had a career.
As soon as I moved back to California,
the inking career pretty much dried
up because you're still not very good,
and now, you're all the
way across the country and
they don't see your sad face sitting
in the office every morning going,
"Do you have any work?"
I ran into my original editor, Al Milgrom,
and he said, "So I notice
your inking career is over.
Are you ready to try drawing comics now?"
I said, "Yeah." I have
no skills of any kind
other than whatever
little drawing ability I have.
So that's how I became
a bad comic book artist.
The first couple of things I did,
I did a couple of short stories
really bad ones,
and then I landed this Rocket Raccoon book.
Rocket Raccoon had been drawn,
I think, only twice before I did it.
So I did the biggest Rocket Raccoon thing.
It doesn't bear any resemblance
to what's on the screen,
but I was a link in that chain.
Then from there, I went to the Hulk,
which was like, "Oh, the Hulk's monster,
and he's in space."
That's cool, except that my
second issue was all flashbacks
of Bruce Banner in high school.
I remember that just being one
of those, "I'm not going to survive."
Comics, to me, obviously seem
like they were made out of stuff
that I wouldn't know how to draw
because I'm not cut
out to draw superheroes.
How long am I going to
be able to hide in the fringes
and get away with things like, "Oh,
it's a space book about raccoons?"
Not that anybody told me I
had to draw a certain way,
but there was a lot of pressure
about being at Marvel comics
and doing those kind of characters.
The way that corporate
giants like Marvel and DC work
is more of a factory model.
You may have as many as six or seven people
who've had direct creative input
into what you see on a single
page in a standard Marvel book.
It's not the kind of system
where a single creator
can have an auteurist vision
that they can bring to the page.
At Marvel, you gotta know where you fit in,
where you will be the
best piece of the machine.
I was making a living, and I was doing it,
but it was just fear
and panic and struggle.
I was taking whatever jobs I
could get, and I was not very good.
I couldn't work for Marvel anymore,
or I didn't want to work
for Marvel anymore,
and so I just left.
I'm Steve Purcell.
I'm an illustrator and
director and cartoonist
and created Sam & Max: Freelance Police.
That's probably what I'm best known for.
My name is Arthur Adams. I draw comics.
Steve and I were at art school together.
Separate from that, Arthur
and I met at conventions.
Arthur was one of the stars
of the local conventions.
So sooner or later the three of us
ended up living in the same building.
We'd just sit around, draw
comics, go see movies,
and eat horrible pizza, or whatever.
We were just hanging out, being idiots.
Three guys who work at
home who would just wander
in each other's apartment
and say, "What are you doing?
Do you want to go get a pizza
or you want to go to the movies?"
It was very much like the
Seinfeld show in those days.
It's not fair to say Arthur was
Kramer, but I was clearly George.
If anybody was a leader, it was Steve.
Also, he had a car.
I had the car, so I was the
ring leader of our hijinks.
Our careers were getting going,
but it wasn't like there
was any kind of competition.
I'm a big fan of what Mike
does, but I don't want to do it.
It's really funny because we would notice
that we were taking about
as much time to draw a page,
except I was adding more lines
while he would spend
the day taking lines out,
so making things very black and white,
and I was trying to make
things a muddy mess.
Mike was pointed at something
and it seemed like he had something
in mind that he was looking for.
It was almost like he's
planting seeds for something
that you wouldn't see come
to fruition for another 10 years
or something like that.
I remember Mike and Arthur
and Steve would come over.
I felt like I get to be an
honorary Mignola brother
because we would all hang
out up at their dad's house
and get into our hijinks up
there where we invented Fizzball.
Fizzball started stupider than it finished,
and it finished pretty stupid.
Fizzball is what happens when Steve
and Arthur and me and my brother
are in my dad's backyard
on Super Bowl Sunday,
and my dad would buy
this cheap, shitty beer.
I'm sure like a penny a case.
It burns when it touches your lips.
Somebody pitched the beer and
somebody hit it with this axe handle,
and it somehow evolved
into doing that all day long.
Ideally, if you could make the can explode,
that was the coolest.
I remember Arthur hitting this can,
and it tore apart and just spun
around directly over his head
like this slow-motion octopus of foam...
Showering down this burning, acidic beer.
I remember saying to Steve,
"You gotta put that in Sam & Max
because that was the stupidest
fucking thing we've ever done."
I thought it would be fun
to do a double-page spread
that was how to play this goofy game
and filter it through
Sam & Max's sensibility.
What would they think about
it if they invented this game?
After that came out,
this thing gets picked up all
the way across the country.
At the time, Mike's dad
was just watching us,
and I remember him just
going, "Fucking idiots."
Mike's dad, he was going,
"You guys are weird."
Mike would tell people about
these activities that we would do,
and they would say, "Oh, I didn't
know you guys grew up together."
They thought we were little kids
when we would do this stuff
and they'd hear these stories.
But it turned out, "Well,
this was like two weeks ago."
That apartment that we lived
at was just a couple of blocks
from the cemetery,
and so it was a short jaunt to go up there.
One of the other few healthy things we did,
we go for a nice walk up at the cemetery.
It's beautiful there.
Mountain View Cemetery,
I think it's the largest above ground
cemetery in Northern California.
It's designed by the same fellow who
designed Central Park in New York,
so it's mostly just very pretty.
I like cemeteries.
If you look around, this
is the perfect cemetery.
Everything is cocked at an odd angle.
Not straight up and down.
That's the way cemeteries should be.
Why were we going to a cemetery?
I think probably that goes back to
our mother dying when we were young.
She had colon cancer.
Having an early exposure to death
and having to understand it, like
your mother's not coming back.
What's the next step? The cemetery.
My mother died when I was seven.
On some level, that's influenced the work.
That imagery Mike has used and
used, there's so much great statuary.
There's so many.
There's one.
- I think it's that one.
- No.
I came back from New York
with my tail between my legs, '83.
That's when I moved in the building.
Around the time, I realized
I was running out of...
I was running out of...
I thought, "I don't know how I'm
going to be able to stay in comics."
I'm not cut out to draw cars and buildings,
most of the stuff that comics are made of.
I think that Mike was ill-suited for
most of the work he was given in the '80s.
Anytime that he was asked
to draw a superhero book,
by and large, that was not a great fit.
I wanted to be one of
those pretty picture guys.
I wanted to be an illustrator,
I wanted to be Frazetta,
and I wanted to be Wrightson.
But when I did Cosmic Odyssey, I
was drawing a lot of Kirby characters.
I mean, you look at early
1960s Marvel Comics,
Jack Kirby created the look,
he created the characters.
That guy is inventing everything.
But I never really thought
of him as an influence
because Jack's stuff was so exaggerated,
and I was still trying to be perfect.
So when I did Cosmic Odyssey,
I spent a solid year with Kirby
characters on my drawing table.
That was the missing ingredient
in turning me into
whatever the fuck I am now.
The freedom to exaggerate
was like zapping the Frankenstein
monster with electricity.
And then stuff exploded.
There were a couple of books,
where he was able to
stretch his legs a little bit.
There was an issue of
Legends of the Dark Knight
that let him do a little
bit more of his stuff.
The biggest breakthrough
thing for God knows what reason,
Archie Goodwin said to me,
"Well, you should try
writing an issue of Batman."
I wish I could find the
mausoleum that I used in Batman.
I don't know how to draw cars,
but I can draw cemeteries and
spooky shit and Victorian-looking shit.
I came up with basically a
straight vampire/ghost Batman story.
Archie said, "Yeah, do that."
That was huge.
Not just because it was my
story, but it was all my visuals.
It was the kind of shit
that was inside my head.
It was the kind of shit I read.
I thought, "If I could
do this, this will work."
And it was awesome.
It was awesome.
Sanctum. Batman in a
graveyard, falls into the grave,
blood everywhere, crazy things happen.
That's when Mike becomes Mike.
All of a sudden, he
goes full expressionistic.
What I loved about the
Legends of the Dark Knight comic
was it really brought the
Gothic side of Batman.
He really got the sense
that this entire comic
was lit by candlelight
because of so much black.
His use of shadows and
silhouette are just fantastic.
I think Mike is an amazing Batman artist.
The way that he's all trunk,
he's just this big bruiser.
It's frightening in how he clearly is
in touch with a lot of that darkness.
A lot of people say that
was the first Hellboy story.
It's a proto-Hellboy story.
That's as close to a Hellboy
story, as you can imagine.
I came out of that book
going, "That's what I do.
That is my kind of story."
I wasn't sure I could write my own
stuff, but I did like making up the stuff.
Then the thought was, "Well,
do I do this with Wolverine?
How many times are they going to
let me do a supernatural Batman story?
How am I going to get away with
continuing to do stories like that?
Who's my guy?"
That was Hellboy.
That's the original Hellboy drawing.
The one that started it all.
The one where I just drew a monster
and then stuck the name Hellboy on it,
which I guess is a historical artifact now.
There was no real idea for Hellboy.
I was supposed to do a convention,
and the convention asked for a
drawing to go in their program book.
So I just drew a monster.
When the monster was done,
I'd given him this big
weird-shaped belt buckle thing,
and I thought, "It needs
something," and I wrote Hellboy.
I thought it was hilarious.
And that was it.
After I'd done this Batman
book that I plotted myself,
I thought, "Oh, I want
to do more stuff like that.
I just needed the main character."
So I said, "Well, I want to draw a
book about a guy fighting monsters."
And if the main character is a monster,
then I'm drawing monsters all the time.
If I could get away with that,
that would be the end all, be all.
I went in the studio, and
I came out later and said,
"I'd figured it out and it's Hellboy."
I just rolled my eyes and that was that.
The look on her face said, "We're always
going to live in a studio apartment."
I figured I could work
for the rest of our lives.
I'm like, "If that makes you
happy, go ahead and do it."
That's when I started
thinking about who Hellboy is.
For Hellboy to be the kind of
person that I wanted him to be,
I needed to give him a
certain kind of background.
And that was, again, my father.
His stories about the GIs and
the people he spent time with,
the stories I would hear about
his army buddies and stuff,
I said, "Yeah, that would create this guy."
My father was a very tough guy.
Not a mean guy, but he's
physically strong and tough.
I remember, I think one of the
anecdotes of some of Hellboy's personality
was Mike observing his dad
coming home from the cabinet shop.
And he had a splinter coming
out of his head or something,
and he pulled it out with
pliers, and say "ah, crap."
He was a cabinet maker,
so he always came home
scarred up and bloody,
and his hands were dry and hard.
His hands were always big and
cracked from the glue at the shop.
They were like wood,
they'd just crack open.
There wouldn't be blood.
It really served me well knowing
what Hellboy's hand felt like.
I knew Hellboy could
strike a match on his hand.
My dad always had a cigarette
hanging out of the corner of his mouth,
and he just had a very
casual way about injury, like,
"Dad, why is there blood all over you?"
"I've got my hand stuck in this machine."
He's the toughest guy on Earth.
And so that very much went
into what Hellboy was like.
Hellboy is very much
like a blue-collar figure,
and all of his buddies are blue-collar.
It's a job.
Monster hunting and occult investigation
is not this rarefied thing
in the world of Hellboy.
It's government work.
There's no pretense about him.
He really would rather
not go save the world.
He really would rather sit
there and watch Three Stooges
and Marx Brothers movies.
I think one of his advantages
is that he is so basic,
and he has very simple pleasures,
and just wants to live a simple life.
This is the original Hellboy coat.
The first couple drawings of Hellboy,
he was just a bare-chested thing,
and it was fine.
It was kind of Hulk-ish.
He had little pants on and
stuff, but something was missing.
I just went to my closet.
I had bought this coat
a couple of years before
because I love the
Western, the Long Riders.
They all work those
thin, long duster coats.
And that's what made him work.
Putting the coat on him made it work.
I thought, "What's the
next move going to be?"
When I started Dark Horse,
I wanted to start a comic
book publishing company
that stood for creator
ownership and creative freedom.
I had targeted a certain group of creators
that I wanted to come and work with us.
I offered to let them own their work, too.
In the '90s, Dark Horse
was one of a tiny handful
of independent comic book publishers
not owned by a large
corporation like Marvel or DC.
Creators were realizing that
they could have more freedom
working independently.
The door of opportunity
has opened in a way.
I chased Mike a couple of years, and
he used to say, "Why do you want me?"
And that kind of stuff, very self effacing.
One day, he just came to me
and said, "I've got this project.
You probably won't
want it. It's called Hellboy."
I said, "Let's do it."
The way I remembered, he went, "Okay."
I mean, who the fuck does that?
You have no giant track record of success
and you've just told us the
stupidest name for a character.
Yeah, you can do that.
To me, that was a watershed
moment in the comics industry.
When I did that first Hellboy miniseries,
I thought nobody was going
to buy this fucking thing.
And I was right.
On its initial release, Hellboy
was not a huge success.
In fact, the first issue did not
even break into the top 300 books.
But sometimes you got to
forget the commercial concerns
and take the artistic risk.
Eventually, people are going to catch up.
Some people recognized
Mike's talent right away.
He was unique and original.
You'd see his art, you
recognize it as Mignola art.
I remember right at the very
beginning of my comics career
being asked who I wanted to
work with, and asking for Mike.
He was simply the most
evocative artist around.
There's something so
compelling about Mike's drawing.
It was art house for comic books.
He wasn't using the typical shapes
that you would see in a comic.
The way a mouth was formed,
the rings under the eyes.
Nobody else was doing that stuff.
It's lit in these extreme ways.
The use of the heavy chiaroscuro black ink,
and the way that everything in
Hellboy is emerging out of darkness.
I see the darkness in Mignola's art
as being very related to the sublime.
It has more to do with the power
of what you're not able to see
than spooky darkness.
I think Alan Moore once described
the Hellboy style as Jack Kirby lit
by German expressionist filmmakers.
I've seen guys try to imitate,
and I myself have tried
to imitate certain parts,
but nobody can do what he
does, we can all just learn from it.
Just as I went to
animation school at CalArts,
I discovered Mike, and I was
in a character design class.
I remember the teacher said,
"Bring art from different artists
so that we can break it down."
I brought a Hellboy comic in.
The teacher did a whole class
on, "Look how smart this artist is,
look how he's referencing Kirby,
but at the same time,
he's being very cinematic.
It was like German expressionism."
Just hearing an art teacher
talk about a comic like that
made me go, "Holy cow, this is incredible."
I'm continually astounded
by how quickly my first pass
through a page is,
and then at the end of the
page, I'll pause and be like,
"I got to go back and
look at this beat by beat.
What a thing."
Mike, the way he paces a page,
the way he lays out the rhythm,
and when he interrupts
with a little detail,
it can be a robin in a branch, a flower.
To me, he's one of the
great, great masters of that.
It's just little snapshots.
It's not like big panoramas.
It's like, here's a little
bit of the environment,
here's a weird headstone, or here's a crow.
I would always come
back to those little panels.
It feels like the panels themselves
are the dust hanging in the air
that makes you stay there.
None of those things are supposed
to work, but they completely work.
And that really is him.
Nobody else can really do it.
We usually come out here
every morning, or we used to.
Too bad you guys weren't
here a little while ago.
The garden was fantastic.
She also tends to plant stuff and
then not know what she planted.
But I did it on purpose like a surprise.
I'll just plant a variety of tomatoes
and not know what I'm going to get.
Christine's a big part
of the Hellboy story.
A lot of times, without
our significant others,
we wouldn't really follow
our heart to do the thing
that we're passionate about.
We would do the most pragmatic thing.
There's so many creators out there
that don't want to take the
economic chance, the financial risk
of trying to create something
and stick with in over time.
I figured I would do Hellboy, and
then I would bounce back to DC
and see if I could talk them into
doing another Batman or something.
You could go do Batman, and you
could make probably more money
per issue than you could for
doing your own creator own work.
But I remember specifically my wife saying,
"If you really want to
do this thing, do it again."
My wife, who never
really tells me what to do,
gave me that gentle little,
"If you like doing it, why
don't you just keep doing it?
Show the audience that
you care about this thing."
We met in April of 1988.
One of my friends was getting married
and we took her out
for a bachelorette party.
He was at a bachelor
party in the same restaurant.
It was a Mexican restaurant
and there was a lot of margaritas going on.
The couple of women that
were still sober enough to walk
came over to see what was this
gigantic table of guys wearing glasses.
The whole restaurant
was basically one big party.
That's where I met him.
I guess Christine and I were talking.
There's actually photos of when
we met, which is pretty funny.
It boiled down to, "Will you just
get her phone number already.
What's wrong with you?"
Which is something I never would have done.
I was too shy, too awkward.
But I guess I'd had enough
drinks that I went, "Okay."
And I did, and that was it.
Basically, he moved in
with me three months after
because I had air
conditioning and he didn't.
Three years later, we got married.
It was a good thing.
And Christine is so level-headed.
Mike, I feel, would have been successful.
I don't think he would have been
as successful without Christine.
She instilled that confidence in him
that he was not going to have on his own.
And I pushed him.
I said, "Create your character
and stick with it, get it rolling."
He loved doing it, and everybody
can see how much he loved doing it.
For him to give it up just
didn't make any sense to me.
Almost everything.
When I did that first Hellboy miniseries,
I talked to John Byrne about scripting
my book because I'm afraid of writing.
He wrote the first Hellboy series.
He knew I should be doing it
myself, but I just wasn't confident.
Because I never set out to be a writer.
But there was a part of me
that said if I didn't start writing,
I don't know how long I could
have kept drawing comics,
just getting scripts from other people.
His brain is constant.
I mean, it's constant.
He sees things differently
than other people.
When I started writing,
it was like magic to me.
Things just appear.
Characters start talking to
each other, and you're like,
"I didn't know that."
I just got to sit back, and
let these characters talk,
and then try to write it down.
It's like it's coming from some place.
I did still think I'm an artist
first before I'm a writer.
I'm never going to be Ray Bradbury,
never going to be Neil Gaiman.
So stick to what you do
and hide behind the artwork.
I'm not going to try to describe
what the wind smells like,
but I can draw leaves blowing.
Once it started to work, it
was like you grew an extra arm.
Suddenly you went, "I'm in control."
It's a whole different thing.
He'll be like, "I just came
up with a story in the shower."
And he runs down and he
writes it up, and he's like,
"Oh my God, I'm a failure.
Nobody's going to ever want it."
The second one I wrote myself,
I figured that was going to blow.
And then the third one I did was funny.
That was a real breakout moment for me.
I had so much fun drawing it.
And then when it was
over, I looked at it and went,
"Oh my God, it's unpublishable."
And then everybody said, "It's
the best thing you've ever done."
Hellboy: The Corpse is a
short, but it delivers a lot story.
It's one of the best ones
we've ever done, honestly.
This is when I thought it reach an apex.
It's like a song.
It's so perfect and concise.
It's the best thing I've ever done,
and it's the most fun I ever had.
I guess that's pretty good.
I own a few pages of The Corpse,
including the page that I
consider the most perfect.
It took me a long, long
time to get that one.
When Mike started writing,
Hellboy became a much
better, madder, weirder book.
And the book went on
to be hugely successful.
That changed everything.
Mr. Mignola, take us
around your lovely studio.
More books.
One of the things that distinguishes
Hellboy in the time that it appeared is
the willingness on Mignola's part
to do something like actual research.
There's so many books in his studio.
He's, I almost want to say, a scholar.
He's just really dedicated
to art and to mythology.
This funky thing.
A book on Norse mythology.
The Norse had the best monsters.
Mignola clearly loves
reading and reads deeply;
different folklore, different traditions,
Japanese, Middle
European, African, Icelandic.
I think it's amazing.
He's just created this beautiful
and tragic supernatural world.
I never read anything that
analyzes fairy tales and folklore
because I like the stories.
I've tried to maintain and maybe focus
on the strange rhythms to those stories
without overanalyzing.
I just always love whenever
he's using folklore in his stuff,
that there's never a
time where he says like,
"Can we find out about Baba
Yaga when she was young,
and who was mean to her?"
He just doesn't do that. You're
just going to still go with it.
Even if later, you go like, "Wait, what?"
But it's too late. You
already enjoyed the story.
Del Toro and I would always
refer to this fairytale logic,
which I can't explain.
But if you read enough of that
stuff, you go, "This feels right."
As a kid from Tijuana,
I was raised Catholic,
and so all that mythology
and all the iconography
spoke so much to me.
And I think Hellboy really speaks
to a part of the world that
grew up with all those stories.
I was raised Catholic,
so the imagery, the ritual, and
the drama of it is super appealing.
It's clear Mignola is very well-read
and very much in love with all this lore.
Every demon from every
narrative you've ever imagined
is part of this world.
He uses all these stories
from all over the world
and introduces characters
like the Baba Yaga or Camazotz
to people like me who didn't know.
Hellboy was always the kind of book
that once people did
discover it, they stayed with it.
So although it was not blowing
anybody's minds in terms of its sales,
Hellboy had a loyal fan base.
When I'd gotten Hellboy going,
Dark Horse approached me
about optioning it for a film.
I figured it was free money.
A movie option just means
somebody can make a movie.
So it was a no-brainer to say,
"Yeah, sure, I'll do the option deal."
I thought, "Nobody's ever
going to make a Hellboy movie."
I was a follower of Mike
since his DC Comics days.
I knew he was the big
lips, little feet guy back then.
And then Hellboy came
into my life in the mid-90s.
I was preparing and shooting Mimic,
and I would go to the comic
book shop in Toronto and say,
"Is the new Hellboy in?"
And it was like being a kid again.
The possibility of a Hellboy
movie wasn't going anywhere,
and then Del Toro came
to Dark Horse and said,
"I'm the guy to direct that movie."
I think it started with my gratitude
for saving my sanity during Mimic.
I wanted to do a movie of
what I felt about the character.
He was going through a
rough patch after Mimic.
I think that might have been the reason why
he was so in love with the character.
I took Guillermo to introduce
him to Mike up here in Portland.
Richardson was very nervous
that I was going to blow this deal.
Richardson was really worried
because Mike is known to
have a very short temper.
So Richardson said,
"Don't do any nicknames
or be too childlike."
And I was like, "All right."
We're in Portland. Where
do you go in Portland?
You go to Powell's.
And I think as soon as
Richardson left us there,
Del Toro says, "We have
to play a trick on that guy."
And I said,
"Why don't you call Mike Richardson
and tell him the meeting was horrible?"
And he called Richardson and said,
"You know what he wants to do?
You know who he wants to cast?"
Then he just says, "No,
I'm joking. It went well."
Del Toro thought it was hilarious,
which also cemented the
relationship between me and Del Toro.
We got along great.
I think Mike and I intersect
on 90% of our tastes.
We both love the same occult,
compendiums, and the same writers.
When I go to visit somebody's house,
I gravitate to the bookshelf, and I
know what person that person is.
He would call me Magnus.
Magnus, because of a short story
by M. R. James called Count Magnus.
And then it took six years
to get the first movie made
because it turns out
wanting to make a movie
about a red monster with a tail
starring Ron Perlman is not as easy
a sale as you would think it would be.
Hellboy was a whole pilgrimage.
To get the movie, we wrote the screenplay,
we did the designs, and everybody said no.
Nobody wanted to greenlight a
biggish movie with Ron Perlman.
I knew Ron had been
in Del Toro's first movie,
and I couldn't imagine anybody else.
The minute he downloaded me about
Hellboy, my mouth watered a little bit,
but I didn't allow myself the luxury
of thinking I could ever play him
because I understand that if you're
going to do a franchise movie for a studio,
they want to hedge their
bet, and they want to get a guy
who's got a track record and a name.
They say, "Can The Rock be Hellboy?"
They said, "We'll greenlight with him."
I said, "F that," you
know. "I don't want that."
Del Toro is stubborn and persistent
and charming and stubborn and persistent.
It just went on for years.
Whenever we were together, I would say,
"Guillermo, go make
the movie with Nic Cage,
or whoever you have to make it with.
Go make it. It's too good a project."
But he never intended to do it
unless he could do it his way.
Finally, my agent said,
"If you want to do Hellboy,
you got to do Blade II
because nobody is going
to think you can do Hellboy
by seeing Cronos or Devil's
Backbone or even Mimic.
You got to show what
you can do with action."
I thought casting Ron as Reinhardt
would also position him as an action man,
as a guy that fills the screen.
I said to Mike,
"Would you like to design stuff for Blade?"
It's not what I do. I'm not a
film designer, but I said yes.
I think I was there so Del Toro could
see if we could do Hellboy together.
This was the first experience
I had working with Del Toro.
I remember I was only in
the office for like a week,
and he came into my office and said,
"Magnus, next week we're going to
Prague. Do you have your passport?"
I'm like, "What are you talking about?"
"We're going to scout locations.
You better get some warm clothes too."
Went home, got my passport,
bought some winter clothes,
went to Prague.
Prague was still a little
bit like the Wild West.
Mike and I scouted the
sewers, we scouted factories,
and we tried to get into a
church that had a mummified arm.
We would have our driver driving
us around to scout locations.
And once, the driver, who
was a really scary-looking guy,
drives out in the middle
of nowhere to some forest,
and we thought we were going to die.
We're in the back seat laughing.
It was an adventure.
And I think we spent more
time looking for puppets
than we spent scouting locations.
Blade was a great shoot. It was
fun. I loved it. And it opened very big.
That was a huge weekend.
On the Monday, after the opening weekend,
everybody in town wanted to
jump on the Guillermo Del Toro train.
And Del Toro called me and said,
"Blade is number one at the box office.
If they don't say yes to
Hellboy now, they never will."
In the early 90s, I was working
in Warner Bros. Animation Studio,
and I remember seeing some
cover artwork that Mike had done,
and I was captivated
by his use of silhouette,
strong graphic design,
where the lines are so crisp
and the shapes are so distinct.
People say less is more all the time.
Mike doesn't put down extra lines.
He doesn't leave out lines that are needed.
Mike was all about simplifying it down,
and you can watch it through his career.
It's not easier. It's harder to do.
This reminds me of a story.
I had lunch with Mike,
and I remember asking him,
"Hey man, your art, it goes to dark.
I love the implication of what's not there.
That the absence of things,
you're telling us things about that.
How did you come up with that?"
He goes, "I just didn't want
to draw the background."
Mignola's simplified design
just translate so well to animation.
I think it was 1997, I met
the romance model Fabio.
He basically said, "I want
to do an animated series."
I'm thinking about Thor.
So the next thing I knew, we're
doing this animated series with Fabio.
And in my mind, there's only
one person I wanted to design it.
And Mike was like,
"Yeah, it sounds like fun."
The series never went anywhere,
but I always loved
Mike's work on the series.
Fabio was not a fan of Mike's designs.
He wanted something more
cartoony and more realistic
because Fabio doesn't
know anything about art.
But also,
doing a show in Mignola's design
style in 1997 was way too early.
It was very avant-garde and very daring.
While the artists loved it,
a lot of executives couldn't
grasp how awesome it was.
all the artists at Disney feature
were definitely thinking the same thing,
which is why they had him
working on Atlantis at the time.
Atlantis was a movie that was
being made when I was in school.
And we had teachers come in and go,
"We got Mike Mignola to design Atlantis."
People were cheering and it was like,
"It's going to happen. This
movie is going to look different."
And they would bring all these
beautiful drawings he had done,
and we were all like, "Ooh, aah."
I actually had a lot to do
with the story on Atlantis,
or at least the big final
arc was an idea I had.
It was just one of those,
"Hey, what if this happened?"
And suddenly, it's this big
epic conclusion to the film.
And then opening night,
I go to the movies, I get my
popcorn, and I watch the movie,
and just like everybody, I was like,
"Where's the Mignola? What happened?"
Huge missed opportunity.
I'm sure everybody there agrees that
that movie should have looked better.
We started to work on the Atlantis
series before Atlantis was finished.
And I said, "This is fantastic.
I'm never going to get
to do the Hellboy series,
so this is going to be as
close as I can get to it."
Atlantis came out, it didn't do well.
For whatever reason, Disney
washed their hands of it immediately
and took a loss on it.
We ended up laying off 85
people on Friday the 13th.
In retrospect, Disney's
Atlantis was a significant movie.
You can still see its impact
in contemporary pop culture.
And a lot of that is now attributed
to Mignola's contribution to the work.
And that goes back to the basic idea
that if you could capture Mike's
artwork and just animate it,
it would have been a big hit.
I'm Chris P and I run an
animation studio named Titmouse.
One of the very early jobs we did
was The Amazing Screw-On Head,
which was a Mike Mignola project.
Get me Screw-On Head.
Mike's work has been incredibly influential
in the world of animation
because he cracked this thing
that people who do
animation really zoned in on,
the reduced style with the amount
of lines and the amount of colors
and stuff like that.
And that's why we were able to make
this amazing Screw-On Head
look so much like the comic.
Mr. Groin.
Here, sir.
I had read The Amazing Screw-On
Head when it first came out.
I loved it. I loved those last three pages
of three horrible women and a monkey.
I just got asked to audition,
and I got the part of the butler.
Good show.
I didn't even know that Paul Giamatti was
going to be reading Screw-On Head.
I am not comfortable
with this level of intimacy
from someone in your position.
Yes, sir.
It was such a departure
for what anybody was doing.
Nothing looked like that.
Nothing had a story like that.
Nothing had characters like that.
There wasn't even stuff
like that on Adult Swim yet.
I'm so excited. I just made
water in my pantaloons.
We're coming for you, America.
It didn't end up getting picked up.
It never went anywhere. It's too bad.
I think it was a little
bit ahead of its time.
Despite his genius, or
perhaps even because of it,
animation didn't really work out for Mike.
He was too far ahead
of his time for Hollywood.
You're having it?
Crowd murmur
yeah, yeah. It's just like-
Have you ever shared
the origins of the sword?
It's so good.
Reading Hellboy, I
felt that there's a power
and being like "We're the underdogs,
and our comic is also an underdog."
And the fact that Hellboy is
the hero but also a monster
is just a beautiful touch
because Mike's universe offers
a gateway for those kids, those adults
who don't see themselves in Superman
and Batman and Captain America
and all the rest.
Because I don't understand them.
You write what you know.
As a kid, I was the only guy I knew
who liked what I liked and did what I did.
I just read books and watched
old movies, and I was an artist.
It was kind of isolating.
Within a fandom like this, a lot
of misfits can find their people.
The heroes that Mike Mignola
has created are flawed misfits.
They have insecurities
about their looks, their powers.
There's a lot of internal conflict in
these characters that he's created,
and I think that audiences really
connect with that kind of character.
The way that they're all trying to navigate
who they are and feeling like monsters.
When I was a teenager,
I really felt like that, I didn't
know where I was supposed to fit.
I think a lot of misfits
feel that way too, of,
"No, I don't fit into these categories,
but there has to be a place for me.
I can't escape this world, so
can't there be a place for me?"
I think that's part of
the brilliance of Hellboy,
it's that Hellboy's constantly
got to prove he's one of us.
He's here on our side.
The idea of the hero as monster
is something that only really decisively
enters the superhero genre in the 1960s
with the Hulk and the
Thing and Kirby's work.
That notion of the hero
as monster falls away
in the early days of the 90s,
where you have, instead, sort of the hero
as super jacked, Rambo-esque type,
but you don't have a
sense of shame, self-hatred,
a recognition of the idea
that one's own appearance
might actually terrify the
people that you're trying to help.
And Mignola rediscovered those
pieces of the superhero narrative
and then really detaching them from
a lot of the other superhero trappings.
The way he treats
monsters, specifically Hellboy,
I really believe it's the
ultimate immigrant story.
He's an immigrant from Hell, came to Earth.
People don't think he's a good
person. They think he's here to hurt us,
and he turns out to be a good person.
It was like, "That's an outsider like me."
And that's really what
I think Hellboy is about.
It's about the fact that
we all feel like misfits.
We all feel like we're trying to
cut off some part of our personality
which seems to describe our nature
that we don't want people to know about.
That's a universal feeling.
I remember there's one of the stories
where Hellboy is talking to
another character who says,
"Because you're going to wear
the crown and you're going to be this,
you're going to be this."
And the next panel, Hellboy
says, "I'm not. I'm never going to be.
And I never want to talk about this again."
Because that was me."
There's a lot of Mike in Hellboy as well.
It's some conglomeration
of Mike and his dad
together living in that character.
There was a bit of my father in
Hellboy, but Hellboy's personality is mine.
He is my stand-in for me.
We all feel that way to some
degree at some point in our life.
That's why Mike's universe does resonate.
That's the beauty of Hellboy.
It's one of those things
where people can find
out they're not in it alone.
My dad was the first
movie freak I ever knew.
And of all the things that I saw, the
one that was a dagger to the soul was
Charles Laughton at Hunchback of Notre Dame
because there he was, this
horrible, disfigured outcast
and the most beautiful
thing you've ever seen,
all in one being.
And I went, "Holy shit."
If I have a shot at being in a world
where I can make somebody feel
like this guy just made me feel,
I'm probably going to start crying.
But yeah, when you touch people who relate,
it's not quite as good as a
paycheck, but it's a close second.
Keep it moving.
If you're in this business long enough,
you learn that everything
is going to fall apart,
because usually it does.
That's the way it fucking
works in Hollywood.
Any hope I had for the
Hellboy movie was gone.
Especially if the thing drags on for years,
you figure, "They're
never going to make it."
Blade II made so much
money the weekend it opened,
I said to Mike,
"If we don't get the green light on Monday,
we were never going to make it."
After Blade II, everybody said,
"In a perfect world, what
would you want to do next?"
He said, "Hellboy."
And only one guy in town, Joe Roth, said,
"Yeah, I can do that."
It's taken five years to get here,
and we're here with all the
people we wanted to be here with;
the director who wanted to do it,
we got the star that we agreed
on the very first time we spoke.
I look forward to having
an amazing time working
on a magical property and
the fantastic adaptation thereof.
I realized that pretty early on
that there's so many great things
about your thing being adapted,
but if your thing is even
moderately successful,
you're going to live in the shadow of that
because more people are
going to know it as a movie.
That's where Hellboy comes from.
It took years for me to get
the comic up and running.
I've just gotten to the point
where I'm starting to see
a bunch of different stories I want
to do and an arc for this character,
and now I have to run
the risk of them making
a terrible movie with this kid, Del
Toro, who is an up-and-coming guy,
but is a pretty untested guy.
You pattern that thing on Sammael
with some of these same shapes-
It going to be confusing. Is it a scar?
It's your confusing design.
It's your confusing movie.
There's a part of me that
said, "It's going to be terrible.
It's going to be terrible beyond
anything anybody can imagine,
and this movie will be
so colossally horrible
that I'll never be able
to touch Hellboy again.
I will have completely
ruined this thing I had going."
Being a huge Hellboy fan and
seeing those first publicity stills,
part of me was scared, to be honest,
because as an artist, I freaking
adore the way Mike draws.
So I went, "Oh, it's a movie movie.
It's not going to look like the comic."
So it took me a while
to get into that space.
Early on in pre-production, I said,
"I cannot make the comic work
just in service to the material."
The virtues of the comic are
not possible to do in the movie.
The depth of the universe
is impossible to replicate,
and I know this because I tried.
Mike's use of light is impossible
to replicate in the real world.
It was a major jumping off point,
going from a comic book
thing where you have
a character that speaks
in one-word sentences,
to creating a film where he's
speaking in full sentences,
and he's moving, and
he's three-dimensional,
and he's got blood
flowing through his veins.
I knew that if the
movie was true to itself,
the comic was safe.
It's not like we altered the comic.
When the film is over and done
with, the comic is what it was.
It's not like when the film is done,
suddenly I start drawing the film
version of the BPRD headquarters.
There were a couple of
things on the first Hellboy
that I didn't agree with.
Mike hated certain
things, hated certain things.
He didn't like the romance
because it was not true
to the canon of the comics.
And I remember I bribed Del Toro
to remove one scene from the movie.
A Gothic crib, like 10 stories high,
rocking softly in the wind, and
there was a little baby in the middle.
And Mike says, "No, that's so stupid."
I couldn't run the risk of
Hellboy showing up in a giant crib,
so I gave him a few pages from The Corpse
so that Hellboy wouldn't
show up on Earth in a giant crib.
I said, "I'll trade it for
four pages of The Corpse."
And he gave me four pages of The Corpse.
It was a party.
It was so much fun.
Laughed our asses off.
I kinda stay away from all of the
hype, and the marketing, and the bullshit.
When I did ask Guillermo,
"Is there a good buzz?"
He says, "My friend, let
me tell you something.
When I optioned Hellboy,
there were 6,000 readers.
Now the movie is about to
come out and it's up to 12,000."
I said, "Holy shit.
If you double it every five years
by Hellboy 7, we're going
to have some following."
Del Toro's Hellboy movie was a big success,
and the result was sales of
the Hellboy comic got boosted,
and this gave Mignola the chance
to expand his vision
and expand his universe.
When we came off the first
Hellboy movie, it was like,
"Well, if there's ever a time that
maybe we could see a spinoff book,
let's try that."
This was really the
launchpad for the Mignolaverse.
Mignolaverse is the comic book
universe that includes Hellboy
and all of his tie-in
characters and spinoff books.
It's his own universe, isn't it?
You have the Marvel
Universe, the DC Universe.
It's not a Dark Horse
Universe, it's a Mignolaverse.
I don't know who coined that.
Mike probably hates it.
He hates it.
Yeah, that just sounds weird.
I'm sorry Mike, but it's caught on.
We can't get away from it now.
The Marvel Universe, the DC Universe.
I think with Mignola,
it's a whole different
kind of storytelling,
that's why it doesn't feel
like some sort of equivalent.
You can't say there are these things
and then Hellboy is the third
rung down the ladder or something.
It's another building,
it's like another thing.
That the characters were strong enough
to sustain these spinoffs
in multiple directions.
It's just a remarkable success story
because he wasn't the only person
who was trying to do that kind of thing,
but he seems to be maybe the
only one who really succeeded.
And now the Hellboy Universe is
the largest creator-owned
comic universe that's ever existed.
It is so, so many books.
We're talking about a world
with a whole bunch of characters
that can all stand on their own
and all have their own books,
and they all do have their own books.
Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, all
of these characters that he's created.
We've done a Rasputin book.
We have done The Visitor,
which is literally based on the alien
that we saw in a couple of
pages in Seed of Destruction.
Nothing gets wasted.
Mike is very good at picking up the
pieces that he's just thrown out there.
I'm always making up
stories or chewing over ideas
and trying to make them into stories.
Oh, here's an idea that
we didn't do, so let's do it.
One of my favorite characters
to draw, Gruagach, the pig guy.
He first appeared in The
Corpse and The Iron Shoes.
By his own admission,
Mike's made use of things
that he's just touched in the past,
and then, "Oh, I can use that here.
Yeah, that'll make me look much smarter."
And he does,
and everybody immediately
thinks he's a genius,
which he is, clearly.
One of the smartest,
accidental things I did
was have Hellboy appear on Earth in
1944 and then set his first story in '93,
so it gave you a big chunk of
time where as I make up stuff,
as I think of stuff, all this
stuff can happen in there.
But eventually, the whole
thing became more complicated.
It's not a one-man job.
Obviously, expanding a comic book universe
means bringing in more collaborators,
more writers, more artists.
For the first 10 years, Hellboy
was being drawn solely by Mike,
and so they started
bringing in writers, artists,
but he actually has
final say on everything.
One of the challenges
that they would have had
is that nobody can draw like Mignola.
There are certain things where I go,
"Well, only I could draw that.
Maybe I can find an
artist who can draw it."
The trouble is, it's hard
for me to trust other people,
so I might have, in the old days,
been very fussy about some stuff.
There's a thing in comics where
he's considered a curmudgeon.
Some people find him to
be like a grouchy old man.
He had a bad reputation for a while.
He does have a temper.
You don't create a multiverse
without breaking a few eggs.
What is it like working with Mike?
I'm not sure I'm allowed
to answer that question.
Mike will tell you exactly what he wants.
If he doesn't like it, he'll
tell you he doesn't like it.
Mike has strong preferences,
but I trust his opinions on things,
and it makes it a lot
easier to dive into anything
that he feels should be different.
He'll listen and he'll nod thoughtfully
and say, "Yeah, that's all wrong."
It doesn't make for the most
relaxing work experience.
It's whatever is important to try to
get what's in my head onto the page.
Mike just wants what he wants,
and if he knows you can do it,
then all the more reason to get it.
I see the way I would
draw these characters,
not how somebody else
would draw the characters.
It's not wrong, but it's
not how I want to do it,
and it's my book, which
he never actually said.
Hellboy was always meant to
be my thing that I get to draw.
You certainly didn't make up
something about a red character with a tail
and call it Hellboy because you
said, "Oh, there's my movie idea."
And it's funny because I never
thought the movie would be made.
But suddenly it was like,
"There's going to be a Hellboy II."
Hellboy was successful,
and very successful on video,
and then the studio was the
one that came back and said,
"We want a sequel. Can you do one?"
We had a lot of fun on Blade.
We had fun and were collaborative
on the first Hellboy movie,
but it was a much different dynamic
on the second movie
than it was on the first.
I lost all the battles I
fought on Hellboy II.
There was pressure on Hellboy II.
We felt like we got to top the first,
because usually on the second one
they're a little bit more scrutinizing.
We really quickly ran into the thing
of, we can't go back to the comic
because the character
has been changed so much.
I remember him calling me up and saying,
"Magnus, we're going to call it
Hellboy and The Golden Army."
And I went, what the
fuck is the Golden Army?
Because the original idea was
waking up the Angel of Death.
He said, "I took out the Angel of
Death and now it's gold robots."
It was going to go
where it was going to go.
Del Toro had a vision
for what he wanted to do.
There was no shaking that.
It's kind of like when your
kid grows up and moves away
and you no longer have
control over their life,
so it's this weird little thing that
you thought would be your little thing,
and at some point you go, "It's
not really my little thing anymore."
There was a defining moment
between me and Del Toro where I said,
"Hellboy wouldn't do that."
And he said, "Your Hellboy
wouldn't, mine would."
And it was one of those moments where
you have a flash of anger and then you go,
"Oh, he's absolutely right."
In my own stuff, I know the
biggest creative successes I had
was when I just relaxed
and did my crazy shit.
I knew Del Toro needed
to make that character his,
and I knew I had to help
him make that character his.
If this guy doesn't have room
to put his own juice in there,
his own ideas, it's not going to work.
At some point, you have to
trust other people with your stuff.
I said, "Hey, I did it my
way. You do it your way."
A hot weekend for Hellboy
II: The Golden Army,
the devilish Universal sequel
starring Ron Perlman battled
to the top of the box office.
I was blown away.
I was already a huge Guillermo
fan and then once the movie started,
I was like, "This isn't Hellboy-Hellboy.
This is Guillermo's
version of Mike's Hellboy."
I thought the Hellboy movies
that he made were amazing,
especially that second one.
The whole sequence where the
tree monster dies on the street.
It's a terrifying monster that dies
so beautifully and so tragically.
That, to me, is the essence of
Mignola and Hellboy right there.
I love what Guillermo did
with the Hellboy universe.
I love the beauty and the
elegance of some of the demons
who are terrifying to look at
and yet also really magnificent.
There's a majesty to them
that I think befits the
comic books really well.
Guillermo's first movie is what
got me into the Hellboy comics.
And then the moment I discovered
there was much more to this world,
I dove in and I have been buying
every BPRD Hellboy comic I could.
I'd love to think the
comic would still be selling
if there wasn't movies,
but I'll never know.
Clearly, in a Darwinian sense,
the synergy between the comics and
the movie allowed Hellboy to survive,
because if you look back at the
big titles for Dark Horse back then,
none of them stayed for this long.
That's definitely one of
the gigantic advantages.
It's a great marketing tool for the comic.
If the movie is a neon sign
saying, read this, read this,
it's a huge advantage for the
culture and for people to discover
this amazing set of
characters that Mike created
and I borrowed for a spin.
And now I feel like the
parking guy on Ferris Bueller
when he gives them the
keys and you go...
Oh, my God.
To be the recipient of
that kind of largesse,
that was a complete change
in the trajectory of my career.
I've been on a roll ever since
Hellboy II that still hasn't dissipated.
It was a game-changer.
Getting the chance to play Abe
Sapien has been life-changing for me.
I owe Mike Mignola and
Guillermo Del Toro everything
for letting that moment happen for me
that then helped propel me into my future.
It was a curious time
because after Hellboy,
I got offered a ton of movies.
I got my pick of the litter.
And the Oscar goes to The Shape of Water.
Guillermo Del Toro and
J. Miles Dale produces.
What was really interesting was,
Abe Sapien was his rough
draft for The Shape of Water.
It's like you're watching him working
on where The Shape of
Water would end up going.
Everyone that is dreaming
of using genre fantasy
to tell the stories about the things
that are real in the world today,
you can do it.
I have enormous love for
what Mike does and him.
I don't think he would go back
at collaborating in
conceptuals or this or that,
but I would love to find something.
I would love it if there
was something I could do.
We're friends,
but we've both been
through a lot in our lives,
and I think we clearly
went in different directions.
I think friendship is not
something that works all the time.
There's a kinship there,
and neither of us is perfect,
and I like that.
I'll never be able to be
objective about the movies,
but I love that people love the movies,
and I love a lot about the movies.
Everything we had went into those movies.
We left our blood and
sweat on the dance floor.
When I think of the movies,
I think of the experience
of working on the movies.
We're all far from home
and we're all hanging out
at the hotel bar and stuff.
It was fantastic.
No one can take those days away from us.
We had a hell of a good time.
It was an adventure.
That's the big evolutionary process,
is realizing that if you can't
control it, you can't control it.
But, yeah, when I started, when I
was working with Duncan Fegredo,
I actually drew thumbnails
for the first couple issues.
And when Duncan took over the book,
I sent all those thumbnails to Duncan.
But I realized that I was tying his hands,
and I never want the
artist to feel a wrist.
I don't want to work with guys
who are just trying to do me.
I want guys to come in and do what
they do. As long as they get it right.
My brother and I were
really huge Mignola fans.
For a long time,
we thought he was the only
one who could tell those stories.
But then when they started
doing those BPRD books,
different books that could have
their own voice and their own look,
that made us think that,
"Okay, maybe we won't screw up if
we do something on the Mignolaverse."
It's my world, but within that,
I want people to come in
and do what they want to do.
Working with Mike is very freeing
because he just provides this support
to do things that are crazier
than you might otherwise do.
Everybody working on the Mignolaverse,
they are interested in creating
this universe, this experience,
this feeling of horror and
terror and astonishment.
Now, it's a snowball rolling downhill.
At some point, it got away from me.
I'd love to think I created a world
where a lot of people could
either add pieces or play with pieces
that I put in there.
The expansion of the Mignolaverse means
that it becomes a
space to foster new talent
allowing new creative voices to be heard.
I was a huge fan of Hellboy
and everything Mignola did
when I was doing Abe Sapien.
Looking at how he sees
panels and how he sees pacing
was a huge learning experience.
Mike is also a consummate professional.
Layouts-cool, pencils-tight,
all that kind of thing.
I am not.
At one point, the editor had told me,
"Mike hates how you work,
but he loves what you do."
At Rose City Comic Con,
I was innocently sitting at my
table, and Mike Mignola came over
and started praising my work
and asked me to work with his team.
It was really cool to feel validated
by one of my comic book heroes.
I do feel really happy to be
working on Sarah Jewell in particular,
because not only is she this
really powerful adventurer lady,
but she's also late middle-aged.
And we don't see that in comics
where there aren't a lot of
books about older people.
We're very lucky that we've gotten
to work with so many great people,
writers, artists, colorists, letterers,
cover artists, all of the editors,
the designers, the digital art technicians.
It's a lot.
It's a really, really big
team over the years.
I feel like I built the Hellboy machine.
I don't need to keep feeding
it or being the main guy.
I'm trying to hand over as much
of it to other people as possible.
Mike has established
a place in the industry
where the young creators look up to him,
and I think he enjoys
helping young artists.
I think he likes being a mentor.
He's open to passing
whatever he can on to them.
We were at an original art show.
There were a lot of
people there to see him.
Mike did a master class
on composition to this guy
who asked him, "You know what?
I want to do this cover of so and so.
How would you approach it?"
He sat with him for 15, 20 minutes.
He just loves seeing art from
a range of really great artists,
and he wants to share that with the world.
When it came time for me to
do my first creator-owned book,
and I was like, "Do you have any advice?
I'm a little nervous."
His response, I'll never forget it, was,
"Nobody needs another fucking Batman book.
See what your ideas are.
See if they've got legs
and throw them out there."
This is going to get too personal.
But when I got to visit his
studio, I was just starting Steven.
I was on the pilot.
I wanted to come get his
advice about mythology,
so I pitched him the idea of Steven.
I asked him, "Is there any
sort of ancient goddess,
anything that could have to
do with some of these themes
that I'm trying to work into the show?"
He pulled out a book
and opened it up to Ishtar.
She's the goddess of love, and
war, and passion, and everything.
I started to really think, "What
kind of symbol do I want to be
the symbol of this whole show?"
Ishtar is stars and lions.
Before that, Steven didn't
have any sort of symbol.
He just had a pink shirt on.
The star comes directly from Mike Mignola.
As I went on working on the
show, I really wanted to dig
into my own experience as a queer person,
and I really didn't want
to be afraid to do that.
I was, but I wanted to make
that deep in the DNA of the show.
I just think that Hellboy had so much to do
with his relationship
with his own identity.
I found it so exciting
to be reading a comic
that was really, at its core,
about someone who was
really afraid of who they are.
It was really relatable
and inspiring to me.
If Steven is doing something
similar for the people watching it,
then I would be so honored.
Now, this would be a really
good place to say, "Now stop."
Because there is the constant
worry about "When did he lose it?
At one point, he had nothing else to say,
and he just became some terrible
hack who is doing all terrible work.
So maybe you should just retire."
Then I start going, "Well, what am
I gonna do with the rest of my life."
Mike's work ethic is
definitely his father's.
He wakes up in the morning
and he works 'til the wee hours.
I don't know what to do with
myself when I'm not working.
I'll say to Christine, "I would love
to just sit and read a book today."
She'd say, "Well, you can."
But if I'm home, the studio is where I sit.
It's very much like a safe space for him.
Just recently,
Mike and I collaborated on a book
called The Quarantine Sketchbook.
That book never would have
happened without Christine,
because the sketches started
out to be something I just did
so I wouldn't go crazy
when the pandemic started.
I said, "Let's do a book
and just donate the money
to Jos Andrs' World Central Kitchen."
It's raised around a half million
dollars, and it's still making money.
It felt good. It felt really good.
It was nice to feel like we
were able to do something.
Because I'm a comic book
artist. I got nothing else to do.
This is what I do.
A lot of people are very surprised
that I've only read one Hellboy comic.
I'm not even sure she's read one Hellboy.
She probably read The Magician
and the Snake because Katie wrote it.
When I was seven, my dad took
my story and made that into a comic.
I went to pick her up from school one day,
and I said, "What did you do at school?"
She goes, I drew a picture
of a snake on a rooftop
being furious at some geometric shapes."
I said, "Stop.
All right, you're going
to have to explain that."
I just made up the story
as we were walking.
It's great.
It's so odd, and it feels
like it's about something.
Then he turned it into a comic.
I tried to change the ending
and Katie wouldn't have it.
I wanted to do a Victorian stage magician,
and she said, "No, he's going to
have the robe and the pointed hat."
It did surprisingly well.
Well, she won an Eisner Award.
Youngest Eisner Award winner.
I still think it's the best
thing I've ever done.
He loves that one,
and that's why even the imagery from it
shows up over and over again in his work.
There's a lot of family dynamic
that figures into my stuff.
Even though he's become really well known
in his industry, he's
still just our brother.
He's still just Mike.
My brothers and I spent
a lot of time together
around the time of my father's funeral.
I remember one night,
sitting in a hotel bar and I said, "You
guys should write something for me."
And Todd did.
It was great to be able
to do something together.
Scott has written any number of
novels, but his Pinocchio sequel was great.
We had always loved Pinocchio
ever since we were little kids.
I think it started with the Disney movie
and moved on to the insane Collodi novel.
And so I wrote a novel.
He did an e-book of Pinocchio
and an e-book of the sequel,
and I did covers for those.
We dedicated it to our
dad, who was a woodworker.
Our dad was a guy who was a cabinet maker,
and built stuff with his
hands, and grew up on a farm.
Of course, he was also of that generation.
He could never say he was proud of you.
It would've killed him to tell me that.
He knew he was proud of
him, but he never told Mike.
He would express it in these strange ways.
When the movie came out, he took people.
Yeah, he took a lot of
friends to the theater,
and he wore his Hellboy hat.
They gave him a poster in the theater.
Then he was really sick
in a hospital one time.
It was just he and I in the room,
and he's staring at
this painting on the wall,
and he's like, "It's like a cartoon."
I was like, "What kind of cartoon?"
He said, "Like a Hellboy cartoon."
I was like, "All right, call Mike."
I can translate that.
I know that means you're proud of me.
My father did say at one point,
"You should at least try to
do what you love for a living,
because you got to do
it for a really long time."
That's why I say to people, "At
least try doing exactly what you want.
You don't know. Maybe
somebody will like it."
I just wanted on my deathbed to say,
"At least once I drew something
that had some of my shit in it."
Now I just can't seem to stop it.
A lot of people know who Hellboy is.
More and more, as I try to step back
from Hellboy to concentrate other things,
you kind of go, "Well, I
can't stop the machine."
The thing takes on a life of its own.
Hellboy's going to outlive us all.
It's interesting to see new
generations discover him,
not from the comics, but from other things.
I went to a friend's house, and
they were playing a video game
where Hellboy is one of the fighters.
The name is Hellboy.
A lot of people know who Hellboy is
who have never even read the comics.
Now, Mike is basically an industry.
He's a huge brand.
Dark Horse was making the Hellboy figures
and Mike asked for me to do a variant.
I was so honored to make a really
badass Hellboy figure, but make it my own.
I was a Hellboy fan.
I just loved the work.
Then I got a chance to do
a new version of the work
as a series of animated Hellboy videos.
That is Hellboy, David Harbour.
Is it intimidating to
step into a role like that?
Rebooting a movie?
Yeah, there are two movies
that have gone before.
It's not weird anymore.
The weirdest thing is
the stuff you get used to.
That Patton Oswalt knows
who Hellboy is, is weird to me.
I had a dinner with David K. Harbour,
and Ron Perlman brought them together.
It was a delightful evening.
I thought he also did an
amazing job as Hellboy.
Holy, crap.
I just hope it all leads
back to the source.
They can do movies and
cartoons, and they can do toys,
and they can do all that stuff.
But his Hellboy comics
are his Hellboy comics,
and they can't be changed.
Hellboy is published in so many
countries, so many languages.
It's really incredible to see
how wide the reach really is.
Hello Mike, we would like to
greet you from the Czech Republic.
We publish Hellboy in Spanish.
For the 25th anniversary, we put together
a Hellboy Day to celebrate the character.
Mike: Happy Hellboy Day
I think Hellboy has
definitely lasted this long
because of his wonderful storytelling.
He's definitely one of the
greatest comic artists ever.
I think you've got to go back to the start.
I think it's revolutionary.
What I think is most interesting,
and the thing that makes Mike so important
is he's been doing this for 35 years.
He hasn't stopped.
I've always loved Hellboy.
He's like my favorite character.
Hellboy draws from our
authentic Slavic mythology.
Jeez, I can't imagine not having Mike here.
I mean, it's part of our identity.
You can see all the nails, and bricks,
and parts of it coming
together to build this empire.
It has been an honor to translate
your work into Portuguese here in Brazil.
It took years for me to feel like, "Oh,
maybe this Hellboy thing isn't going away.
Maybe this thing will work."
Hellboy represents so many different
facets to so many different people,
and I love that the Hellboy universe
is big enough to accommodate that.
I don't think there's anybody who has
done the body of work that he's done,
and it's also worked with
as many collaborators
while maintaining that
level of consistency.
We truly believe that you created
one of the most amazing comics ever.
Those pages are a testament to the
genius because it is genius what Mike does.
He really touches something about
the deepest, most seminal
parts of the human condition.
The problem with the
greats who keep doing it
and remain consistent is
we take them for granted.
In Mike's case, he probably
won't get a fair assessment
of what he did and what he made
until long after he's finished
making it, because it is so huge.
I got away with something
there on a spectacular level.
Hellboy is franchised
and he's made all that,
but Mike just loves comics,
and he loves making this stuff.
I've said it a million times.
I just wanted to draw
monsters for a living.