Ryan King attended WonderCon for Bleeding Cool. He talked to Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.
Ryan King: I’m here with Mike Mignola, the impressive creator behind the beloved character Hellboy, not to mention a number of successful series at Dark Horse Comics (B.P.R.D., Baltimore, Witchfinder). Thank you for taking the time out of your day to speak with the readers of Bleeding Cool.
Mike Mignola: Cool.
RK: One of the latest pieces of news to surface the web is artist Duncan Fegredo’s announcement of a new Hellboy original graphic novel, Hellboy: The Midnight Circus. What can you tell us about this new project?
MM: Boy, it’s weird. Duncan leaked that one before he was supposed to. I’m really happy with it. It’s Hellboy when he’s extremely young. It would be I guess, other than “Pancakes” it would be the earliest story in Hellboy’s career.
RK: Are we talking childhood?
MM: We’re talking pretty darn young. It’s a really coming-of-age story. Kind of inspired by Hellboy in B.P.R.D. ’46 and B.P.R.D. ’47. So a little bit more focus on Hellboy.
RK: Speaking of Hellboy, last year marked the completion of one of the largest events in the Hellboy series. As many fans now know***SPOILER ALERT*** Hellboy is dead. Even more so, he’s on his way to meet his maker back in hell. What news can you give readers on the upcoming story arc Hellboy in Hell?
MM: Well, we bumped it back to December so I get a little less pressure on me for drawing it but I’m halfway through the second issue and it’s the most fun I’ve had in a really long time. I’m a little rusty getting started because it’s been a long time since I was really drawing a lot of comics. But I’m settling into it and I’m really happy where it’s going.
RK: Last year also featured the work of guest artists Richard Corben, Scott Hampton, and Kevin Nowlan on a couple one-shots for Hellboy. Are there any plans for more artists to enter the Hellboy arena?
MM: Right now, not on Hellboy specifically. I want to focus as much energy as I can writing and drawing the Hellboy in Hell stuff and I don’t want to be writing for a lot of guys. So right now there’s no plans of anyone else drawing Hellboy other than, you know, Duncan doing that graphic novel.
RK: Now when [Hellboy] is in Hell is this going to be a long story arc? Are we talking about multiple years or is this just going to be 2012 and then a little bit of 2013?
MM: The first four issues will run monthly into 2013. But it’s not a mini-series. It’s not going to be numbered issue one of six or whatever. It is an ongoing series it just won’t be an ongoing monthly series. So some years you might get 3 or 4 issues and some years you might get two issues. It’s what I plan to do with Hellboy is this thing.
RK: In only a few weeks, Joe Golem and the Drowning City will be released by St. Martin’s Press. Both you and Christopher Golden are listed as creators of this illustrated novel. Would you mind elaborating on the specific roles assigned for the novel’s creation?
MM: Yeah, Joe Golem is interesting because when I sold, or let, Dark Horse option Hellboy back in God knows what year, the first thing I thought of is, what if they actually do make a movie and what if they make such a horrible movie that I can never really go back to Hellboy again? What if I really sunk my creation? What if it’s worse than Howard the Duck? Worse than League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Because Hellboy wasn’t that well established. I had been doing it for a few years but it wasn’t what it is now. So I created another character, so that everything I was planning to do with Hellboy, if I couldn’t do it with Hellboy, then I could slide it into this other character. It’s sort of like having a lifeboat hanging off the side of things. But since the movies didn’t sink the comic, I never had to use the lifeboat. In 2001 was preparing to do it as a graphic novel and then 9/11 happened and Joe Golem takes place in a partially ruined New York City. And I just went, ‘I don’t feel like doing this book so it went back on the mental shelf. After Chris and I had done the Baltimore book we started saying, ‘Yeah, that worked pretty well. This Joe Golem idea isn’t really going away. Why don’t we do the same thing.’ So as like Baltimore, I just wrote up all my notes for the plot and gave it to Chris to expand.
RK: How can your fans expect Joe Golem to differ in content from your previous creations?
MM: It’s very different. It deals with the same kind of things. He’s an occult detective. There were touches of Victorian era occult detective stuff, even though it takes place in a modern setting. Joe has a particular interesting past but I won’t give it away. The name does hint at it. It’s the world. One of the appeals to Joe Golem for me was that world. The plot was kind of secondary to how I was going to draw it to drawing this world which is basically New York City as Venice. What if New York City, some disaster had happened so that either the oceans arose or the city itself just settled down. So you have buildings that have collapsed entirely. You have building that are under water. The subways are entirely flooded. I just thought that would be a really fun world to run characters around in.
RK: One thing I always notice you speak of in a panel is that you really got into comics because you love drawing monsters. Are there any monsters that you have not drawn yet that you just can’t wait to get a hold of?
MM: [Ponders]. There are some things, now that I’m in Hell, there are some things like classic Greek mythology and things like that. So it’s not a specific monster but it’s a specific genre kind of thing. As with the regular Hellboy thing where I trotted him around at different parts of the world eventually with Hellboy in Hell I would like to trot him around different versions of Hell. So to do my version of the Plutonian Hell and my version of the kind of Norse Hell. There is this whole giant thing. I love drawing on those mythological kind of creatures and I got to go back to my folklore and read stuff and go, ‘I want to do that guy and I want to do that guy!’ But I’ve kind of used most of the characters that were on the top of my list. And you know, we’re doing a series of covers this year. It’s twelve months of variant covers called “A Year of Monsters.” And I’m not a big fan of variant covers but Dark Horse talked me into doing this, every month there will be a cover, that whoever the main character is from that book, it’s either Hellboy or it’s Baltimore. It’s pairing them with a monster. Most cases the cover is mostly about the monster so I think January we had Lobster Johnson and a mummy. February was Johann from B.P.R.D. in a little boat with a sea monster. So I’m almost done with that series of covers. So that’s been a blast because I’ve tried to do the classic movie monsters or classic literature monsters. So I’ve got a Frankenstein monster, I’ve got a vampire, I’ve got an alien, I’ve got…[pauses] I started running out of them at the end. The last one is Hellboy and the Devil. So that’s been a blast. So I did get my wish. I have found a way to draw nothing but monsters.
RK: Finally, I wouldn’t be a journalist if I didn’t ask, is there any word on a Hellboy 3?
MM: Oh, at least you saved that for the end. Usually that’s the first question. Uh, no. No, I’m not holding my breath. There doesn’t seem to be any interest from any party which is unfortunate. But you know, I never thought they would make the first two.
RK: Right on. Well, thank you so much Mike. On behalf of Bleeding Cool, really appreciate it.
MM: My pleasure.
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