02 September 2006

FanExpo 2006: Hellboy-Zapoppin'

"Hellboy" creator Mike Mignola was one of the main attractions (for me) at this year's FanExpo combo sci-fi/comics/horror/anime/gaming convention held at Toronto's Metro Convention Centre. I first discovered Mignola's unique drawing style in the early 90s comic adaptations of Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" film and in Epic's limited series based on Fritz Lieber's "Fahred And The Gray Mouser" swashbucklers--and I've been copying him ever since . These days Mignola writes more than he draws, which is a great loss to comics fans but since he hand-picks such great illustrators as Guy Davis and Richard Corben to substitute for him, we really can't be too sorry.

During a Q&A Mignola fielded the predicted questions on the Hellboy movie sequel, solo, since his announced co-host (director) Guillermo Del Toro had to cancel his appearance due to a scheduling conflict with the Venice Film Festival. Basically, it is coming, with Universal on board after Revolution Studios bailed. Its current title is "The Golden Army", and the story isn't based on any particular published "Hellboy" comic, but rather an original concept by Mignola and Del Toro that will incorporate more of the pan-cultural folklore aspects that Mignola felt were downplayed in the first film. So expect a returning Ron Perlman to battle Malaysian ghosts and European baddies in their combined efforts to reclaim magic's reign over the mortal world. I liked his comparison of his supernatural baddies to displaced Native Americans, deciding to reclaim their land as their own, and that when writing, he always strives to identify with his antagonists' point-of-view and never truly sees them as evil.

Mignola said that there is an ending planned for his Hellboy saga, and that in future stories the "working stiff" aspect of the character will be downplayed and that Hellboy will undergo a change due to his recent death and increasing fatigue with his role as supernatural savior now that years have passed. He admitted that he didn't care for the romantic subplot in Del Toro's adaptation as prefers to see the male/female relationships in his comics as more "brother/sister" than anything romantic--as will be depicted in an upcoming story with a young, 80s-era Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien.

He also mentioned that at one time, Nicholas Cage was pegged to play "Hellboy", but then again, he's been attached to just about every comic book project imaginable at one time or another.

Mignola acknowledged that a "Hellboy" video game is in development (platform unannounced)--one that will be modeled more on the film's design and universe, but will feature "flashback" levels that will incorporate unique folklore elements.

The "Hellboy" cartoon will debut soon, as will a new series of spin-off novels in which he's allowed the authors free reign. Mignola himself has co-written and illustrated a novel, entitled "Baltimore", which is about vampires and which he describes as "very Roman Catholic". It's due next year.

Mignola stressed that for all the movie, animation, game, and prose spin-offs, he regards only his own "Hellboy" comics from Dark Horse as "definitive". An official Hellboy Encyclopedia was due to be published by now, but since he keeps adding material to it, its publication date can't be predicted.

His favorite story of his own? A recent collaboration with daughter Kate in Dark Horse's "Happy Endings" anthology, entitled "The Magician And The Snake", which she told to him on a ride home from school (and has since won an Eisner award).