Mike Mignola: artist/writer/inker. I have known of
this manís work mostly since Gotham by Gaslight.
He has worked with nearly every single major character
in the Marvel and DC universes and since the early
nineties has been working almost entirely on his
creator-owned book, Hellboy. His only
diversions have been into the dark realm of Hollywood,
working on such big-budget features as Disneyís Atlantis, and most
recently on Blade 2.
Many comic fans will be pleased to know that when
watching the credits of Blade 2, Mike Mignolaís
credit is given its own special spot.
We talked about much of his work, Hellboy
comics and novels, and the wildly unpredictable book
called The Amazing Screw-On Head which was just
Dan Epstein: Hellboy: The Conqueror Worm,
starts off with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe. Was he a big influence on you?
Mike Mignola: No, only in that he is the big
influence on everyone who does this subject matter. Itís
a great title that I always liked and it was a happy
accident that upon rereading the poem it fit the
opening images of the comic. It lent an air of class
to an otherwise B-movie Roger Corman storyline.
DE: Do you really consider Hellboy to be
MM: So much of the Hellboy stuff is. I
always thought I was doing stories that Ed Wood would
have come up with. Then I treat it as an art film. So
you lose perspective of how silly the story is, so you
attach all kinds of pretensions to it that it doesnít
deserve. If I have a formula thatís it.
DE: Are you interested in doing A-movie or
non-genre type stuff?
MM: I hate to say it, because it kind of makes
me sound like a retard. I donít have that much
interest in non-genre type stuff. Iíve always wanted
to draw monsters and ghost stories since I think sixth
grade. I read Dracula then and I just said, "Thatís
what I want to do." Thereís just so much
material to work with. I want to do everything from
fairy tales, folklore and Victorian folklore.
DE: So no autobiographical stuff coming anytime
MM: I canít imagine.
DE: Was the character of Lobster Johnson based on
[Lee Falkís] Phantom?
MM: Lobster Johnson is based on all those guys.
So much of what I do is based on what I read in high
school. I read Doc Savage and stuff like that.
I always loved that pulp magazine time period. I
wanted a character that was a real obvious nod to that
DE: What came first, the design of the worm or the
MM: I guess as soon I realized that I was going
to do a story with a big worm that image was pretty
much in my head. When I actually designing the worm I
found that what I had in my head was a caterpillar and
not a worm.
DE: Worms arenít scary.
MM: Exactly, theyíre not very interesting
DE: What will Hellboyís first adventure in Africa
MM: I was originally going to do a short story
that took place in Africa. Then I realized that that
short story was too silly. That it would be better as
part of a bigger story. So the next Hellboy
miniseries, which I am finishing the last page of, will start in Africa and move to the bottom of the ocean.
DE: No more Nazis, huh.
MM: No more Nazis, Iím pretty much done with
that. Theyíre great villains in that pulp magazine
kind of way. There may be mentions of them along the
way but I donít have any plans to focus on Nazis
anymore. I never really planned to use the Nazis that
much except as a background for where the character of
Hellboy came from. Once you make up a character of a
Nazi head in a jar you kind of say ďI want to use
that guy again.Ē The Conqueror worm seems to be the
one where I really dealt with the Nazi super-villain
thing. Theyíve appeared in other miniseries but that
one is the only where Iíve used them as the main bad
guys. That being done I donít really want to repeat
myself. So now Iím moving away from the mad
scientist stuff to the purely supernatural.
DE: How involved were you with making the Hellboy novel,
The Bones of Giants?
MM: With that one I was actually very involved.
The first one, The Lost Army, I had almost no
involvement other than reading it and putting my two
cents in. But it was Chrisís [Golden] idea. The
second one was an idea I had for a Hellboy
miniseries. But that one was an idea I didnít think
I would ever get around to illustrating. So I gave
Chris sort of an outline. I definitely had the opening
scene and a few bits in between down on paper,
something with Frost giants and Thor being found on a
beach somewhere and the idea of Thorís hammer being
welded to his hand. That was what I had, I turned it
over to Chris who is very keen on Norse mythology and
he added everything else.
DE: I just finished Neil Gaimanís novel, which
also used Norse mythology in it. Is that ground not
too tread upon by Marvelís Thor comic book?
MM: I donít think so because there is so much
in Norse mythology. Since Thor was my favorite
comic book growing up and probably was what led me
into a lot of the folklore in my work. So if I was
draw that miniseries instead of it being a novel, I
might be included to lean towards Jack Kirbyís Thor
visuals in there. Norse mythology is so rich. It
can never be overused.
DE: Where did you first meet Chris Golden?
MM: I believe he was one of the guys, way back
when I was first doing Hellboy, who wrote a real
positive review of Hellboy for some magazine.
He contacted me about doing a prose back-up feature in
Hellboy. We kicked the idea around a little
bit. I read some of his novels and the idea of the
back-up feature blew up into a full-blown novel.
DE: You arenít writing or drawing BPRD. Are you
doing the plot?
MM: I pretty much plotted the first one; I had
ideas of where certain characters were. I was never
going to get around to dealing with them with the
direction Hellboy was going to go. I recruited
Chris and told him what I knew about the characters
and the idea I wanted the series to deal with. I
probably gave him about half the plot. He and
co-writer Tom Sniegoski expanded it, added stuff. Then
once they scripted it, I went back in and fixed the
bullshit history of the world stuff that comes from
me. Plus I tinkered with the dialogue because I do
know how these characters talk. Itís hard for
somebody else to write your characters. And every time
someone else writes Hellboy, Iíve gone in and
touched up the Hellboy dialogue and I did the
same thing with BPRD.
DE: Whatís it like creating this whole Hellboy
MM: Well the frustrating thing is that you do
create this universe but I think faster and faster but
I draw slower and slower. So thatís why its nice to
have someone else do some of the work. Iíve got
ideas for half a dozen more characters. Each one of
them could be 100-page miniseries, but when the hell I
am going to do these things?
DE: How fast do you draw now?
MM: Very slow. If I pencil a page in a day itís
a really good day.
DE: Youíve said youíre getting slower and
slower as well.
MM: Also running this Hellboy empire, youíve
got to see this, approve that, so many things take
away from actually drawing the books. For years I
would wake up and think, ďOh crap, Iíve got to
send the whole day sitting at the drawing table.Ē
Now when thereís a day without any interruptions,
like my daughters at school, Iím thrilled.
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