DE: How come you left New York City a few years
MM: Well my daughter was born. We were living
in Brooklyn and my wife wanted to stop working. I
started liking Portland, Oregon; Dark Horse was out
there. I thought it was a good time to move out there
and bond with my publisher. Also they have the
best used-bookstore in America called Powellís
Books. We ended up living about three blocks from
there. My daughter is older now, and my wife wanted to go
back to work, so we came back.
DE: Portland has built a bustling comics scene with Dark Horse and Oni Press. Did you hang with a lot
MM: Not really, they werenít in my
neighborhood. I knew guys, I wasnít far from Dark
Horse but mostly I stayed by myself in my studio.
DE: What made you bring Hellboy to Dark
Horse Comics in the first place?
MM: At the time there werenít that many
places to go. I started Hellboy a few years
after Image blew the whole creator-owned concept wide open.
Image was the example in a way. Everyone was creating
their own stuff and I was at a point in my career
where I had done a lot of interesting stuff. The idea
of creating my own thing just seemed like the next
logical step. There was a discussion, not with me, at
Dark Horse about Art Adams, who had just started
creating his own stuff. He and I lived in the same
area in San Francisco at the time. We were talking and
Image was talking to him. They threw him an offer to
come to Image and the offer was extended to me. But
Dark Horse always felt like a more comfortable fit.
With the Image guys, itís a different generation
really. Dark Horse was publishing Frankís [Miller]
Sin City and doing work by Geoff Darrow. It just
seemed like I would rather be associated with that
material rather than the work at Image.
We [Art Adams, John Byrne] cobbled ourselves into
this little group and said to Dark Horse, ďGive us
the same deal you're giving Frank and weíll be happy.Ē
It was very easy. In fact, Dark Horse asked what I was
doing. I said Hellboy but they never asked what it
was, they never asked to see anything, they just said
sure. Unlike a lot of the other guys in that group I
didnít have the track record of an Art Adams, Frank
Miller or John Byrne. In the beginning I benefited
from Legend probably more than anybody else. It put me
into a class of guys that I had never been associated
DE: What happened to the Legend imprint? Was it
that Byrne left Dark Horse?
MM: It had nothing to do with that. Legend, in
my mind, was never intended to be anything other than
a symbol we slapped on our books. It was never
supposed to a wing of Dark Horse. John had different
ideas about what Legend should be. John and Frank
owned the copyright. John was starting to say things
like ďthis has to happen, you canít do this or
that.Ē Instead of everyone functioning independently
certain people started getting into other peoplesí
In a way I donít think Legend could have ever
worked unless we just minded our own business. There
was supposed to be a Legend card set and that was the
death of Legend. I didnít want to do this thing. I
figured if we tried to do something where we are all
contributing, someone would be saying, ďthis can be
there, and this canít.Ē If somebody dictates, that
it will end up being a problem. I knew that I would
spend a week on these trading cards, no one will ever
see them, and I will be pissed and thatís exactly
what happened. No one has ever seen my Legend trading
cards. The whole thing blew up over these trading
cards. Thatís the way I remember it. It got really
ugly. Certain people stopped talking to one another.
DE: Thereís always so much intrigue and
controversy within this little industry.
MM: Well itís all just stupid. If we could
all just mind our own business and just do what we do,
itíd be fine. As soon as someone says, ďI think the
whole thing is supposed to be thisÖĒ Donít foist
your idea of what it's supposed to be on me. In fact
when Dark Horse said that they were going start Dark
Horse Maverick I thought, ďOh shit, itís going to
happen again.Ē Fortunately Maverick is just defined
as the creator-owned imprint of Dark Horse. There are
no meetings, I donít know half the people that are
doing Maverick, and itís just a title that Dark
Horse slaps on stuff. The way Dark Horse explained it
it's because they do so much different stuff, itís
their way of saying that they still support creator-owned material, which most publishers donít. Certainly if I look at the work of guys who are under
that Maverick banner, I am honored to be associated
with guys like Craig Russell.
DE: So are you and Frank Miller still cool with one
MM: We are totally fine with one another. It's
funny, Frank lives in New York City and now so do I,
but I talk to him even less than I did when I lived
out of state.
DE: When did Hellboy first go from pencil to
DE: Was it just one of your many sketches or you
specifically wanted to create a character?
MM: I had done a Batman book that I plotted; a
one shot Legends of the Dark Knight (issue #54
co-written with Dan Raspler) and it was Batman talking
to a dead guy. A weird ghost story. Like I said, I
plotted it and had a really good time. I was really
happy with the way it turned out. I consider that the
first Hellboy story. I felt like I wanted to do
more stories like that. Rather than come up with more
stories like this and try to shoehorn Wolverine or
Batman into these kind of stories, I felt that if I
wanted to do more like this I will make up a
character to put into them. So I had the idea of the
kind of stories, then coming up with a character -- one
that would be fun to draw.
DE: John Byrne was the scripter for the first Hellboy
miniseries. Why did you need him to do that?
MM: I had never scripted anything and I didnít
think I could. Since I was afraid of writing, my idea
was to tell John that I want to do sort of
Frankenstein thing. Before I threw the thing over to
John, little by little I started putting ideas
together then more and finally I came up with a whole
plot. Then I had pretty much had to script it because
I never told John what the story was. Then, nothing
against John because I couldnít have done it without
him, in so many cases John would change what I did but
I would think that I liked what I did better.
Also, John had a first-person narrative in there,
which I believe was my idea. It didnít work so the
first miniseries was an example of what I didnít
want it to sound like. I wanted John to script it
because I wanted it sound like a professional comic.
At the end of the day I thought it was a little too
slick and polished. I wanted something a little bit
more wonky, with more of my personality in there. John
knew thoughout the whole process that I would end up
writing this thing. Now there's a lot of writers I could think
of who would have gone it and make it theirs or
combination of me and them.
The beauty of having John on that miniseries is
that he always approached this thing as if it were
mine. He helped me out but never tried to foist his
ideas on it. As the miniseries went on I started
editing what John wrote. He would write all these
captions and I'd take a bunch of them out. He never
squawked about it. I canít think of too many writers
who would be so cool about that. "The Wolves of
Saint August," which I did for Dark Horse
Presents [issues #88-91], was the first one I did
myself. That was rough and scary but I donít know if
itís got any easier.
DE: Whatís up with the Hellboy movie?
MM: The fact that that wasnít the second
question, Iím pretty impressed. I donít know.
Everyone knows as much as I do. Weíre waiting until
someone gives it the green light. From what Iím
reading lately and from my last conversation with the
director [Guillermo del Toro] he really wants to do
this as his next picture.
DE: If Blade 2 is successful, will that
MM: Already the word on Blade 2 is so
good and the critical acclaim from his movie The
Devil's Backbone. My feeling is that, if itís
going to be made, now would be the time. I would love
to have him do it. He has the exact right take on the
material. When we first met we agreed on who should
DE: Did you agree independently though?
MM: He told this story fairly recently and it's
exactly the way I remember it. We sat down for
breakfast the first time we met. We both knew
independently who we wanted and it was just a case of
whoís going to put their cards down first. We almost
PerlmanĒ at the same time. So we were off
to a good start. At one point, Guillermo said, ďI want
to make Hellboy the Last Emperor of B horror movies.Ē
That was exactly my formula. Perfect. In a way his
thought processes are similar to mine. He wants to do
these genre films but with a real art film mentality.
DE: Heís an illustrator himself.
MM: There are things he came up for the Hellboy
that I go, ďI donít know about that.Ē But I
trust his vision. If he could pull that off I would l
love to see him do it.
DE: Will you still own the character if the movie
MM: I should know the full answer to that. I
wouldnít own it as much as I do now. They are
certain rights that would be surrendered to the
studio. I donít believe anything would happen that
would make it impossible for me to do the comic. And
thatís my main concern. If I sell the film and
animation rights, thatís fine. As long as I can
continue doing what I want to do: the comic book. I
think my lawyers will carve out something so I could
still do limited-edition portfolios, things like that.
Iím not going to go out and make the sequels myself,
so if they want those rights, let them have them.
I had a very interesting conversation with Todd
McFarlane. He approached me about doing a Spawn cover
for issue #100. I drew Spawn with his cape all nicked
and dented up. Todd asked me to change the little
dents. At first I got indignant as only artists can,
ďtake your money back, give me the artwork.Ē Todd
explained to me that New Line owns the dented and
nicked up Spawn, but he owns the smooth Spawn. Itís
a such stupid thing.
DE: That must have taken the lawyers 10 hours straight to
MM: One thing thatís been thought of it is to
make Hellboyís stone hand switch from his
right hand to his left hand. In a way I kind of like
that because it differentiates the comic book Mignola
Hellboy from the Guillermo del Toro movie Hellboy. Itís
all very complicated. There are teams of lawyers
involved. Iím not really concerned with that stuff.
What I would love to do is just get a chance to work
with del Toro on the film.
DE: If he couldnít do it would that be the end of
MM: Not necessarily. He wants to do it, I want
him to do it and thatís where it stands right now.
Heís a sweet guy, I worked with him on Blade 2 for a
couple of months. We had such a good time. It would be
a fun time to do Hellboy.
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