December 17, 2017

 




Interview:
Mike Mignola

By Dan Epstein



 

DE: Did you get to go to Prague to work on Blade 2?

MM: I did but not for the filming. But I went over with del Toro to help scout locations. It was pretty weird. I didnít know Iíd be doing that when I woke up one morning. I thought I was going to Los Angeles to work on the film and then work from home. When I get to LA they tell me Iím going to Prague. That was great.

DE: What did you do exactly?

MM: I was kind of like at Guillermoís beck and call. Anything he came up with -- costumes, sets or whatever -- he would throw that stuff to me and a couple of other guys. I would do drawings that would then be turned over to the costume designer or the production designers. So I was sort of the link between Guillermo and the people who have to make it happen.

DE: What were you credited as?

MM: I got a visual consultant credit. I have no idea what that means.

DE: Did you work on the designs for the Reavers, the mutated vampires?

MM: Well before Wayne Barlowe, the monster specialist, came in we worked on it. But he was the expert and he came up with what was inside their faces when they split apart.

DE: Iím a big David Cronenberg fan and the production designer for Blade 2 is Carol Spier (production designer for Crash, Naked Lunch, The Fly). What was it like working with her?

MM: She was great. Again I had the easy job. I got to design stuff with no restrictions. Then I would give the stuff to Carol and she say stuff like, "How the hell am I going to do this?" I designed this giant laboratory and she looked at the drawing and said, ďYou were in Prague, you saw the soundstages, where the hell would I build this?Ē My job was to imagine and Carolís job was to deal with the earthly reality. She was great to work with and to hang out with.

DE: What did you design exactly for Blade 2?

MM: Well one character (Lighthammer played by Daz Crawford) uses a giant hammer with a spike on it. I designed the hammer. Also thereís an autopsy table that Blade lays on which pops up and holds you down. That was mine. Also one of the laboratories was mine, Iím not sure which one. The cool thing is the website has sketches of mine which del Toro voices over.

DE: What do you think of the Marv Wolfman controversy over Blade? (When the first Blade movie was released, Marv Wolfman, who co-created the character in the comic book Tomb Of Dracula in the 1970ís, sued Marvel charging that he owned the character. He lost the case)

MM: I really donít know much about since I had nothing to do with the first film. Iíve never encountered a situation where characters Iíve created take part in something that makes someone else a lot of money. Sure Iíve worked for the big companies but I understood what I was working. But I feel bad for anyone who is placed in that situation where the rules werenít as clearly defined as they were when I was started working in the business.

DE: Why wasnít the Hellboy PC game released in America?

MM: I have no idea what happened with that game. Something weird happened there. Iíve never gotten a straight answer about this. These guys who were working on it were somehow part of Dark Horse. Then I forgot all about because the creation of the game went on for so many years. Then when I asked about the video game the company making it had moved back to France or it had become a separate company. No one knew anything about it and no one seemed willing to deal with it. 

In fact the game was made. I do have a copy of it but Iíve never seen it. Computer games arenít my thing. Iíve never seen a dime for it discounting the original sum I was paid for the rights to do it. I believe thereís some kind of ugly situation surrounding it. There were little stupid things they did which they didnít have permission to do. They did a mousepad and stuff like that, which I specifically did not grant them permission to do. I also have heard is that the game isnít any good. Probably when they started out the technology was on par with what was being done but by the time they finished the sophistication of the game technology was quite behind the times. I think everybody at Dark Horse wants the thing to dry up and blow away. Hopefully somewhere down the line we could do an American game.

DE: I saw that you did a Deadman cover for this month.

MM:
Yes I did a string of three Deadman covers.

DE: So obviously you still get calls from the big companies to do work.

MM: Not very often. Almost never from Marvel. Maybe once every two to three years. DC called me to do those covers and because they called me, foolishly I was thinking it was Deadman the horror comic, like when Kelley Jones did it a few years ago. I agreed to do it because I thought it would be fun to do. Then when I saw what the comic was, I realized that it wasnít a horror comic. I didnít really think I was suited for it. I did manage to do three covers. But thatís it for the Deadman covers. It seemed like a case of false advertising.

DE: Is he a superhero now?

MM: I donít even know what the hell he is. It looked like one of those comics where people get in and out of cars and walk down hallways. Not creepy stuff like haunted houses and graveyards.

DE: So you havenít been asked to do any full books from anyone?

MM: Iíve gotten the impression that if I wanted to do something I could. But it's pretty well known that I donít have any interest in doing that stuff. Once youíve had the experience of doing your work where you could do anything you want with your own character it's very hard to put that aside and work for hire where there are a lot of rules. Itís just so much easier to say, ďI know what has happened.Ē

DE: Is it easier doing work-for-hire for the Disney movie Atlantis?

MM: Well, thatís fun. Itís such a completely different experience. The Disney and Blade experience were so unique in that I was part of a team of guys working on something. The idea of getting paid by the hour to sit down, toss ideas around and not necessarily draw but just to bounce ideas back and forth.

DE: What was it like working with people who were trained by Disney to draw like you?

MM: I donít know how many people were involved. They were teaching people to draw like me, to what degree of success I donít know. What struck me is when I walked into Disney there were diagrams laid over comic book pages explaining how I do it and what I do in terms I didnít even understand. It's very weird seeing yourself dissected.

In fact Ricardo Delgado (Age of Reptiles) was the guy they got to teach the class to draw like me. They didnít ask me and quite frankly somebody else would be better at it then I would. Being more or less self-taught, I have no idea why I do what I do. But for someone else to have to figured it out to instruct others is very strange.

DE: Were you disappointed in the Atlantisí lack of success?

MM: Yeah, it would have been nice if it were a gigantic hit. The beauty of that kind of stuff is that it wasnít my movie. It was a fun experience; I was on it off and on for a year. So by the time it came out, maybe two years since I finished work on it, it was so far in the past you just hope for the best. But seeing the DVD, which has so much of me on it -- they give me credit for so much stuff, and they show my production design and me making a fool of myself in meetings and stuff -- has been a thrill. It's very bizarre to be given credit on a project like that. Iíd love to do it again.

DE: Have you noticed your style in any other movies you werenít involved with?

MM: Not really. Usually other people will tell me things like, ďThat guyís doing you.Ē I donít tend to recognize it. I have certainly heard that in other animation studios they have a lot of my work hanging on the walls. I havenít seen anything and gone, ďWhoa that looks too much like me!Ē


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