DE: Why was your project, Joe Golem,
MM: Well, Joe Golem is a project thatís
been floating around for years. The latest incarnation
of Joe Golem was going to be set in New York. I
was about to start on it when I moved back here. The
splash page was going to be the view outside my studio
window. But in the story some disasters in the past
had turned New York into this disaster area. I was
about a week away from starting the book when 9/11
happened. I did not feel like drawing disaster area New York in a partially-destroyed New York. So I just
jumped right into this new Hellboy instead.
There are elements of that story I still want to
do. Whether they will get folded into Hellboy
or another incarnation of Joe Golem we'll see
DE: Do you ink all your own work now?
DE: Would you ever let anyone else ink your work?
MM: As a novelty. For example, if there was a
guy whose style was radically different and we wanted
to see a combination of our work. But, at this point,
with the way I draw for somebody else to ink it I
would really have to change the way I draw so the
inker would know what the hell to do with them. My
stuff is really easy to ink so itís easy to do
DE: Your style is so unique. When did you
recognize it and begin to develop it?
MM: Probably when I was doing the book Cosmic
Odyssey (with writer Jim
Starlin) for DC. I donít know what it was.
Maybe because I was drawing a lot of Kirby characters
and I was sitting there for months at a time with
Kirby stuff in front of me. That was very liberating
because I had been trying to draw stuff ďcorrectly.Ē
Having Jack in front of me made me realize that it's
more effective to draw in these exaggerated ways.
Looking at the New Gods stuff of Kirbyís
really makes me redefine what weird is. While Iíll
never be up to what he did, it does free me up to
DE: I donít get to talk too many Kirby fans that
are as well known as you and your work. What is it
about Jack Kirby?
MM: Sadly itís almost impossible for me to
explain. He did so many things so well. He understood
this medium and that beautiful drawing is secondary to
getting your point across. The exaggeration and
gesture is so important. Iíve gone through phases in
my career where Iíve come up with thumbnail drawings
and I try so hard to get muscled arms and legs
perfect. There are guys who are great at that but itís
not as effective for the stories I was doing. It didnít
have the power that Jack brought to the page. The fact
that Jack did as many things as he did and went
through so many interesting phases, he really is
unique. Probably nobody has defined as many things
about the medium as Jack. No one will ever touch his volume of work. Itís so frustrating to me to have
all these ideas and not to have the time to do them all.
Jack broke that time barrier. It seemed like he was
putting that stuff on paper as fast as he thought of
it. We will not see his like again. But itís a
different time and a different business.
One thing I havenít done with Hellboy that I
really want to do is do a Kirby monster story.
DE: There wasnít enough arms on the conqueror
worm for a Kirby monster.
MM: I know. The conqueror worm was me but I
would love to do some Hellboy stories in the
future where this one is obviously a Hammer horror
film and hereís one that is a Dr. Strange and
another that is a Kirby monster story. I would love to
do my little tributes to those kind of things. Itís
on the list of things to do.
DE: Your first brush with Hollywood came when you
did the Topps Comics adaptation of the Francis Ford
Coppola movie Bram Stoker's Dracula. Was
Coppola aware of your work and thatís why you came
MM: He certainly did not recruit me. Topps had
called me while I was living in New York about doing a
movie adaptation of Dracula. I knew that movie adaptations are
horrible things to do but it was Coppola and Dracula,
so I thought I would stick my neck out and see. Around
that time I moved to San Francisco so I was around the
corner from Zoetrope Pictures (Francis Ford Coppolaís
production company). I went to the set, I met Francis,
and he looked at my work. Then it came up that there
was a model for Castle Dracula that Francis wasnít a
100% sold on. Iím convinced they called me in
because they had my number, I was drawing the
adaptation and I lived around the corner. They brought
me in to work on this model. It was an interesting
problem because the model was already built. I made
some suggestions but they shot it down with ďthatís too
expensive.Ē But that got me in at Zoetrope. They
were great with giving me reference material as well.
DE: Did you like that design for Dracula with the
buns on his head?
MM: It was weird and interesting. Nothing I
could have ever imagined.
So, after the film was pretty much done, Francis
called me for a screening for the rough cut. I get up
there and the only people at the screening are
Francis, me and George Lucas. Clearly still the
weirdest night of my life. Dinner with these guys,
then the movie and then after it was Francis and
George discussing what the picture needed.
DE: Didnít you get into an argument with George
MM: Not really. We disagreed on a few things.
DE: Like what?
MM: Cutting Draculaís head off at the end of
the movie. As George Lucas said, the rules say to kill
a vampire you have to cut off its head off. I know
that, but it was a beautiful romantic scene and
suddenly she [Winona Ryder] just jumps up and cuts his
head off. Itís going to take some of the romance out
of the scene. I didnít agree with that.
DE: But it ended up staying in the film.
MM: Thereís a scene where Anthony Hopkins has
gone in and killed these three vampire women.
Originally you didnít see him do that. Winona Ryder
wakes up, she looks around and Anthony Hopkins comes
walking out of the castle carrying these womenís
heads. Heís got a big knife in his hand, blood
splashed all over him and the heads. I just thought
ďThatís cool.Ē George thought that the audience
would be confused because you didnít see Anthony
Hopkins actually cut the womenís heads off. My
argument was, ďWhat are they going to think? He found
them on the kitchen floor, heís got blood on him and
knife in his hand.Ē But it was Georgeís thing that
you needed to see him go in and chop the heads off.
DE: And then you never worked on a Star Wars
MM: Well, that has nothing to do with it. It
was really interesting to be in a room with these
guys. How did I get there? I had never worked in the
film business and suddenly Iím watching a picture
between the guy who made Star Wars and the guy
who made The Godfather. You donít expect to
ever be in that spot. I know a lot of guys in the film
business, and theyíve never been in that spot. I
stumbled into the movie business, from the top. I did
work on some storyboards on some scenes that they
discussed. There has been some exaggeration as to what
my involvement in Dracula was. It was very brief.
Thereís a castle that you see in a flashback and
that was a castle I partly designed. Thatís pretty
DE: You wrote but didnít illustrate The Doom
That Came to Gotham with a Victorian-age Batman.
What is like not illustrating your writing?
MM: Itís a lot more difficult because I know
what I have in mind but itís just a pain in the ass
writing it down for somebody. Iím doing the same
thing right now. Iím writing for that same artist,
Troy Nixey, and it's just so much easier to take the
idea from your head and put it on paper yourself.
DE: Does your daughter read comics?
MM: My daughter is aware of them but she doesnít
read them. Sheís actually writing one with me. I
promised Diana [Schutz - senior editor at Dark Horse]
a six-page story for a Maverick anthology. I didnít
really have an idea and my daughter came up with an
idea. I thought ďwow,Ē thereís something so
visually striking about those images. I wanted to see
if I could take her story idea and translate it into a
comic. Itís a peculiar one.
DE: You drew the first Elseworld before it was even
Elseworlds, (Batman: Gotham By Gaslight). Did
you know you were breaking new ground?
MM: Maybe I did at the time; I donít remember
that much about it. That was a big one for me because
I was just coming off Cosmic Odyssey where it was all
these superheroes and I never wanted to be a superhero
artist. I liked the dark moody supernatural stuff.
When Gotham By Gaslight came to me I thought,
ďHereís a project where I can establish a
reputation for this kind of work.Ē
DE: I want to talk about The Amazing Screw-On
Head because I just read it in black and white and
it's wild. It felt like a fever dream. Tell me about
MM: Somebody told me the other day after
reading it, what they liked about it was that
when I make a Hellboy storyline and I tell
people what I am going to do, it's much crazier than
the way it ends up on the page. So Screw-On Head
sounds like the way you tell the story orally. Screw-On
Head is as crazy as I said it would be. It was
just a fun experiment to create this other world and
to do that kind of pacing to the action.
DE: Most of your creator-owned stories are so
humorous but your art isnít. Itís a great
MM: What I originally had in mind for the Screw-On
Head book to look like was that it would be done in an animation style. Certainly it would be drawn a
lot faster, ultimately I ended up doing my art job but
I hopefully kept the humor and the pacing.
DE: One thing I noticed about your art is that
people donít open their mouths when they talk. Do
you know that?
MM: They probably donít. Hellboy does
sometimes but his mouth is just a slot.
DE: Or theyíre gritting their teeth.
MM: Iím not one of those facial expression
guys. There are some guys who are like that. If you
look at the Adam Hughes school of art with these
wonderful subtle facial expressions, itís not what I
do. And in a way, Hellboy was created to be the
ultimate Mignola character - he has almost no facial
expression. But yet I can convey everything I want to
with the way that character is put together.
Looking at BPRD by Ryan Sook, thereís so much
more subtly in his drawings, in the little character
stuff. I do my subtly differently, I do it with more
panels to establish mood and things like that. While
he can do a lot more with one panel. I've never claimed
to draw that well.
DE: A lot of creators I talk to seem somewhat
bitter about their place in the industry. As a successful and critically-acclaimed creator, how do you feel about your place in the
MM: Well Iím certainly not bitter. Iím
thrilled to death. Iím doing exactly what I want to
do and Iím able to make a living from it. I have
nothing to complain about. I do complain but Iím
careful about who I complain to because I realize how
lucky I am. Iím doing so much more than I ever
expected to do in the comic book business. Iím
discounting the Hollywood stuff, which Iíve fallen
ass backwards into. Within the comic business I
thought I would be an inker. The last conscious goal I
had in this business when I was an inker was that maybe someday
before I would die I would pencil a ten-page story,
just so I could say I drew a comic.
DE: Mike, thank you so much.
MM: Thanks, Dan.
Mike Mignolaís website is www.hellboy.com.
Check out Horse Comics website at www.darkhorse.com.
Blade 2 opens on March 22nd.
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