The Hell of It
Mike Mignola on returning to Hellboy
The connoisseur of shadows. The master of the tentacle. Artist Mike Mignola's signature style – abyssal expanses of black, eerie ghouls stalking nightmares – is immediately recognizable. Twenty years ago, he was a respected artist for hire. Then he wrote and drew a four-issue miniseries for Dark Horse, and he became a colossus of horror comics. Seed of Destruction combined pulp action, unearthly gods, Nazi occultists, and the world's most unlikely superhero – Hellboy, Satan's spawn turned wisecracking two-fisted defender of the mortal realm. Now the adventures of Hellboy and the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense are a veritable publishing cottage industry, with a cosmos of monster hunters fighting and falling before the forces of darkness. Mignola said, "I did finally put up a bookcase in our office, with all the trade paperbacks, and every time I walk past that I'm really amazed by how much we've done."
Over time, Mignola stepped back from drawing, becoming what he described as "the keeper and creator of that mythology." Last year, he finally returned as sole creator of the latest demonic adventure, Hellboy in Hell. "I'd never planned to stay away as long," he said, but when he started writing the title, he knew there was one artist that could do it justice. "The Hell world is entirely made out of stuff I would be drawing for fun, so there was never, ever any thought that anyone else would draw any of that."
At this weekend's inaugural MondoCon, Mignola will discuss his career in film as part of the Designing Movies panel. According to Mignola, films are something he just stumbled into, starting in 1992 with Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. Topps Comics had hired him to produce the comic adaptation, which he started drawing before filming was finished. He said, "I was in San Francisco, I was very close to [American] Zoetrope, and that lead to me working on that picture for a couple of days or a couple of hours. It wasn't very much." His most memorable collaboration has been with a fellow acolyte of Lovecraftian horror, Guillermo del Toro, starting in 2002 with Blade II. Mignola describes that as "really a warm-up" for 2004's big screen Hellboy adaptation. "I think [del Toro] brought me on to see, if we did Hellboy, if I would be of any practical use at all."
He's already part of the Mondo family. In June, he created a print commemorating his favorite film, The Bride of Frankenstein. "What I learned from doing that was to not pick your favorite movie, because you're never going to be able to do it justice. Pick something where you go, 'Oh, Them! It would be fun to draw a guy with a flamethrower and a giant ant,' and I'm not going to be sitting there going, 'Uh, I didn't summon up everything that movie means to me.'"
For a longer interview with Mignola, including more on Hellboy's mythology and maturing as an artist, see "Staring Into the Abyss With Mike Mignola."