HELLBOY EXCLUSIVE Interview With Legendary Creator Mike Mignola About The Movie And Comics

To mark the release of Hellboy on Blu-ray today, we recently caught up with the character's creator Mike Mignola, & he talks here about both the movie and his comic book work. Check it out after the jump!

Hellboy is now available on Blu-ray, and we recently sat down with the character's creator, Mike Mignola, to talk about the movie which stars David Harbour, Ian McShane, and Milla Jovovich.

As well as delving into Mike's work on the movie, we also touch on some of his favourite scenes, what it was like to visit the set, and where things go next for the comic book version of the character. He even shares his thoughts on other superhero movies and how a meeting between Harbour and Ron Perlman's respective Big Reds could play out if they were to ever square off. 

Mike has been writing Hellboy for over 25 years and his film work includes the likes of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) and Blade II (2002). His love for his most iconic creation is clear to see, and his insights into Neil Marshall's reboot are a must-read for any fan of the Dark Horse comic book character.

So, check it out below and be sure to seekout Hellboy on Blu-ray now that it's available!


I wanted to start by asking what you think made David Harbour the right actor to bring a new version of Hellboy to the big screen after Ron Perlman's memorable take? 
It was an instant gut reaction, really. I never think about casting at all and certainly finding someone to replace Ron was the big question. We never really talked about, well, at least I wasn't in any of the serious conversations about that, and then my wife and I were watching Stranger Things. The moment Harbour showed up, and I had seen it already but wasn't really thinking about casting at all, my wife said, 'Oh, that guy should play Hellboy.' I could see it right away. He had  the physical thing, that clunky, world-weary thing that's always in my head for the comic so it was very much like what I went through with Del Toro. When somebody suggested Ron, I couldn't see anyone else and when my wife pointed out Harbour, I couldn't imagine anybody else. I never bothered to mention it to anybody but it was such a weird thing that she pointed it out and then within two weeks, I got a phone call from a producer asking, 'What would you think about David Harbour?' In the conversations I've been in, he was the only actor who ever came up. He was literally the only guy ever imagined for the part.

I've read that you and David Harbour had some lengthy conversations about Hellboy, so can you talk about what those were like and how you helped him zero in on his version on the character? 
I remember that we had these conversations...he used to text me a bunch of different questions. I mean, really interesting questions, all of which required long answers. I got tired of texting so I said, 'Dude, just pick up the phone and call me.' One night, we had what had to be a two hour phone conversation about everything. I'm sure there was some very Hellboy specific stuff but it seemed like he was digging deeper like asking what I was thinking about when I created Hellboy. I remember my favourite question was whether there were any animals I had in mind for the way Hellboy would move. He would do a lot of digging and a lot of looking for where my head was at when I created the character. 
I was wondering, did you get to visit the set at all and how did it differ from your past experiences of seeing these characters in a live-action setting?

The stereotypical response you get from creators is, 'I walked on set and it was like I walked into the pages of my book!' I've never had that. On the Del Toro moves, the design of everything was so intricate and I was so involved in the production design, I never had that "walk in and see my characters come to life" moment but I did on this one. I was on set for the few days we shot in the UK and then the very first day we shot in Bulgaria. When I was in Bulgaria, we were out in a field with everybody on horseback and the design of the Wild Hunt guys and just seeing Hellboy on horseback, which is something I never imagined seeing, it really was something so lifted right out of the pages of the comics. That was really exciting and I must had a big, silly grin on my face that day because I'd just never imagined we'd ever see that scene and it was so close to what I had done. So, that was pretty exciting. 

I know you worked on an early version of a Hellboy screenplay; can you tell us what that would have entailed or adapted?

I was basically contacted and they said, 'We're going to do another film and this is the storyline we're going to do.' They always had in mind that they were going to do the Wild Hunt storyline. I got a really rough breakdown, not a script, of what they wanted to do and I went in on that right away and said, 'Well, if you're going to do this storyline, lose this piece, add this piece, move this piece, cut this piece' and then it just went on really for years tinkering with that. You know, do we add this character, is Abe Sapien going to be in it? 
It must have been, God knows, dozens and dozens of versions of the script and at one point, I did step in with Christopher Golden who has written novels with me before, we stepped in and wrote a couple of drafts of the screenplay and then it went back to Andrew [Cosby]. I've been involved so much at so many different stages and I would walk away from it for months and then come back in and give my notes again. It's hard to say what I did and didn't do but it was a long process of getting the script we eventually got. In fact, between shooting in the UK and Bulgaria, I had three or four days sitting in an office with Andrew and worked on the script yet again and did rewrites literally the day before we were shooting stuff so, you know, it just got worked on a lot!

How happy did it make you to see Lobster Johnson brought to the big screen at last and what did you think about Thomas Haden Church being chosen to play him?
Again, it was something I could never imagine happening. They did ask me what I thought about casting for Lobster Johnson and I literally had no idea. To me, these characters exist so much as characters in my head or visuals on paper, the idea of coming up for a voice for him, I couldn't even imagine. So, when they mentioned Haden Church, I was just excited because he's so interesting. There was another actor they had talked about that I think would have been too strange and too odd in there but when they came up with his name I said, 'Yes, that guy can do anything, he's really interesting, and that's cool.' What was really weird, well, not weird but it was one of those problems that thank God I was paying attention to, I was contacted really early on when we wrestled with how we would recap Hellboy's origin. 

Del Toro had done it in the first film and the producer said that Neil [Marshall] really wanted to shoot that origin sequence and do it just like the comic and even wants to use this character from the comic, The Torch of Liberty. That character is actually one I borrowed from another comic creator, it's not my character. I thank God they mentioned that to me so I could say, 'Oh no, don't use that guy...I don't own that character!' [Laughs] However, had I created Lobster Johnson way back when, I would have used him in that scene so that's how he got into the movie. They wanted to use this other character but I said to use Lobster Johnson instead. I'm thrilled to have gotten him into the film, thrilled to have gotten Baba Yaga in the film. That's what I'm excited about with this version as it represents so many things from the comic and gives you a bigger sense of that Hellboy world. 

Daniel Dae Kim obviously replaced Ed Skrein as Ben Daimio after fans demanded a more faithful version of the character; what were your thoughts, as his creator, to see that outpouring of support for a comic accurate version?

That is exciting. You never realise how many people out there have actually read the comics. I always assumed that people have never seen them, especially when you start talking about a film adaptation. I knew we'd get compared to the Del Toro version but I didn't realise how adamant fans were and how many fans who were really vocal would come from the comic world. That was great and I'm glad we were able to address that situation early on and without too many problems.

Another Dark Horse property, The Umbrella Academy, has found success on TV so do you think Hellboy or even some of his supporting characters could be a good fit for the small screen moving forward?

I think so. It's been discussed, it hasn't been discussed recently but I would obviously love that. At this point, there's twenty five years worth of Hellboy material and we've barely scratched the surface in terms of any of it being filmed. Also, I think I've laid the groundwork for a whole world, and I do it all the time, of new stories set in that Hellboy universe. I would love an outlet for all that material. I don't know...thank God these decisions are never up to me and I never pursue these things. I wait for someone to come to me and say 'We want to do this' but I would love to have that conversation.
What can you tell us about what comes next for the world of Hellboy in the comic books after the events of "Devil You Know"?
I did blow up the world! [Laughs] It's funny, I can't quite end this thing. I've tried and I've tried to walk away but I've written I think five new issues of Hellboy that are coming out. The thing about Hellboy is that he's had a long career on Earth and I've really only covered, I don't know how many stories, but there is so much room to tell more stories about him when he was just a regular guy. Well, not a regular guy but when he hadn't turned into this beastly, apocalyptic thing he turns into at the end. There's a lot of room to tell more Hellboy stories and there's a lot of room to tell more stories about the other characters. The more we do, the more we realise 'We've never dealt with Hellboy and Abe Sapien in the 1970s!' There's just so much room for stuff, it's just a matter of time. I've got other stuff I'm working on so it's a matter of having the right writers that approaches me with things they want to do and then finding the right artist. There's certainly no shortage of material, it's just a matter of attaching the right people to it. 


You've been involved with the world of Hellboy for 25 years, but what are your thoughts on the Marvel and DC movies that they're putting out? Are you a fan, or do you prefer to stay away from those mainstream superhero stories?
I like some of the Marvel stuff a lot. As it becomes so complicated and involves more and more characters that I have no gut feeling for...you know, with the early Marvel stuff, those were the characters I grew up with. Iron Man and Captain America felt more like standalone movies. Those I really liked. When the movies seem like they become just an excuse for introducing new characters and getting more and more characters on screen at the same time, those don't really do much for me. I just saw the new Spider-Man which I loved because it was just a nice story about that character. So, I like those but the ones that just feel like they're the middle issue of a long series, yeah, those don't really don't do much for me.

Going back to Hellboy, there are some great comic inspired visuals in the movie – which moments stood out as some of your favourites?
The Baba Yaga even though it was very different. I think it matched the tone of what I was going for in the comics as it had that dark, ominous thing. I never think of my stuff as being particularly violent but I did have that argument with the producer one day when I said my stuff wasn't that gory and he had to point out a panel in the comic that had Hellboy on a pile of dead giants with blood all over the place but, for me, that stuff is graphic and a drawn shape that's red...it's not blood fountaining out of a guy's neck. It's a different thing. The Baba Yaga stuff, all the character stuff between Hellboy and Alice...those are the bits that I was so happy with. Again, I thought it fit the tone of what I was going for but they're different mediums.
Finally, a tough question for you – who do you think would win if Perlman's Hellboy were to square off with Harbour's Hellboy and how might that meeting of two Hellboys play out?
David is a little bit younger than Ron so I think David could probably take him! 

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Mike!

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