Westfield: For those unfamiliar with Hellboy, how would you describe the book?
Mike Mignola: Its a supernatural, mystery, action thing.
Westfield: Who is Hellboy and who are some of his supporting cast?
Mignola: Hellboy is theoretically the worlds greatest occult detective. Hes actually sort of a demon who was brought to earth at the end of World War II, raised among humans, thinks of himself pretty much as a human, but he may actually be the Beast of the Apocalypse. Despite that, hes a good guy and he fights monsters. The books full of other bizarre, inhuman monster kind of guys who are mostly good guys, a couple humans sprinkled here and there, Nazi mad scientists, and as many pulp cliches as I can possibly toss in there.
Westfield: Do people need to be familiar with past Hellboy stories to enjoy the new mini-series?
Mignola: No. This one is self-contained. Im assuming a previous knowledge of Hellboy. Given the way the trade paperbacks sells, I assume that means people are going back and picking up the old stuff. This is very much a continuation of stuff that has gone on before, but its a self-contained story. You can read it and get the whole story, but youll get more out of it if youre familiar with the older stuff.
Westfield: What can you tell us about the Conqueror Worm mini-series?
Mignola: Im two pages short of being done. Thats good. Hellboy teams up with Roger the Homunculus to go to the top of a mountain to investigate a place where the Nazis were working on their space program. This previously unknown program involved shooting a guy into space and now that space capsule is returning to earth with dire consequences. And then all hell breaks loose.
Westfield: This story seems less supernatural and more odd science-like than previous stories. Was that intentional?
Mignola: Not really intentional. Very little in Hellboy is intentional. This one is actually not based on folklore at all. This is very much a mad scientist kind of a thing. Certainly, a lot of the short Hellboy stories are based directly on old folktales or folklore or mythology. The bigger mini-series tend to be kind of a hodge-podge of stuff, and this is definitely one of those. There is a lot of supernatural stuff in it. Its full of ghosts and that kind of thing, but its a bit more mad scientist, alien creature kind of thing.
Westfield: Nazis figure big as villains in Hellboy. Why is that?
Mignola: My pat answer for that is that theyre so easy to use as villains because they dont require any explanation. There are so many theories about what the Nazis were up to, you can pretty much say, yes, the Nazis had a space program and people go well that could have been true. God knows they were working on everything else. Hellboys origin ties in with Nazis, its been an easy thing to go back to, but I believe this is my last use of Nazis. Theyre the direct bad guys in this one, which hasnt really been the case in other mini-series. They are the main focus of this one, and then when this ones over, I think were pretty much done. Well move on to other bad guys.
Westfield: How much research do you do for the various demons and monsters and such that pop up in Hellboy?
Mignola: On this one, I did pretty much none other than re-reading the Conqueror Worm poem by Edgar Allan Poe. This one was pretty much just coming up with stuff off the top of my head.
Westfield: How much research do you do in general for Hellboy?
Mignola: I do a lot. Again, it depends. Certain stories that Ive done are directly adapted from folktales. The next Hellboy Im going to do, which is Hellboy in Africa, that one, because I know nothing about African mythology and folklore, requires a lot of research because I do want it to be extremely regional. I want the flavor and the feel and the particulars of African folklore, so I will go and find it.
Westfield: Do you have an eventual end in mind for Hellboy?
Mignola: I dont really have an end. I have a couple more big stories that certainly feel like an end, but Ive got a lot of story stuff I still want to do. I imagine Hellboy being something I could do forever. Theres so much to do. There are stories I have in mind that are radically different from what Im doing now, but they would still be Hellboy. Certainly different incarnations of Hellboy, redefining what Hellboy is, so I dont see any limit to what I can do with this character. Even Hellboy in Africa is very different. Its going to stretch what Hellboy can be.
Westfield: Another project you were involved with thats coming this summer is Disneys Atlantis. What did you do on the film?
Mignola: Well, its hard to put my finger on it. They called me because they were sort of doing the film in my style. They brought me in to design characters, but I was kind of a general consultant to the look of the film. My primary focus was designing the city of Atlantis; designing location kind of stuff. I did some character design stuff, but its very curious. Theyd already designed a lot of stuff to look like I had designed it. So a lot of things that people would say, oh, theres a Mike Mignola character, I actually had almost nothing to do with. It was a very bizarre experience. I also made some comments on story. There were a couple of scenes that kind of came out of conversations I had. The weirdest thing was to sit there at lunch and say what about this, what about this, what about this?, which only takes ten seconds to do, and then Id come back a couple months later and, boom, that scenes in the movie.
Westfield: Was it an enjoyable experience?
Mignola: Yeah. It was very interesting. I didnt work on it that much. I would go down to Disney for, at most, maybe three days at a stretch and then I did some design work at home. But for the most part, I would go back down and check in and put my two cents in here and there. They were really doing a very thorough job of adapting my style without needing me to be there. When I got there, they had already done these big panels where they had enlarged panels from various comics and there were notes all over them explaining how to do what I do and why I do what I do. I looked at them and said really? Thats what I do? I had no idea. [laughter] So that was pretty bizarre. It was weird to walk into Disney and see Hellboy everyplace.
Westfield: Have you seen the finished film?
Mignola: Ive seen it maybe half finished.
Westfield: Do you like what youve see?
Mignola: Yeah. Again, I have no objectivity with it. I know what isnt there. I know the scenes that were discussed that were not used for one reason or another. So I cant look at the movie objectively because I know too much about it. But its pretty impressive, lets put it that way.
Westfield: Do you have any upcoming projects youd like to mention?
Mignola: Ive learned that it looks like weve been OKd to do a second Hellboy novel. Again, Chris Golden will write and I will illustrate, so Im excited about that. I just finished working on the movie Blade 2. After this Hellboy mini-series, Im going to be doing a one-shot black and white comic that will be published by someone other that Dark Horse. It will be a small, little thing that Im really excited about. A brand-new, very bizarre, little project.
Westfield: Any closing comments?
Mignola: I hope people buy this mini-series. Everything thats been done with Hellboy, all the big Hellboy stories, pretty much comes to a conclusion here. So I view this mini-series as the end of the first cycle of Hellboy stories. In that respect, its actually kind of a big one.