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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

COMIC-CON: HELLBOY PANEL

SAN DIEGO -- The Hellboy movie was part of Sony's presentation last Saturday at Comic-Con International. Although writer/director Guillermo del Toro and star Ron Perlman were still filming and could not make a return appearance, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola returned from Prague in time for the convention.

After a behind-the-scenes preview, Mignola fielded questions from the audience. Below is an edited transcript of the question-and-answer sessison.

QUESTION: How committed were the filmmakers to adhering to you designs while making it a real movie with real people?

MIGNOLA: What I said to Guillermo the first time I met him, "I've done my version of 'Hellboy.' You go do yours. Change anything you want." And he said, "No, I want to make it your 'Hellboy.'"

So I've been involved with Guillermo for probably six years now, talking about this thing. And as soon as we got the green light and entered into preproduction, I was there from day one all the way through preproduction, basically putting my stamp on everything. There were a couple of art guys who came and went, but for the most part it was a three-man art department and if I wasn't actually designing something, I was standing over the shoulders of the guy who did design it. If I wasn't doing that then I was in Guillermo's office tweaking the script.

Then I was in preproduction in Prague. I was on scourting locations in Prague. I was in Prague for the first couple weeks of shooting and I was just there for three weeks.

If Guillermo had his way he would have had me sitting next to him the whole time. So it was pretty unique.

And I'll be working in post-production. He wants me there.

QUESTION:Hollywood doesn't like to use the word "Hell" in the title. Did the ever try to get you to change it?

MIGNOLA:I don't know what else we would have called it.

There was a period where I wasn't involved in every meeting that went on. It would be very difficult to get a phone call saying, "We're going to make. We'll know tomorrow if we're gonna make it. We'll call you tomorrow." And then I wouldn't hear anything for six months.

But no, I never heard anything like, "Let's call it 'Heckboy,'" or anything like that.

QUESTION:I heard you were in talks with Cartoon Network about a Hellboy cartoon?

MIGNOLA: I've never talked to Cartoon Network about a Hellboy cartoon. You've been misinformed.

QUESTION: Your comics are very dark. It's almost as if they're printed on black paper. That didn't really seem to be the case in the clips we just saw. Was there any attempt to capture that look in the film?

MIGNOLA: It's hard to judge this because it's so choppy, but certainly Guillermo is very conscious of both composition and color in trying to give it a similar graphic feel to the comic.

Red rarely appears in the film, except as Hellboy. There's an amazing scene in the cemetery where you're looking out through black bars at white snow with black vehicles, agents dressed in black and Hellboy comes walking across and it's gorgeous.

So if it's possible to put my stuff in a 3-D, live-action picture, he's trying.

QUESTION: Are we gonna see the origin of Abe Sapien in this movie?

MIGNOLA: No, no. I believe his origin is mentioned the way it was mentioned in the comics, and we don't get his story. I'm writing a comic right now that gives, sort of an origin.

QUESTION: Was Ron Perlman your first choice? And the same question with Guillermo del Toro?

MIGNOLA: Well, it never even occurred to me that they would really make this picture, so I never gave this stuff a lot of thought. Other directors were being discussed. Guillermo heard somehow that the Hellboy movie was being discussed. Guillermo presented himself and said, "I'm the guy to make this movie."

Somewhere along the line somebody said to me, because I'd never thought about who would play Hellboy, because they're never gonna make the movie, so a friend of mine said, "You know, Ron Perlman should play Hellboy." And I couldn't think of anybody else once he put that bug in my ear.

When we started talking to Guillermo, or when Guillermo was being discussed, I thought, "Well Ron has been in Cronos, Guillermo's first film, so maybe he knows him."

So when I first met Guillermo, the way I remember it, it was the very first thing we discussed. We said, "Who should play Hellboy?" Like you saw in the clip, I know who should play Hellboy and Guillermo kind of knew who should play Hellboy, it was just a matter of, when we put our cards on the table, are we both going to say the same guy?

And we did. So from day one, we wanted Ron.

QUESTION: Is Hellboy gonna eat a lot of pancakes in this movie?

MIGNOLA:He will eat pancakes. You know that's the silliest little story that I made up and it gets turned into a chunk of a live-action picture.

QUESTION: Are there any new characters in the movie that we haven't seen in the comics?

MIGNOLA:Yes. Agent Myers played by Rupert Evan, who's the young FBI agent who begins his first day working for the B.P.R.D.

Then the other monster, Sammael, which is very much a del Toro/Mignola collaboration, is something that wasn't in the comics.

And there are relationships that didn't exist in the comics. Most of the stuff Guillermo added to the movie is stuff that, if I had thought of it, I would have put it in the comics. There's a wonderful opportunity to go back, after doing it for 10 years, and say, "Yeah, you know, it would be better if we did this and this."

It's a great opportunity for me to revisit this material and get a chance to touch it up.

QUESTION: For those of us who don't read the comic: Can you tell us what the main plot of the movie is or say something about the main antagonist?

MIGNOLA: Yeah. The main antagonist is Rasputin, who has somehow survived to hook up with the Nazis. It seemed obvious to me, why wouldn't this Russian monk end up working with the Nazis?

What the film really comes down to is, is Hellboy who has been raised in secret to be a good guy being confronted ultimately with the choice of being what he was born to be, or being what he chooses to be.

It comes down to choosing between two different fathers.

QUESTION:How did you get the idea for Hellboy?

MIGNOLA: I had gotten to the point in my career where I had drawn most things in comics. I had done superheroes. I had done a little bit of everything. I was always looking for opportunities to go out and do stories about monsters.

When I did Hulk at Marvel, the Hulk is a monster. Various jobs I would take to get the chance to draw monsters and after 10 years I thought, "Gee. If I made up a book about a monster, who fought monsters then I would finally achieve my goal of drawing nothing but monsters!"

I'd finally get out of drawing people going to the grocery store.

QUESTION:Will we get to see Hellboy tear his horns off his head?

MIGNOLA:I believe we will.

(For The Continuum's interview with Mignola about the Hellboy movie, CLICK HERE.)

(For a look at the Hellboy movie trading cards, CLICK HERE.)


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