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TORONTO -- It took about 20 minutes, but Mike Mignola knew the question was coming.

"What's going on with the Hellboy sequel?"

Mignola smiled. "Well, that took a little longer than I thought for the first movie question," he said during his panel at the Canadian Fan Expo on Saturday.

With the recent announcement of Hellboy 2: The Golden Army set up at Universal Pictures, the sequel quickly became a hot topic in a wide-ranging, question-and-answer session with the Hellboy creator.

After the slow dissolution with Revolution Studios, which produced the first film in 2004, Hellboy 2 was attached to Paramount for a short time, Mignola said, before it wound up at Universal. Ironically, that's where the original film started, Mignola noted.

"It's a tough sell. It's not really a super-hero movie," Mignola said. "It's too odd for most people. It's not Spider-Man."

Mignola said Hellboy 2's story, developed by him and returning director Guillermo del Toro, echoes some of the things he'll be doing in the Hellboy comics. It involves folklore characters who decide they don't want to go away.

"It's some of those characters saying, 'We're not going to go. Let's reclaim this world. It was ours once,'" Mignola said.

Mignola said he recently saw del Toro's new movie, Pan's Labyrnith. "It's twice as good as anything he's ever done," Mignola said. "After seeing that, I'm really jazzed to see him do Hellboy 2."

Ron Perlman will return as Hellboy; also back are Selma Blair as Liz Sherman and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien. Production is expected to being in March.

Mignola said that the current screenplay he read by del Toro includes a gag that drops a hint for a third Hellboy film.

With a third installment as a possibility, an audience member asked if the film's creators would ever replace Perlman in the title role.

"I can't even imagine anyone else," Mignola said. "I always knew Ron was perfect for Hellboy.

"But it's going to have happen soon. Ron isn't getting any younger."

Mignola noted that Johann is in the current screenplay, but Kate isn't. "Guillermo doesn't like Kate for some reason," he said.

And while the movie was a constant theme of the question-and-answer session, it pretty much covered all things Hellboy.

Following are some highlights:

* Although he was invovled early in the process with story notes, Mignola said he has not seen The Amazing Screw-On Head animated pilot that aired on Sci Fi Channel. Nor has he heard if it will be turned into a series.

He said that because the pilot's creators decided to stick to his style, he would be uncomfortable and hyper-critical of what was done. He also said that the comic was intended as a one-shot and that the pilot's creators needed to make changes for the property to become a series.

"Nothing against them at all," Mignola said. "I hear it's great, but I haven't seen it."

* Mignola said that while he still loves drawing, his artistic output will be limited as he manages the Hellboy property through its incarnations.

"I'm getting slower and slower all the time," he said. "I'll still be doing smaller things, but the chances of me doing another hundred page story are pretty slim."

* Mignola is collaborating with Christopher Golden on Baltimore, a novel to be released by Bantam Books in fall 2007. Baltimore sprang from a vampire graphic novel that Mignola intended to do. Instead, he gave Golden his notes and the two are co-writing the book.

"So add to all the weird stuff I'd never though I'd do, I've got a novel," he said.

Mignola is also doing some 130 illustrations for Baltimore.

"It's real throwback to Gothic literature," he said. "It's a real Catholic version of good versus evil."

* The Hellboy Companion, which serves as a history of the character, is still a work in progress, Mignola said.

"It's turning out to be a very big project," he said. "I'm not going to let it get published until they get it right."

* Will there be an end to Hellboy?

"Not for a while," Mignola said. "There's sort of an ending or two endings or three endings. It's taken longer than I anticipated."

Mignola said the character is moving forward, however.

"Being a working stiff doesn't play any more," he said. "If he's saying, 'I'm not one of the guys, what am I?', that takes him into some interesting directions."

* Mignola said the Hellboy novels will be moving back to Dark Horse. "I'm a books guy, so the books are a big thrill for me," he said.

* Mignola said he doesn't envision himself creating a new universe of characters. "Everything I like, I've stuffed into Hellboy," he said.

* Mignola said that once he gets a story from Joe R. Lansdale, he will move forward with an Oddest Jobs anthology.

* Mignola said he found an artist at Comic-Con International in San Diego for a Lobster Johnson mini-series.

"There's a parade of pulp magazine cliches that Lobster Johnson is stuck in the middle of," Mignola said, adding that there might be a line of Lobster Johnson novels.

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