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Matt Wayne (right) and the Hellboy gang at Comic-Con.

Matt Wayne has excelled at turning comic-book characters into animated characters. He's written for such shows as Static Shock and Legion of Super Heroes, and was a story editor and writer for the final season of Justice League Unlimited.

So, it shouldn't be surprising he was tapped to write the screenplay for Hellboy: Sword of Storms, the animated movie that will premiere on Cartoon Network on Saturday, Oct. 28 before being released on DVD on Feb. 6.

The Continuum caught up with Wayne for a quick chat about Hellboy.

The Continuum: How did the gig come about?

Wayne: Last year, [supervising producer/director] Tad Stones had been trying to get a Hellboy animated TV series off the ground for a few months, and my name had come up in relation to that.

When the animated feature was greenlit, it was like being fired from a gun. I came in, met Tad and [IDT executive] Sidney Clifton, and got Tad and Mike Mignola's outline and a three-week deadline on my first draft. Draft two went in a week later. Boom! And about 380 days later, a movie.

The Continuum: Were you a fan of Hellboy?

Wayne: I'm both a Hellboy and a Mignola fan. I'd liked the movie, but as Tad walked me through the story I realized that it was a lot closer to the comics version of Hellboy and that was really exciting.

The Continuum: The story for the film was established by Tad Stones and Mike Mignola, with the Japanese mythlogy. What was your role in the process?

Wayne: The execution. I turned 14 pages into 105, although Tad later added several scenes as it was storyboarded. The scene with the kiss is his, and it's brilliant. I'm not going to say who kisses what or where.

But mostly I tried different ways of presenting the events and ideas that were already in the outline. I did some quick reading up on Japanese theater and I'd seen a few movies set in Tokugawa-era Japan, but I stuck very close to that outline. People who we know from the comics -- Hellboy, Kate, Liz and Abe, I'd try to keep in voice, and the others I came up with a handle for.

Hellboy's the toughest character to write, just like Batman on Justice League Unlimited. Neither character should talk much, or explain themselves to just anybody.

The Continuum: Would it be fair to say this is more of an adventure film than a character story?

Wayne: I don't know who came up with the idea that there are character studies in something that's scripted. It only really applies to prose. In a script, doing things is how you reveal character. Hellboy's got his issues, but first and foremost he's a guy who fights monsters. A story where he doesn't is more of a sidebar.

The Continuum: Was it different writing for a movie as opposed to an half-hour episode?

Wayne: Sure, it's a more sustained effort. But the biggest jump was going from writing master scenes to writing shot-by-shot. Master scenes are what I was used to at Warner, but like any film student, I had a fine old time going shot-by-shot, calling for specific camera angles and transitions. And then of course, the storyboard artists would have a good laugh at what the writer thinks is visual storytelling and fix it. But that's like comics, the writer needs to visualize the grid to make sure they're giving the artist something that can be drawn on one page, and then the artist can do a fancy layout.

The Continuum: You have some comics work coming up?

Wayne: Legends of the Dark Knight #213, which I've learned is the penultimate issue so there won't be much fanfare. I don't care, it's my first comic in five years and my first Batman comic. Steven Cummings does some beautiful art that I think makes the pretty creepy story less off-putting.

Comics are a tough nut to crack. I've been writing comics off and on since college, but only supported myself at it for a few of those years. Getting an issue of LOTDK is still a big deal. But don't shed a tear for me like you were just going to; I was into animation way before comics and I'm doing work that I love. And I'm really proud of Hellboy: Sword of Storms.

E-mail the Continuum at RobAlls@aol.com

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