Raising Hellboy

Mike Mignola’s sympathetic devil
By KRISTINA WONG  |  March 26, 2008


Got bad guys? Call Hellboy. Of course, sometimes the six-foot-nine, 350-pound, red-skinned, horned demon’s idea of a rescue causes a lot of collateral damage. But don’t worry, at heart he’s a lover, not a devil, with special affection for cats, pancakes, burritos, and his fiery (no pun intended) co-worker, Liz.

In Dark Horse Comics’ mythology, Hellboy is the prodigal spawn of Satan, delivered by Nazis in a last-ditch paranormal effort to win World War II. In reality, he’s the evil-looking/good-guy hero of a series of illustrated novels by comic artist Mike Mignola, who will appear at the ICA on April 3. The monster is also the centerpiece of a 2004 Guillermo del Toro film starring Ron Perlman, and of several animated DVD projects, a video game, a line of action figures, and a Hollywood sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, scheduled to open July 11.

Put simply, he’s the central figure of Mignola’s career. “That’s the beauty — it sums me up,” says Mignola. “I’ve done lots of other stuff, but since the [Hellboy] movie, people are kind of aware of the character and who he is.”

The upcoming movie will introduce fans to another of the author’s stories. Originally, Mignola and del Toro had intended to work from a different edition of the comic (the first film was adapted from Seeds of Destruction), but “it didn’t click,” so Hellboy II will be based on an original script. “In the first film, there is no folklore or fairy-tale elements, but this second film focuses entirely on it. It’s a lot more fun . . . [and it does] run parallel to what’s in the comic now.”

Despite the time constraints of collaborating with del Toro, Mignola continues to write and make cover illustrations for the Dark Horse flagship series (though he now contracts out the interior line work). “I try to keep a hand in everything,” he says. “As much as I trust people, I still want to be involved.”

After Hellboy II is released, Mignola, whose chiaroscuro drawing style sets him apart from the pack, plans to return to illustrating more of his own works. He also promises to revisit the “best comic I have ever done outside of Hellboy” — The Amazing Screw-On Head, winner of the 2003 Eisner Award for Best Humor Publication and the subject of a 2006 Sci-Fi Channel pilot featuring the voice of John Adams himself, Paul Giamatti. Mignola says he intends to create five to six new genre-satire stories about Abraham Lincoln’s body-changing secret agent and collect them as a graphic novel.

Mike Mignola will bring a presentation of his work, followed by a question-and-answer session, to the Institute of Contemporary Art’s ICA/AIGA Design Series on Thursday, April 3, at 6:30 pm. General admission is $12.

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  Topics: This Just In , Visual Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art, Abraham Lincoln,  More more >
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