‘Hellboy’ Creator Mike Mignola On The Film That Made Him Fall In Love With Monsters


Mike Mignola is the creative mind behind the big, red hero known as Hellboy, a half-demon brought to Earth as a baby by Nazi occultists. But, he grew up in the care of a nice British man who just so happens to found the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). The comics then follow Hellboy and other members of the bureau saving humanity from supernatural threats.

Hellboy has been in the pop culture zeitgeist since 1993 and has been adapted onto the big screen a few times. There’s even a documentary coming out about Mignola’s iconic work that’s playing across the country this spooky season. But Mignola still has a lot in store for the big man, especially in the new series Hellboy In Love, coming October 19, that sees Hellboy reuniting with Dr. Anastasia Bransfield for a goblin train heist story. And Mignola isn’t just working on projects with Hellboy. He’s also collaborating on one-off projects such as Leonide the Vampyr: Miracle at Crow’s Head (out now) with artist Rachele Aragno.

We spoke with Mignola over email about his new projects, monsters, being the creator of such an iconic character, his new comics, and more.

Dread Central: What is it about monsters that you believe is so alluring?

Mike Mignola: What is it about monsters:—I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve been fascinated for as long as I can remember. Was it a movie I saw as a kid—Jason And The Argonauts, maybe? That would have done it. I remember checking a book out of the elementary school library over and over, a big colorful thing all about Norse mythology. I would have been, what? Eleven or twelve. There was also a book there on ghosts—it had a really great “true” photo of a ghost on the cover—scared the crap out of me, but I must have checked that one out a dozen times. Then, of course, reading Dracula around age thirteen really cinched the deal. But what’s the fascination? Escape? I don’t know.

DC: What’s it been like to really see the impact of Hellboy on popular culture?

MM: So strange—especially because after a while it doesn’t seem strange anymore. It’s almost like somebody else created the thing and every once in a while it just hits me—“Oh, wait. That was me.”

DC: What was the collaborative process like with Aragno for Leonide?

MM: It was very easy. I was inspired by Rachele’s sketches of that little vampire girl, and the stories came really fast. I think within a day or two of discussing doing stories, I was sending her my ideas. She liked them. Then we bounced some sketches back and forth for a couple of the locations, and that was pretty much it. I wrote the plots and had originally thought the stories would be mostly silent, but when I saw the art the words sort of just…presented themselves. It was an odd thing, but sometimes (when you’re lucky) the writing goes like that.

DC: Do you have a favorite monster that you’ve personally created in your works?

MM: Favorite monster? Other than Hellboy? I usually forget he’s a monster. So I really fell in love with the little pig guy, the Gruagach. I created him—actually I borrowed him from English folklore—in the Hellboy story “The Corpse,” and thought I was done with him. But then he refused to stay gone, so he returned in Darkness Calls and very much took over that book and a couple of books that came after.

DC: How do you start creating an original monster? What’s your process in developing and creating your creatures?

MM: Well, in Hellboy most of the stuff is actually borrowed from some old myths or folktales, so I usually have some vague description to start with. The guys I come up with from scratch—it depends on the story of course, but mostly it’s just a matter of coming up with some kind of shape I like.

DC: Are there any worlds/scenarios/creatures you still want Hellboy to encounter?

MM: My goal with Hellboy was always to have him travel the whole world and encounter creatures native to all the different places—so we still have a whole lot of ground to cover. Fortunately, in Hellboy In Love he does a lot of traveling, so we get to see some crazy stuff.

Hellboy In Love
Page preview from ‘Hellboy In Love’

DC: Are there any films, horror or otherwise, that served or continue to serve as inspiration for your work?

MM: Too many to even begin to name. I watch a lot of films and just never know when something is going to hit a nerve. Usually, I’m trying to watch just as an escape, but then some element will trigger the Writer Brain and it will start trying to cobble something together. Sometimes that’s nice, but if I’m really just trying to watch a movie it can be annoying.

Want more Mignola? Check out these upcoming screening events for Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters:

  • Los Angeles’ Secret Movie Club will present the first ever public screening of the highly anticipated Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters documentary at Los Angeles’ iconic Million Dollar Theater on Saturday, October 15, 2022. The screening will include a live onstage interview with Mike Mignola, the legendary creator of Hellboy, alongside documentary filmmakers Jim Demonakos and Kevin Konrad Hanna, and Secret Movie Club founder Craig Hammill. The evening will begin with a special 35mm archive print screening of Universal Studios’ iconic Frankenstein, the James Whale-directed film. Attendees will be able to purchase a limited-edition 18” x 24” poster by Mignola and award-winning colorist Dave Stewart on-site. The Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters event will begin at 6:00 PM. Advance ticket sales are available now. 
  • LightBox Expo, Pasadena’s multi-faceted experience for everyone from aspiring artists and students, to professionals and fans, with a focus on animation, illustration and concept art, will host a panel with the filmmakers on Sunday, October 16th at Noon PT. For more information about LightBox Expo, please visit www.lightboxexpo.com and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Discord.
  • The Portland Film Festival will present a screening of the film on Saturday, October 22nd, at 5 PM. Tickets are on sale now.  


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