Welcome to 2018. We’ve already spent four articles looking back at 2017, but now’s the time to look forward. We’ve got a two-part interview with Mike Mignola and some of his collaborators, talking about various things that are in the pipeline. I hope you enjoy.
If you missed the 2017 wrap-up pieces, here’s some handy links:
∙ Part 1: “Hellboy”
∙ Part 2: “B.P.R.D. The Devil You Know” & “Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.”
∙ Part 3: The Expanding Hellboy Universe
∙ Part 4: Beyond the Hellboy Universe
∙ Part 5: Patric Reynolds discusses “Joe Golem, Occult Detective”
In the last couple of months of 2017, a pair of books came out “Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible – Volume 1” and “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth – Volume 1.” Think of them as a prelude for 2018, or as I like to call it, ‘The Year of the Omnibuses.’ There are two more volumes of :Abe Sapien” on the way, and four more volumes of “B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth.” Oh, and “Hellboy” is coming to omnibuses too in six volumes—four collecting the primary storyline, and two more collection the flashback short stories. Yep, there are a lot of omnibuses coming our way this year…
I realize this looks a little overwhelming. The Hellboy Universe is big, something Mike Mignola himself freely admits.
‘Right now, the problem we always run into with this stuff (and this is why omnibuses are great) is that I look at my shelf and I think, “Who the fuck would even start reading this stuff if there are this many books?” I’ve got them on a shelf… except they no longer fit on the shelf!’
‘When we started the “Hellboy” library editions, I thought someday we’d reissue them as paperbacks,’ explained Mignola’s former editor, Scott Allie. ‘But when it became clear that “Hellboy in Hell” marked the end of Mike doing with Hellboy, and that what came next—“Krampusnacht,” etc.—would be about the past, I realized we had a chance to do something we couldn’t have done when we started the library editions—to look at it as a complete body of work and simplify the reading order. I’ve always believed Mike’s telling a one big story, although with a lot of collaborators and in a meandering order. The new collections reduce the meandering, and make more clear the coherence. I envy the “Hellboy” reader who discovers all of this a year or two from now, and can read it in a simpler order. I think it’ll look like he planned it all from the start.’
‘Scott and I have been talking about that for years,’ said Mignola. ‘Since the movie is clearly based on one particular “Hellboy” story, we wanted to make sure that story was available. Can we do a package that will collect those three Duncan Fegredo books in one book? Because you do want to get that whole story in one collection. That was something Scott’s been wanting to do for a long time and the structure of weaving all the stories back together and separating out the short stories, which are very much stand alone short stories… I don’t know that that was originally part of the plan, but I think when it came to collecting this stuff, it’s been so awkward to try and feed all the different short stories in with the other stuff. So the idea was two volumes with just short stories.’
‘But if you want THE “Hellboy” story, you can skip the short stories and it’s just these four volumes,’ added Mignola. ‘They’re fat, but there’s just four of ’em. I think they’ll be nice. And they’re digestible.’
‘If the movie didn’t happen, who knows, maybe these things would still be five years down the road,’ said Mignola. ‘I know it was something Scott desperately wanted to do before he left [Dark Horse]. With the movie, now we have the perfect reason for why these things have to come out when they come out. Now we have a ticking clock.’Continued below
Mid 2017, when the news first broke that there was going to be a new Hellboy film, it seemed to come out of nowhere, but the film had actually been in development for some time.
‘It’s been in the planning stages for more than three years,’ said Mignola. ‘I have been involved in various stages along the way … It’s a very bizzare one because at some point I brought Chris [Golden] in because our regular writer was kind of going in circles, so Chris and I took a stab at it. I don’t want to write this stuff, but Chris and I would work together and we’d talk about it on the phone and he would write it up, and we would bang specifics back and forth. So Chris got involved for a little while, then he had other things he had to do, so it went back to the other writer, and then another writer came in eventually, and I assumed it was never gonna happen. It would get almost done—when Chris and I were working on it everyone was like, “Yes! Now! We’re really happy. It’s great. This is what we want to do,” and then suddenly, “Why don’t we make it a reboot?”’
Mignola was on set for the beginning of the shoot. ‘We shot in the UK for a week and that was cold—there was a lot of waiting in the rain—then production moved to Bulgaria. Unfortunately, the first week in Bulgaria was mostly getting the pieces back together, so I was only there for one day of filming, but that one day was fantastic.’ Mignola had nothing but praise for the production. ‘We’re very, very lucky with our creature effects, make-up. The cast that I’ve met have been great. Harbour’s fantastic.’
Mignola was actively involved in the process. ‘I got questions almost every day—“Should it be this or this?” “How would he say this?”—so I stepped in, that week we were in Bulgaria when we weren’t filming, and I went through the script with the writer and we fine tuned some stuff some more. Certain characters I said, “Can I just take a pass at writing this dialogue?” It was great that I was there. It was really productive. It was the first time the writer and I had actually worked together in the same room and able to bounce stuff back and forth.’
These days things are much quieter though. ‘I don’t see dailies. Occasionally they’ll send me a photo of something that’s been filmed,’ said Mignola. ‘I’m mostly just focusing on whatever the hell I’m working on, and in a month or two months I’ll see what they’ve been doing.’Continued below
As for the rest of us, we’ll just have to wait for the first trailer. And as for whatever the hell Mignola’s working on, he remains tight lipped.
‘I’m working on something that is Hellboy related… that I can’t talk about,’ said Mignola. ‘And I’m doing some future covers and some variant covers, but I’m wrapping up something that will eventually come out… but other than that, my future is open at the moment. I want to do some more painting and I’ve got a couple of ideas for some projects, but it’s exciting for me when I don’t have a ton of stuff lined up. It’s hard to schedule next year, because I don’t know what my involvement is going to be with the movie.’