"Hellboy" and "B.P.R.D." creator Mike Mignola opened the "Mike Mignola: Worlds at War" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego by answering a question many in the audience were poised to ask -- "No 'Hellboy 3,' to the best of my knowledge."
Mignola was joined on stage by Dark Horse Comics editor Scott Allie and "B.P.R.D." artist Tyler Crook for a panel on all aspects of the Mignola-verse -- or what's left of it, based on what's going on in the books right now. "We're pretty much blowing stuff up fast," Mignola said. Two issues of "Hellboy: The Fury" have already hit stands, with the third scheduled to arrive in August, and Mignola and Allie were careful not to spoil the series' last issue for attendees.
Before taking questions from fans, Allie and Mignola ran through several upcoming projects:
- Legendary artist Richard Corben is drawing an original Hellboy graphic novel called "House of the Living Dead." Written by Mignola, the story is a follow-up to the "Hellboy in Mexico" story Corben previously drew, when Hellboy "was too drunk to remember" what he was doing.
- The winter issues of "Dark Horse Presents" will star Mignola's characters for three months. Mignola is writing and drawing a Hellboy story that's also set in Mexico. That will be followed the next month by a B.P.R.D. story by Mignola, John Arcudi and Duncan Fegredo. And finally, Lobster Johnson will star in a story written by Mignola.
- "Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand" is coming out in January with covers by Dave Johnson and art by "Who is Jake Ellis?" artist Tonci Zonjic. Mignoal described it as a "Year One" type of miniseries.
Allie referred to 2012 as "the year of Hellboy," then noted that they wouldn't have a lot of books with the character in them. Mignola corrected him by saying it was the year of B.P.R.D. and Lobster Johnson. Allie added that more B.P.R.D. projects were in the pipeline, and fans would see multiple B.P.R.D. series in a single month. Mignola teased that a "fancy new writer" on a B.P.R.D. project would be announced later at the show.
A fan asked if another "Baltimore" novel was in the works. Mignola said there wasn't, but the comics would continue.
Another audience member asked about future Witchfinder or Abe stories. "There's a lot of Abe coming up," Allie said. He noted that while Dark Horse has previously released Abe stories set in the past, they have plans for a series of miniseries about Abe that spring from upcoming events in "B.P.R.D."
"We'll be moving Abe forward after 'The Devil Does Not Jest,'" Mignola said, noting they won't be doing any flashback stories featuring Abe in the near future.
As for Witchfinder, Mignola said he'd love to do more, but right now he and the creative teams are "spread thin." After "The Fury" ends, Mignola noted he will return to writing and drawing the Hellboy series-of-miniseries.
Another attendee in the audience noted how Mignola referenced myths and folklore from around the world in his stories, and asked how he discovered the stories. "Used bookstores," the writer replied, noting he spends a lot of time in "dank, dark places" searching for books. He said he has a huge library of books at home, some of which have never been open.
"If I ever start to run out of ideas, all I have to do is start opening books," Mignola said. Later, a fan asked if he'd include more American folklore in his stories, and Mignola said that while he wasn't as familiar with it, he likely had a book he could reference.
"The beauty of the way Hellboy is set up is that he has been in the world for 50 years. He's had this huge chunk of time where he wasn't burdened with beating the apocalypse or the King of England or anything else, he was just a dude roaming around getting in trouble," Mignola said.
In addition to the Corben-drawn graphic novel, Mignola said Fergredo would start working on graphic novels after "the Fury" ends. "I'm not sure how often these books will come out, but these will be books set in those years of Hellboy just being a dude roaming around. I'd love to do a Native American one."
"We have a voodoo thing down the road," Allie added.
A fan asked what it was like working with artist John Severin, who will turn 90 later this year. "It was amazing," Allie answered, telling a story about having lunch at the legendary creator's Denver home. "I'm like, 'Where's the studio? Where's the studio?' He has this great big living room/dining room, and in one corner, there's this little table, and it's a flat table; it's not a drafting table, it's a flat, wooden table with stacks and stacks of books around it," Allie said. "Loose leaf sheets with references all over the place were stacked up all around, and there's one Bristol board laying on this flat table.
"He had started filling in the first panel," Allied continued, "It looked to me like he hadn't done any layouts." While Allie was there, Severin started drawing an angel figure in one of the panels. "He hasn't roughed up anything else on the page -- he's just going straight to ink drawing this one figure in the background."
"This, by the way, is how you're not supposed to do it," Mignola joked.
"But when you've been doing it for 60 years, you can probably figure it out," Allie replied.
Severin's next project is a short story in Dark Horse's "Savage Sword" series. "I want to keep working with him as long as we can," Allie said.
Next, a fan asked Crook about his experiences drawing "B.P.R.D." and about the pressure of working on the book.
"There are days where it is really easy," Crook answered, "and there are days where I'm just like, 'Oh, my God.' There's a page I'm going to talk to Mike about later today, hopefully, that I've drawn four times." He added that if he was going to draw a page for anyone four times, he would rather do it for Mike Mignola than anyone else.
Mignola said he "fell in love with his stuff right away" after Crook came up to him at the Long Beach Comic Con and shared pages from his Oni graphic novel, "Petrograd."
"It was just the energy in Tyler's stuff," Mignola continued, saying that Crook's name kept coming up for different projects. When Guy Davis left "B.P.R.D.," Allie said they decided the next morning to invite Crook to be the new artist.
Crook would later say that although their styles are different, Mignola has been a big influence on him. "I used to draw hands the way he drew hands on the cover of 'Alpha Flight,'" Crook said. "I've been following Mike's work almost the entire time I've been reading comics."
A fan asked if any future Hellboy animated projects were planned, but Mignola said he has no say in the animated movies. "I'm one of those rare comics guys who actually wants to do comics."`
That said, Mignola discussed his work on the upcoming "Hobbit" movie for about ten days, working on "architecture stuff" that has likely been scrapped at this point. He also said years ago he worked for a few days on the upcoming Pixar movie "Brave," but his contribution was so small it's unlikely it would be in the final movie.
"But if you see three seconds of Cthulhu spitting out a monkey shooting out a gun," Crook joked.
A fan asked Mignola if he thought much about the end of Hellboy.
"I know how the world ends," Mignola said. "Certain characters have certain parts to play, so I know the various places Hellboy is going and what happens when he gets there."
He added that they have "lots of room for characters to wander around," but he knows where they'll end up and their "function" in the apocalypse. "The beauty of this thing is to grow it organically," he said.
As for when the world would end, Allie said they don't have a specific timeline, with Mignola adding, "We're getting older."
"We don't have it mapped out, like 'We've got three months for this, and three months for this,'" Mignola said. "Some things do end up like that, but the big story? It doesn't have a day-and-date on it."
"We know there are specific events coming in 2012 and 2013, but beyond that, we have a more nebulous picture of how it evolves," Allie said.
Someone asked if there was anything "completely crazy" they'd like to do in regard to technology.
"I am the least technological guy on Earth," Mignola said. "As long as I can continue to draw my book the way I draw my book, and as long as ultimately it's collected into a book that I can put on my shelf, if the pamphlet goes away at some point, which seems inevitable -- I don't know. But there's nothing about technology that makes me go, 'Let's make it so Hellboy can wiggle back and forth in every panel.' A guy pitched me that at my booth the other day; 'Look, the hair can blow around.' It's great for somebody's comic. Maybe take that to Rob Liefeld."
The last question of the panel was the very simple and straightforward, "What have been some of your favorite monsters to draw?" which led to an announcement. Mignola said they planned to do a year's worth of variant covers on the titles that feature the Mignolaverse characters fighting monsters that wouldn't be tied to the contents of the issue.
"I love drawing Frankenstein Monster-type characters," Mignola said. "I mean, I love monsters in general, but it was fun to make a list of 12 monsters and pair different characters up fighting different monsters. I just like monsters in general."