It's been seven years since Mike Mignola both wrote and drew a "Hellboy" series, but judging from the crowd that turned out at New York Comic Con 2012 to see him sit down with Dark Horse Comics Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie and artists Tyler Crook and James Harren, it's clear that fans are still excited about Mignola, Hellboy and the creator's greater universe.
Allie started the panel by explaining that he would talk for a few minutes and then let fans ask questions. Allie described the current "B.P.R.D." arc as "earth-shattering," that readers will meet some new agents in a case where things end pretty badly. There will be more Lobster Johnson, a Hellboy one-shot drawn by Kevin Nowlan and a two parter from Sebastian Fiumara. "B.P.R.D. 1948" will be drawn by Max Fiumara but Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon will draw a follow-up to "B.P.R.D. 1947."
The big news though was that the first issue of "Hellboy in Hell" will release just in time for Christmas. With that, the panel was turned over to the fans. One of the first fans asked Mignola about the status quo now that Hellboy is in Hell and whether there would be room for the tension between fate and choice that has defined much of the series. Mignola admitted he didn't want to explain all his plans because he wants readers to buy the comic but, "the first four issues, which are monthly, are about settling Hellboy into Hell and settling certain things about his predestination."
"Ever since I brought it up I've been trying to put it to bed so he can get back to being a guy fighting monsters," he said. "After the first four issues, the plan is to do a series of self-contained stories about Hellboy exploring Hell. It'll come out as often as I can do it."
When asked if we're ever going to see Roger again, Mignola said he can't say never. "Roger went out really well," he said, "but I've always said that when people die in the Hellboy world, including Hellboy, they become a lot more interesting."
Asked how long ago he planned Hellboy's death, Mignola said that he's had many people say that they remember when he said he was going to kill Hellboy ten years ago. "So, a while," he said. "I knew early on that at a certain point he would run his course on Earth."
The creator also spoke briefly on his favorite source material for his stories. "I remember in elementary school checking out a book on Norse mythology," Mignola said. "It was guys with hammers banging against trolls."
As far as drawing creatures and monsters, Mignola said, "the beauty of drawing folklore is that there's usually some vague description and then you play fast and loose with that."
One fan asked whether Mignola planned to answer all the questions that have arisen in "Hellboy," something the creator said may not be in the cards, if only due to logistics.
"At this point there's so much out there I couldn't [answer everything] unless turned it into a boring comic," he said. "The one thing I have consciously done is to have people say things when I wasn't one hundred percent sure what they meant, but it sounded good." He compared it to drawing, and noted that one shouldn't finish one corner of the piece before roughing out the rest, and he tries to write in a similar fashion.
As far as whether "Hellboy" and "B.P.R.D." will affect each other, Mignola said he doesn't want to write a book where you have to read one to understand what's happening in the other.
"It's a connected world but the connections aren't super-apparent," he said. "They won't be so laced together that it's one big mess."
Mignola gave a brief update on the "Joe Golem" movie, telling the audience it has been optioned and Alex Proyas, who made "The Crow" and "Dark City" is attached to direct and write the screenplay. "If that happens, I'd be a very happy man," the creator said.
One fan described himself as a lover of Celtic mythology but complained about what happened to Great Britain and whether Hell would reflect Celtic mythology.
"Hell is my playground," Mignola said. "There are so many variations on Hell, the last thing I wanted to do was this mythology's version of Hell."
Mignola compared Hellboy's time in Hell to his adventures on Earth, mentioning he had adventures in every corner of the globe. Mignola hoped to continue to adaptations of folktales during "Hellboy in Hell."
"My plan is that there's an Asian neighborhood in hell, an Eastern European neighborhood in Hell," he said. Mignola further stated he would like to include even more supernatural characters in his work.
"It would be easier to make a list of what I don't," he said, and after a pause stating he has no interest in doing unicorns.
As far as whether there will be more "Baltimore," Allie said there is a new one-shot due in December with more one shots and a longer series coming up and plans for more through 2014.
When asked what the catalyst for ending his "seven years of confusion" (as Mignola previously referred to his break from drawing) Mignola seemed to cringe a little. "I usually never refer to it that way," he said. "It sounds really bad."
He admitted that he got distracted and that began with the first movie. "I never thought I'd be away from the comic as long as I did," he said. "I lost my confidence and I thought, 'I'll just write' because as an artist I wasn't it."
What brought him back was the fact that drawing is much more fun. "I was writing stuff for these guys that I'd love to draw," he said. "I was chomping at the bit and I thought I'd be rusty, but my enthusiasm trumped the rustiness."
Mignola's "Hellboy in Hell" begins in December.