Seth MacFarlane, creator and voice of The Family Guy, was the only possible actor to provide the voice of Johann Kraus, the disembodied psychic entity who lives in a containment suit, director Guillermo del Toro told New York Comic-Con. "It was very difficult to find Johann a voice, to duplicate the wheezing and mechanical sound." Del Toro showed an extended trailer for the movie, while writer/artist Mike Mignola revealed more about the Lovecraftian Hellboy universe. Spoilers, panel highlights, and contact info for Hellboy 3 internships after the jump.
Cancel The Ten-Foot, Three-Headed Dog
Much to the dismay of director Del Toro, a few creatures had to be dropped from Hellboy 2 including the ten-foot, three-headed bull dog. "I liked it because he was going to be in the back ground licking himself," said Del Toro. He added that the troll market scene in the new Hellboy 2 will be jam-packed with creatures. So never fear, your scary monster quota will be met. But still Del Toro promised he would post an image of the dog online in the next few weeks.
Milk, Eggs, Apocalypse
Del Toro did chat a little about his next project: he's started to sketch and write more about childhood. The possible title his next film is, Saturn At The End Of Days. The concept, "A kid named Saturn is watching the apocalypse happen on the way home from the grocery store," Del Toro revealed. "That one I am just doing because I'll be doing a small movie that I control, that no one else would do for sure."
Man Of The People
Besides being an incredible director, writer and artist Del Toro also knows when its time to look past himself. He encouraged creature designers to reach out to him, saying, "One or two guys have come out of Comic-Con and come to work with me on a movie." Asked by the audience if he ever hires interns, Del Toro encouraged people to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, at his own panel, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola revealed more about his creative process and his early influences, plus the mythology he wants to include in upcoming issues of the comic. Here are his thoughts on a variety of topics.
His Early Influences
"I read Dracula when I was about 13 years old, and that was it. It's got that dark supernatural Victorian stuff, but there's also a background of folklore and old history and legend. My favorite comic growing up was Marvel Comics' Thor. From those two things I got really interested in weird stuff — it's so much fun because so little of it makes any sense."
When Universes Collide
Mignola says he tries not to have the different versions of Hellboy — the movie, animation, comic and video game universes — collide too often. "The movie is very much its own world, and the computer game falls into that world — you know, the one where he's wearing pants. The animations are their own thing." But one unexpected crossover did happen recently: the Hellboy novels have referenced the comics, but not vice versa — until the comics started to use a character that novelist Chris Golden had created. Meanwhile, the short story collections are also their own animal, and don't fit into the comics' universe. "Mostly, I keep my head down and just look at the comics."
Hellboy, Social Critic?
There's not really much social criticism in the Hellboy comics, Mignola says. "It's certainly never been my intention. I just want to see the big stuff smashing into each other. And a talking hedgehog! We have a talking hedgehog coming up! I'm really excited about that."
How To Break Into Comics
Drawing comics was all Mignola ever wanted to do. "I always wanted to draw, and I never really thought I could draw comics, but I wanted to work as an illustrator just drawing monsters and folklore — the kind of stuff I was reading. There just aren't that many places to do that. At some point, I just thought, let me sneak into the comics business. My plan was go to New York and sneak in as an inker, and eventually someone would feel sorry for me and say, "hey, why don't you try drawing a Conan story or something?" That was my goal. But since I was a terrible inker and had no other skills of any kind, one of the editors at Marvel got to me when my inking career died out and said, "are you ready to try drawing now?" I had nothing else to do. I had no fallback. I don't know what else I'd be doing. I was terrible — so bad — but little by little, after 6 or 8 years, I began to figure out what I was doing."
Developing His Art Style
"As I mentioned, I was horrible ... so most of that style came about by trying to be less horrible every time. "Maybe if I try this" is sort of how I thought, and little by little, it worked. Plus the coloring was often not so good, so i thought: "Gee, maybe if I put MORE black, that's one less place they can put pink or yellow." Little by little weird shapes would just be replaced with black. I desperately wanted to be Frank Frazetta in high school and Bernie Wrightson in college, so that's who I looked up to."
Someone asked, "As a writer, do you ever just want to stop the epic for a little while and write a story about two people just sitting on a beach talking about their feelings, or something?" Mignola replied: "If they're [talking] about monsters, yeah! [Guillermo] del Toro and I are similar in that way — he says if there isn't a weird creature on the call sheet, he doesn't want to go to work that day. Probably one of my failings as a writer is that it just doesn't hold my interest to write about regular people. I do a lot of character stuff, but I do it with these weird creatures."
What Mignola's Currently Reading
"There's not a horror series that I currently read ... I'm not big on contemporary writers. That's not true, there's a guy named David Wellington who just did a book called 99 Coffins, and before that he did a book called 13 Bullets — they're vampire books, and they're exactly the kind of thing I wouldn't normally read, but I read them and they're fantastic. I read mostly weird old stuff, and I'm a short story guy, so I read a lot of weird old short stories. Old 1800s kind of stuff. I'm not big on the whole contemporary world thing, which is why I dropped Hellboy off the face of the Earth. It's more fun to write about different places."
Mignola's Transition From Drawing To Writing
"I never set out to be a writer — I actually just wrote a thing about this in the second volume of the Hellboy Library Edition, whenever it comes out. For a couple months in high school I tried to be a fantasy writer, and then somebody read something I wrote out loud, and I never wanted to do it again until John Byrne said "okay, you're ready. You should write Hellboy yourself." Writing is really fun — but it's really hard. Drawing to me is pure fun, so I always approach it as an artist first and foremost. Working with great artists is so liberating, though, because as a writer, I can just say: "32 guys on horseback approach something" without going "oh my God, what does that look like?" I love writing and drawing my own stuff, and I will continue to do that, but there's something about just concentrating on one thing that's very appealing. For my next novel, I will plot it or co-plot it, but that's one where I'm going to work with another writer, because it would be so much fun to just focus on the art. That's something I haven't done in years."
What's Mignola's Favorite Lovecraft Story?
Says Mignola, "I probably haven't read all the Lovecraft stuff, and what I did read, I read a billion years ago — if I give a favorite now, I'll probably change my mind tomorrow. I love the overall sense of Lovecraft's stories, of this big unknowable universe, of these gigantic things bouncing around that couldn't care less about mankind, and mankind scraping around saying, "hey, what happens if I do this? *bang*" It's almost science fiction, but it stops short of being sci-fi because these gigantic godlike things are so remote from humanity that it's beyond comprehension. It's one of the things I'm always trying to make sure I do in my own work — to me, there's some kind of logic to the supernatural, but no one else can put the pieces together. As soon as there are rules, though, as soon as 2+2=4, it's not science fiction anymore. The further you look back in folklore and mythology, the less you see those hard-and-fast rules. I get upset when people say "vampires can do this or that," because they're supernatural creatures — they can do whatever I need them to do."
Working With Guillermo Del Toro
"Before I met Guillermo, he hadn't done The Devil's Backbone — he had done Cronos and Mimic, which I saw before he ever got onto Hellboy. So when somebody said "he wants to do Hellboy," I was all for it. When we met it was mostly comparing notes, and it worked immediately. He was sitting down, I walked into the room, and he shook my hand and said "I know who should play Hellboy" and I said "I do too" and we both said it at the same time. Then it was easy; we just went to the bookstore and hung out. We played a great trick on Mike Richardson. The second he dropped us off — in Portland, Oregon, where they have the best used bookstores in America — Guillermo said "this is a great opportunity" and we went back to my apartment. Guillermo coached me through the acting for this trick; I called Richardson and started screaming at him "DID YOU TALK TO THIS GUY?! HOW COULD YOU PUT ME WITH HIM?" Richardson was saying, "where is he now?" and I replied, "HE'S GONE! He went to the airport!" It was pretty good. Mostly, Guillermo's just a riot. He's so much fun to work with."
Movies That Influenced The Young Mignola
"There are certainly certain movies that really made a huge effect on me. They're all over the place — Beneath the Planet of the Apes just lit my head on fire, it was a life-changing moment for me. The John Huston Moby Dick, for whatever reason, is the greatest movie ever! I like that big drama stuff. The Bride of Frankenstein, and Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast .... There are some other ones, but that gives you a pretty wide range. I do watch a lot of movies."
When Will We See Duncan Fegredo (Who Illustrated Darkness Falls) Again?
"That's not a bad idea. I should promote my upcoming works! What he's done on the sequel to Darkness Calls — which is called The Wild Hunt — is already better than the entire Darkness Calls miniseries. He's already done most of the first issue. Richard Corben and I are doing a 3-issue miniseries called The Crooked Man, which takes place in the Appalachian mountains in the 1950s. It's got Hellboy dealing with backwoods witchcraft, that kind of thing."
How Lobster Johnson Got His Name
"I was in Italy, and I woke up and said to my wife, 'I just came up with the greatest name for a character ever!' And she looked at me the way she looks at me, which is: 'yeah, that's great, honey.' Every once in awhile something just comes together. I can labor and labor to try to think of names, but the best one just came to me. Every time I met a new character, I would go, 'can I use Lobster Johnson for that?'"
On Being A Perfectionist
"It's certainly easier to work on stuff when people aren't anticipating it, and the longer you wait between series, the more people are anticipating it: 'It's been 5 years! It must really be good!' I've always been a perfectionist, which is part of why now I want to do these smaller stories. There isn't that gigantic burden. The Amazing Screw-On Headwent really smooth, because I knew nobody was going to care about it — it went so well for me and was so much fun. I want to do more stuff like that, where I'm like, 'Well, no danger of anybody caring about this!'"
Additional reporting by Kaila Hale-Stern.