How Hellboy gave Neil Gaiman his start in writing for movies and TV
Though primarily known for his novels, short stories, and comic books, Neil Gaiman is all over the TV landscape these days. After serving as showrunner on the 2019 Amazon adaptation of his own book Good Omens (originally co-written with the late Terry Pratchett), Gaiman is now moving full steam ahead on the Netflix adaptation of his iconic comic series The Sandman. But it all started with a humble beginning on the set of the second Hellboy movie.
In the new documentary Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters, which is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, Gaiman shares a story about how he got his start in movies and TV through Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
The second movie directed by Guillermo del Toro to feature comic creator Mike Mignola's signature character, Hellboy II: The Golden Army leans more into the fairy tale side of Hellboy mythos than the pulp vibes that dominated the first film. That created an opening for Gaiman, who knows fairy tales better than just about anyone (just a few years ago, he wrote his own version of the most iconic Norse myths, which has since been turned into a comic series of its own).
"He is such an astonishing artist and has so much power and can do so much with so little. You look at Mike and there's not a line wasted. He is absolutely a genius," Gaiman says in the documentary. "Not a lot of people know this, but my only little Hellboy thing, uncredited, is that back in 2007, I was in Budapest where they were filming Hellboy 2 and I got to hang out on set and just watch the filming and learn. None of which I thought at the time was incredibly useful and all of which, when I became a showrunner a decade later, became incredibly useful."
Gaiman continues, "Guillermo Del Toro at some point in there handed me the script for Hellboy 2 and said, 'Can you make the fairy tale that it opens up with sound more like a fairy tale? I've written a fairy tale, but can you just can you do the language? And so I got to do a rewrite on that opening fairy story in Hellboy 2 and it gives me an enormous amount of pleasure to know that I sort of cracked in. I'm in there in some way, you can hear little turns of phrase."
In addition to Gaiman, Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters also features interviews with Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar, writer Victor LaValle (Ballad of Black Tom, Monster), Mythbusters' Adam Savage, Hellboy movie actor Doug Jones, and many other friends, collaborators, and admirers of Mignola.
Directed by Jim Demonakos and Kevin Hanna, Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters has completed hours and hours of footage. The hope for the Kickstarter campaign is to secure financing for additional interviews, edit the film and score, and bring the film to market.
"We are big fans of both Neil Gaiman and the Hellboy movies, but we were completely caught off guard when he said he had worked on the Hellboy II script," Hanna told EW in a statement. "I honestly thought maybe we hadn't done our homework, but then Mr. Gaiman told us that he had never spoken about it. One of the best parts of creating this documentary has been hearing anecdotes like these that have not always made it out to the public."
Take a look at the available tiers and rewards (including Blu-Rays, custom t-shirts and prints, and more) at the Kickstarter page for Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters.
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