A new Mike Mignola documentary is launching on Kickstarter today, dubbed Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters, co-directed and produced by Jim Demonakos (co-founder of the LightBox Expo) and Kevin Hanna (Clockwork Girl), a director who has worked in film, animation, comics, and TV.
The new feature-length doc has a star-studded list of interviewees from both in and out of comics, including Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Sugar, Victor LaValle, Vita Ayala, Duncan Fegredo, Fábio Moon, Joe Quesada, and more. The movie also has never-before-seen interview with Mignola himself at his studio, conducting drawing demonstrations. In addition, the new Mike Mignola documentary features behind-the-scenes footage from comic events, too.
You can check out the Kickstarter now (it went live today) and you can read The Beat’s interview with Demonakos and Hanna below…enjoy!
Zack Quaintance: What was the genesis for this film and when did you start working on it?
Jim Demonakos and Kevin Hanna: We’ve both felt that our favorite comic creators and their personal stories were every bit as compelling as the characters they create. The world knows the names and stories of pop stars, chefs and gardeners but not the creators who create the most popular characters in the world? We were discussing this over burgers, and decided to just make this ourselves then and there. We love the stories, we know the creators and we make movies, let’s just do this!
Without hesitation we knew that our first film would be about Mike Mignola. We both were big fans of his art and his stories, and respect so much what he has achieved. In this day and age where comic book universes are controlled by companies completely divorced from their creators, Mike is still the driving force behind the characters he created.
Quaintance: The list of folks you talked to about Mike Mignola and his work was really impressive. What was it that generally had people to sit down and talk for this documentary? I was particularly curious about those who came from outside of comics.
Demonakos and Hanna: Honestly, that was one of the easier aspects of this film; people in animation, movies, literature, you name it, they are all inspired by the work of Mike Mignola and excited to talk about his work and also how their stories intersect. The great thing about those who were outside of comics is that they have been very public about their love of Mignola, so for us it was a lot of research, looking at not only who had discussed him, but in what context and how they could add to the story we were telling the documentary in a significant way.
Quaintance: Having shot 80 hours of footage, is there a narrative you ultimately cut the documentary around? And if so, can you talk about it a little bit? I know the broad idea is documenting Mike’s work, but I was wondering if anything emerged as a focus within that.
Demonakos and Hanna: Being very familiar with Mike’s work we knew how compelling his story was, and had a narrative outlined we felt would do justice to both his personal journey and the impact of his work. That said, the more we spoke, the more new details emerged that have added new twists and turns of the film. His work is amazing, yes, but the story of how he came to create the Hellboy Universe we didn’t see coming. It’s the wonderful part of documentary filmmaking, the more you talk to people, the more stories that have never been publicized come to light and help shape the narrative in new and interesting ways.
Quaintance: Was there anything surprising that came up or happened in the course of shooting this Mike Mignola documentary?
Demonakos and Hanna: There definitely were! We were already fans, and we spent months doing in-depth research before our interviews, but more than a few times we were in shock learning things that had never been shared about the movies and comics that mean so much to us.
As comic books fans there were lots of great stories that we latched onto, for example, like how Neil Gaiman was next in line to write an ongoing Swamp Thing series after he had written a short story that Mike Mignola drew featuring Floronic Man. Unfortunately, that gig fell apart after Rick Veitch did a story where Swamp Thing became the Cross of Christ and the book was subsequently cancelled. That aforementioned Floronic Man story would have been the jumping off point for the entire new run of Swamp Thing that Gaiman had planned, but it never happened.
I think the big stand out thing was how many people owed parts of their career to Mike. Not just as inspiration, but often as a mentor, often giving green creatives some of their first opportunities.
Quaintance: Finally, can I close by asking you both how you first encountered Mignola’s work?
Hanna: I was just seriously getting into comics and decided to get everything in Dark Horse’s Legend imprint, starting with the first Hellboy miniseries. I only vaguely knew Mike’s work as an interesting cover artist before that, but Hellboy blew me away and became my favorite comic. I think before that my young brain equated detail with depth, but Mike was able to create so much more with so much less; every line, every shape has a purpose. It was more than a great comic, it changed the way I view art.
Demonakos: My favorite novelist is Terry Pratchett and in the early ’90s I had read an interview with him that in his debut novel, The Color of Magic, included parodies of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (by Fritz Leiber). Right around when I had read that was when Epic Comics was publishing a Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series by Howard Chaykin and Mike Mignola. I picked it up because of my interest in fantasy and I was extremely taken with the artwork on that series and became a fan of Mignola’s from there on out, just a few years before he launched Hellboy, which then hooked me completely.
The Kickstarter for Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters is live now, and will run until the end of March.