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NYCC: Tad Stones and Mike Mignola on "Hellboy: Blood and Iron"

The second day of the New York Comic Con started with a bang at the Hellboy: Blood and Iron preview panel. Attendees to the panel were treated to a full screening of the direct-to-video movie, followed by a brief Q&A session with director/writer Tad Stones and with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.

(l to r) Tad Stones and Mike MignolaDuring the Q&A session, Stones and Mignola confirmed that they have received a green light to script the third Hellboy Animated film, currently titled The Phantom Claw and starring fan-favorite character Lobster Johnson. A very brief teaser for the sequel came at the very end of the movie. Stones stated that the next film will have some very familiar characters, but that Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien will not be in it.

According to Stones, the decision to go into production for the third movie will depend on DVD sales of the first movie, but the sales so far have been good. In response to a question about the differences between the comic book, the live-action movie, and the animated movies, Mignola stated that the comics are the “real” Hellboy, while the animated product is Tad Stones’ version of Hellboy just as the live-action one is Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy. He also stated that he does not want it to look like he’s changing anything in the comic for the sake of the films. Stones added that both he and del Toro try their best to stay true to the spirit, and that anybody familiar with any one of the Hellboy continuities will easily recognize the core of the characters in the other.

On the live-action front, Mignola hinted that Lobster Johnson may be appearing in the live-action films and that a Lobster Johnson mini-series will be coming soon before the film version. However, he had no idea when the mini-series would be published; issue 1 is complete, while the others are in progress.

The remainder of this article may contain spoilers for Hellboy: Blood and Iron.

While Hellboy: Sword of Storms was a series of loosely connected vignettes, Blood and Iron seems to have a more focused narrative, centering on vampirism and dark secrets from the past of Professor Bruttenholm, adoptive father of Hellboy. The movie kicks off with a big, rousing monster fight before settling into a creepy, spooky, and horrific groove. The movie splits along two stories: one in the past involving the battles between Professor Bruttenholm and the horrific real-world figure of Elizabeth Bathory, and one in the present as the BPRD agents investigate a haunted house owned by real-estate mogul Oliver Trumbolt. The movie spends much of its time on shocks and suspense, with the last third of the film rounded out with an extended slam-bang action sequence. Stones and Mignola noted that Blood and Iron borrows several elements from the comic-book “Wake the Devil” story.

Stones and Mignola acknowledged the debt they had to classic Gothic horror movies, especially the works of the Hammer Studios. In fact, Mignola noted that he wished he recognized the connection earlier, since he would have used more of the design elements from those classic films in the animated artwork.

The same dry, macabre wit infuses the production as well – there are a surprising number of laughs that come along with the squirms, largely driven by the interactions between the title character and his partners, the pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and the amphibian Abe Sapien. The animation is as beautiful as in Sword of Storms, although this time with a far more Gothic-tinged style that is quite suitable to the story and the style. All the voice-actors return, with Ron Perlman giving the same world-weary pragmatism to Hellboy. As mentioned, Professor Bruttenholm has a much more substantial role in this DTV movie, which leads to much more of John Hurt’s wonderful rasp.

If there is a criticism to be leveled at what was seen so far, it is that the transitions between flashbacks and current events is sometimes a bit less sharply defined than it should be, leading to occasional moments of confusion.

Keep an eye out for Toon Zone News’ interview with Tad Stones and Mike Mignola about Hellboy: Blood and Iron.

(Edited 27-Feb-2007 to correct Prof. Bruttenholm’s name)

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