‘Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters’ Directors Jim Demonakos and Kevin Hanna: The Conskipper Interview

Jim Demonakos and Kevin Hanna’s upcoming documentary on the career of Mike Mignola is one that many fans have been clamoring for. The response to Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters on Kickstarter certainly proved this, with the project being fully funded in only a matter of hours.

Demonakos and Hanna sat down to speak to us about their love of Mignola’s work and what it was like to put together the documentary about the architect of Dark Horse Comics Mignolaverse.

What were both of your first memories regarding the work of Mike Mignola?

Jim Demonakos: In the early 90’s, Epic Comics was publishing a Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series, written by Howard Chaykin and illustrated by Mike Mignola. I was very into fantasy books at the time and loved the entire swords & sorcery genre, so it was right up my alley. I really loved the artwork and that’s when I became a fan of Mignola’s. Just a couple years later, he launched Hellboy and I’ve been following ever since.

Kevin Hanna: I think I first became aware of Mike as a unique talent were these Fantastic Four pin-ups he did in the early 90s. He made the villain Annihilus look like something from a biblical renaissance painting. It’s very striking. I remember seeing the comic on the stand at a 7-11, and not having the money to buy it, and going home and finding enough change to pick it up.

How did the documentary come about?

Demonakos: The longer that we’ve been in the comics industry, the more Kevin and I have come to realize that the stories of our favorite comic creators were every bit as compelling as the comics they wrote and the characters they created. The years of work that go into creating a character that is embraced by pop culture can easily be forgotten if no one shines a light on the creators. Over lunch one day, we decided that we could do justice to some of these stories and decided to embark on creating this documentary.

Was it difficult to secure all of the interview subjects for the documentary?

Hanna: Luckily, that was one of the easier aspects – people in so many industries have been inspired by the work of Mike Mignola and were excited to talk about his work and how their stories intersect. A lot of those same creators have been very vocal and public about their love of Mignola, so that was a perfect place to kick off our research in who would be a great fit for this documentary.

The Kickstarter campaign is off to a phenomenal start.  Why do fans and fellow creators have so much admiration for Mike Mignola?

Demonakos: There is a lot of respect from both fans and creators that Mike has stood by his creation for so many years. How many creators still 100% control their characters and actively continue to put out new work? Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Todd McFarlane (Spawn) are a few off-hand, but there are not many others (and forgive me to those I missed). Really, it comes down to realizing that Mike Mignola is a creator who built a non-traditional shared universe and continues to do so to do this day.

What is your favorite story/character that Mike created?

Hanna: I know I’m not alone in saying “The Corpse” is my favorite Hellboy story, and for good reason.  It is a perfect comic.  For the longer stories “The Conqueror Worm” is amazing. It jumps around from horror, to sci fi, to comedy but it’s completely cohesive, and consistent in tone. It’s 100% Mignola.  

Demonakos: Hellboy is likely my favorite character overall, but there’s so many to choose from, I have a real soft spot for Roger the Homunculus and Abe Sapien as well. In terms of story, that’s a much more difficult question, but I’ll go with the story that I read more than any other and kept going back to “The Corpse and the Iron Shoes”.

In your research and interviews, what fact, story, idea surprised you the most?

Hanna: There have been lots of little tidbits from each interview, but I think my favorite was from Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe, who took a lot of inspiration from Mignola in her worldbuilding for that series.  Without Mike, we wouldn’t have Steven Universe as we know it.

Kevin-Your film The Clockwork Girl is coming out soon.  What was that experience like?

Hanna: My twin passions are comics and film, so being able to take a graphic novel like Clockwork Girl turn into a film was a hugely rewarding, and challenging experience to say the least.  It was thrilling to collaborate with as many artists and creators I did on it.   I’m very excited that audiences will be able to see it later this year. 

Jim-You created a fundraiser that was near and dear to many comic fans of a certain age: the classic spinner rack.  Were you surprised by the response to it?

Demonakos: In a funny way, not really. The reason I did it is because I lamented the fact that you couldn’t find a vintage rack in good shape for a decent price, and that was echoed back to me by many professionals in the industry. The more I commiserated about it with people, the more I realized there was a market for it. Even now, old racks go for over $800-$1000, and so being able to introduce one in to the market in the mid-$300 range was fantastic, and they continue to sell to this day on spinnerrack.com.

Mike Mignola: Making Monsters is currently available on Kickstarter until March 31. Check out all of the premiums available including a Hellboy portfolio set, signed prints, and original artwork.

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