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Movie magic: Directors Jim Demonakos on directing 'Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters'

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‘Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters’: Condensing a career into one film

An interview with ‘Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters’ filmmakers Jim Demonakos and Kevin Hanna.

Fans of Mike Mignola have a new way to explore the creator’s work via a new documentary about his career called Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters. The feature-length documentary is now on Kickstarter, where you can purchase the film digitally or on Blu-Ray and add exclusive items like t-shirts, commissions, print sets, and more.

First announced by THR, the film is co-directed and produced by Jim Demonakos (co-founder, LightBox Expo) and Kevin Hanna (Director, Clockwork Girl). The feature film features interviews with a treasure trove of talent like comic book writers Neil Gaiman, Vita Ayala (The Wilds), Chris Roberson (Hellboy & The BPRD) and Tom Sniegoski (Young Hellboy) and award-winning cartoonist Fábio Moon (Daytripper), Michael Avon Oeming (BPRD: The Soul Of Venice), award-winning colorist Dave Stewart and, of course, Mignola himself.

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But wait there’s more, including Mythbusters host Adam Savage, Hellboy film actor Doug Jones and actress Vanessa Eichhotlz, novelists Christopher Golden (the bestselling Ben Walker novels) and Victor LaValle (The Ballad Of Black Tom), Dark Horse Publisher and founder Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Editor Katii O’Brien, Marvel EVP of Creative Development Joe Quesada, as well as interviews and art demonstrations with painter Jason Shawn Alexander, Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy: The Wild Hunt) and Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar.

With the Kickstarter launched, I had the opportunity to ask Demonakos and Hanna a few questions about the likely soon-to-be-backed project.

AIPT: Jim Demonakos, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. Something fascinating about documentary filmmaking is how the narrative changes as you film, or in some cases the film is there and the narrative is found by the creators. How has the Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters project evolved from start to finish?

Jim Demonakos: You’re very right, in that the narrative has definitely changed. When we did our first big interview with Mike, we were there for hours and had prepared a lot of questions. As he answered them, it was interesting to find anecdotes that he provided us that lead us down different paths of asking questions we never would have. After that first interview, we started looking at what his story was as a whole, and that has informed how we’re asking questions to others, seeing what gaps we need filled, and where the story is taking us. It’s a very organic process, and I would say that from that first interview to where we are now is leagues apart from what we thought the story was going to be.

AIPT: What was your relationship like with Mignola’s work before diving into this project?

JD: Both Kevin and I have been fans of Mignola’s work for a very long time. For me, I discovered him when he was doing Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser for Epic Comics (an imprint of Marvel) in the early ‘90s. I was extremely taken with the artwork on that series and became a fan of his, and even started looking for other work he had done in the past – I did lots of back issue bin diving back then. When he launched Hellboy in 1994, I was hooked from day one and have been reading ever since.

Movie magic: Directors Jim Demonakos on directing 'Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters'

AIPT: What are some of the challenges of making a documentary like this?

Kevin Hanna: Honestly, the biggest challenge is condensing Mike’s entire career into just one documentary. He’s not just an amazing artist, he’s someone who followed his vision and created the largest comic universe outside of Marvel and DC, and is the only one who still drives that vision.

AIPT: For future documentarians, is there any advice you might give or documentaries you point folks to for inspiration?

KH: Tell the story that drives your passions and interests. If it keeps you awake at night, chances are it will do the same for others.

AIPT: What are some of the happy accidents and discoveries when directing a project like this?

KH: We were big fans of everybody we spoke to, and we researched, studied, and still discovered and were still completely surprised with what these amazing creators told us, and were more shocked by many of the stories and secret origins they shared with us on camera for the first time ever. You just never know what will come of talking to these unique and talented individuals.

AIPT: For documentary interviewing, how long do you have with a subject to get the best answers for the narrative?

JD: I don’t think there’s a right answer here. I feel it has to do with the comfort level of the person being interviewed. If they’re not used to being on camera or have never done it before, or even if something just feels off, then it doesn’t matter how long you have with them, you’re just not going to have a good interview. A lot of our job is just to make sure people are comfortable when they’re talking to us so they feel good about sharing their thoughts on whatever we’re discussing. Even more so, they know that we’re not trying to do something underhanded or get them into trouble for answering honestly, we want them to know that everything we’re talking about is in service of the story.

AIPT: You recently pulled off the Lightbox Expo online, do you think virtual conventions are a way of the future or a blip in time due to the pandemic?

JD: I think it will be a combination, not the new norm. We see a lot of value in creating online events that can have a worldwide appeal. We saw a huge jump in attendance because honestly, there are a lot of expenses involved in traveling to an in-person event, especially if you’re outside of the country. Being able to serve that market worldwide is not something we want to stop, but we are very excited to get back to doing an in-person event in 2022.

AIPT: Once produced and released, are there any other comics creators you’d like to focus your documentary lens on?

KH: We do! Jim and I formed Ink On Paper Studios to tell the stories of comic creators and the worlds they created because we are huge fans. As massive as these comic characters become, they all came from humble beginnings. They were created by struggling artists who wanted to make their mark on the world, each of whom had their own unique, difficult journey to bring their ideas to life. Those are the stories we want to tell.

Check out a full list of creators featured in the documentary below.

Movie magic: Directors Jim Demonakos on directing 'Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters'

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