Intersections: Hellboy Meets Dracula
Based on a comic book, the new movie Hellboy features a monster-fighting hero who also happens to be a demon in the employ of the U.S. government. Creator Mike Mignola tells Intersections, a series on artists' influences, that he drew inspiration from another famous creature of the dark: Dracula. NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.
Mignola says he first encountered Bram Stoker's Dracula as a sixth grader. The dark gothic novel about a blood-sucking count soon drew him in: "I don't know what I'd been reading up to that point, but when I read Dracula I said, 'I'm done thinking about other stuff. I've found my thing!'
"It's the atmosphere and the mystery, the idea of a world beyond ours that functions in a way we'll never completely understand… It's perfect. It just clicked," he says.
Dracula enticed Mignola into another world; Hellboy allowed him to inhabit it. Stoker used letters and documents to tell a story that blends grisly folktales with a real-life medieval prince known as Vlad the Impaler. Hellboy is also a pastiche, assembling fictional photos and case studies with elements of folklore, supernatural stories and World War II history. The title character is a demon wrenched from hell by a Nazi mystical experiment gone awry. Adopted by U.S. agents, Hellboy now works as a government investigator of paranormal incidents.
Mignola has been writing Hellboy for more than a decade. At first, he supported himself with other jobs, including writing the comic book for the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula and helping to design the vampire film Blade 2, directed by Mexican horror auteur Guillermo del Toro. A long-time fan of Mignola's comic books, del Toro also directed the Hellboy movie adaptation. Like Mignola, del Toro believes that folklore is a way of making sense of history -- and the human experience.
"We both believe that anything you want to learn about people, you can learn from monster movies," del Toro says. "And anything about monsters, you can learn from the evening news."
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