I was going to wait until the production has a green light but the script for the next Hellboy Animated is headed into the climax and I wanted to talk about the specifics of the creative process in something close to "real time." So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let's begin the story of The Phantom Claw.>
After Sword of Storms was underway, Mike and I got together to talk about the second movie. We thought we'd cover Hellboy's origin and tie it to activities that were underway in the same location today. What if someone uncovered all the WW2 equipment and the spirit of Rasputin guided them toward recreating the process that brought Hellboy to Earth? I don't think we wrote a full treatment but it was a very long, extended premise and all the key points were in there.
Generally, we were left on our own to create these movies but Lloyd Levin, one of the producers of Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy movie, called up Mike. His point was that we were telling the same story as the movie. "The fans have read the origin in the comics and saw a variation of it in the movie. The animated films should be about expanding the franchise." My knee jerk reaction was that it wasn't the same story at all except for the origin. It was nothing like the movie. But Mike pointed out that a large chunk of it was and that it started the same way as the live action movie. He said we should stick our necks out and do something original.
That led to Hellboy Blood and Iron. We started with an original then brought in Hecate and once we had Hecate, that gave us other players from the comic. So although it began as completely new stuff, we pulled heavily from the second Hellboy trade paperback, Wake the Devil. Judge for yourself on March 17 on Cartoon Network -- for those of you who can get it.
I think it was around the time Mike visited the studio and saw all the artwork, that he finally believed we were making the animated movies. From time to time we would talk about future stories. He pointed out that since there would be a bigger gap between movie two and three that one and two so we needed something to bring the fans back. "Let's give them Lobster Johnson." Of course, discussion subsided because we had a couple of movies to produce. At that point he decided that he better get off his butt and write his Lobster Johnson stories. Visit the Dark Horse website for more on that!
When it came time to talk seriously about the third movie, three elements resurfaced: Lobster Johnson, Hellboy's origin, and classic Universal Monster movies. If Sword of Storms was the folklore side of Hellboy, Blood and Iron the vampire/Hammer Films side then The Phantom Claw is the mad scientist/weird technology aspect of Hellboy stories. This film will be completely different than the first two.
Finally, a few general notes then I have to get back to the script. Abe and Liz are not along on this adventure. Professor Broom only sends Hellboy and Kate Corrigan to investigate the castle where Hellboy was summoned to Earth. No one has been back there since the War, kept out by a secret society working behind the scenes. (Yes, the animated version has a different origin locale than the feature which is different from the comic). Lobster Johnson will appear in various forms but the movie is not about him. The closest comic to his role is Conqueror Worm and a variation of the scene that you see above will be in the movie. There will be glimpses of Ilsa, Leopold and Kronen in the flashbacks to Hellboy's origin but they'll be closest to their comic counterparts. Rasputin is the major villain although we'll introduce another who Mike is so excited about that he's threatened to design the guy himself. Cool.
Next post, we'll talk Lobster. You think you know him and who should play him but you don't know The Lobster!