Chuck Palahniuk and Collaborators on the Making of Fight Club 2

This week, Dark Horse Comics will release the first issue of Fight Club 2, a 10-issue comic book sequel to the 1996 novel (which was made into the hit 1999 film). The comic is written by the novel’s author, Chuck Palahniuk. Palahniuk is writing in this medium for the first time, but he’s working with some of the most acclaimed collaborators in the business.

To dissect a three-page scene from the first issue of Fight Club 2 (pages 13-15), I spoke with Palahniuk, artist Cameron Stewart, cover artist David Mack, colorist Dave Stewart, letterer Nate Piekos, and editor Scott Allie. Dark Horse Comics has been generous enough to provide us with the full pages from this scene so that you can read along with the commentary.

In general, how did the team communicate with each other during the making of this book?

Scott Allie (editor): Well, certainly the most unique thing with the process of this book was that the whole interior team got together in Portland to talk about what we wanted to do, and brainstorm some storytelling ideas.

Chuck Palahniuk (writer): We had meetings twice a week all summer to come up with different concepts. Like the idea for realistic objects to overlay and obscure things on the page, things that would be consistent through all the issues.

Nate Piekos (letterer): It's more of a team atmosphere than most projects where you usually only deal with the editor. Scott fostered the team-spirit approach with us on the Umbrella Academy comics, and it really is the best way for everyone to get excited and give 110%.

Cameron Stewart (artist): Now that the book is underway, I generally send Scott the artwork, who passes it along to Chuck for approval. Occasionally they have notes on the art but for the most part I'm left to my own devices.

Piekos: The team does a lot of emailing with everyone CC’d.

The flower petals we see on the first page of this scene with Marla in the kitchen is an interesting device that is used (with different objects) throughout this issue. How did this idea come about?

Cameron Stewart: That was Chuck's idea—from a very early stage he said that he was interested in the idea of "occlusion"—of deliberately obscuring information from the reader in order to "visually annoy" them. The pills and rose petals were written into the script from the very first draft.

Chuck Palahniuk: I really admired the way David Fincher messed with the conventions of film in the Fight Club movie. He didn’t try to hide the fact that you were watching a movie. The actors break the fourth wall. He had the film rattle in the cage, he had it burn, he had splices. He really talked about the mechanics of film within the film which I think kind of lends it an even greater realism because it’s not a story trying to pretend it’s the truth and it somehow becomes even more honest because of that.

So I wanted to try to identify different aspects of comics that we could mess with. And one was using these realistic objects that would obscure and negate captions and dialogue. And also obscure and negate faces so it would imply that someone was hiding or lying in that moment. And we’re going to be doing additional things like messing with the register and the colors as if the printing process was screwed up so as to imply that these are defective issues. We just found as many aspects of the mechanical process as we could mess with to mimic the way that David Fincher messed with the movie.

Scott Allie: Chuck had the idea that we would cover things that you would usually never cover, that traditional storytelling would require you to show clearly. We’ve carried this idea through in a lot of ways, like the issue #2 cover by Francesco Francavilla, where the logo covers the fighter’s face.

How are the overlaying objects created? At what point in the production process are they added?

Cameron Stewart: I drew them in black and white, on an overlay. I needed to be able to determine the size and placement so that I could compose the entire page.

Dave Stewart (colorist): During the coloring process, I layer the objects so that I can add shadows on the background so it looks like the object is resting on the paper. The line is hidden in the color adding to a more realistic feeling. Then the shadow is added to make it feel like it’s resting on the book.

Cameron Stewart: Dave rendered them in a far more "realistic" style, complete with shadows cast on to the page, in contrast to the simpler, flatter, more "comic book" style coloring on the rest of the page.

Nate Piekos: Cameron drew the pages without the obscuring elements (flower petals, pills...) and when I lettered those pages, I drew indications for the best positioning over the lettering. Dave Stewart did an amazing job rendering those objects and placing them.

Scott Allie: The person who doesn’t get enough credit is Christianne Goudreau. She works in our in-house production department, and she does the final assembly of everything. Nate gives us pristine lettering files, then Christianne actually assembles that over the line art. We go through a round of fine-tuning, including moving the rose petals now that we can see exactly how the lettering lands in relation to the art. Then she gives the lettering files to Dave.

Generally Dave colors a book at the same time the lettering is getting done, but he holds onto it until Christianne can give him the lettering. That’s especially important here. Dave had to have the lettering to finalize the coloring. Not only do the rose petals cover some balloons, but they have cast shadows that hit the balloons. All of that required a lot of fine-tuning. And I think we were all a little surprised at how beautifully Dave rendered the rose petals. Dave really knocked that out of the park. Those are just normal inked drawings of petals drawn by Cameron, but Dave colored the hell out of them. When Dave’s done, he turns it back in to Christianne, and then we have one more round of fine-tuning with her before it’s all done.

We actually first see this same motif of the realistic objects on the book’s cover. How were those created?

David Mack (cover artist): I put actual band-aids on the painting. I felt like it unified the two different sets of eyes into one facial identity even though they represent two different consciousnesses. The eyes open/eyes closed imagery was meant to convey the two personalities. The Tyler eyes open up inside his head when his eyes close. And with the bruises, cuts, band-aids, and scar, I felt like it said "Fight Club" and “Tyler" with an economy of information. I wanted the imagery to bypass the normal thinking process and download in your head immediately.

Chuck Palahniuk: David is so good at depicting the subconscious so I just let him go on this.

David Mack: Scott and Chuck would sometimes have notes and suggestions. Often they would give the notes on the sketch and then I’d tweak or add something for the finished painting. Sometimes they may have a note on the painting, and I’d add a touch to that. I think the evolutions of the covers were always for the better.

I often used mixed media and three dimensional objects and collage in my work, so it integrated well for contrast with the painting. And in the case of issue #3, Scott and Chuck asked for an actual grenade pin to overlap the cover image.

I wanted to talk about the making of this particular scene because there’s such a great rhythm throughout it. As we see Sebastian mowing the lawn, there is a palpable buildup of stress across these two pages. Can you talk about how you all worked to help orchestrate that pacing?

Chuck Palahniuk: Writing for this was more like writing a screenplay or even a storyboard for a screenplay. I’d have to limit and pace the number of panels I could present. And then being presented with the concept of the page turn reveal which was fantastically frustrating at first. Trying to pace everything so that there was a setup just before the page turn. Cameron was much better at combining panels so that the page turns would work better. I just didn’t have a very good grasp of it at least for the first couple of issues. In that way, he really did save me.

Scott Allie: We all communicate very directly on things, but it’s still my job to make sure the communication works. That everyone has what they need. So with pages 13 and 15, for instance, the pages with the petals and the barking, the script said what Chuck wanted there. Then Cameron’s initial layouts showed how it would basically work, which Chuck and I signed off on.

Cameron Stewart: Since it's quite a mundane setting, partly to keep it interesting for myself to draw, I felt like I wanted to try to make the page very dense and rhythmic. To grow the tension of the scene. Page 14 employs an eight-panel grid, but with two tiers of four thin vertical panels, which is an unconventional layout. I used the first tier to show a static view of the garden with Sebastian moving back and forth across it, to suggest the monotony of the mowing—and, on a greater level, his current domestic life. As his anger and frustration at the neighbor grows, I increased the density of the panels on page 15, employing a very tight 15-panel grid to suggest an almost claustrophobic feel, like his world is suffocating him and he's ready to explode out of it. Scott was a little panicked at this layout as I think he thought it was *too* dense but I felt like it packed a much greater visual effect than to divide it over another page.

Chuck Palahniuk: I dictated that the caption would be a little wordy and I wanted the dog barking to obscure those words so that it wouldn’t seem overly verbose. That was a big thing that I wanted, this constant static of barking throughout the whole thing. And I wanted this repetition of the lawn mower going in one direction and then another direction to imply the tediousness of our lives. That most of our lives consist of the same tasks done over and over until we die so I wanted that sense of futility.

And the coloring is so intentionally bland here. If I was stupid about illustration I was even more stupid about coloring. Dave [Stewart] came up with the idea of using these hot colors for all the really dynamic scenes. So if there were scenes with violence or sex, that’s where all the reds and yellows would show up.

Dave Stewart: The dog’s incessant barking is colored in oranges and orange-red to draw a lot of attention. It kind of screams over everything that is happening in that scene, and is hopefully kind of irritating in how much attention those colors want. Then Sebastian explodes and his background goes hot yellow contrasting the browns of the scene. His choice in the last three panels to not take his medication and instead fight is indicated in the backgrounds that go from the brown green grass color to a hot orange signaling violence of his intentions.

Scott Allie: At one point we were going to vary the sound effects, different words for barking, but sticking with the same word felt cleaner, more true to the intent.

Nate Piekos: Chuck's script stated that the barking should be visually annoying. It should kind of get on your nerves and become overwhelming. At times, it would compete with the dialogue for your attention. So I just went nuts with it. Starting slow at first and building as Sebastian's tension was building through the scene. We're doing some fun graphic design in this book with lettering and elements "overlapping" artwork, so I did some of that with the barking as well.

Scott did what we call "placements," where the editor indicates where things might fit and flow correctly. I think Cameron had some input on that scene as well. Sometimes he'll send along a sketch of where he imagines the sound effects might go when we have a tricky page. Ultimately, it was left up to me to make it work design-wise and for readability.

Chuck Palahniuk: It’s hard to do a scene about boredom and frustration and still keep it interesting. That’s why I liked using the barking so often because it creates a tension in a scene that might otherwise seem tedious. The bark adds that extra thing that breaks things up.

Again, like with the rose petals, the visual sound effect of the barking obscures some of Sebastian’s dialogue. Did this go against your professional instincts to cover up so much of the actual art and dialogue?

Cameron Stewart: No, I was interested in experimenting with it as a means of making the book visually distinct—I've also played with overlapping panels and seeing how far I can obscure an image while still allowing the necessary information to be read.

Nate Piekos: A comic letterer's #1 responsibility is to make sure the reader isn't confused. The eye follows a certain path and rhythm, and if the lettering is off, then the reader is brought out of the reading experience—when Chuck's scripts indicated these overlapping design elements, I was kind of worried that we'd be walking a tightrope with that. We'd intentionally be obscuring dialogue and art. I think we pulled it off nicely.

Chuck Palahniuk: It makes it seem a little less precious. That you can throw away words and they aren’t important. That you can throw away faces. There’s studies that show that the mannequins that department stores use are much more compelling and draw your eye more if they don’t have a head. We’re compelled to the incomplete thing. The obscured thing is always much more engaging.

Scott Allie: When the occluding images are sound effects, it just means a bit more work for Nate. But when they need to be drawn, it makes it more complicated for everyone, requiring Cameron to draw the elements on a layer, knowing that they’ll be moved around, knowing that he has slightly less control than he normally does over the page. It complicated things for Nate in that he needs to think not just about what art he’ll be covering up, what’s under his lettering, but also what art will be covering his letters, what will go over his lettering. That actually requires a lot of extra consideration.

Amongst everything else going on there are a lot of cutaway panels to Sebastian’s son's bedroom in this scene too.

Chuck Palahniuk: We see Junior with his chemistry set and strewn on the floor is the Holy Bible which isn’t really introduced until maybe the 4th issue but Cameron gets it in here really early. Also next to that is a Tyler Durden action figure with a gun. And that’s something that shows up much later in a video game but it was just a really smart way for Cameron to introduce these things. And in a way it’s like how David Fincher got Brad Pitt into the movie early by splicing him in and sticking him on televisions in the early scenes so that there was kind of a hint of Pitt before his character actually stepped in.

Cameron Stewart: The Bible seen on the floor of Junior's room was in Chuck's script, one in a series of Biblical references foreshadowing a great cataclysm. It was my idea to include the Rize or Die Tyler action figure on the floor—a precursor to Sebastian's vision of Tyler in the video game and the suggestion that there is a link between father and son and Tyler.

Chuck Palahniuk: Cameron doesn’t waste anything so everything is just a wonderful opportunity for a setup that we’ll pay off later. I think once people see the art in the book and the richness in which things are depicted multiple times they’ll be so impressed. Things aren’t just depicted once and never seen again. There’s a consistent texture of the same things which is kind of what the minimalist style of writing is all about, repeating the same thing but in different ways.

After all the buildup of the dog barking, the dog poop and Sebastian’s simmering aggression towards his neighbor, this scene ends in the top panel of the following page with the quiet, wordless image of Sebastian and family eating dinner in silence with Sebastian sporting a shiner.

Chuck Palahniuk: The non-verbal payoffs and simple gestures are always more powerful. And that’s another place where Cameron knows far more gestures and he put things across in a much more subtle way than I could dictate them.

Cameron Stewart: After the density of the previous page, ending on Sebastian's sinister, stern face as he makes his grave threat against the neighbor, it made sense to widen out again to show a scene of dull domesticity. We can breathe again, and laugh at Sebastian's failure (or is it?).

Chuck Palahniuk: There’s something about this form that seemed natural for me. I always disliked using a lot of dialogue and I like to play down dialogue by not using a lot of quotation marks around it so that you’re not confronted by this page that looks like a screenplay which is quote after quote. So that dislike of dialogue already set me up to write in this visual way.

I love using some sort of odd non-sequiter and then not using it for a while. For instance, the babysitter finds this shoebox full of dog shit and there’s a reference to junior using potassium nitrates in the old fashioned way where you’d distill shit with urine and scrape the crystals off. It’s such a red flag but it’s not addressed. And then later we come upon dog shit on the lawn and a kid with a chemistry set. Then we get the beat-up at the dinner table scene with no explanation and we force the reader to wait until almost the end of the issue before you find out what actually happened at that fight and why this scene is so quiet and subdued. I like setting something up and then waiting as long as possible before explaining.

Fight Club 2 #1 is available in comic stores now.

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8 Things You Might Not Know About Ziggy
Welcome Productions, YouTube
Welcome Productions, YouTube

Devoid of pants or much of a personality, cartoonist Tom Wilson’s Ziggy has been prompting pleasant chuckles out of readers since he first appeared in newspapers in 1971. The bulbous-nosed little unfortunate has, against the odds, become a highly recognizable character, extensively merchandised on everything from greeting cards to pencil erasers. Before the inevitable big-budget CGI reboot happens, check out some facts about Ziggy's history, why fans were upset when he once spoke, and the bittersweet origin of his distinctive name.


Ziggy had a circuitous route to the comics pages. The character was first created by American Greetings executive Tom Wilson in the 1960s. (Wilson would later have a hand in creating the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake.) Doodling an elevator operator who commented on the mundane events inside his small world, when Wilson first tried to sell it as a comic strip, there were no takers. When he resurrected the character for a 1969 American Greetings humor book, When You’re Not Around, the odd little man intrigued the wife of a Universal Press Syndicate executive. By 1971, Wilson and Ziggy were in 15 newspapers, a number that would eventually reach over 500. 


Ziggy is often depicted as beleaguered and exasperated at the various obstacles life puts in front of him, from faulty ATMs to soured relationships. (He prefers to socialize with animals.) Wilson gave him the name “Ziggy” because the letter “Z” comes last in the alphabet and Wilson thought that was a proper position for his character, who often came last in life. (Another story has Wilson hearing the name from a colleague’s barber and remembering it.) In one strip, Ziggy is seen waiting for a rescue after a flood—but the responders are going in alphabetical order. In 1974, Wilson told a reporter that his full name is “Zigfried.”


When Wilson died in 2011, his heir apparent was already selected. His son, Tom Wilson Jr., had been drawing the strip since 1987. Long before that, the elder Wilson would sit with his son at a table, draw Ziggy in a precarious position—a safe plummeting toward him from above, for example—and then instruct his son to draw a way out of the jam. Ziggy, Tom Jr. later said, was like his “successful little brother.”


Despite his general haplessness, Ziggy often draws sympathy and affection from readers. Wilson felt his large, circular nose and rotund body engendered feelings of warmth and told his son to go easy on his line drawing work. “Let’s keep Ziggy round and lovable,” the artist said. Ziggy also breaks the fourth wall, talking directly to readers, a technique Wilson felt further strengthened the feeling of companionship.


For years, locals in Strongsville, Ohio have craned their necks to take in a curious sight: Ziggy appears on the side of one of their water towers. Wilson was from Cleveland, and when he heard a local sports team had painted the character up there in 1975, he offered to render a better portrait. Firefighters lifted him on a crane and allowed him to paint Ziggy next to the school’s mustang mascot. When the Cleveland Water Department threatened to cover him as part of a new paint job, residents signed a petition to prevent them from going through with the plan.


There was no limit to the kind of Ziggy product tie-ins hitting stores, including shirts, calendars, and mugs. But 1977’s A Day with Ziggy might be the most memorable. Players assumed the role of the put-upon blob, trying to avoid landing on a space that would worsen Ziggy’s day.


Ziggy first popped up in cartoon form in 1981, when he “appeared” in a segment with Today film critic Gene Shalit. Strangely, readers wrote in expressing disapproval of the spot, noting that Ziggy's voice didn’t mesh with what they had imagined he might sound like.


Ziggy made the jump to animation in 1982 with the ABC primetime special Ziggy’s Gift. Written by Wilson, it afforded Ziggy fans a closer look at the character’s daily life, including his sparsely-furnished apartment and a gig dressing as Santa for the holidays. At Wilson’s insistence, the character didn’t speak to avoid another Shalit situation. The special won an Emmy in 1983. Ziggy still wasn’t wearing any pants.

Columbia Pictures
12 Burning Facts About Hellboy
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Two decades before he would become a two-time Oscar-winner for The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro set out to make a movie about his favorite superhero: a big red demon with a big gun and a heart of gold. It took years to finally get the film off the ground, but in 2004 Hellboy finally made it to theaters, adding another piece to the beloved supernatural filmography that’s made del Toro a favorite among genre fans for a quarter of a century.

Though it never rose to the box office heights of The Avengers, and it never reached the end of its planned trilogy, Hellboy remains one of the most imaginative, thrilling superhero films of the 21st century. From early script changes to an accidentally deleted scene, here are 12 facts about how it was made.


Guillermo del Toro grew up with comic books, noting that he was flipping through them before he even knew how to read the words. That childhood fondness for the medium stayed with him into adulthood, and by the time he’d reached his early 30s he’d not only discovered the work of Mike Mignola, but began to consider the Hellboy creator one of his great comic book visual influences alongside legends like Will Eisner, Bernie Wrightson, and Richard Corben.

“Mignola, in my later years, already as a young adult, fascinated me with his use of light and shadow, with his amazing bold line work, but also with the way he gave birth to my favorite superhero in my adult years, which is Hellboy,” del Toro said during the recording of the Hellboy Director’s Cut commentary track.

When del Toro and Mignola finally met during the making of Hellboy, they bonded over a mutual love of folklore and pulp fiction, becoming fast friends and collaborators. 


In the world of the film, Hellboy is viewed as an urban legend and tabloid story, not unlike Bigfoot. The film’s opening credits underline this with blurry photos, grainy videos, and newspaper headlines meant to depict widespread eyewitness accounts of the creature. Agent Myers (Rupert Evans) further emphasizes this point when he exclaims “He’s real!” upon meeting Hellboy for the first time. 

According to del Toro, this idea was initially supposed to play out in a much more overt way through the film’s screenplay. In early drafts, parts of the film’s story were told through eyewitness interviews with characters claiming to have seen Hellboy.

“So people would be saying ‘I saw Hellboy over here. I saw him jump,’ and a kid saying, ‘I saw him on the rooftop.’ Now everybody does it, but back then it was 1997, '98, and I thought that was a great idea,” del Toro said. “That was the first thing we cut out of the shooting schedule because [the studio executives] didn’t understand it.”


Though Hellboy’s live-action debut occurred relatively early in the 21st century’s superhero movie boom, he could have been more of a comic book trailblazer than he turned out to be. According to del Toro, if it weren't for reluctant studio executives, the film could have come out as early as 1998, making it a contemporary of Blade rather than Spider-Man 2.

“The one thing that particularly infuriates me is that this movie could have been made in 1998,” del Toro said, noting that the film would have then pre-dated X-Men (2000), Spider-Man (2002), and even The Matrix (1999). At the time, though, many studio executives considered the comic book movie label “almost an insult,” and so Hellboy kept getting pushed back. In between the time it could have been made and the time it was actually released, del Toro made his comic book movie debut with another dark superhero film, Blade II, in 2002.


By the time Hellboy hit theaters, creator Mike Mignola had already been building his own mythology and supporting cast around the character for a full decade. While the film is a loose adaptation of the first major story arc of the comic, “Seed of Destruction,” del Toro couldn’t help adding his own touches to everyone’s backstory. Even before he began work on the script, del Toro wrote out detailed character biographies for each major player in the Hellboy story, which were then included on the eventual Director’s Cut DVD release.

A particularly amusing example from these backstories: The fictionalized version of historical figure Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) is said to have disliked “greasy food,” and while he really did die in 1916, he was resurrected in 1936 when Nazi occultists mixed his stolen ashes with the blood of the innocent.


Long before his fantasy romance The Shape of Water earned him two Academy Awards, del Toro was imagining tales of unusual creatures falling in love with human women, and Hellboy was one of them. The romance between the title character (Ron Perlman) and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) didn’t exist in Mignola’s original comics, where Sherman’s stronger connection was (ironically, given The Shape of Water’s subject matter) with the aquatic creature Abe Sapien (who is played by The Shape of Water's Amphibian Man, Doug Jones). Latching onto a particular moment in the comics in which Hellboy is enraged by the thought of Liz’s death, del Toro envisioned a story in which his demonic hero could fall in love with a pyrokinetic woman, and was particularly enticed by the image of that woman engulfed in flames kissing a fireproof creature. That particular storytelling decision made del Toro’s Hellboy significantly different from Mignola’s, who modeled the character after his father, but the creator ultimately allowed the departure in the final film.


In several sequences throughout the film, the character of Rasputin wears a pair of small sunglasses, even in scenes set at night. This was not done simply to make him look cooler (del Toro recalls comparisons made to The Matrix), but because del Toro originally planned to take away the character’s eyes. In the film’s opening sequence, Rasputin is sucked into the very portal that baby Hellboy is drawn out of, causing him to vanish from Earth for decades until he’s resurrected in the present day. Del Toro wanted the portal to create a “cosmic eye-gouging” effect that would rip the character’s eyes out of his head, but it simply didn’t work in a PG-13 film.

“I thought the eye-gouging, the cosmic eye-gouging, was not graphic enough for people to get the point,” del Toro said.

So, the shot of Rasputin losing his eyes was cut from the theatrical release, but restored for the director’s cut, along with a deleted scene in which the character is given a set of glass eyes.


Del Toro is a director known for his keen attention to detail. As a result, various recurring visual themes appear in all of his films. For Hellboy, he focused on the idea that “a man is made a man by the choices he makes,” and while the film’s story conveys that as Hellboy must choose between the ideologies of Rasputin and Professor Broom, he also sought to convey it through visual metaphor. To do this, del Toro settled on the recurring motif of the labyrinth. It first appears as part of the opening credits sequence, when the entire logo becomes a kind of maze, then reappears as Ilsa (Bridget Hodson) and Kroenen (Ladislav Beran) weave through mountainous terrain to find Rasputin’s resurrection site. To bookend the metaphor, Rasputin’s mausoleum in Moscow also functions as a kind of labyrinth. Even the metal gates leading to the BPRD’s headquarters resemble the lines of a maze.


While several scenes from del Toro’s Director’s Cut were left out of the theatrical release, even the version of Hellboy shown in theaters wasn’t always complete. As del Toro later recalled, some “careless” projectionists in “dozens” of theaters accidentally removed one key sequence from the film’s final act as they were assembling the reels. At the end of the scene in which Liz activates her fire powers to burn the Sammael creatures away, a rock flies directly at the camera lens, creating a brief blackout. That scene is supposed to be followed by a shot of an unconscious Myers waking up on the ground to find Ilsa and Rasputin standing over him. The blackout confused some projectionists into skipping over the scene of Myers waking up, so some theatrical audiences were taken directly to the scene that followed, in which Myers has already been captured and chained up. According to del Toro, he set up an email contact form for moviegoers to report this misstep and got numerous replies, though the studio was not able to correct all of the errors.


Beginning with Cronos (1993), del Toro has built a large and diverse company of frequent collaborators, many of whom continue to work with him to this day. Several of these collaborators contributed to Hellboy, both in front of and behind the camera, including actors Ron Perlman (Cronos, Pacific Rim, Blade II) and Doug Jones (Mimic, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water, and more), composer Marco Beltrami (Mimic, Blade II), and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim and more).


During the Director’s Cut commentary for Hellboy, del Toro praised the film’s marketing team for finding ways to sell the film to the public, noting that it wasn’t always easy to attract audiences to a film called Hellboy. Some theaters refused to show the movie, while others retitled it Helloboy in an effort to calm potentially offended patrons. The problem was exacerbated by the presence of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which opened a few weeks earlier and remained a big box office draw during the Easter holiday.

“Especially on Easter, some theaters mysteriously dropped the movie when it was still making money,” del Toro recalled.


Hellboy opened on April 2, 2004 to strong reviews and a box office return good enough to merit a sequel. Just weeks after the first film hit theaters, Hellboy II was a go, with del Toro, Perlman, Blair, and Jones returning. With the knowledge that he would get to continue the story, del Toro envisioned a superhero fantasy trilogy, which moved closer to becoming a reality when Hellboy II: The Golden Army opened in 2008 to more critical acclaim. As time passed, though, a third film began to seem increasingly unlikely, with Perlman in particular noting that the epic scope of del Toro’s plans could be too taxing on the budget as well as Perlman’s own physical health. After years of holding out hope that the trilogy could be completed, del Toro finally announced in 2017 that all plans for Hellboy 3 had been scrapped.


Del Toro might not get to finish his version of the Hellboy story, but that doesn’t mean Big Red won’t hit the big screen again. In May 2017, just months after del Toro announced an end to his version of the tale, Mignola revealed that the character would be rebooted as part of a new film franchise. Directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent) and starring David Harbour (Stranger Things) in the title role, the new Hellboy film is set to hit theaters on January 11, 2019.

Additional Sources:
Hellboy: The Director’s Cut special features (2004)
Guillermo del Toro: Cabinet of Curiosities (2013)


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