[CFF 2022] MIKE MIGNOLA: DRAWING MONSTERS Review - A Portrait of One of Comics' Greatest Creatives

Brant Lewis calls Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters an engaging and fascinating documentary that will appeal to everyone.



Originally a 2021 Kickstarter project, the documentary Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters follows the life of beloved Eisner Award-Winning comic writer and artist Mike Mignola and the creation of the Hellboy universe. Directed by Jim Demonakas and Kevin Konrad Hanna, the film consists of interviews with Mignola and other well-known creatives like Guillermo del Toro, Victor LaValle, Rebecca Sugar, and many others. Whether you know Hellboy, who first appeared in San Deigo Comic-Con #2 in August 1993, or Mignola through the comics and movies, this documentary does a fantastic job of peering behind the creative curtain and conveying why his work has resonated with and impacted many.


As an avid Hellboy enthusiast, watching and listening to Mignola discussing his creative process and the road his career took was enjoyable and exciting. He doesn’t attempt to hide the bumps and difficulties he encountered at the beginning of his career as an inker for Marvel Comics to his success at Dark Horse. Mignola’s candid and casual nature makes him the perfect focus; he never comes off as playing it for the camera but quickly draws viewers into the conversation. The insights into his mind and artistic nature leave plenty to become invested in.


Other interviews provide a critical understanding of the creator and the influence his work has had on each person the filmmakers interviewed. It was a joy listening to del Toro discussing his passion for Mignola’s distinct visual and artistic style and how their relationship developed while making the Hellboy (2004) and other films. Outside of his contemporaries, the presence of his family and loved ones aided the ability of his work to resonate with readers and audiences due to their connection with him. Ultimately, the interviews help ground the film.


On a more technical level, the documentary is excellent. The directors and crew have a strong passion for the subject which shows in the professional nature of the interviews, filming, and editing. Despite not being overly flashy, the filmmaking style works in perfect tandem with the narrative while never losing focus. It never felt like the technical elements took me out of my viewing experience.


Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters is a delightful and skillfully crafted documentary that perfectly encapsulates Mignola’s work. It deepened my love and appreciation of him as a creator, making me want to study my trades of Hellboy. Even if you have only a slight grasp of comic books and who Mignola is, I encourage you to seek the film out. What could have been a simple love letter to a creator becomes more of a testament to his legacy and those he’s impacted with his body of work.


Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters had its North American premiere at the Chattanooga Film Festival on June 27, 2022.


 



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