Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Comics vs Film: Abe Sapien

Abe Sapien’s (Hellboy) film design departures a lot from the one Mignola gave him in comics. Both versions are blue-green amphibious humanoids. But the film version is more amphibious in look. This film version gives Abe a more alien look, making Mignola’s design a very human sight. So which one is the better one?

The film version, being more alien to sight, contributes a lot to the film’s atmosphere and themes of the weird and occult. In this sense, the highly amphibious design adds to the film’s visual spectacle. The choice to make such a huge change was beneficial to the film from this point of view. What about the comics’ version?

Looking at the B.R.P.D. arc, Plague of Frogs, we see Abe drawn with human facial expressions for a number of panels. When he is pierced with a spear, we see him grimace. It is easy for Mignola and artists to let readers know what Abe is feeling or thinking through familiar visuals of facial expressions. Abe’s feelings for Princess Nuala in the film, Hellboy 2, are explicitly told to the audience. It has to be explicitly talked about by the film characters, because...... Abe’s face does not allow for much to be said.

Both the film and comics designs of Abe have their own positives and drawbacks. Mignola has his own ideas, Del Toro has his own. It is just a matter of which design working better in what situation.

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