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Some serious comics relief at the festival

April 27, 2008 | 11:45 am

Hellboy Some insights from the Compics Superheroes of the Page & Screen panel on Saturday:

Weaving in and out of themes dealing with the intersection of comics and mainstream media, Jeph Loeb, Mike Mignola and Steve Niles recounted stories of meetings with producers.

Mignola, whose Hellboy comic is being released in sequel form later this summer as a major motion picture: "They now see the audience as a group of 40- to 50-year-old guys that are living locked in their basements."

Loeb, the comic book writer and producer who's behind-the-scenes work helped raise the profile of "Smallville," "Lost" and then "Heroes":  "It changes things a lot that you have a lot of filmmakers who grew up reading comics and understand what they are."

Steve Niles, whose graphic novel work helped get "30 Days of Night" made into a film released last year: "For '30 Days,' I heard some crazy ideas, including one guy asking, 'Why set it in Alaska?' " (Alaska's one of the few, if not only, places where a vampire would want to hang out during the months of perpetual nighttime.) Niles also recounted the story of an exec who suggested that his vampires should be looking for an immortality-giving diamond in his "30 Days" book/movie.  Niles surmised the producer probably used the diamond quest in all of his idea meetings.

Loeb received applause for helping produce a show that so prominently uses subtitles ("Heroes") and talked about working on the movie "Firestorm," which was touted to be a big hit that would save the studio from some flop about a boat.  The boat movie was "Titanic."

Los Angeles Times staff writer Geoff Boucher led the panel -- no easy feat as he was doing double duty at the Festival of Books and then heading out to cover bands at Coachella.

Jevon Phillips

(Image from "The Art of Hellboy" by Mike Mignola)