ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.04 - JULY 2000

Spawning A Super Hero

An interview with Spawn's Todd McFarlane

by J. Paul Peszko

Rather than try to list all of Todd McFarlane's accomplishments, it may be far easier to list what he hasn't accomplished in his youthful 39 years. He never made it to baseball's Major Leagues. He wasn't an honor student and never graduated summa cum laude.He will never launch an IPO and probably wouldn't want to either.

Spawn has become one of the most popular comic book characters in history. © Todd McFarlane Productions.

A short list, you say? Definitely. The creator of Spawn,one of the leading all-time comic books, has accomplished nearly everything he has set out to do. So, is he an entrepreneurial genius who happens to be a terrific artist or is he an artistic genius who happens to have some really hot ideas?

Todd McFarlane: I've been called a lot of things, some of them good, some of them bad. But the only thing that's sort of true is I'm stubborn as a mule. I'm very, very curious about why things are done, but equally as curious about why things aren't done. So, some of the things that I've had the good fortune to try have usually come out of the question: Why can't we do this? And people stare at you with a blank face a lot of times. You'd be surprised how many times people actually don't have a reason why they do the stuff that they do.

Then I ask practical questions. Will it slow down the process? No. Will it cost us more money? No. So, does it add any time or money to the budget? No. Well, let's go try it. Why won't you try it? Really, I hate to say it, but most of the answers are, historically, because we've just been doing it this way so long that we've forgot the reason.

Hero or not? McFarlane lets his readers decide. © Todd McFarlane Productions.

From Sports to Comics
Maybe an enigma is the best way to describe McFarlane. Oddly enough, he never took an interest in comic books until he was sixteen and started doodling some of the figures. Sports were his passion, especially baseball. But when an injury at Eastern Washington State University, where he majored in graphic design, sidelined his baseball career, he began drawing comic book figures that he thought could be improved upon. 700 rejection slips later, Marvel Comics tapped McFarlane to draw an 11-page backup story for a new title. Freelancing for both Marvel and D.C., he skyrocketed through the ranks to where he was writing, inking, penciling and coloring The Amazing Spider-Manand penciling and inking The Incredible Hulk,both for Marvel.

Although a lot of things bug McFarlane, fortunately arachnophobia isn't one of them. In 1989, with McFarlane's unique rendering, The Amazing Spider-Man became Marvel's top seller. A year later, McFarlane went to work on a new title called Spider-Man without the Amazing. However, the results certainly were -- amazing, that is. The first issue set the all-time comic book sales record, selling over 2.5 million copies.

Although this made him the hottest talent in the industry, he and his colleagues were far from pleased with Marvel's corporate policies. Early in 1992, McFarlane along with seven of the company's best artists quit to form a unique partnership called Image Comics. How does McFarlane feel about corporate America today and Marvel Comics in particular?

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Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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