ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.04 - JULY 2000
Spawning A Super Hero - An interview with Spawn's Todd McFarlane
(continued from page 1)
TM: It's [corporate America] the big thing that I rail against. But it's not the structure overall of corporate American that's bothersome because again you need to have people come in from nine to five, you need to give them overtime and have managers over people, and have a pecking order. All that makes sense. Otherwise you've got chaos. What's more alarming to me about corporate America is that they make decisions for people [employees] without really asking the various people's opinions ab0out things.
The visual style of Spawn is often much different than what appears in the pages of the bigger companiesą books. © Todd McFarlane Productions.
My personal experience, let's say, working for Marvel Comics Books, is that they [the executives] would go on a powwow and have a big to-do with all the editors about the direction they were going to take Spider-Man.And somehow no one was ever concerned or asked or enlightened by the fact that: You know, maybe we should have one of the writers or artists who are going to do the stuff actually in the room while we're talking about what we're planning on doing instead of coming up with these dopey ideas and trying to shove it down their throats.
Even more insulting was when they tried to come up with contracts that would be better for the freelance community. Again, somehow neglecting to ask the opinion of anybody in the freelance community. So, thank you very much for telling us what's better for our life given that you never even lived a day in our life. And you never even asked us what a day in our life was like. So, you go ahead in your ivory towers and keep making those decisions.
And on a grander scale, looking at the country as a whole, especially dealing with public companies, a public company's only goal is to grow bigger and devour more and to maximize profits. That comes at the expense of anything. And ultimately, the anythinga lot of times is the good-working decent sort of people and their families. It's asinine, complete, utter insanity.
McFarlane has had dozens of opportunities to bring his multi-million-dollar conglomerate of companies public, but he staunchly refuses.
TM: For me to go public, I'd have to put the wants and needs of my family first and foremost above everybody else. Not that I couldn't care about them [his employees], but I'd have to literally ignore them. I'd have to sit there and go: "Aaah, in order to get this stock up, I've got to cut 800 people. What do I give a shit? They're not my family."
The Trouble With Comics And The Internet
Not too many years ago, kids could buy comic books for a dollar-and-a-quarter. But in recent years, comics have become costly holographic, foiled-covered collector's items. Does McFarlane see this trend continuing?
TM: Unfortunately, the answer is yes, and it's one of the reasons that, I believe, we're in the state that we are in, in the comic book world. You continue to lose your readership because you take advantage of them. And this is one of the reasons why they leave because we aretaking advantage of them. Then you go: "Wow, we were selling a hundred thousand books at a buck. Now we're only selling 50,000. So, now we've got to charge two bucks.
It's always sort of odd to me that they've got to raise the price on the loyal guys because people decided to leave. They left because we abused them as consumers. In the past five years, we've been in a shortsighted mentality. And that shortsightedness keeps getting closer and closer and closer. Shortsightedness used to be six months. Now it's like six days.
1996 cover art. © Todd McFarlane Productions.
So, will people in our industry continue to do whatever they can to grab a buck? Absolutely. Is that good for the long-term health of this business? Nope. Can you get that across to people who are a) either working for public companies and have to maximize revenue streams and/or b) Yuppie sort of kids that are running companies and trying to put food on the table? No, not really. You just grab what you can now and deal with the consequences later. Everybody's sort of heading for Armageddon here, and nobody seems overly concerned about it.
What other trends does he see arising within the industry?
TM: That's as big as it can get -- the shrinking of your marketplace. The trend is within the confine that I don't care if everyone's buying Pokemon kid stuff or everybody's buying books like The Preacher that are hard to get. If there are only six people buying it, it's not relevant any more. So, the relevancy of it, potentially -- and again it's anybody's guess -- maybe the viewership, if you will, of people looking at words and pictures, some of it might be shifted to some of the electronic media, i.e., specifically the Web.
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