ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.04 - JULY 2000

Spawning A Super Hero - An interview with Spawn's Todd McFarlane
(continued from page 3)

With a pact with the devil, Spawn is the true anti-hero. © Todd McFarlane Productions.

The Everyguy Spawn
Does McFarlane draw a distinction between Spawn and other super heroes?

TM: Superman's a guy that hit the ground running as a boy scout and has always been a boy scout. And always did the right thing, said the right thing and was the right thing. I believe Superman and those kind of heroes are actually more unreal than a character like Spawn. Spawn is flawed because he doesn't know how to be a hero, doesn't really want to be a hero and he's trying to figure it all out.

Spawn's no different than if you got hit by a bolt of lightning and were able to lift a million pounds over your head. I would just sit there and go: "All right, now that you've got these powers, what's the answer to peace over in Kosovo?" You don't have the answer. "I don't know. I just can lift tall buildings."

...So, I think there's this false perception that when these guys [super heroes] get these powers, that instantly they're role models. ...You either have to grow into being a role model, or the fact is he [Spawn] might not ever be a role model. Will he be a great hero? Maybe some day, if he defeats the bad guy, in this case the Devil. He'll actually be bigger than God because God's never been able to kick Satan's ass. But he also might fall prey to his insecurities, his whining, his self-doubts and be actually a bit of a pisser and just can't do it.

If that's the case, then how does McFarlane answer the religious right that accuses him and others in the industry of creating horrific role models for America's youth.

TM: We need to look no further really than people in entertainment. Some of them are actually pretty good role models, and some of them actually get thrown in jail every now and then...Sports guys are the same way. Just because you are an elite athlete doesn't make you a hero to kids. Just because Spawn's been given super powers doesn't make him necessarily a hero.

I think we just got a knee-jerk for so long [that] if you're a comic book hero, you must be a boy scout. Because Spawn doesn't act perfect, then everybody goes, "He's dark, he's violent, he's anti-this and anti-that." No, I disagree. In my warped, comic book, geek mind, Spawn makes more sense to me than Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne's the freak... "You've got lots of women who want to date you." "Okay, send them home." "Why?" "Because at three o'clock every night, when it's dark as pitch, I go out and beat the fuck out of bad guys...Whereas, Spawn is just going: "I want to get back to my family, I want to get back to my wife, I want to get back to some semblance of normality."

Between the two of them, I think Bruce Wayne is a little more odd than my guy. My guy's just struggling to be normal given that he's got all these fantastic elements around him.

Spawn'saudience starts at 12 or 13 years old -- puberty, adolescence and coming of age. Does McFarlane see any sexual overtones in Spawn?

TM: Not really. Only maybe in the big picture as we try to assert ourselves as an individual. And I think it goes way beyond adolescence. Some of us struggle until we're thirty trying to find our foothold in life. So, it's just more of again sort of saying that Spawn's just trying to find his identity and assert himself. And I can say that's sort of the big metaphor for what all of us are trying to do on a day to day basis, especially those between the ages of 15 and 30.

When McFarlane was an adolescent, who were his super heroes?

TM: My mom and dad. I'm 39, and they still are. I was never somebody that looked up to athletes for their role model or movie stars. I've been at places where people ask, "If you were stranded on a desert island, what female, other than your wife, would you like to have?" I was at a blank. I never thought about it. You know why? This may seem weird for a guy who deals with fantasy -- that's a fantasy. So, why think about something that's not going to come true. I don't really spend time on wasted energy. I was never there [into fantasizing]. So, I just looked at the easiest, closest examples that were around me like my parents and teachers.

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