When I think of Spawn, I immediately think of Todd McFarlane.
When I think of Todd McFarlane, I immediately think of Spawn.
In my mind, the two are synonymous with struggle, success, commitment, passion, and longevity.
I have been fortunate enough to meet Todd on several occasions. I find him to be a smart, driven person who loves what he does. He is extremely knowledgeable and pleasant to talk to. I even got to meet Todd’s best friend, the real Al Simmons. In my last meeting with Todd, I noticed he likes to admit he is a “one-trick pony.” That can be a blessing or a curse.
Spawn bears the curse, Todd and Image Comics reaps the blessings.
Spawns premiere issue published by Image Comics sold 1.7 million copies in 1992. HBO released a hardcore animated series on HBO that ran from May 16, 1997 – May 28, 1999. I must admit that the series was pretty amazing. Spawn was ranked 60th on Wizard magazine’s list of the Top 200 Comic Book Characters of All Time, 50th on Empire magazine’s list of The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters, and 36th on IGN’s 2011 Top 100 Comic Book Heroes. Not bad for an independently published comic book.
In 1997 the Spawn movie hit the box office from a $45 million production budget. It grossed $87 million worldwide, which in movie industry standards is not a profit. The general rule is that a movie has to make three times the initial cost that was spent to create and promote the film. Yet, that marginal success has not deterred Todd McFarlane; he is currently rebooting the Spawn movie. There is no release date yet, but it’s going to happen.
Out of necessity, Todd created a toy company to make quality toys for his characters. It has become McFarlane Toys. Now they create merchandise from sports icons from the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL to rock bands like KISS and the Beatles. They also make figures from the Simpsons, Anime characters, Video game characters, and of course, Spawn.
I love how Todd took a chance. He attempted something different. He was the “4th network” of Comic Book Publishing, and it worked! I envy and admire him.
Subconsciously and in retrospect, I realize, representation matters. The world of comic books needed Spawn. He is a Masked Anti-Hero who happened to be Black. No one seemed to notice, because the quality of the work stood out more than the triviality of color.
No matter who the messenger is, if they, the readers, understand the voice of the character, then the story can speak to all of us.
Imagine a story about working hard for an entity that doesn’t value you, being in love with your family, sacrificing it all for that love, just to be deceived by the ultimate deceiver; It is a universal story, more profound and older than FAUST…
The legacy of Spawn; I didn’t think of the historical significance at the time the books were released. I just thought Spawn was cool, but 27 years later, me, you, the world has witnessed history… in 2019, Spawn became the longest-running independent comic in history. He remains a hero, unlike any other.
300 plus issues later, the struggle continues…
Thank you, Todd and Image Comics. Thank you, Spawn.
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