Todd McFarlane (Industry Spotlight) – Comic Basics

Todd McFarlane

Todd McFarlane was born on March 16, 1961, in Calgary Alberta Canada.

At a very young age, he took an interest in drawing and comics. As he aged, his creativity continued to grow and he began to show potential in developing characters. During his high school and college years, his aspirations slightly changed. Instead of fixating himself on his drawings, he began to take an interest in baseball. Luckily for the comic book world, an ankle injury forced him to reconsider his options. 

The big break

In the late 80’s, McFarlane began working for some of the bigger companies. These, of course, included the ones that you are probably thinking of, Marvel and DC comics. He quickly rose to prominence on the Spider-Man title and changed so many things the world had known about him. More than that, he introduced the world to one of his greatest villains in Venom. Unfortunately, the more success he achieved, the more he realized that he wanted more control of what he was doing. It wouldn’t be long before he would gain the control he desired. 

Image Comics

He eventually, along with 6 others, quit their jobs at their respective companies and forged out on their own. While this isn’t out of the ordinary (changing companies, etc…) it was unheard of for the 7 most popular artists to all get-up and walk away at the same time. 

What the world didn’t know was that the 7 of them would go on to form a rival company that would challenge everything it knew about comics. Todd McFarlane, with his newfound freedom, created the wildly popular character, Spawn. In May of 1992, Spawn #1 would hit the newsstands and comic shops and take the world by storm. In fact, to this day it is one of the highest selling books of all time.

Todd and the 6 other artists had finally found a way to give the artists in the industry a way to make, create, and control their own work. 

The keys to the kingdom

The success of Spawn led McFarlane to branch out into other unheard of areas. The most well-known of which is his McFarlane Toys. He sought out to create a set of toys that had the lifelike realism that toys of the era were missing. That is, he looked at what was happening in the toy industry, disliked everything about it, and completely turned it upside down. These toys would be only of his own imagination. As time progressed he acquired the licenses to companies like the NFL, NHL, NBA, Musical Icons, and more. 

Thirsty for more and unsatisfied in his desire to do more, Todd McFarlane created McFarlane Entertainment. Through it, he was able to release the critically panned adaptation of his comic character, Spawn. Unfortunately, the movie completely bombed everywhere it was released and it would be quite some time before he attempted something on this scale again.

This, however, wouldn’t stop him from bringing his character to life as he eventually created an animated version of the character. Happily, this version did much better than its live action counterpart. 

And again

In 2017 McFarlane announced that once again he would attempt to successfully bring Spawn to the big screen. While fans of the character are excited, they do, and this includes myself, remain skeptical. I suppose, if I were to analyze it, it couldn’t be any worse than the first attempt. 

There is a reason that he is known as the “Todd-father” of comics. He is driven, intelligent, and willing to do whatever it takes to challenge everything about the industry. Either way that it is looked at, Todd McFarlane has done more for the industry that most others dream of. 

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