At the recent NYC Toy Fair, I had the pleasure of talking to comic book legend Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn, founder of McFarlane Toys, and one of the creative forces that launched Image Comics in the early ’90s.
There is much more to write up after this article from this interview at the McFarlane Toys booth. However I will start off with the fact that 2012 marks the 20th Anniversary of Spawn’s first appearance in a comic book, a landmark achievement that does not escape the character’s creator. McFarlane was forthcoming in talking about his big plans to celebrate this milestone for the character, which include a new movie, and the reasons he believes the edgy supernatural vigilante is still relevant after all these years.
“Number one because I haven’t stopped putting him out. I’ve been relentless and not let people ignore him,” he said. “And then I think there are a lot of a soft spots for characters who don’t put up with too much shit. Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, all those guys are owned by corporations and pretty much have a stopping point. They kind of go to hard PG-13. They can’t really go to R. And Spawn can kinda be on tether and do whatever he wants. Spawn has the vigilante theme in it. You pull a bazooka on him, he’ll pull a bazooka back on you. And isn’t afraid to shoot it twice.”
McFarlane Toys has no intention of letting 2012 pass without commemorating the two decades of the popular character. The company, which Todd established in 1994, has designed a special collectible based on an iconic image from Spawn’s past.
“We are now heading onto 2012, which is the twenty year anniversary of Spawn,” McFarlane told me. “If we’re gonna play triubute to his twenty years, we might as well go back to the image that for all intents and purposes started the mythos of the Spawn character.”
A detailed 20th Anniversary resin Spawn statue is set for release in July. Eager fans have wasted little time in reserving a space for the new item on their collector’s shelves, pre-orders for the limited edition 13.5″ piece have already sold out on Spawn.com.
“The statue that is gonna come out is based on the two page spread from Issue #1 that was the first visual of Spawn in a comic book,” he revealed. “Page one, two, and three were sort of a build up, and then bam, you got the big two-page spread. Here’s your hero in all his glory.”
The edgy signature art style that made his comics stand out 20 years ago translated well into toys. His line of highly detailed collectible figures were like nothing else on the market at the time, which were aimed at an older target audience who appreciated the mature designs, and could be purchased in the comic book retail stores they shopped at.
Hearing what he wants to bring to moviegoers this time around, the new films looks to bear little resemblance to special effects laden movie released by New Line Cinema in 1997.
“No super villain. Nothing. Just a scary creep show that you and I intellectually know to be a being called Spawn. So as I get to the 20th Anniversary, I’ll make the concentrated effort to at least get the script done. And depending on what happens there, production should come fairly quickly afterwards,” McFarlane predicted.
“So he or his agents phone every week: ‘Is he done with it? Is he done?’ I have to write, produce, direct, and I keep getting distracted with other things in my life. There’s nobody to blame but myself,” he admitted.”An Academy Award winning actor came out to the office and wants to be in it. He bugs me every week to get the script done cause he had an idea, and I told him my idea. He said ‘Fine, I love your idea. Now let’s get it done.'”
“I’ve had the story for ten years. R-rated, dark, sort of a psychological terror. It’s the world that we all know. Everything is real except for one thing. There is something moving in the shadows. Some supernatural force is moving around. And a couple of the people who think they see the shadow move aren’t in the best state of minds, so they don’t even know if its their own personal paranoia or not,” he said about the tone of the film.
“I just want to do a gritty movie that’s sort of about our world that feels like the movie The Departed, but there’s something moving in the shadows every now and then,” he promised.”I just want to do a gritty movie that’s sort of about our world that feels like the movie but there’s something moving in the shadows every now and then,” he promised.”Growing up I was always a fan of watching movies of which there was only one element that was not normal in it. Even going back to things like Frankenstein, where there was only one thing that wasn’t normal. Only the monster was not human. And in the black and white Bela Lugosi Dracula’s, only he was not normal. Fast forward to things like The Exorcist, only the girl wasn’t normal. The world was real.”
“Rosemary’s Baby, another psychological terror almost to the end was all normal. She was all just sorta schizo a little. In Friday the 13th and Halloween, that creepy bad guy is the only thing that’s out of the ordinary, otherwise take that out and it’s our world.”
In Part Two of my interview with Todd McFarlane, we will cover his line of tie-in toys for The Walking Dead, and his involvement in the second season Blu-ray box set for the AMC smash hit.