Todd McFarlane

Todd McFarlane

Infobox Comics creator

image_size = 130px
name = Todd McFarlane
birthdate = birth date and age|1961|03|16
location = Calgary, Alberta, Canada
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = Canadian
area = Penciller, Inker, Writer, Publisher
alias =

notable works = "Spawn"
awards =
website =

Todd McFarlane (born March 16, 1961) is a Canadian comic book artist, writer, toy manufacturer/designer, and media entrepreneur who is best known as the creator of the occult fantasy series "Spawn".

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, McFarlane became a comic book superstar due to his work on Marvel Comics' "Spider-Man" franchise. In 1992, he helped form Image Comics, pulling the occult anti-hero character Spawn from his high school portfolio and updating him for the 1990s. Spawn was one of America's most popular heroes in the 1990s and encouraged a trend in creator-owned comic book properties.

In recent years, McFarlane has illustrated comic books less often, focusing on entrepreneurial efforts, such as McFarlane Toys and Todd McFarlane Entertainment, a film and animation studio. In September, 2006, it was announced that McFarlane will be the Art Director of the newly formed 38 Studios, formerly Green Monster Games, founded by Curt Schilling. [cite web | url= | title=Curt Schilling Founds Green Monster Games | author=Li C. Kuo | date=September 8, 2006 | work=GameSpy | accessdate=2007-12-31 ] McFarlane used to be co-owner of National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers but sold his shares to Daryl Katz. [ [ "Katz's bid to buy Oilers 100-per-cent successful"] , "The Edmonton Journal", 2008-02-06. Retrieved on 2008-03-15.] He's also a high-profile collector of history-making baseballs.


Early life

McFarlane was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He graduated from William Aberhart High School. As a teenager, he discovered comic books and was a fan of stars such as fellow Canadian John Byrne and American Frank Miller, but was especially drawn to the more atypical art of Michael Golden and Katsuhiro Ōtomo, creator of the manga Akira. Gil Kane was also a major influence on McFarlane.


In the early-1980s, McFarlane attended Eastern Washington University on a baseball scholarship and studied graphic art. He sought to play baseball professionally after graduation but received a career ending ankle injury in his junior year. During his time at EWU, McFarlane worked at a comic book shop in Spokane, Washington. Drawings he had done of Marvel and DC superheros were sold at local shops.

Early career

McFarlane's first published work was a 1984 backup story in Epic Comics' "Coyote". He soon began working for both Marvel and DC Comics. He illustrated several issues of Marvel's "Incredible Hulk" and DC's "Infinity Inc." and various Batman series. In 1988, McFarlane joined writer David Michelinie on Marvel's "The Amazing Spider-Man" beginning with issue 298. McFarlane also helped create Venom, a wildly popular villain. (Director Sam Raimi came to McFarlane for the initial sketches of Venom for the "Spider-Man 3" movie.)

McFarlane's work on "Spider-Man" turned him into an industry superstar. In 1990, after a 28-issue run of "Amazing Spider-Man", McFarlane told editor Jim Salicrup he'd grown tired of drawing other peoples stories and would be leaving the book with issue 328 to write his own work. Jim offered Todd a new Spider-Man book prompting the launch of a new monthly series, simply called "Spider-Man," which McFarlane both wrote and illustrated. Spider-Man #1 sold 2.5 million copies, partially due to the variant covers that were used to encourage collectors into buying more than one edition. Issue 16 saw the replacement of editor Jim Salicrup with Danny Fingeroth. McFarlane wrote and illustrated the first 14 and issue 16 of "Spider-Man" before leaving the book altogether due to creative clashes with the new editor. Many issues were crossovers with characters such as Wolverine, X-Force and the Ghost Rider.

The breakoff

McFarlane then left Marvel with six other popular artists to form Image Comics, an umbrella company under which each owned a publishing house. McFarlane's studio, Todd McFarlane Productions, published his creation, the occult-themed Spawn. "Spawn" #1 sold 1.7 million copies, still a record for an independent comic book.


Spawn was launched in 1992 with McFarlane as artist/writer for the first 7 issues. Guest writers Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Dave Sim and Frank Miller were brought on for issues 8 to 11 (respectively) while McFarlane continued as the artist. In order to concentrate on the 1994 "Spawn/Batman" crossover (with Miller writing), he brought on Grant Morrison (as writer) and Greg Capullo (penciller) from issues #16-#18. Then Andrew Grossberg and Tom Orzechowski took over writing issues #19 and 20 with Capullo still penciling. McFarlane returned as writer/artist for issue 21 and remained so until issue 24. Greg Capullo took over as pencil artist with issue 26, McFarlane remained writer and inker on the book until issue 70.

McFarlane eventually would hand off scripting duties (while still overseeing plotlines) to other writers, and the book continued to retain a respectable following. He has story input and inks covers on occasion.

In 2006 McFarlane announced plans for Spawn/Batman with artist Greg Capullo which McFarlane wrote and inked, which paid tribute to Jack Kirby. He also began taking an active role in comics publishing again, publishing collections of his Spawn comics in paperback form. Spawn Collection Volume 1 collecting issues 1-12 minus issue 9 (due to royalty issues with Neil Gaiman) and 10 (due to a vow he made to Sim) was released in December 2005. The first volume achieved moderate success ranking 17 in the top 100 graphic novels with pre-order sales of 3227 for that period. [

It was also announced that McFarlane will be returning to plot Spawn alongside returning writer Brian Holguin and artist Whilce Portacio beginning with issue 185.cite web
title=Top 100 Graphic Novels Actual--December 2005

Controversial statements

McFarlane's defense of the Image Comics ethic during its early years led to a noteworthy "style versus substance"-themed feud with comic book writer Peter David. McFarlane's assertion was that comic writers were secondary in importance to artwork in terms of commercial success. This came to a head during a public debate they participated in at Philadelphia's Comicfest convention in November 1993, which was moderated by artist George Pérez. The topic of the debate was McFarlane’s claim that Image was not being treated fairly by the media, and by David’s weekly "But I Digress" column in the "Comics Buyer's Guide" in particular. The three judges, Maggie Thompson, editor of the "Comics Buyer's Guide", William Christensen of Wizard press, and John Danovich of the magazine "Hero Illustrated", voted 2-0-1 in favor of David, with Danovich voting the debate a tie.

McFarlane Entertainment

Todd McFarlane Productions has also published multiple Spawn spin-off mini-series, but, unlike other Image studios, such as Jim Lee's Wildstorm, McFarlane's studio was never intended to focus on being a comic book company, and had always intended to diversify into other areas,Fact|date=February 2007 like the short lived Spawntastic Apparel, a tee-shirt line. McFarlane increasingly concentrated his own personal attention to those other ventures, which resulted in irregular work as an illustrator. By 1994, he ceased to be the regular illustrator of his own "signature" book, and would only re-visit "Spawn" sporadically, or as a promotional stunt for the title.

That same year, McFarlane created McFarlane Toys. Its line of meticulously sculpted Spawn action figures changed the entire industry by focusing on more mature consumers and non-traditional action figure inspirations such as musicians. The company has licensed the right to produce action figures of athletes in all four major North American sports -- baseball, hockey, football and basketball -- and several recent, successful film franchises, including "The Terminator", "The Matrix" and "Shrek". He has also created figures of rock musicians, including the members of Kiss, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix and toys related to video games, like Halo 3.

In 1996, McFarlane founded Todd McFarlane Entertainment, a film and animation studio. In collaboration with New Line Cinema, it produced the 1997 "Spawn" film and a new Spawn movie, planned in 2008. [cite web | url= | title=Todd McFarlane Begins Work on New 'Spawn' Film | date=May 31, 2007 | | accessdate=2007-12-31] "Spawn", while critically panned, was a modest box office success, earning $54.97 million domestically, a little over $69 million worldwide. It also produced the animated series "Todd McFarlane’s Spawn," (featuring voice work by actor Keith David) which aired on HBO from 1997 until 1999. The animated series received significantly more positive press than the film, received two Primetime Emmy awards (including "Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming More Than One Hour)," and was a moderate success when eventually released on DVD.

The studio has produced acclaimed music videos for Pearl Jam's "Do the Evolution" (1998), KoЯn's "Freak on a Leash" (1999) and Disturbed's "Land of Confusion" (2006). They also produced an animated segment of the film "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" (2002).


McFarlane is an avid baseball fan; he briefly tried to achieve a pro career in the sport as a young adult. McFarlane has bought, at auction, multiple balls from Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's 1998 race to establish a record for the greatest number of home runs hit in a single season. McFarlane owns Sosa's 33rd, 61st and 66th home run balls, and McGwire's first, 63rd, 67th, 68th, 69th and 70th. (McGwire's 61st was the ball which tied Roger Maris' then-record, while McGwire's 70th, bought by McFarlane at auction for US$3Million, set a new record at the time -- broken in 2001 by Barry Bonds.) He later purchased Bonds' record breaking 73rd home run ball for $450,000.

As well as being a former part owner of the Edmonton Oilers, McFarlane also designed the logo used on the team's alternate (third) jerseys. This jersey will not be worn by players during the 2007-08 NHL season as the league will be using only the home and away jersey designs.

Recently, Curt Schilling of the Boston Red Sox, has teamed up with McFarlane, forming 38 Studios (formerly "Green Monster Games"), LLC. This gaming studio will feature McFarlane's art direction and will also feature R.A. Salvatore as creative director. The studio's focus will be massive multiplayer online games of which Schilling is an avid fan.

Other media

Todd McFarlane continues to spread his influence into other media areas including film, television, gaming, and music.

For the release of "Halo 3", McFarlane was enlisted to design a series of action figures. [ [ "McFarlane To Produce 'Halo 3' Action Figures"] , " News", 2007-06-18. Retrieved on 2008-03-15.] [ [, "McFarlane's Halo 3 Series One Review"] , "IGN", 2008-02-29. Retrieved on 2008-03-15.]

McFarlane also created the character Necrid for the console versions of the video game "Soul Calibur II".

In January 2005, McFarlane announced that he was set to produce a half-hour anthology television series for Fox called "Twisted Tales", based on the Bruce Jones' comic book to which McFarlane had purchased the rights. [cite web | url= | title="Twisted Tales" To Television | date=January 28, 2005 | work=Comics 2 Film | accessdate=2007-12-31 ]

In December 2002, Todd McFarlane directed the music video "Breath" for Canadian hip-hop group Swollen Members that featured Nelly Furtado. He later drew both the Canadian and International covers for their next album "Heavy", released October 2003.

Todd McFarlane is also the cartoonist responsible for the cover art of the album "Ten Thousand Fists", released in September 2005 by rock band Disturbed, as well as that of metal band Iced Earth's 1996 "Spawn"-based concept album "The Dark Saga" and Korn's third studio album "Follow The Leader", which was released in 1998.

Todd is also doing artwork for the Lord of Vermilion game published by Square Enix.


McFarlane lost judgments in two lawsuits in the 2000s. The first was a 2002 suit in which McFarlane contested with writer Neil Gaiman over the rights to some supporting Spawn characters created by Gaiman in issue #9 of the "Spawn" series and over payment for later works featuring those characters. In 1997 the two signed a deal in which Gaiman would give his share of characters Angela, Medieval Spawn and Cogliostro to McFarlane in exchange of McFarlane's share of British superhero Miracleman (in reality, what McFarlane actually owned were two trademarks for Miracleman logos, not the character, which would become clear only after the lawsuit concluded). However, this deal was broken by McFarlane, which motivated Neil Gaiman to start the lawsuit. The jury was unanimous in favor of Gaiman. The two are now involved in a dispute over ownership of Miracleman, but no lawsuit has been filed in that dispute.

The second was a December 2004 suit in which hockey player Tony Twist sued Todd McFarlane because he named a mobster character in "Spawn" after Twist. [ [ "ED85283: John Doe a/k/a Tony Twist, Respondent, v. Todd McFarlane and Todd McFarlane Productions, Inc., Appellants."] , "Missouri Court of Appeals", 2006-06-20. Retrieved on 2008-03-15.] [ [ "Appeals court upholds $15M verdict for Twist"] , "St. Louis Business Journal", 2006-06-20. Retrieved on 2008-03-15.]


* McFarlane's work has won him numerous awards over the years, including a 1992 National Cartoonists Society Award for Best Comic Book.
* McFarlane received football's "Artist of the Year" award for 2005, for his work on program covers for the Baltimore Ravens.


McFarlane's character designs were parodied in the internet comic strip "Penny Arcade" through the character of Dr. Raven Darktalon Blood. Gabe calls McFarlane's character designs "cliché horseshit" and comments that McFarlane's "lack of imagination and stunning financial success intrigues" him.


External links

* [ features a biography and info about McFarlane's work]
* [ press release on twist issue] [ latest on twist issue]
* [ Comic Book Awards Almanac]
* [ Interview] on SuicideGirls
* [ 1992 Audio Interview] by Gary Groth
* [ Interview] - "Now Playing magazine"
* [ Todd McFarlane's work on]
* [ Todd McFarlane talks to -- July 2008]

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