“Change is part of the human condition. And yet every day you run into systems that are crushingly holding on to status quo, are holding on to yesterday. And for those of us who are wired to think about tomorrow, we become the rebels, we become the outcasts, we become the people who are rocking the boat.”— Todd McFarlane
Todd McFarlane (@Todd_McFarlane) is an Emmy- and Grammy-winning director/producer and creator of one of the world’s best-selling comic books, Spawn. He is best known to many comic book fans for his work as the artist on The Amazing Spider-Man, for which he co-created Marvel’s top villain, Venom.
Todd is the CEO of Todd McFarlane Productions, McFarlane Toys (one of the US’s top action-figure manufacturers), and McFarlane Films. He is also a co-founder of Image Comics, which debuted Spawn in 1992, selling 1.7 million copies of the first issue. In 1997, Spawn was made into an Emmy Award-winning animated series on HBO and a live-action feature film that grossed over $100 million. In 2019, Todd made history with Spawn #301, earning the Guinness World Record for longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series.
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Want to hear an episode about someone else who overcame early failures to ultimately excel in their creative vision? Listen to my conversation with author Steven Pressfield, in which we discussed feline role models, halfway-house theories, eclectic resumes, self-sabotage, writing a first novel in his 50s, the artist’s journey, little successes that lead to big results, and much more.
What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Todd McFarlane:
- Spawn | Image Comics
- The Amazing Spider-Man | Marvel
- Todd McFarlane’s Spawn | HBO
- Spawn | Prime Video
- Spawn #301 | Image Comics
- Incredible Hulk #340 | Marvel
- Legendary Artist Todd McFarlane Talks Baseball and Toys | SI Kids
- A Selection from 350 Rejection Letters | Todd McFarlane, Facebook
- Frank Miller Batman Reading Order | Comic Book Herald
- 300 by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley | Amazon
- 300 | Prime Video
- Sin City Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller | Amazon
- Sin City – Recut, Extended, Unrated | Prime Video
- How Frank Miller Brought Daredevil Out of the Shadows and Into Comic-Book History | Mashable
- Batman/Spawn: DC Comics Crossover Coming in December 2022! | Bloody Disgusting
- Marvel, Jack Kirby Estate Settlement Brings End to High-Stakes Battle | The Hollywood Reporter
- Todd McFarlane: Comics | Marvel
- Todd McFarlane and His Ever-Increasing Guinness Record | Comics Beat
- Comics Code History: The Seal of Approval | Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
- The Atlas Era: Before Marvel Became Marvel | Marvel
- Comics Bogeyman: A Look Back At ‘Seduction of the Innocent’ | Comics Alliance
- Comic History: Bullseye Kills Elektra (Daredevil #181) │ RNS Entertainment
- Why Did Todd McFarlane Leave Marvel Comics? | Comic Book Legends Revealed #482
- Andre Agassi: “Image Is Everything,” Canon (1990) | YouTube
- 1992 United States Men’s Olympic Basketball Team | Wikipedia
- Coyote 1-16 | Steve Englehart
- Infinity, Inc. | Wikipedia
- The Rejected Todd McFarlane Version of a G.I. Joe Classic | CBR
- Todd McFarlane Draws Batman: Year Two — Batman’s Got a Gun! | Cartoonist Kayfabe
- Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 300 | Marvel Database
- Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 320 | Marvel Database
- Venom Through History: A Look at the Origins and Past Iterations of the Lethal Protector | Los Angeles Times
- Comic Legends: The Secret Origin of Spider-Man’s Spaghetti Webbing! | CBR
- Historical Components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average | Wikipedia
- 5 Iconic Airlines That No Longer Exist | Investopedia
- Kmart | Wikipedia
- [06:40] Baseball.
- [12:04] Rejection letters.
- [15:57] Compelling storytelling and meeting deadlines.
- [19:04] Deadlines pre-Internet vs. deadlines today.
- [23:25] How industry status quo led to the founding of Image Comic Books.
- [35:51] The Comics Code and the last straw.
- [42:14] The Marvel Dream Team exodus.
- [1:00:35] How is Todd’s camel bladder a competitive advantage?
- [1:06:23] Career bouncing and double-shifting as a penciler and inker.
- [1:24:36] The happy accident of Venom.
- [1:35:28] De-Rockwelling the company icon and inventing “spaghetti webbing.”
- [1:38:53] Bucking the status quo to become the status quo.
- [1:42:34] Parting thoughts and a promise for round two.
MORE TODD MCFARLANE QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW
“You never want to have a conversation with anybody where two plus two equals giraffe.”
— Todd McFarlane
“When I was trying to break into comic books, in all those years leading up to breaking in, I was reading everything I could get my hands on about our industry. And what I found was I was coming across a common theme. And the common theme was that everybody, no matter how big your standing had been in our industry, eventually got pushed out against their will, and in some cases got the short end of creative and financial sticks.”
— Todd McFarlane
“When I got my first job in comic books, three weeks before I graduated, I went in with my eyes wide open. And so I knew what the game was, and I go, ‘Okay, their job is to exploit me as much as possible. Can I do the same in reverse at the same time?'”
— Todd McFarlane
“Change is part of the human condition. And yet every day you run into systems that are crushingly holding on to status quo, are holding on to yesterday. And for those of us who are wired to think about tomorrow, we become the rebels, we become the outcasts, we become the people who are rocking the boat.”
— Todd McFarlane
“Sometimes my enthusiasm gets the better of me. And there’s nobody that hates Todd more than Todd.”
— Todd McFarlane
“If anybody is under the age of 30ish listening, I’m going to give you a bit of a golden rule. If anybody asks you to do something, especially somebody in authority, always say yes even if you’re not going to do it. It’s just way easier. You get out of the room faster. No confrontation. Just nod your head yes in agreement and go do whatever the hell you want.”
— Todd McFarlane
- Grey Hulk
- Frank Miller
- Jim Lee
- Jack Kirby
- Iron Man
- Stan Lee
- Fredric Wertham
- Joseph McCarthy
- Rob Liefeld
- Erik Larsen
- Andre Agassi
- Jim Valentino
- Terry Stewart
- Earvin Magic Johnson
- Larry Bird
- Whilce Portacio
- Marc Silvestri
- Bob McFarlane
- Benito Mussolini
- Tom DeFalco
- Steve Englehart
- Don Newton
- G.I. Joe
- Larry Hama
- Dick Giordano
- James Gordon
- Dennis O’Neil
- Jim Salicrup
- Bob Harras
- David Michelinie
- Jim Shooter
- Norman Rockwell
- Charlie Brown
- Eddie Vedder
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