Todd McFarlane, Iconic Comic Book Artist — Lessons from Stan Lee, How to Make Art That Outlives You, How to Compete with Corporate Giants and Win (While Having Fun), Dealmaking Strategies, War Stories from Wall Street and Lawyer Land, Taking Responsibility for Your Life, and Why Creators Need to Smash Limits (#643)

Illustration via 99designs

“I do not stand by watercoolers and complain about bosses. I quit jobs and start my own companies. As a creative person, if I’m going to complain about how the business works, then I will go and become my own businessman.”

— 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.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the video on YouTube here.

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The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#643: Todd McFarlane, Iconic Comic Book Artist — Lessons from Stan Lee, How to Make Art that Outlives You, How to Compete with Corporate Giants and Win (While Having Fun), Dealmaking Strategies, War Stories from Wall Street and Lawyer Land, Taking Responsibility for Your Life, and Why Creators Need to Smash Limits

This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. Whether you are looking to hire now for a critical role or thinking about needs that you may have in the future, LinkedIn Jobs can help. LinkedIn screens candidates for the hard and soft skills you’re looking for and puts your job in front of candidates looking for job opportunities that match what you have to offer.

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Want to hear round one with Todd McFarlane? Listen to our conversation in which we discussed the art of compelling storytelling, meeting deadlines, Todd’s voluminous library of rejection letters, how the industry status quo led to the founding of Image Comic Books, the happy accident that brought Venom to life, spaghetti webbing, competitive bladdering, and much more.

#639: Todd McFarlane, Legendary Comic Book Artist — How to Make Iconic Art, Reinvent Spider-Man, Live Life on Your Own Terms, and Meet Every Deadline

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:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

SHOW NOTES

  • [05:58] The wit, wisdom, and work ethic of Stan Lee.
  • [29:50] Todd’s four corners: video games, TV, movies, and toys.
  • [41:46] Learning the art of toycrafting and beating the industry at its own game.
  • [49:11] Dumb luck at Toy Fair.
  • [1:03:31] Toy marketing and distribution circa 1994.
  • [1:10:51] The play Todd made with a $3 million baseball.
  • [1:18:08] Todd gets in a hockey fight.
  • [1:24:12] Bringing Spawn to TV.
  • [1:27:57] Being the dumbest guy in the room can win you Emmy awards.
  • [1:31:17] Cancellation.
  • [1:32:38] Todd is bilingual — in art and business.
  • [1:38:50] How Todd finds time to create while managing his businesses.
  • [1:43:49] Brand matters.
  • [1:49:44] Making a music video, winning another Emmy, and almost killing Eddie Vedder.
  • [1:56:33] The momentum of success.
  • [1:59:15] The surface area of (dumb) luck.
  • [2:01:07] Building worlds that will endure.
  • [2:08:13] Building characters who will outlive their creator.
  • [2:15:13] Today will not be perfect, so lower the bar and dance if you want to.
  • [2:24:45] Is Todd’s wife married to a monster?
  • [2:30:50] Be the second person.
  • [2:35:48] Parting thoughts.

MORE TODD MCFARLANE QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW

“Build a Cadillac and sell it at Ford Motor prices, and you can sell that all day long because people understand value.”
— Todd McFarlane

“I do not stand by watercoolers and complain about bosses. I quit jobs and start my own companies. As a creative person, if I’m going to complain about how the business works, then I will then go and become my own businessman.”
— Todd McFarlane

“I’ve got plenty of people who’ve said nice things about me for plenty of years. I’m over me. Nobody’s more bored of Todd than me.”
— Todd McFarlane

“I consider creations to be creative children. Every parent has the same wish. You always want your children to outlive you.”
— Todd McFarlane

“I get up every day, and I don’t have high expectations of anything, not even with humanity. I’m not a religious person, but I do have a personal prayer, and it’s this simple, every day: ‘Today will not be perfect.'”
— Todd McFarlane

“Assume today’s not going to be perfect and assume human beings are flawed, and you will have a pretty good life. Because guess what happens? Some days, nobody cuts you off, nobody cuts in line, and nobody writes you a bad email. And it’s a pretty good day. It’s a pretty good day because discomfort didn’t come. Not that you won the lottery, not that your team won the championship. You just didn’t have a lot of aggravation. You didn’t get sued today. Cool. It’s a good day.”
— Todd McFarlane

“You know who woke up on the planet today with eight billion people and said, ‘I’m going to make Todd’s life better today?’ There was only one human being — one — and that was me.”
— Todd McFarlane

“There’s never been anybody in history that’s ever changed anything on any level and was liked by everybody. Get over it. Get over people liking you. Just figure out what your goal is.”
— Todd McFarlane

“If you’ve never been the first one on a dance floor, you’re probably not built to be an entrepreneur. Let me just put that there because that means you give a shit about the rest of the people in that room.”
— Todd McFarlane

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