McFarlane at the 2011 New York Comic Con.
March 16, 1961 |
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Area(s)||Writer, Penciller, Inker, Publisher|
|Notable works||The Amazing Spider-Man
|Awards||Inkpot Award, 1992
National Cartoonists Society Award, 1992
National Football League Artist of the Year, 2005
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, McFarlane became a comic book superstar due to his work on Marvel Comics' Spider-Man franchise, on which he was the artist to draw the first full appearances of the supervillain Venom. 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 a popular hero in the 1990s and encouraged a trend in creator-owned comic book properties.
Since leaving inking duties on Spawn with issue #70 (February 1998), 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 would be the Art Director of the newly formed 38 Studios, formerly Green Monster Games, founded by major league baseball pitcher Curt Schilling. McFarlane used to be a co-owner of the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers but sold his shares to Daryl Katz. He is also a high-profile collector of history-making baseballs.
McFarlane was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He began drawing as a hobby at an early age, and was a fan of comics creators such as John Byrne, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller and George Pérez, as well as the writing of Alan Moore. He created the character Spawn when he was 16, and spent "countless hours" perfecting the appearance of each component of the character's visual design. He graduated from William Aberhart High School.
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 suffered a career-ending ankle injury in his junior year. He subsequently focused on drawing, working in a comic book store to pay for the rest of his education, and sharing a trailer with his then-girlfriend, Wanda.
Early work and Marvel
Seeking to find work drawing comics, McFarlane sent out dozens of submissions each month to editors, totaling over 700 submissions in total, most of which were in the form of pinups. Half resulted in no response, while the other half resulted in rejection letters, though he received some constructive criticism from a few editors. One of them, DC Comics' Sal Amendola, gave McFarlane a dummy script in order to gauge McFarlane's page-to-page storytelling ability. Amendola's advice that McFarlane's submissions needed to focus page-to-page stories rather than pinups led McFarlane to create a five-page Coyote sample that he initially sent to Uncanny X-Men editor Ann Nocenti at Marvel Comics, who passed it along to Archie Goodwin and Jo Duffy, the editors of the Marvel imprint Epic Comics, which published Coyote. They in turn passed it onto Coyote creator Steve Englehart, who reached out to McFarlane to offer McFarlane his first comic job, a 1984 backup story in Coyote. He soon began drawing for both DC and Marvel, with his first major body of work being a two-year run (1985–1987) on DC's Infinity, Inc. In 1987, McFarlane illustrated the latter three issues of Detective Comics' four-issue "Batman: Year Two" storyline. From there, he moved to Marvel's Incredible Hulk, which he drew from 1987 to 1988, working with writer Peter David.
In 1988, McFarlane joined writer David Michelinie on Marvel's The Amazing Spider-Man, beginning with issue 298. McFarlane rendered Spider-Man's webbing with far more detail. Whereas it has essentially been rendered as a series of X's between two lines, McFarlane embellished it by detailing far more individual strands, which came to be dubbed "spaghetti webbing". McFarlane was also the first artist to draw the first, full appearance of Eddie Brock, the original incarnation of the villain Venom. He has been credited as the character's co-creator, though this has been a topic of dispute within the comic book industry. (See Eddie Brock: Creation and conception.)
McFarlane's work on Amazing Spider-Man made him an industry superstar. His cover art for Amazing Spider-Man #313, for which he was originally paid $700 in 1989, for example, would later sell for $71,200 in 2010. In 1990, after a 28-issue run of Amazing Spider-Man, McFarlane told editor Jim Salicrup he'd grown tired of drawing other people's stories and would be leaving the book with issue #328 to write his own work. Salicrup offered McFarlane a new Spider-Man book, prompting the launch of a new monthly title simply called Spider-Man, which McFarlane both wrote and illustrated. Spider-Man #1 sold 2.5 million copies, largely due to the variant covers that were used to encourage collectors into buying more than one edition. McFarlane wrote and illustrated Spider-Man's first 14 issues, as well as #16; many issues of which were crossovers with characters such as Wolverine, X-Force, and Ghost Rider. After issue #16 (Nov. 1991), McFarlane left the book due to creative clashes with new editor Danny Fingeroth. He was replaced on the title by future Image Comics co-founder Erik Larsen.
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. Upon release, 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, on occasion offering story input and covers inks. In 2008, he returned to co-plot the series with returning writer Brian Holguin, with issue 185.
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 one hundred graphic novels, with pre-order sales of 3,227 for that period.
Haunt, an ongoing series co-created by McFarlane and Robert Kirkman, was announced in 2007 and launched on October 7, 2009. The comic was initially written by Kirkman, penciled by Ryan Ottley, inked by McFarlane, with Greg Capullo providing layouts. McFarlane also contributed pencils to some issues, and co-wrote the issue #28, the series finale, with Joe Casey, who took over writing duties from Kirkman.
Todd McFarlane Productions has also published multiple Spawn spin-off mini-series. 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 Spawn, and would only re-visit it sporadically.
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, Alice Cooper, 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. 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). He also fully animated "The Guy", the mascot for Disturbed.
On July 21, 2011 at San Diego Comic-Con International, McFarlane and Stan Lee debuted their new comic, Blood Red Dragon. The series is a collaboration with musician Yoshiki and stars a fictionalized version of him.
McFarlane and Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling formed the gaming studio 38 Studios (formerly Green Monster Games), in order to produce role-playing games, with McFarlane overseeing art direction. In February 2012, the company released its only title, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a single-player action role-playing game that enjoyed moderate success, but by late May 2012, the company had ceased operation, due to financial difficulties for which it had filed for bankruptcy.
A PlayStation 2 game, McFarlane's Evil Prophecy, was released in 2004 by Konami. In it, players battle creatures based on a line of Todd McFarlane's action figures including classic movie monsters such as Frankenstein's monster and Dracula.
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.
In December 2002, Todd McFarlane directed the music video "Breathe" 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, with Greg Capullo, for the cover art of the album Ten Thousand Fists (released in September 2005) by metal band Disturbed, and the art for their single "Land of Confusion". Other album art includes 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.
In "Spidey Cents", a fourth season episode of the History reality television series Pawn Stars, which aired in May 2011, a man tries to sell McFarlane's original artwork for page 25 of The Amazing Spider-Man #316 (June 1989) for $20,000 to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. Because the seller lacked the paper work authenticating the artwork, Gold & Silver manager Corey Harrison would only pay $1,000 for the page, an offer that the seller declined.
Media about Todd McFarlane
In 2000, McFarlane was the subject of a National Film Board of Canada documentary Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane, directed by Kenton Vaughan. The film first aired on CBC-TV's Life and Times biography series on January 23, 2001.
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 Marvelman (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 were involved in a lengthy dispute over ownership of Miracleman, but no lawsuit has been filed in that dispute. In 2009, Marvel Comics brought resolution to the matter by purchasing the property.
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. The lawsuit was settled out of court for $5 million.
As of late 2012, McFarlane is suing a former employee whose name is the same as the alter ego of Spawn, Al Simmons. According to a lawsuit lodged in Arizona federal court, the real Al Simmons published a book called The Art of Being Spawn, in which Simmons purportedly suggests that his own life was the inspiration for the Spawn character. McFarlane's position is that Simmons violated the terms of his employment pact and breached his duty of loyalty.
McFarlane's work has won him numerous awards over the years, including:
- a 1992 National Cartoonists Society Award for Best Comic Book.
- a 1992 Inkpot Award
- the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video for "Freak on a Leash".
- McFarlane received the National Football League's Artist of the Year award for 2005, for his work on program covers for the Baltimore Ravens.
- McFarlane was inducted into the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame, on June 18, 2011 at the Joe Shuster Awards in Calgary.
Prior to forming Image Comics, McFarlane moved to Arizona in order to escape high Canadian taxes.
- All-Star Squadron #47 (along with Mike Clark) (1985)
- Detective Comics #576-578 (Batman: Year Two) (1987)
- Infinity, Inc #14-37 (full art); Annual #1-2 (among other artists) (1985–87)
- Invasion!, miniseries, #1-2 (1989)
- Cyberforce #8 (1994)
- Image Comics Summer Special #1 (2004)
- Image Comics Hardcover (Spawn story) (2005)
- Spawn #1-15, 21-24 (full art); #26-33 (along with Greg Capullo) (1992–95); #190, 200 (among other artists) (2010)
- Spawn/Batman #1 (1994)
- Amazing Spider-Man #298-323, 325, 328 (1988–90)
- Coyote #11-14 (1985)
- Daredevil #241 (1987)
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #60 (1987)
- G.I. Joe Special #1 (1995)
- Incredible Hulk #330-334, 336-345 (1987–88)
- Marvel Holiday Special (Spider-Man) 2004
- Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #10 (1990)
- Spider-Man #1-14, 16 (1990–91)
- Spitfire And The Troubleshooters #4 (1987)
- McFarlane, Todd. "The Spawning Ground". Spawn #1 (May 1992). Image Comics.
- Li C. Kuo (September 8, 2006). "Curt Schilling Founds Green Monster Games". GameSpy. Retrieved 31 December 2007.
- "Katz's bid to buy Oilers 100-per-cent successful". The Edmonton Journal, February 6, 2008.
- McFarlane, Todd. The Art of Todd McFarlane: The Devil's in the Details. Todd McFarlane Productions/Image Comics. November 2012.
- Nowak, Peter (December 24, 2007). "Artist spawns a web of influence". CBC News.
- Nowak, Peter (December 24, 2007). "Canadian business: Artist spawns a web of influence". CBC News
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "In 'Year Two', a four-part sequel [to "Batman: Year One"] set in Batman's second year as a crime fighter, writer Mike W. Barr and artists Alan Davis and Todd McFarlane challenged the Caped Crusader with the threat of the Reaper."
- Chapman, Adam (September 11, 2011). "Amazing Spider-Man by David Michelinie & Todd McFarlane Omnibus". Comics and Gaming Monthly.
- "Spidey Cents". Pawn Stars. Season 4. Episode 26. May 2, 2011. History.
- Cowsill, Alan; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1990s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. Dorling Kindersley. p. 184. ISBN 978-0756692360. "Todd McFarlane was at the top of his game as an artist, and with Marvel's release of this new Spidey series he also got the chance to take on the writing duties. The sales of this series were nothing short of phenomenal, with approx. 2.5 million copies eventually printing, including special bagged editions and a number of variant covers."
- Saffel, Steve (2007). "Mutant Menace". Spider-Man the Icon: The Life and Times of a Pop Culture Phenomenon. Titan Books. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-84576-324-4. "Marvel knew a good thing when they saw it, and the adjectiveless Spider-Man received Marvel's most aggressive launch in company history...the initial press run was 2.35 million, and 500,000 additional copies were printed to meet demand."
- Wallace, David. "Silver Soapbox: The Complete Todd McFarlane Spider-Man," Comics Bulletin (Feb. 10, 2007). ". . . clashes with the book's new editor Danny Fingeroth ensured that his position was soon untenable with Marvel, and he left the company under something of a cloud." Accessed Oct. 18, 2008.
- Wallace, David. "Silver Soapbox: The Complete Todd McFarlane Spider-Man," Comics Bulletin (Feb. 10, 2007). Accessed Oct. 18, 2008.
- "Top 100 Graphic Novels Actual--December 2005". icv2.com. January 16, 2006.
- Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane Want to Haunt You
- Wigler, Josh (25 July 2009). "CCI Exclusive: Kirkman and McFarlane on Haunt". Comic Book Resources.
- "Todd McFarlane Begins Work on New 'Spawn' Film". Bloody Disgusting. May 31, 2007.
- "Stan Lee & Todd McFarlane Team with Music Icon". IGN. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
- Miot, Stephanie (June 8, 2012). "Third Strike for 38 Studios, Curt Schilling Leads to Bankruptcy Filing". PC Magazine.
- Oshry, Dave (March 17, 2012). "McFarlane says 38 Studios’ Amalur MMO is coming this year". VG 22/7.
- "Todd McFarlane Profile". IGN. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- Gilbert, Ben (May 24, 2012). "38 Studios and Big Huge Games lay off entire staffs". Joystiq.
- "Curt Schilling says he is 'tapped out' financially and lost $50 million". WEEI. June 22, 2012
- Spar, Jerry (June 22, 2012). "Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘I’m not asking for sympathy’ after losing $50M in business collapse". WEEI.
- Makuch, Eddie (June 7, 2012). "Amalur dev files for bankruptcy, FBI investigating". Gamespot.
- Logan, Michael (June 4, 2012). "Exclusive First Look: The Walking Dead Comic Hits 100". TV Guide.
- "Oilers unveil McFarlane-designed third jersey". Spawn.com. October 26, 2001
- Cooper, James (October 5, 2011). "Why Todd McFarlane Loves The Edmonton Oilers". CBC Live.
- "McFarlane To Produce 'Halo 3' Action Figures". Spawn.com News. June 18, 2007.
- George, Richard (February 29, 2008). "McFarlane's Halo 3 Series One Review". IGN.
- ""Twisted Tales" To Television". Comics 2 Film. January 28, 2005.
- Seibert, Perry. "The Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane (2002)". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- "The Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane". Life and Times website (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 12 March 2012.
- Phegley, Kiel (July 24, 2009). "CCI: Cup O Joe". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
- "ED85283: John Doe a/k/a Tony Twist, Respondent, v. Todd McFarlane and Todd McFarlane Productions, Inc., Appellants." Missouri Court of Appeals. June 20, 2006.
- "Appeals court upholds $15M verdict for Twist". St. Louis Business Journal. June 20, 2006.
- "Todd McFarlane Sues Al Simmons ". MTV. October 1, 2012.
- "Todd McFarlane Sues Ex-Employee Claiming to Be Inspiration of 'Spawn' Character". Hollywood Reporter. October 1, 2012.
- "2011 Nominees and Winners". THE JOE SHUSTER AWARDS. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Todd McFarlane.|
- Official website
- Todd McFarlane at the Comic Book DB
- Press release on Twist issue
- Latest on Twist issue
- Comic Book Awards Almanac
- Todd McFarlane's work on Marvel.com[dead link]
- Watch Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane, National Film Board of Canada
- Audio Interview by Gary Groth (1992)
- Now Playing magazine
- Todd McFarlane talks to Maxim.com (July 2008)
|Infinity, Inc. artist
|The Incredible Hulk artist
|The Amazing Spider-Man artist