Exclusive: No Holds Barred Interview With Spawn’s Todd McFarlane

halo a Exclusive: No Holds Barred Interview With Spawns Todd McFarlane

I remember being in 7th grade when Spawn 1st came out.  I loved the dynamic style and the gritty story.  Couple of years later, Spawn creator, Todd McFarlane, came out with his own set of action figures.  I collected those and it started my toy collection.  Growing up and even to this day, I’ve always looked up to Todd.  He revolutionized the comic and toy industry with his attention to detail.  I was fortunate enough to interview Todd McFarlane as he visits Toys R Us Times Square this Saturday, February 1st for the Superbowl festivity.

NERD Society (NS): Hi Todd, I’m a big fan of yours.  Thanks for this interview.

Todd McFarlane (TM): No problem, thanks for your kind words.  It’s an honor talking to a fan.

NS: How did you get involved with your NFL Toys R Us exclusive figures?

TM: I got involved with Toys R Us because I love meeting my fans.  I love the Superbowl festivities.  Most of us won’t be at the actual game because the seats will be too expensive.  But everyone can attend the festivities at Times Square.  Parents can bring their kids and have a good time.  The two exclusive figures we chose was planned a long time ago.  We made sure we had one for the older and younger generation.

NS:  Why Eli Manning and Joe Namath?

TM: Superbowl is held where the Jets and Giants play, Metlife.  We wanted our fans to remember the great moments that Eli and Joe had.  Eli is still playing right now and he’s a future Hall Of Famer, he’ll continue with more exciting plays down the road.

Joe Namath is already in the Hall Of Fame.  They’ve both have rings and it’s cool to see dads and kids bond over the figures.

nfl Exclusive: No Holds Barred Interview With Spawns Todd McFarlane

NS: How do you choose the pose of the figures?

TM:  We want to go with the most iconic and what people remember the most.  We go through archive pics and choose the best ones.  We were thinking of having a knee brace for Namath but in the end we decided against it.  While the pose looked cool, that’s not what fans remember of Namath.  They remember him more before his injuries.

In general, we choose a pose that are memorable.  For example, if we do Michael Vick, we make sure that he’s in a dynamic pose because he’s known for running.  With Eli Manning, we made sure he’s passing because that’s his trademark.  We also add little details like Joe Namath’s dimples but once the helmet is placed, you can barely see it.  But it’s there.  We pay to every inch of detail so fans will appreciate their favorite players.

nfl2 Exclusive: No Holds Barred Interview With Spawns Todd McFarlane

NS: Does NFL have to approve the final figures?

TM:  Yes it does and all the players association.  NFL pays more attention to the team colors and the logo.  The players association makes sure the figure represents the player and their personality.  They let me do my thing and they don’t really bother me which is pretty cool.

NS:  Jumping to another topic, your high end statues including Spawn and Halo are getting strong following, what’s next for your statues?

TM:  We have several statues planned down the road.  We’re thinking of doing another WWE statue.  The Undertaker was phenomenal and we want to continue the momentum.  I also want to do another Spawn statue.  I like the details in those.

spawn Exclusive: No Holds Barred Interview With Spawns Todd McFarlane

NS: Besides, the sportspicks, how come most of your figures are smaller compared to the original Spawn figures.

TM: Retailers told me the older scales were too big and took up much more shelf space.  That’s why you’ll notice that most toys have gotten smaller, including Marvel Legends and several DC figures.  Stores like Toys R Us and Wal Mart prefer smaller figures because they can put out more toys at once on the shelf.

You’re correct, Halo, Walking Dead and Assassin’s Creed are much more smaller.  But they also have more articulation than the older figures.

creed Exclusive: No Holds Barred Interview With Spawns Todd McFarlane

NS:  You’re known for your awesome drawings, what advice do you have for aspiring artists that are too shy to share their artwork?

TM:  It depends if they want a career in the art industry.  If they’re doing it for fun, then there’s nothing more I could say besides enjoy your hobby.

If you want to get into comics or make a living off your artwork, you gotta have thick skin.  Show your work to as many people as possible and ask for critiques.  I know it’s a terrible feeling but don’t be offended if they don’t like your work.  With that thick skin, you also need plenty of heart.  I hated this one advice that most artists gave me but it’s true: Draw more!

I didn’t like it one bit because I thought I was already spending enough time drawing.  But as much as I hated it, I listened to their advice and it paid off after awhile.

NS: What was your mindset that you kept on going and didn’t give up?

TM: I used to play baseball in college and I wasn’t the biggest player on the team.  I had to use technique to overcome my size.  So I had the same mindset when it came to my artwork.  I had to think I was the best artist out there, I’m very competitive.  I figured if the best artist out there spends 3 hours a month with his sketches, I can overcome it by hardwork.  I’d draw 20 hours a week and in a month that’s 80 hours.  Sooner or later, I’m going to surpass the best artist.

I was rejected more than 700 times before I got a professional gig.  So if you only got critiqued a couple of times, you have a long way to go.  Listen to their critiques, don’t let your ego get in the way and get defensive.  They’re doing you a favor.  If you get offended don’t ask but don’t complain to anyone why your artwork hasn’t improved.

Put yourself out there.  This goes back to having a thick skin.  It’s better to submit and get rejected than not to try at all.  I hate to say this because I see so many talented artists out there but plenty are afraid to show their artwork to the public.  What happens is that the person with less skills but thicker skin gets the job because he’s fearless.

Believe in yourself.  Get rejected.  Learn from it.  Rinse and repeat until you accomplish what you want in life.

spawn a Exclusive: No Holds Barred Interview With Spawns Todd McFarlane

NS:  You’ve worked with very talented artists like Phillip Tan and Greg Capullo.  What qualities do you look for when hiring a penciller?

TM: Professionalism.  I make sure they have passion and they won’t settle for anything they’re not happy with.  They’ll redraw the panel until they’re satisfied with it.  You can tell who’s really passionate.  Plenty of artists can do great pin ups.  The hard part is telling a story with your drawings.  Angles need to be different, as well as the point of view.  I want it to flow as much as possible.  It’s like a movie.  If the editing and camera work is terrible, it’ll take you right out you’ll become conscious that it’s just a movie.  With my comics, I want readers to be in my universe and not get distracted.

NS:  What’s your take on today’s comic industry?

TM:  I’m enjoying it.  Comics today are getting more exposure because of the movies.  But passion from comic book collectors has always been the same, even when I started Spawn.  What’s cool about comics is that there’s always new hot artists out there.  It’s hard to keep track because there’s so many talented pencillers but it makes it exciting.  The fact they have their own style and brings something new to the comic industry is great.

Although I don’t like companies rebooting and restarting their comics at #1 every couple of years.  I’m old school.  I like the continuity and the high issue numbers.

NS: Going full circle, ever thought on making UFC figures?

TM:  WWE statues will be our gateway to MMA.  UFC has already approached us but it’s a tough sport to make figures for.  A champ today could lose his belt and be a non contender by the time the figure comes out.  If that happens, the hype for the figure will be gone.  It’s a tough sport to predict.

NS: Do you have any final words to your fans, especially Spawn Boards?  Several members from the original spawn forum created it.

TM:  I’m always grateful to my fans and I thank them.  Whenever I’m at a convention, fans thank me all the time for creating Spawn.  I always thank each one of my fans that come up to me because they’re the reason I’m still making comics and action figures.

As for the Spawn Board creators and members.  I thank them.  I welcome their opinions whether it’s good or bad because they’re the ones with the pulse in the community.  I know it takes a lot of work creating a forum and I’m humbled they’re so passionate about my collectibles.  Thanks again to all my fans!

Todd McFarlane will be signing at Toys R Us in Times Square from 11am – 3pm on Saturday, February 1st.  The first 400 people in line will get a ticket and they can have their Superbowl exclusive figures signed.  I want to thank Todd McFarlane and Toys R Us for  the interview.





pixel Exclusive: No Holds Barred Interview With Spawns Todd McFarlane

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