Today we are joined by one of the greats in the comic industry, a true living legend, Todd McFarlane! We chatted Spawn Universe, King Spawn, Gunslinger Spawn, The Scorched, the Sam and Twitch Tv Show, and Spawn the Movie. Todd gives real sage advice on life and business.
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Todd McFarlane – Video Interview
Kenric: [00:00:00] All right, guys. Welcome back to spoiler country. Today is amazing. I was one of the young kids that stood in line for this, for, for spawn to come out.
Like I was in Bremerton, Washington cliffs, comic world, and in the Fred Meyer parking lot, waiting in line to get number one. I still have that book. It’s amazing. And today on the show, we are honored to have Mr. McFarland himself. Todd, thank you so much for coming on, man. This is amazing, right.
Todd McFarlane: Thanks me.
And guess what? Well, we’re Bremen. Chin is, and I’d been in Fred Meyer stores. So I used to live up in the Northwest. So I ever, everything you just said, I got it. You just said.
Kenric: There was always an urban legend that, Hey, did you go to the con, did you go to the paperback exchange in east Bremerton? Todd McFarland was there?
No. Yeah. He just lives up in Victoria. I’m telling you, he was there. You should go. He might still be there. That’s that. And then you’d run down there. And of course there was no Todd.
[00:01:00] Todd McFarlane: I was like Sasquatch. It was an urban nest. Exactly.
Kenric: Dude, you got a lot going on this year. You took 2020 and said, well, we’re going to turn this thing on its head and make 20, 21.
Todd McFarlane: I actually interesting comment because I’ve always got something going on. It’s just that when you get more attention for it and you get more headlines, it seems like you’re doing more, but I’ve, I’ve, I’ve, I’m always busy. It just, that people are paying a little bit more attention.
This go round, so, okay. Right. I mean, we, I mean, obviously we’re going to be expanding the comic book side with, you know, I mean, for decades have essentially been doing the one book and now by the end of the year, I’ll be up, I’ll be up to four. Right. I mean, that’s a 300% increase, so yeah. It’s crazy.
Kenric: Cause you got spawn universe coming out this month. Yeah. Which is again, we’ve got king [00:02:00] spawn coming out. My
Todd McFarlane: pocket, these right here. Big. Cool. It’s amazing that I got my events coffees yesterday. So that’s one of the covers from Jay Scott, Kim. Is that guys a green
Todd McFarlane: You guys look at, there are a lot of great artists out there, so yeah,
Kenric: there’s a ton.
It’s it’s I don’t understand how people break it into the business anymore because
Todd McFarlane: yeah, there was as much talent today. Yeah. I would break it in. I would never broke in. I was completely mediocre when I got into the business. So luckily I came at the right time when there wasn’t like all these amazing yo to down a artist alley at extension.
Yeah. Crazy. How much tell it’s there? Yeah, he’s gone my God. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my God. I mean, literally hundreds of people that. That I am. I’m just super jealous of what
Kenric: do you think catches your eye when you walk down artist’s alley?
Todd McFarlane: For me, [00:03:00] yeah. Looking at guides, you have a style that doesn’t look like mine.
Yeah. So I, I, I did sort of traditional superhero comic book artwork and I, and it’s cool. And I like it. And some of my buddies did it, you know, Great control. Who’s the best in class. But I’m always looking for people who sort of have a bit of a tweak to their style that I go, Aw, man, I’ll never be able to do that.
Right. So there’s a little bit of a jealousy factor to it. I’m going to. If I’m going to sort of approach them. I see if they want to do work. I’m not looking for somebody who can do a knockoff of me when somebody can bring something slightly different to the pages. Yeah.
Kenric: Is it, is it better to see somebody that can do a complete book as opposed to just doing the same image over and over again?
Todd McFarlane: There’s a thing my mom taught me about being a beggars and choosers. Right. When, when you can get talent, you don’t, [00:04:00] you don’t, you don’t, you don’t start setting parameters. You just go. Thank you. And you take whatever they’ll give you, they pencil ink and paint and color, let you take it. And if they say, no, I just pencil.
Then you, you take that when you and you run because you got them in the house, they’re there in the party and you’re having a good time with them. So, I, I try not to get too picky, but I, I will say there are far more artists. It seems to me today that pencil ink, their own work. I first broke in that we were sort of an oddity people who were, who were doing their own stuff.
And part of it is in its simplest form is because, you know, most of us when we were breaking in, you know, when I was doing it we were doing monthly books and monthly books are a lot of work. And most people weren’t doing penciling and inking. Cause it was sort of like doing two books. But a lot of the artists that I meet in that are doing their own fencing and inking.
Yeah. [00:05:00] So they’re brilliant. And they’re, like I said, there’s hundreds, if not a thousand not that many of them are doing monthly books for a long period of time, because it’s a, it’s a lot, it’s a lot of work to do both of those jobs.
Right, right, right. So they, it looks cool. It looks like the artwork, but when I phoned them and said, Hey, you want to do a book? They’re like, yeah, but I can only do eight or nine issues in a year. I can’t do 12. Yeah. You’re like, okay, I’ll take it. I’ll take w yeah. Mike trout is like Mike trout saying I can play every day, but Sunday I gotta take, I gotta rest on Sunday.
Okay. I’ll still take a sip days a week. Visa. I got to ask you, do you still have the McGuire ball? I have Barry bonds, 73 home run, small Mark McGuire 70 ball. And I have semi, so a 66 home run. So the top three home runs of all time and major like history. I have. I have, I
Kenric: love it. I remember when you bought the McGuire ball.
Cause it [00:06:00] made news. Cause they’re like comic artists McFarland by the choir, 70 at the home run ball. And I was like, oh, well, when he got that ball, you’re just like, ah, did you get to meet mark and have him sign it?
Todd McFarlane: No, no. Now mark and I. Mark. And I didn’t see eye to eye at that point. Yeah.
Kenric: Well, bond universe is coming out.
Tell me the inspiration and what we’re going to expect to have in the book.
Todd McFarlane: Well, like I’ve said before when we started image comics. Yeah. We, we, we sorta had this conversation. Wouldn’t it be cool if we all sort of shared our books together and did it, so there was, there was sort of notions of it from the very gift.
No, never, never happened. Never got off the ground two years later, Robin, Rob, Rob life, LNG, Jim Leone, even that image show right now, I don’t know what that would have meant if we’d actually started at what, what that meant when they left, they left, they would have had, I guess, some plugged their characters.
So that never [00:07:00] happened. And from time to time, we we’ve talked about it, you know, sort of at meetings say, Hey, would it be cool? I bet not never happened to now. Sort of 20, 30 years go by and, and, you know, I, I’m sort of saying I’ve been sort of patient enough, plus, you know, at some point, you know, so here’s on three issues of any book of any character.
Yeah. Eventually have this long laundry list of characters. And now the only outlet I have for all those characters now that have come and gone, and I’m not saying they’re all English characters, you know, but there’s a lot of them. Yeah. 300 plus issues is I have to keep bringing them into, into those spawn.
I know the one that everybody knows and, and. The queue becomes very long because you can only get in once a month or [00:08:00] I have to now start making the book look like a team of book. Right? I mean, people following the book for the last four or 5, 6, 7 months, they could make that argument, but it’s like, okay, it’s not really sponsored book.
You’re sharing it a lot. And so I want to get back to just being sponsored book. Yeah. Bond thing, cause he’s got his own attitude. But I need a playground to put those other characters. I just don’t want to keep them sort of hidden on silent and dormant. So I just go, Hey, now, you know what? I think we’re coming up to issue 300.
I was, I, I got really sorta more focused on it at about 300 and, and I just go, Hey, we’re coming up to 303 0 1, the record center. Let’s not if I’m ever going to do it, now’s the time to do it. Right. And so those two covers that I did with a drum opinion, that depends on lighting. And there was like all these character that was really sort of [00:09:00] my teaser to just say, because I had some people go, well, I don’t understand what that cover meant.
They weren’t in the bulk. And it’s like, so it was sort of my, my little, my little pre pre-teens tangling saying, it’s, it’s going to come. And so now we’re. A year and a half past that. And, and now already officially saying, I’m going to give space to some of these characters. And so, and so the catalyst of that story essentially has been all the issues of spawn, but you know, something dramatic happened in spawn 300 and then another ripple.
It caused a bunch of ripple effects and then another report. Is going to happen and, and has been, has been there in my mind since issue 100 anyways. But I I’ve sort of been slow planning for 200 issues. And now all of that sort of coming to forefront and then we’re going to get another big ripple in the spawned universal.
Nice. And now we [00:10:00] start giving playground room to everybody and I’ll just. Listen to the fans and see what they like or don’t like. And and then, and then they’ll, you know, continue to do those characters or bring in the ones that they like and, and just play it by ear and move on. So I’m not rigid in what has to happen.
I just, you know, it’s a big experiment. We’ll see if any of it works one way or then
Kenric: when you started creating spawn, did you think.
Todd McFarlane: No
Kenric: years, 300 issues that was going to be a thing. Or were you planning on
Todd McFarlane: well, it’s the answer is yes. And the, on the honest answer for me is yes and no. And here’s the yes or no.
I know when I started and I can be stubborn is I vowed that I would do spawn forever. Right. And so the only thing that would’ve stopped me. From not getting the issue 300 is I got hit by a bus or cancer, or I got some [00:11:00] illness. I was dead. Basically. I was dead. I was dead. So the reason I’m up to 300 is because I’m alive.
And do I plan to get to 600, if I’m alive and I can do, if I, if I, if I got 300 more months of living, then you’re going to get 300 more months of the combo. So, and if I get more than that, then we’ll be past it. So. So the quest was always, I’m going to do small there’s. I had two goals. I’m going to always do spawn and, and I would argue, I would argue more important, more important to me was that I was going to always put that logo on it.
Yeah. So in my, in my mind, I didn’t care. I would just go and there were, at least in my lifetime, there will always be an image comic books. This is now going all the way back to 1992. There will always be an image comic books, even if it’s only one book. Right. Cause I was, I was just going to be stubborn and say, I’m going to [00:12:00] do my book and I’m going to put that image eye on it.
And if everybody else doesn’t want to do it and nobody wants to be a part of this. It doesn’t matter, I’m going to do it. Right. But luckily, luckily that wasn’t necessary because there’s a bunch of brilliant people, way, way more talented and smarter than me that have brought their talent to image and have helped us sort of make it.
So that spawn is just sort of a corner of image and not, not, not, not even. Yeah. Right. This is great to me, to me, this is the great thing. Yeah. Image. If I get hit by a bus tomorrow and spawn went away and Todd went away image is still w w is still good, is, is gone like this, which is actually, which is actually the victory.
So w you know, at the beginning, it was sort of predicated on the original founders in our books. Yep. But we’ve now moved way past that, that the, [00:13:00] that the company is not. Is it doesn’t need the founders per se, and it doesn’t need their books because there’s so much idea. And there’s so many creative people that, that we’ve sort of made ourselves redundant, which was actually.
For me part of the puzzle. And that’s a good thing when I say that that’s a good thing.
Kenric: So I, I remember when that whole thing happened and you guys knocked, and it was a shock to everybody that collected comic books, because I’m a collector, I’m not a spectator, I’m a collector, right? Like if I get a comic sign from you, I definitely want you to say to Kenrick from Todd dah, dah, dah, dah, because I’m never selling
Todd McFarlane: that book.
And then you’re going to get graded.
Kenric: If I get graded, I only get a graded so that it keeps it. That’s awesome. I want that.
Todd McFarlane: You can read it a thousand times. Exactly.
Kenric: That’d be fine too. You know, I have a heart I’ve bought in books that I broken the seal on because I want to read them because I’m a reader I [00:14:00] love to read.
I love it. The tactile feel of a book more than the digital copy. I love opening it up and smelling it and going through it. I have an Erie number four from 1957. Yeah, that’s cool. Yeah. And I’m like, I gotta, I gotta read this. I completely opened it. I’m like, I just can’t it’s like a 3.5 and I was like, I can’t, I gotta be able to read it.
I was going to say, I remember when all that happened and you’re right. It really was at the beginning, it was all the founders. And it was, you know, the Jim Lee, the Eric Larson’s the, the Todd McFarland’s of the world and everything. Oh my God. These books are going to be amazing. And all these guys have formed this company and then.
Yeah, there it is.
Todd McFarlane: Look at all the boy, look how young they are. He used to have all used to have hair. That’s where he looked good. That’s a
Kenric: great shot. But yeah, but now it was, I remember the argument. Well, not the argument, but the, the, the con the The prevailing thought from the people that I was around at the time, I was 18.
When this all happened was whether or not DC [00:15:00] and Marvel. I don’t know how long they can. They can last if they’re not bringing, if they don’t put out content, that might be great. But then, you know, Eric, drop-in Savage dragon, you’re doing spawn. I mean, it just, just consistently good stuff after, after another.
And now here we are almost 30 years later. And it’s the proof is in the pudding. It’s it’s, it’s, you know, it’s amazing.
Todd McFarlane: The, for me, the value, the great value of image is, is the POS is the possibility that is presented to the creator after almost 30 years. And if you’re a creator and you have an idea, You can look at all the examples, both good, bad or indifferent that have happened in three decades.
And you can, you can, you can pick the paths and try to avoid other paths but pick the [00:16:00] path that is good for you. Right. So, so I don’t, I don’t. Assume or expect anybody to say, oh my God, I’m being like Tom, do a book I’m doing for 300 districts. Matter of fact, if you actually made that your goal, I think you’re kind of insane because in hindsight, I don’t know that I would have picked that as a goal because that’s a lot of work, but, but if you don’t want to do 300, then you can do two 50 that’s Eric Larson.
And if you don’t wanna do Eric Larson, you can do 190. Then that’s a, that’s a Robert Kirkman. And if you don’t want to do that, then there’s 120, and that’s a March, the vestry in the darkness, and you don’t want to do that. You can do fifty five sixty and that’s Brian K phone and Fiona. And if you don’t want to do I mean, but, but, and there are books that have only gone 5, 6, 8, 10 issues and their run that were spectacular.
Right. And that was enough. The creative people told the story so that the T to be a creator and especially for the stuff that we’ve done at image. It’s not any one [00:17:00] thing I just become after all these years. One of the examples, one of the possibilities, if you think there’s anything I did that make sense to you and you want to try and do a version of it, fine.
Knock yourself out. But, but it’s not there. 25, 30 other great examples over the last 30 years at IMEC, which people. Did wonderful books and succeeded. And how did, how did, how did a good time and, and financially rewarded and, and, you know, were the drivers of their, every decision along the way. That’s awesome.
That’s that’s the victory. The victory is getting up every day and making your own decisions on your own material. That’s it? It doesn’t have to last for 30 years, a 300 issue. It might just be a nutcase like me. So forget it. I mean, look, I’ve said it before I’ve done 300 issues. So let’s say I just sent three [00:18:00] 19 to the printers.
So I get up to 600. That’s going to be like close to 50 years. Right? Okay. I keep saying who’s the young lab or young lady. Who’s at 21 when you got nothing but energy. Nothing, but enthusiasm, the world is your oyster and you go, you know what I’m going to do on top. And I’m going after his record and you don’t want going to do, I went to 700 issues and I’m 21.
And that means I’ve got to do it for 55 years, which means I’ll only be 76. Okay. Know who that 21 year old it says, I want to map out my lights on 76. Yeah, right. And I’m not going to deviate. And here’s why I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t chase it, especially if I get close to 600, here’s why I wouldn’t chase it because what if you actually are great and your dog and you’re determined and you’re [00:19:00] coming from me and then you get to like, if you’re 559 and you’ve been at it out for like 49 and a half you’re 51 years.
I don’t know. It’s a long time. You forget to walk when you cross the street and you get hit by a bus and you never got there. I spent 51 years and you’re never gotten there was
Kenric: like, it’ll be on your tombstone. Never made it a Todd. Oh
Todd McFarlane: no, no, no. You never got the record. So if it’s going, I’m going to take that record from that dude, if you want to record, and you don’t want to spend 50 years of your life.
Just go to the Guinness book of rules record and make a pizza. That’s two inches bigger than the biggest pizza, and you’ll get your record and it won’t take your 51 years. Don’t worry about it. So there’s lots easier ways to get to 50, to get their record. If you need a record, you know, eat the most hot dogs in one day,
Kenric: that ones out there, where does your drive and stubbornness you do think come from.
Todd McFarlane: From the oxygen in my lungs every day I get up, it’s like [00:20:00] today I’ve got air in my lungs wise. Okay. I’m not going to feel short for myself. It’s a great day. Today’s a good day. Oh, by the way, who cares? What I did get, who cares what I did yesterday, right? Let me who cares and it’s for me. If I think that the best I can do, I’ve already done.
Yeah. Like that’s weird. It’s I call yeah. Doing Spiderman. And that was a highlight of my I’ve just been on autopilot sent, like, what’s that about either? I mean, there’s, I think delusional. So I think that helps a little bit. I still think that all my, my best work is still ahead of me. That’s awesome.
It’s all, you know, again, the, my, my plan is to direct this spawn live action. So I haven’t even begun one of my careers yet. So like I got a career. I mean, I haven’t, I haven’t even begun yet. That’s coming down the pipe. Yeah. So I’m excited
Kenric: for that. Do you have any updates that you can share [00:21:00] on the live action?
I know Jamie Fox is Very much wanting to be involved or is involved. And I’m hoping that comes to fruition. Cause I love Jamie Fox. I saw him do his standup comedy back in like 1998 at the Moore theater. And it was amazing.
Todd McFarlane: Yeah. Th the the pandemic came and it shut down Hollywood essentially.
Right. And so what it allowed everybody to do was just basically going to creating idea mode. You know, develop mode, all those things that normally would happen that you get distracted, which is a good distraction if you’re in production. So we’ve been, we’ve been working on the project still. We’ve added some.
Pretty serious talent to it. We haven’t gone public with so the, the party has gotten bigger and way more skilled. I think people, when we, when we let the names out will be blown away. And, and the last I heard, we may have the, you know, something to go shop [00:22:00] around here in about three months or something like that.
So again, Who knows. Sometimes things go a little bit slower as, as I’ve, as I’ve found with why I’ve got to take a day drop in, in the, so the next, the next big headline that I’m going to come out with with the spawn movie will just be, we’ve sold that somebody put up the money and hopefully at that point they’ve even penciled in.
A production start time for us. And then, then we can say, oh my God, it’s coming. Instead of talking about development and talking about what we’re doing, I think those are, that’s sort of the first salvo and we can say that. And then if you add, you know, talent, but even when we added talent and we were talking about with Jeremy Renner and Jamie Fox and Jason Blom that, ah, you know, let’s just, let’s just get this thing sold in a meaningful way and have a real.
Headline for people who’ve been waiting. I’ve been talking about it for so long that psych it’s time, [00:23:00] it’s time to stand up and deliver, or just be quiet until we get to that point. I would say the same thing. I mean, you know, last week we made the announcement with salmon, Twitch TV, you know, produced the mayor of east town.
And again, you know, it, it, wasn’t a headline of. W w I’ve sold in lockdown, right? Like that, that one’s done one sort of the easy one that w it’s been bought by them with got writers on it. You know, Jason and Todd, which is cooled writing those two guides. If you shave their name quickly, they’re a comic book character.
So it’s cool. Jason Todd and obviously they’re super talented with their prior work on, on things like condor and, and, and with Jason with For dogs and other projects, they’ve both done. Look them up. They’re awesome. So, but the next, really the next headline from that should be we’ve we’ve, we’ve got a draft we’ve gone over it.
We’ve we’ve made the edits [00:24:00] and we’re now walking into the studios and selling it and hopefully at least one will say yes. So the next deadline will be Sam Twitch box. By this network. And again, and now we’re thinking about, well, when are we going into production? Right. So at least we’ll be able to say, Hey, we sold it to NBC.
We sold it to, to, to, you know, Showtime, we show to HBO, we sold it to Hulu, whoever, wherever, wherever said yes. That should be the next headline. So it’s like developed salt. Develops fault though. It should be, it should be one, two. Bam. Let’s go. So hopefully you know, we’ll and that’s going along, speeding along too.
Cause I’ve already read the first draft of the, the first script. So you know, maybe those will go a lot faster than what’s been happening with the spawn movie. Yeah.
Kenric: How did w when you met Jason, was it smell of Vick? I say it right smell
Todd McFarlane: of it. [00:25:00] Yeah, smiling,
Kenric: smile. And Todd Katzenberg, when you met those guys, what made you say, oh yeah, these guys are perfect for, for salmon Twitch.
Todd McFarlane: One, they wanted to do it, so let’s just put that out there. So there’s a whole beggars and choosers, right. But not only do they want to do it, but again, I looked. Here’s one of the things I do and it’s not necessary, but I think that it matters. Yeah. I look, I do, I do look at their IMD D and I, and I look at their resume and, and if I read stuff, I go, oh my God.
I saw that night. WhatsApp. Yeah. I didn’t know. They did that. Oh, that’s awesome. That to me, then it becomes a bonus, right? Yeah, man. I already know they’re talented. I already know they have. You know, the street credit already know they’re professionals and people like them in that. And besides you did a bunch of stuff, they did a bunch of stuff that I liked personally.
Wow. That’s a win. That’s a win all the way around a pool because [00:26:00] sometimes there’s people that the studios really like that you go, oh, I’ve seen some of their stuff or I don’t even know them. You know, if it gets the project, may let’s go. Right. Let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go. So, and then, and then when we talked about it, they came back and they.
Sort of gave their pitch to me and I went cool, let’s go see if we can sell it. And we took it to the, to this company called weapon that, you know, like I said, that mayor of this town and they were like, yeah, cool. We’re looking for something else. Let’s go. That’s
Kenric: awesome. Awesome. What makes I got to ask me what makes you want to direct?
Todd McFarlane: My curiosity. Yeah, that, that, to me, directing is a form of art. And I’ve, I’ve, you know, dabbled in a lot of different art. I mean, I write, I draw, I ink sometimes I color, you know, I do toys. I have to look at packaging, you know, I did a little bit of, of music, videos and stuff. So to me, it’s just like just another way of [00:27:00] storytelling and I, I.
It’s interesting. When I’m watching a movie, my wife hates it that I I’m I’m, I’m dissecting the movie and in a way that I, that I go, what I hire when I hired that prop guy, when I hired that person who did all the clothes, but I hired the person like th th the DP, the editor, the person who did the music literally.
Like going, I put it, I actually asked me, make a list of them and I, and I go in there and I go to going to, again, these one side and go, who did the music on this? And I I’ve got this running list of all these people and, and the thing that’s interesting, which is actually for me rewarding is that I start repeating the same people.
Right. Oh, I love that movie. I love the look of that movie and that movie in that movie. And then all of a sudden I’m making my list on what, what I got 50 movies that I like, and they’ve been done by 23 [00:28:00] directors of photography. Cinematographers. Basically it’s the same group of people broad because it means I’m being consistent with what I liked because I keep going back.
So the same people unknowingly going, oh my gosh. And then I go, well that there are some people I have my list with there’s five movies that I think are awesome that I want what they get all five of those movies. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna do everything I can to get one of those top flight GPS.
Cause, cause I, I just they’ll make me look good. And, and, and I like. The lock I, in my mind, I know the look that I want. Right. It’s not like, Hey, I’ve got to go direct. How do you, like, I don’t do I know what the lenses are called now? I know what the lighting Avature no, do I know what I want it to look like?
And the cropping and the yes, yes, yes. And I can go to dozens of movies and [00:29:00] show the shots, show the scene and go there. It is right to give, to give an example. And it came off the same. We’ve got into the venom movie that there’s a movie that came out. It was called born. What was the lady Gaga one.
Oh yeah, yeah.
Kenric: With what’s his name?
Todd McFarlane: Yeah. Borns star stars. Stars. Okay. Anyways. I think it’s a brilliant movie, right? I, I didn’t watch it over and over and over for a long time for a lot of different reasons. So we’ll debate that another day. But to me, I tend to broken, but the visual look of that movie is awesome for me.
It’s awesome. And who directed that movie? Bradley Cooper? Yeah. Okay. Bradley Cooper, probably Cooper. I didn’t even know he was a director. He wasn’t. But he was smart enough to know, to go get a top [00:30:00] flight director of photography and a great editor. And so when I look, I mean, I remember when I found that Bradley Cooper directed that movie, I went, oh my God, that movie is awesome.
Who was the director of photography? And of course, he’s one of those guys that I have on my list that did five movies that I think are brilliant. So it’s like, of course he’s not one of those guys. Right. So it’s, so I’m going to do the same thing that I’m going to go to agencies and go, here’s my list.
Whatever they need. I’ll pay for it out of my pocket. I need one of these five top people because they need to make me look as good as in this case. Has they made a first time director like Bradley Cooper LA over there now again, Bradley Cooper is also friends with Todd Phillips. Who’s an amazing director himself.
And so again, I’m sure he got a lot of coaching or whatever, but I’m just saying, if you put smart, educated people around you, they will make you look like a pro, not a rookie. So, yeah.
Kenric: Yeah. [00:31:00] I, I manage a ton of people and that’s one of my, my whole thing is hire people that are smarter than me and then get them doing things because then I look great and then I prop them up and they look great.
Todd McFarlane: No, no. The best day, the best day I have is when I’m the dumbest guy in the room. It’s true. And it’s a good gig because part of it is. You know, a lot of times it’s through what we’re doing at MacFarlane toys are far less, so more along the line, I’m going to get credit for it anyways. So I’m like, I got the best gig in the world.
I’m like the queen, right? It’s the queen of England. I just come out, I wave to people and then people go, what does he even actually do? Consultants, people that are doing all the heavy lifting.
So it’s like, But it’s a good gig. If you can get it right, right. Just hire the smartest people. They’ll make you look great every day. I love it. I love it,
[00:32:00] Kenric: man. Do you find time? How much do you sleep in a night? Are you like a three hour, four hour, night guy? Because spawn, now you have universe gunslinger, king spawn.
Is it scorch? I want to say
Todd McFarlane: the scores. Yeah, the scorched. Yep.
Kenric: Sam and Twitch has coming out. I know you’re going to be involved in that and you’re, you’re, you’re
Todd McFarlane: working in a couple more coming down the pipeline. I’ve got a couple more headlines out of Hollywood that are coming. So, but, but here, but here’s, here’s the thing.
So w and I don’t know if people are interested in my sleep pattern, but we can talk about it.
Kenric: It’s just that you got so much. It’s like, how do you work? And when do you
Todd McFarlane: even sleep? Because no, no, no, because you, like, we just talked about it. You hire good people, you make sure it’s. I mean, beginning of my career, when I was doing conflicts, it was me in a room writing pencil and an income.
That was it. Now I’ve got, you know, lots of people. I mean, what are you talking about this? You said that this book came out and I, [00:33:00] I penciled Nick every single page. Now I got some good people on. So unlike most people and I I’ll let me use my wife as an example that most people don’t get to get sort of all this.
Sort of imagination and fantasy and ideas and concepts out of their head during the day. Right? So they go to sleep and, and they have a lot of vivid dreams. And to some extent, my wife has like terror and she wakes up a lot in something. So something’s active in her brain where I go to sleep. And and, and I don’t wake up till the morning.
I I’ve got a strong bladder, never have to get up and pee. So, yeah, that’s another thing I’m going to my grade never get. So, cause my dad just went on a couple of road trips and he would get up three times a night night. I made a foul that I’m going to have the strongest bladder ever, and I was getting up out [00:34:00] of bed and I can go talk to the light.
I was doing a CGC sign. I get there at seven in the morning and I don’t move to midnight. I don’t even get out of there. I don’t eat, I don’t go to the bathroom and do nothing. Right. And they’re like, we heard you’re like that, but didn’t think it was true. Oh, I can be like, I’m like a camel, but I’ll, I’ll digress.
I’ll give you my secret. It’s it’s super simple. You don’t put anything in this hole. Doesn’t come on in the other holes. So just get to sit down and start signing and don’t do anything and just sign all day. But, but back to the sleeping, I think that the average person is pretty vivid and active when they’re with their imagination.
Cause they don’t get it out from nine to five. That’s not their day job. Right. I guess to get it out, I have the luxury of getting it out all day long. So at night I’m I’m, I’m, I’m sort of mentally exhausted and I just sleep. Cause I got to recharge tomorrow’s [00:35:00] another day I gotta be ready to go. So I’m the opposite.
This is, this is why it’s interesting. If you were to say, Todd, what are your favorite movies? Yeah, very few of them. Very few with exception have, have any fantasy and have like they’re all dramas. They’re all. Oh yeah. And the reason is because at the end of the day, after 12 hours doing fantasy. I w for me, I’m not saying that some people were different for me.
I, I, I did unplug, I need to throw the switch off. So when I’m home and I go click, I go, I don’t want to watch any fantasy. So I don’t care. I don’t care what big fantasy TV shows on. I want no part of that. I want it. I want to draw why, when I was watching, you know, mayor east town for the first time, I was like, oh my God, that’s that’s.
That’s what happening Twitch needs to feel like there’s pretty real [00:36:00] grungy. And oh, by the way, I looked it up. What the DP of mayor of east town is also by coincidence on my list because of some of the prior work he did. And one of the movies I really liked that he did was on a wind river, which was Taylor, Sheridan, and Jeremy Renner.
Right. And Jeremy, I remember I was talking to him, was really talking about Ben is his name about, about how great Ben was. And so I’m watching Mayer who did that? This looks good because TV’s looking like movies now. He was like, oh, of course, of course it would have been Davidson again. Oh, okay, cool.
So again, so at least the consistency was there of looking at it, but yeah, to me, I, I just want to what I do fantasy by day, and then I, my entertainment, I want it to be drama. And then, and then I sleep by the baby and then I start all over again. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, it’s the truth,
[00:37:00] Kenric: but I mean, it’s, it’s, I dunno, it’s nice to see that you’re just growing up and reading spawn Todd, there, there’s a bit of a mythos around who you are.
You know, instead of get back and sit down and listen to you and just of like, oh, he’s just a normal guy. Like the rest of us
Todd McFarlane: that is look, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I shouldn’t because certainly, well, yeah, I’ll give you a bit of a secret though. That having a little bit of a myth that goes with you can be to your advantage because sometimes if they think you’re the crazy man, Sometimes you need to be in the room and you need to be crazy.
And sometimes if they think you’re the devil, sometimes you just need to show them a little bit of the devil, right. So depending on who you’re dealing with, what the topic is, how good or bad it’s going, I have to be able to just turn on sort of the th the stick at times [00:38:00] to basically deliver what it is.
So they get the point. Across. But if you were to see me at home, he would just go. Is that, is that him there with mismatch socks, and he’s picking up his dog shit in his backyard and he’s having to scrub and do whatever. And it’s, I had just spent 20 minutes scrubbing pot because I parked the eggs too bad, or like just dumb.
And I, and there are flags out. I go, man, if I enemy’s throwing, sending out, they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t be nearly his threatened by and they wouldn’t, and they wouldn’t give me nearly as much. Credit as being some kind of the people who like me as being, oh, he’s so smart. He’s a, he’s a he’s that she’s that I, sometimes people say way too kind at the end of the day, I still squeeze the toothpaste in the middle and put on my, my pants one leg at a time, just like everybody else.
It’s weird. It’s weird. [00:39:00] It’s weird about having a little bit of celebrity. I think most celebrities will agree with what I’m about to say is that you don’t, you don’t. For the moment. You’re not thinking about that, right? You’re just living your life. Do you want to do, because you enjoy it. And the by-product of it is you have success.
And some of that success then allows you to have a reputation that becomes quote, unquote sort of mini celebrity. And again, the celebrity is dependent. What room you’re in? I mean, we talked about if I go to comm convention or whatever, I’m a big shot. If, you know, if I go to big the next Avengers movie on the red carpet, nobody cares.
Right. So, so you just, you gotta, you gotta, you gotta be in the right room or whatever else, but it’s like, I do, like, I permit for me, I think. I think that I have a good life, at least on the sort of the popularity point, because I have just enough that it’s, you it’s it’s useful. Right. But then I can walk outside [00:40:00] the first person I run into a bunch of domain and they go, Hey idiot, watch yourself.
They don’t care who I am. Right. And I can go to seven 11 and buy a Slurpee and not, not get hassled. I’ve often wondered about people like. Tom Brady and, you know, Brad Pitt, like they can’t even go out there like that to me would, would, would not seem like it would be a fun thing. Right. And so this is why when I hung out with Stanley so much that Stan would, you know, go to the shows.
Could you love that? And he would be obviously the star of the show. And then, and then at the end he was sort of like me a bit of a homebody, right? But he would, he would go home cause he loved his wife and he just wanted to be with his wife and he just wanted to relax. He wanted to turn it off. So you would go, you’d be the shining star.
He enjoyed being around people. Because he liked being around people and enjoying themselves. And then at the end it was like, Hey, you want to go out with the other celebrity? Like, no, I’m going home. Right. [00:41:00] And so I go, yeah, I get that. But it’s like, you know, I have fun, you know, being at the show, but people will tell you here, Todd, you don’t really like go to shows.
You’re a homebody. And yeah. So she asks, but I go, but if I’m going to go to shows, then let’s then look do it. Right. Let’s put a smile on our face. Right. Let’s. Let’s be, let’s be kind and courteous to the people that are in front of you and, and have a good time. And then you can go home and do your thing.
But but given the choice, I’d rather just be at home mum. I’m a bit of a loner when you get right down to it.
Kenric: I got a question for you and I, and it took me, it had to think about this one because I’m kind of interested. You started image with, with the likes of Jim Lee and Eric Larson and broad, like all those guys.
But I’m curious if you had a catalyst like Kickstarter, what is the difference you might see with image? If it was starting today?
[00:42:00] Todd McFarlane: Kickstarter is a double-edged sword. Yeah. So I’m going to. I do. Here’s the two things that kickstart are good for one, if you, if everybody turns you away, you can figure it out and you’d go do it yourself, nothing wrong with that because I was stubborn. I would have done that too. Number two, it can get you a lot of cash real quick.
If you, if you catch a little bit of lightning in a bottle, the downside, there’s not enough people that are backing those projects. They’re going to make what you’re doing. Noticeable. Right. So, so I’ll give you a personal example. I’d never done Kickstarter. I go, Hey, you know what, pandemic’s coming. You know what?
I’m going to do a toy. We’re going to do our Kickstarter till a spawn pool. I can do things. I couldn’t do it. Just an experiment. Never done it before. We set two records, most money, most backwards. Wow. For an [00:43:00] actual ticket. Yeah. Comma. But the number of backers for that record setting that people go, oh my God, Todd, you killed it, you killed it, you killed it.
And we did. Cause I didn’t, I didn’t know it was going to go that crazy. But the number of units that we sold, if I sold that number of units at Walmart or target, it would be considered a failure. Wow. So, so I can give you the. 50th best character DCS multi-verse that had better sales than my kickstart.
So, so, so you can upcharge and you can get money. What you’re not getting is a lot of Batman at the end of the day. I guess it depends what your value is. If you need money today, it’s a great spot. If you want to basically let people know that you have an idea, it’s a great spot, but the ultimate. Big goal.
If you want to climb the mountain high is you [00:44:00] need lots of people to know you exist, not money, lots of people to know you exist. And so the more eyeballs that can see you the better. So take a look at a bunch of Kickstarters. Okay. 2000, like, what are you talking about? You need not only tens of thousands, you need a hundred, a thousand.
Eventually you need millions and tens of millions to do something that big and giant and, and meaningful. And then you can then sort of reap the benefits of some of that. So, Let’s look at another example, Robert Kirkman’s doing the walking dead. It was really good. And then it goes on TV and 24 million people are watching it and it’s hay day, which is some crazy record on table.
Right. Did that have any repercussion to the sales of the walking dead and the trade paperbacks Robert, for nothing, of course it did. 24 million people were looking at it. Then our [00:45:00] aware that your brand, and now you can get 1% of 24 million. Woo. That’s a lot of people, that’s a lot of people. And so, so don’t underestimate the value of making less, but getting more.
People to see what you’re doing, because one of those people who sees it may be somebody that is a person of power and can come in saying, Hey, you know what? I saw that, or my wife saw it, or my kids saw it or something like something. Sometimes you just need a little bit of dumb luck and don’t do it. So I don’t know.
I do. I think that maybe some of my partners would have done more Kickstarter or gone to Kickstarter. Yeah. What I have, I, I wouldn’t have, cause I know myself, I would have said, I don’t need money right now. I need an audience. I need a crowd. I need, I need a fan base that we can build. I can build a fan base.
If it just money. [00:46:00] Then also some original artwork of my amazing Spiderman I just finished doing. So, I like, so that’s it. I know Kickstarter. And even people talking about identities and whatever else. And I’ve had a lot of people approach me about that. And, and, you know, maybe we’ll try something here and there, but I keep asking the same question.
What’s the, what’s the meaningful thing. What’s the reason for doing it other than, because you can, and you can make a buck. Right? Other, like, that’s not for a guy like me. It’s not a public company. That’s not, that’s not enough for me. Right. And it’s easy for me to say. Because I have money and I don’t have to chase it, but I th that attitude has been there for a long, long time.
I have said plenty of times, I would rather have a million people give me $1 than they have 10 people give me a hundred thousand same mom money. But in one case, I’ve got 10 people that know what I’m doing. And the other case I’ve got a million people and I am way better off with a million people [00:47:00] knowing what I’m doing.
So. Okay. And even if the answer was Todd, you only got 800,000, not a million that gave you a buck 200,000 less. I would still take the 800,000 people because I think in the long run that 800,000 people will grow into a much bigger number. And I’ll make up the lost 200,000 that if I had 10 people that would’ve given me a hundred thousand, like, I don’t know, but that’s just me, everybody else sort of has to do what they gotta do.
Kenric: I love it. Todd, we’ve been on for almost an hour already.
Todd McFarlane: Can you believe that? Thanks mom.
Kenric: It went quick, man. It went really quick. I can’t believe it. I so much appreciate your time today. It’s been amazing. I know you’re a busy man. You’ve got a lot going on. And so to take your time out to come to our little podcast is a huge deal and I really, really, I appreciate it. Yeah.
Todd McFarlane: So let me, let me give one, let me just say one more thing here, please.
[00:48:00] Just not because I’m stubborn. Psycho but just to put in perspective to people so they don’t sell themselves. You’re right. People will say a lot of nice things about me and I’ll go, Todd, you had a great offer and he did this, did this and did this and did this. Okay. So I just, you know, a couple months ago I turned a 60.
Okay, cool. Start at 20 you’re at 60 I’ve had, you know, 35 40 years in the business, although I was a late bloomer, but let’s just use round numbers 40 years, right. I plan on living to be a hundred years old. So that means I’ve done another 40, which basically means ladies and gentlemen, I’m only halfway through my career.
I’m only halfway through like so much as you want to say something nice. Anybody want to say something like people have done documentaries, I go documentaries, you only the halfway part of the race. It seems you want to do a documentary about a guy who ran half a marathon. But okay, fine. Go ahead.
So you’re going to have [00:49:00] to do another one at some point later in the game. And I’m not saying that to, to say anything about me. I’m saying that people. That are creative. Think that somehow it’s like other jobs and you have to start slowing down when you’re 50, when you’re 60 and that’s just not true.
You can go for a long, long, long. Time, as long as you’re healthy and you ha and you got air in your lungs, so I know you’re going well, no, you’re, you know, 25 and you know, no, no, you’re 35 now. I mean, if you get to 45 and you’ve been making excuses, you’re never going to do it. But even at 35, it seems like it’s too late.
It’s not because what if you look to be 90, you still have 55 years, whatever that idea is. To still do it. If you have the energy 55 years, you’re only 35. That’s one and a half times. Your entire lifetime. Like there’s plenty of time. There’s plenty. Don’t talk yourself out of it. [00:50:00] Stop making excuses, because if you do then a guy like me, who’s not making excuses issues, delusional things.
You can do everything. It’s going to just cut in front of you all the time. Do they go? I’ll do it. I’ll cut it out. Like, so Mike, Mike, I just, I just want. I just want everybody to just, just try that one time and that hoo goop swing for the fence. And so what if it doesn’t go, at least you try, at least you tried.
And every now and then the Robert Kirkman’s of the world, pop-up. Oh, my gosh. And then hear from Brian Vaughn. Oh my God. And here comes Johnny cage and here they, and they’re going to keep coming and they’re going to keep coming and they’re going to in group does not play baseball anymore. It’s okay. It’s okay.
Because we now get to watch a librarian Jr. And Mike trout and Brian and Ann Harper. So you just go there. It’s just going to keep turning over. [00:51:00] Right. So the new, the new stickers are not the stones and the Beatles anymore. It’s today’s so I don’t know. I don’t know why people don’t want to be a little grittier for their life, their own personal life, but it’s a, it’s a personality trait too.
You have to be sort of a little sort of crazy and ahead in the little law odd, which I have been since. Day one when people, why are you so competitive or whatever? I’ll ask my mom. It was it just in my DNA. I think I came out of the birth canal exactly this way. Right. So I wasn’t a learned behavior. I got in trouble.
My mom will tell you I got in trouble since I was five. So it’s just it’s there. So if you don’t have that personality, then what I’m saying, doesn’t really make sense because. Failure’s not an option. It’s not an option. Does it happen? Of course it does. Right? If I got a bloody nose, many times, have I made the wrong call a thousand times, but I’ve done bad pages in comic books.
Plenty of [00:52:00] them, plenty, all the above, all the above, but overtime, they forgive you for your mistakes because you’ve now got a body of work and they’re looking at the body of work instead of any one specific sort of note. In the one song that you’re doing, which is called Durham life. Right. So I don’t know, but that’s me.
I just, I think the youth is way too talented and has way more energy than I do. And so I just, I just, I just want to courage them, like my own children to just go, oh, make me make a guy like me irrelevant. It would be awesome. Right.
Kenric: There you go,
Todd McFarlane: I’ll put it in a nutshell, fucked up, right? Like you just go, oh man, fuck. Like I’m taking you down. That’s it? That should be the attitude old man. I’m taking you down. That’s that’s it. That’s it. Do
Kenric: it. And what those party words, [00:53:00] folks. Todd McFarlane. Thank you so much, sir. I so much appreciate your time.
Todd McFarlane: Sure. You’d be good.
Kenric: You too. And hopefully we can get you back on because I’d love to talk some more. All right.
Todd McFarlane: All right, bro, I’ll talk to you soon. Peace out.