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SYFY WIRE Todd McFarlane

Todd McFarlane explains why his comics universe 'cannot be' just about Spawn at WonderCon 2021

By Matthew Jackson
Spawn Universe Cover

Earlier this year, Image Comics co-founder and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane announced Spawn's Universe, a massive expansion of the exhausting Spawn story that will unfold over the course of four new comics releases (including three ongoing series) in 2021 alone. During a WonderCon@Home panel on Friday, McFarlane spoke in a little more detail about his plans for the future of this new shared universe, and they're even more ambitious than those initial announcements made them sound. 

Over the course of the 45-minute panel, McFarlane touched on the major pillars of his business, including his toy company, his plans for the Spawn movie still in development, and of course his comics publishing. After a little discussion on the "resilient" nature of the comics industry and his own success in selling comics during the pandemic, McFarlane brought the conversation to Spawn's Universe. We already knew to expect four new books as part of the universe's launch later this year, many of them featuring various hellspawn characters who've previously appeared in the long-running Spawn comic. That's still true, but as McFarlane explained it, the characters we already know are just a gateway to a much bigger world. 

"In my mind, the Spawn Universe is not just about Spawn," McFarlane said. "As a matter of fact, it cannot be, and I'll probably end up changing the name of it in short order."

McFarlane went on to explain that his goal is not merely to expand Spawn as a mythology, but to launch a universe of "hundreds" of new characters across as many as two dozen different comics titles over the coming years, "the majority of them" completely separate from the pre-existing Spawn mythos. The eventual goal, in McFarlane's mind, is to create something as monumental for him personally as the founding of Image Comics and the launch of Spawn #1 nearly 30 years ago: A world of characters that people will be able to visit and build upon for decades to come.

"I'm asking the question: Can another big shared universe happen? I don't know," McFarlane said. "I'm gonna try. It's gonna take 20 years."

McFarlane also updated viewers on his progress with the Spawn movie he's been developing alongside producer Jason Blum and star Jamie Foxx. While he's "in good hands" with Blum as a producer and describes Foxx as "still enthusiastic" about the project, McFarlane also noted that he's not yet ready to disclose any of the recent progress made on the film. That doesn't mean there isn't progress, though, as he went on to note that he's both landed more talent to work on the film and been hard at work in designing and conceptualizing it, with the eventual goal of signing a studio on to help fund and distribute the project. 

"I promise you we haven't been dormant," McFarlane said. "Although we haven't gone public, we've been far from dormant."

For more from McFarlane, including his plans for an upcoming second Spawn action figure Kickstarter and more on his feelings about the comics industry as a whole at the moment, check out the full panel video above.