Image Comics co-founder Todd McFarlane has had a remarkable run in his nearly 35 years in the comics industry. This prolific Canadian artist first arrived back in 1984 when he was hired by Marvel to do a back-up story on Steve Engleharts' Coyote.
From there he transitioned into DC Comics' Infinity Inc and the Batman: Year Two mini-series, where he exhibited his distinctively detailed linework. In 1988 he elevated himself on Marvel's The Amazing Spider-Man with Dave Michelinie, then launched his own written and drawn title, Spider-Man, in 1990 before joining a mass exodus from Marvel to help give birth to the dynamic new Image Comics.
Today at New York Comic Con, the Image superstar, creator of Spawn, co-creator of Venom, and CEO of McFarlane Toys addressed a packed house to talk about ambition, the true origins of the evil black symbiote and the horror aspects of his upcoming Spawn feature film.
McFarlane first warmed the room up by providing encouraging career advice to aspiring artists and writers on how to break into the biz by telling folks that they too could be up on stage, as "it's just about applying your talent" and urged everyone to "stop talking yourself out of it."
He also discussed how he won his awards and admiration from colleagues in the comics realm and the toy and collectible market, by always searching for the vacant spaces where big companies were not present and filling in those gaps.
"It's not about how I did it." McFarlane explained. "It's about how the others didn't. I took a camera, took a picture, and sculpted the clay until it looked like the picture."
Regarding Venom, McFarlane recounted how he marched into Marvel's Spider-Man office after being warned not to and told editors he would draw the character if they got rid of the black costume. With that being an impossibility, he had a unique solution to the problem.
"They couldn't get rid of the black costume, so I created Venom as an excuse to put Spidey back in the red and blue. I wanted Venom to be bigger because I didn't want Spider-Man to beat him in a fistfight. All of this success was because I was too stubborn to draw the black costume."
McFarlane was also pleased to see Venom depicted as a huge hulking monster in the newly-released Venom feature.
Spawn was a major topic of conversation and the upcoming feature film written, produced, and directed by McFarlane himself. He recalled that co-star Jeremy Renner talked to him about Spawn, but that he couldn't reciprocate and talk about Hawkeye because McFarlane doesn't watch those movies due to the extreme need to decompress after dealing with fantasy all day.
Other talent attached to the project are lead Jamie Foxx, who signed on because McFarlane merely asked, and The Walking Dead's Greg Nicotero, who helped create the new design for Spawn. In terms of the film's planned style and tone, McFarlane added that it will be similar to The Nun and Halloween and that the transformation will not be CGI.
"Spawn won't talk a lot, and you won't see him a lot," he explained. "When he appears it will be awesome. You are going to be so engaged with Jeremy's character that you will jump because you forgot that Spawn was in the movie. My goal is to create the darkest, scariest comic book movie ever."
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