In the late 1980s, artist Todd McFarlane exploded onto the comic book scene with his dark, hyper detailed superhero art. Alongside several other up-and-coming young artists, McFarlane represented the new age of comic books, and his art not only helped usher in an era of dark, edgy superhero stories, but also rode the massive financial wave of the speculator boom.
Eventually, McFarlane’s popularity led to him debuting his own new Spider-Man title as writer and artist, with Spider-Man #1 selling a whopping 2.5 million copies in 1990 thanks to a media blitz, variant covers, and collectors HILARIOUSLY thinking that owning a comic that had millions of copies in print would make them a millionaire. It did, however, make McFarlane a millionaire.
And in 1992, McFarlane and 6 other high profile comic book creators founded Image Comics as a place for their creator-owned books without ever giving up their rights and financial stake in the characters they made. The publication launched with several high profile, ultra-90s series – Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood, Eric Larsen’s The Savage Dragon, Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s. – but the Image flagship would be Todd McFarlane’s Spawn.
Spawn is the story of Al Simmons, a mercenary who comes back from hell to be reunited with his wife, only to be turned into a superpowered antihero caught in a war between the forces of good and evil. But really, the story of the Hellspawn is the story of Todd McFarlane – a superstar artist and writer who used his popularity and the booming comic book industry to help form a new publication and build a multimedia empire while entire publications floundered and ran out of money.
Spawn may be most well known for its chains, goo, and ’90s extremity, but the impact of the right comic at the right time can’t be understated, even if the years haven’t been kind to McFarlane’s signature creation.
As of this video’s publication, Spawn has published more than 300 issues and become the longest running creator-owned comic book in history. Along the way, it’s produced an animated series, a movie, many video games, and an entire toy company. And from its massive debut through its constant ups and downs both creatively and financially, Spawn has changed the comic book industry, even though it sucks. [Read more…] about How Spawn Changed Comic Books (Even Though It Sucks)