|The original “Spawn/Batman” pulished in 1994.|
Todd McFarlane’s Time Trippin’ with Todd McFarlane and Friends panel at the New York Comic-Con got off to a late start Saturday afternoon in the Special Events Hall of the Jacob Javits Center, but McFarlane’s candor on a number of intriguing industry issues coupled with a slew of upcoming announcements for his various McFarlane Entertainment properties more than made up for any lost time.
McFarlane was joined on stage by “Spawn” Editor-in-Chief Brian Haberlin, current “Spawn” penciler Phillip Tan, and former “Spawn” penciler and “Creech” creator Greg Capullo. Capullo was making his first convention appearance in over 10 years.
Without a doubt, however, McFarlane and Co. elected to save their biggest announcement for last.
After showing a series of slides of his companies’ assorted future endeavors, McFarlane then proceeded to open the floor to fan questions. Towards the end of this Q&A session DC’s Dan Dido, posing as an interested fan, emerged from the crowd to ask Todd a question that was on his mind: Just what would it take to get Todd McFarlane to someday work on a comic book project again?
The answer was simple: Greg Capullo on pencils…and Batman.
McFarlane announced that he and Gapullo would serve as the creator team on an upcoming “Spawn/Batman” crossover in conjunction with DC Comics that, ideally, should see print sometime in the next year or so.
When asked why he was now working with DC on a crossover project when several years ago he was approached by Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada about doing something along similar lines with Spider-Man with Marvel, but declined the offer, McFarlane replied, “Because I like Batman better than Spider-Man. There’s just something so cool about two guys standing on a rooftop at night with big long capes.”
There would also be a tie-in with DC Direct on a “Spawn/Batman” statue, Dido said.
In movie news, McFarlane said that he was about “half-way through” writing the script for the next live-action Spawn feature, and that he now planned on directing the movie himself.
“You can do terrific, wonderful movies for under ten million dollars today. And that’s what I plan to do on the next installment of Spawn.” McFarlane said. “I’m sick of waiting on some Hollywood producer who’s just going to screw it up anyway. I’ve got the money now, so I’m just going to go do it all myself. Don’t think of it as ‘Spawn 2,’ but a complete reinvention of the entire franchise.”
McFarlane cited recent Japanese horror movies and grim, gritty films such as “Seven” and “L.A. Confidential” as his major influences for the script thus far. “What I like about Japanese horror movies is that everything seems like it’s taking place in the real world, but there’s just that one element in it that’s slightly off. In this movie, that element’s going to be Spawn. I want it to be this gritty, dark, creepy, intense picture that people will just go, ‘Wow!’ when they see it. Spawn doesn’t utter one word throughout the entire movie. He’s like the shark in ‘Jaws.'”
In tandem with Pandemonium’s Bill Mechanic and Angry Films’ Don Murphy, McFarlane will serve as Co-Producer on an upcoming adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko’s “Torso” graphic novel from Image Comics.
David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “Seven”) and Ehren Krueger (“The Ring”, “Skeleton Key) are currently attached as the project’s Director and Screenwriter, respectively.
Work on the new Spawn animated project continues as well.
Several character designs, including ones for Sam and Twitch, were shown, as well as a slide of a man with both his arms severed at the elbows suspended upside down from the rafters of a warehouse.
McFarlane described the cartoon as, “Graphic…brutal…and definitely not for children.”
He compared the tone of it to Wesley Snipes’ “New Jack City.”
The project, McFarlane said, was originally written as an 82-minute movie, but he would now like to see it air somewhere on TV first, possibly on HBO as the initial Spawn Animated Series did, which would mean having to cut it up into three 20-something minute episodes.
He also said that, should all else fail, he would be, “More than satisfied with releasing the thing straight to DVD.”
McFarlane Toys unveiled several new lines, including Tim Burton’s “The Corpse Bride” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” 2-pack boxed sets; the Corpse Bride would be packaged with Victor, while Dracula would appear in two of his most terrifying incarnations: werewolf and bat.
McFarlane Toys has also acquired the rights to Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons” series as well, and plans to release its first line of figures and boxed sets based on those characters come fall 2006.
McFarlane said that plans are in the works to, “Sell the characters of Sam and Twitch to Hollywood as a potential TV show.”
When asked if he could ever see himself making a Jim Lee-like return to full time penciling duties someday, McFarlane replied. “Not right now, I’m way too busy.” Especially not to work on any of Marvel or DC’s characters, which he cited as “the competition.” “If I have the time to do ten pages of a book, you can bet that it’s going to have Spawn in it.”
Brian Haberlin said that “there’s going to be a lot of cool new stuff coming up in the actual ‘Spawn’ comics as well. We’ve been creating a lot of new characters for the series in the last couple of months, and we’re going to start tapping into the toy line as well by introducing a lot of characters that we’ve made figures of but who have never actually appeared anywhere inside the comics yet.”
It was also announced that Brian Holguin and Jay Anacleto are working on a new series entitled “Spawn: Godslayer” in black and white, which McFarlane said was heavily influenced by sword and sorcery concepts and should appeal to fans of epic fantasy adventures in the same vein as Elric, Conan, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Several slides of Anacleto’s finished pencil work on the series were then shown. The crowd seemed very impressed with all that they saw.
“Every time I see one of Jay’s pages I’m blown away by the subtlty and detail he’s able to get in it,” McFarlane said.
Trades for “Spawn Volume 2,” which would compile issues 13-33 of the series; “Hellspawn: The Ashley Wood Collection” collecting all of Ashley Wood’s ten-issue run on “Hellspawn,” with stories by Bendis and Steven Niles; “Sam And Twitch: The Brian Michael Bendis Collection, Volume 1,” collecting issues 1-9 of Bendis’ run on that series, were all announced as forthcoming for 2006 in an effort to revitalize McFarlane Entertainment’s trade paperback program.
“We’ve done “Spawn” trades before, but now we’re trying to make them a whole lot fatter. I don’t know about you guys, but I sure do like big, fat spines on my trade paperbacks. Like 20 to 25 issues fat, in one pop from now on, guys,” McFarlane said.
When a fan raised the topic of the lack of diversity in most mainstream comics today, praising McFarlane for choosing to portray Al Simmons as African-American and bucking this trend, McFarlane responded, “I think it’s a shame that it’s now 2006 and we still don’t have a little more diversity in our heroes. Having said that, it was definitely a conscious choice on my part to make Spawn/Al Simmons a character of color. We don’t play up the issue of race a whole lot in the series, but it’s certainly in there.”
CBR’s coverage of the New York Comic-Con is Sponsored by Comics Unlimited.