In the second part of this two-part interview, Todd McFarlane talks about Joe Quesada’s open letter to him and why it won’t happen in the near future, confirming why Rob Liefeld will never get out more than 12 issues in one year consecutively, and why at the end of the day, it’s only comic books and it just doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things.
In case you missed it, here is part 1 of this interview.
Michael David Thomas: Joe Quesada wrote an open letter to you to do something with Marvel. It was played off as a big joke, but I wanted to find out what your thoughts are about that.
Todd McFarlane: All I know is I got my revenge on Joe. I called him prior to that challenge at home when the Mets and the Yankees were playing. He’s a big baseball fan being from New York.
He was distracted… Remember when Clemens threw the broken bat at Piazza? And there was that whole build-up? Well, I distracted him from that whole moment. And I was going, “Cool! The highlight of the whole World Series and Joe was on the phone talking to me about some gibberish.” After that, he had to come up with his thing, going “I’m going to have to get back at Toddy.” I think it was the whole Clemens/Piazza thing.
MDT: You want to throw a broken bat at him?
TM: No, no, I’m saying that he wasn’t able to concentrate. “Todd, you know the World Series is on? You know I’m in New York and I’m watching it? What are you calling me for?”
He shouldn’t have said that. I kept him on the phone as long as I could before he hung up on me. I wondered how long he would talk about nothing with me until he just goes, “Todd, there’s just a …” I remember him saying, “Clemens and Piazza, something happened, ahhh, Todd…”
MDT: Is that something you would consider doing, drawing for Marvel as a crossover…?
TM: Not really
MDT: No interest whatsoever.
TM: Joe and I talked about it. I would have to be mentally ready to do it and put my full effort into it. Getting there mentally is asking the question, “What is this for? Is this sort of a stepping stone?” The discussion I had with Joe was [that] we had a different perspective on it.
So, we do this and it works, everybody’s happy for 30 days and the next month comes along and then what? So what? We did a temporary stopgap. Big deal!
Just because you can do that doesn’t mean you should. I always needed a good reason for that. Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee and some of the other partners were doing other things with other companies because they could. [T]o what end? What [are] the long-term ramifications here? Not in terms of cash, but the long-term legacy that this is going to leave here. I couldn’t figure it out.
Joe’s perspective, which is equally valid, is that maybe the comic book business needs to come out with a couple of these things. Come out with ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men and then Frank Miller does Dark Knight and you do this crossover. Maybe just doing one after another… Maybe looking at each one individually, they don’t mean anything, but you run them all together and there’s some momentum there. Not bad, a pretty good comeback.
MDT: Do you still draw?
MDT: What’s the average per week that you pick up the pencil?
TM: Probably three or four times a weeks. That’s the biggest thing that people don’t see. What I do now isn’t… necessarily ready for the printed page. Movie drawings, nobody every sees them. Toy drawings, nobody ever sees them. Production drawings, nobody ever sees them. When you’re doing drawings for animation, nobody ever sees them. Character design, nobody ever sees them.. I don’t draw as vigorously as I once did. I used to draw and it got colored and printed. Now, it’s just part of a process. It’s just the end result that gets seen and not the 25 drawings I did that I was involved in somewhere along the line. I think people think I sit and do nothing. No. I’m creative in some fashion every day of my life. It’s not just pencils and inks and comic books.
MDT: Do you see yourself returning to comic book pages?
TM: In the immediate future, no. But could I see myself having scratched all my itches, gotten a little older and go back to leading a simple life, don’t want to run companies? It’d be nice to sit behind the desk, isolated and start doing drawings again? Yeah, that’d be cool.
But not in the next couple of years. I’m more concerned about getting my ideas to wider audiences… The problem – if you want to call it that — of being successful in that task, is that you get money. If you get money, then people will think that you’re just in it for the money.
One creator the other day made mention of that. “Todd was always in it for the money. Everything was a means to an end to become a millionaire.” Well, I’m always amused how people know me better than myself. … [I]f you sell a million comic books and you get a $1 per book, well, you have a $1 million. If it’s the same book, but you only sell 1,000 copies, well, you get $1,000. I had no control over how many consumers would buy it.
I was thinking what would be cool to draw [since] I’ve got to be there over a board 12 hours a day to get this stuff done. I had to entertain myself. I’ve been fortunate that the things that entertain me have entertained a wide range of people over the years, too. I don’t think I’m doing anything that’s radically different. I’m doing a lot of stuff that the average guy goes, “Why don’t you do this?”
I think it’s the reason the toys have been successful, too. I want more detail in it and I do it. People buy it and they want the same thing I do. Again, people want you to be apologetic and ashamed for coming up with ideas that people want to see. …[T]he by-product of that is that they give you a check. I’m not a saint by any fashion; I actually cash those checks. I would have drawn Spider-Man the same way if I would have know that it sold a half or a third of what it did.
MDT: I’ve wondered about the ownership of Image at this point. Are you still a part owner?
TM: Yeah, there [are] four of us. Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino, Erik Larsen and myself. In the beginning, there was Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. Whilce [Portacio] was in there at the very beginning, but was never a financial partner in that he never put any true money into the business.
When you get right down to it, Image doesn’t own anything. It doesn’t own any trademarks or copyrights. Brian Michael Bendis owns Powers lock, stock and barrel. We just happen to publish it. Image Comics owns the logo, owns the goodwill of the company, six desks and six computers.
MDT: What kind of responsibilities do you have at Image? Day-to-day? Weekly meeting? Monthly report?
TM: Jim Valentino now heads the day-to-day and before him was Larry Marder. Larry now works for me and he’s in contact with Jim. [My responsibilities] are more broad parameter. If there’s something big and important, we’ll get on the phone. If it’s more important than that, we’ll actually get together. I have a “Image” meeting coming up here in two weeks. We all get to go to California, get together, look each other in the eye, have a few jokes and talk business. Move on. Set some policies. We have to set up a few guidelines to know what we’re offering as a company.
MDT: At first, the company was lambasted for meeting the standard of its own title in that the books were mostly Image and little substance. Do you think the company has come beyond that?
TM: I think if you look at the books we’ve published over the years, we’ve had some real gems and some real stinkers. Again, you had seven guys leaving for seven completely different reasons. People still get confused about that. Just because I left because I was anti-corporate America wasn’t the reason Marc Silvestri left.
The thing we set out to do at Image was to create a haven for people to publish their own books and to keep intact as much as possible creator rights. We do it. We have bar none, the best deal on the planet for if you want to create something and own it yourself, which is 100%. You’re lucky if you get 10% if you go anywhere else. …[Y]ou have to pay for that. We’re not going to fund it. But save some money and get ready to do two to three issues in advance and move in with Mom and Dad. Put the book out and all the money that comes… We get a flat fee, we don’t get a percentage of the sales. It’s like $2,000, $1,500. I don’t know exactly what it is. You sell a million copies, the money’s yours. You sell one copy, the money’s yours. You sell one copy, well, you’re going to owe us some money. Again, we don’t benefit from the success or lack of it.
Our policies are so creator-friendly that they’re almost stifling to the creator cause they actually want us to do more for them. “We want you to represent us in Hollywood, we want you to take our stuff around.” No, that’s not what we do. We give you a place that will solicit and get bulk printing and bulk shipping and do all the counting for you. We’ll give you a check after we take a nominal fee each month for doing that exercise and renting the eye logo at the corner of the comic book each month.
People keep confusing apples and oranges. Image Comics and Todd McFarlane Productions aren’t the same thing. They go look and say, “Look how awful that creator was treated at Image.” Somebody comes to work on your book and something doesn’t work the way you see [it should], then you can determine to do whatever you see fit to do with that. It’s to have to the freedom – creative rights – to do whatever you want with your creation. Sometimes, I apply that freedom to my creations.
People who like to sling arrows forget that those rules apply to me. I am a creator and I have a right to Spawn. I’m allowed to do with Spawn whatever I want. As a part owner of Image Comics, I have no right to tell anybody else on their comic books [how to do it], other than it has to be a certain format. And they have to get their film up to their printer on time and get their solicitations in on time. That’s as [detailed] as it gets.
I get into these arguments that are nonsensical because they’re not even arguing the right categories or columns. Todd isn’t Image. Jim Valentino isn’t Image. Collectively, we’re Image, but separately we have our own houses.
Going back to an earlier question, Brian Michael Bendis is a perfect example. We agreed to disagree at Todd McFarlane, but endorse each other at Image Comics. Image wishes him the best and he continues to publish at Image, which is part owned by Todd.
There’s a way around these equations if you take the time to figure it out. People go “AHA! Todd, who’s for creative rights, is abusing creative rights.” It’s a crock of shit! God forbid that Todd McFarlane, on Spawn, who has created Spawn, who has written more pages and done more in Spawn, would have an opinion on Spawn, much to the chagrin of the outside people.
… If I just set up a system where I just create characters, but I’m going to let anybody else completely run amok with them and I have no control over it, then I’m not building anything for myself. I’m building something for somebody else. That’s Image Comics. Go run amok at Image comics with my full endorsement. Neil Gaiman doesn’t like working for me? Create your own fucking character and I’ll publish it at Image Comics. Go do whatever you want.
MDT: How involved are you at the day-to-day level at Todd McFarlane Productions? Do you sign off on everything? How personalized is it?
TM: Not too much. It’s bit me [in the ass] sometimes, but I try to stand back and give more guidance and guidelines and here’s what I’m looking for. “I need help on this book. I’m looking for a book that scares the shit out of me.” That’s it. I say, “Cool! It’s getting me in that sort of direction” or “I want Sam & Twitch to be this sort of book.” I sit back and see if it goes in the direction. Sometimes I let that patience go a little bit longer than I should and say, “You’re not going to grow into this category. It’s good and it’s functional stuff, but it’s not what I wanted to do in the long run.” So then I move them onto another title or bring in another creator.
You have to understand that the career that I’ve built, I can be a little intimidating. Not verbally, just by my presence. I’ve found that a lot of times do their best stuff when they feel that I’m not looking over their shoulder. I try to take a step back and say, “OK, here’s what I’m looking for. Keep it going and we’ll keep looking at it at certain issues. More importantly, look at it at 3-6 month intervals and see if it’s marching in the direction we would like.
MDT: Alan Moore came in and did one of the four issues by other writers. Great story, led to the Violator series. Then nothing. Wondered what happened with that relationship?
TM: Don’t know… All of the times I’ve had Alan have been short periods of time. I’ve never had him commit to 12 issues or a year or any of that. I don’t think I’ve tried to overly work at trying to get him to do that. As far as I know, our relationship is in the same place it was when we left it.
MDT: Rob Liefeld and you were co-founders in Image. I think it’s safe to say that all of you had equal chances to make something out of your creations. Rob for one reason or another sputtered and squandered the talent on whatever he had going. Where did he go wrong and everyone else seemed to do OK?
TM: Rob’s biggest crime against himself was that he was very enthusiastic. Way more than the rest of us. He still is. He’s just a kid. He has that youthful enthusiasm. Have you ever met Stan Lee?
TM: Oh my gosh, if I could be half as excited about life as Stan lee is today, I’ll consider myself to be a good man.
Rob had that enthusiasm. I think the unfortunate part of that enthusiasm is that the concentration span wasn’t very long on some of it. So he had a million ideas in a million days and he wasn’t able to take the time and energy to nurture any one or two or five of them because he was always onto something else.
It’s an odd perspective because I was almost dramatically the opposite. I didn’t even my second regular book until past issue 50. I was like do one book and that’s good enough.
My view was, create your Mickey Mouse and don’t worry if you create Pluto or Donald Duck. Mickey Mouse is OK. I’m overstating it, but I’m saying if someone ever handed you the copyright to Mickey Mouse, you wouldn’t say, “Hey, where’s Donald Duck or Minnie Mouse?” You’d take Mickey Mouse and you’d run as fast as you can. You’d be quite content with it.
“Here’s Superman, but not Batman.” “Cheapskate.” No, you’d take Superman and you’d run. For me, I was the opposite. Do one. Like children, raise one or two good children. Not have 100 children and not be able to keep an eye on any of them. I think he splintered himself and it caught up with him.
MDT: In the same interview, I read that the partners wanted to kick Rob out. At what point, did you say, this guy needs to get out of here?
TM: We had a couple of rules. One of them was that you couldn’t kick any of the partners out unless it was unanimous. So that way, you couldn’t get [kicked out] by a clique. Have to take a vote, has to be unanimous. Then you have to come back a week later and take another vote. Everybody has to take a cool down period. Then it gives the guy you’re trying to vote out a week to win one guy over. Those were the rules. We never thought we’d have to apply them.
… It wasn’t like “Todd was unimpressed with what he did, so Todd got him kicked out” or Jim Lee got him kicked out. We were unanimous in our conviction that we thought what Rob was doing to the company was detrimental to it. We felt it was time for him to move on. “You want to do these things? Fine, go ahead and do them on your time, not ours.”
MDT: Was there any one thing in particular or was it a smattering?
TM: It was taking one thing and stacking it. Pretty soon, you had a 15-foot tall Lego [tower] there. He pushed his luck a little more than he should have. I thought we were more forgiving. We always chalked it up to, “That’s just Rob.” We thought that it would settle itself in. Instead it exacerbated itself and got worse. It wasn’t something we all took lightly. We had many deep thought conversations before we pulled that trigger.
MDT: Have you talked to Rob since it happened?
TM: I think one time at one of the conventions they had a roast. They were roasting me and Rob one of the guys who came on and roasted me. We had a little chat there but nothing deep and meaningful.
MDT: Cold civility?
TM: He’s gone in his direction and I’ve gone in my mine. We still disagree on how it all ended up. You’ll never see us be the best of buds again.
MDT: If you get into publishing today, it seems that it takes more than just publishing the comic book. Is that what it takes, to saturate your product on every level of media to be a success?
TM: I think more so now than it used to be. Go back ten years. You could sell hundreds of thousands of comics to a lot more stores splattered across the United States. Now [those stores] are few and far between. I don’t know that a book – no matter how good it is — and that is an unknown character — who was to get to the top of the rankings would have any sort of impact on the general public. What it might do is give you a hell of a chart that you could take it to Hollywood and make a TV show or a movie. And then if that was successful, then people might know about it. I think you have to expand beyond the small cottage community that comic books have become.
MDT: How has the downturn in the comic book market has affected you? Has the percentage of the sales drop been consistent with what other publishers have experienced?
TM: I’d say it’s fairly close. I don’t think it’s been as consistent. Now I haven’t been as inclined to play the games that others have done. In 110 issues of Spawn, I think we did a double-sized issue of 50 and one at 100. And 100, we did 5 multiple covers. But out of 110 issues, we did one. That’s less than one percent. It’s doing a lot of the tricks that was needed to keep the public interested. Putting shiny objects in front of the viewer, I was inclined to play those games. “If I stopped Spawn at issue 70 and start over at number 1, I can get a bigger boost in sales.” Why? Going back to the conversation of Spidey and Spawn, what’s the point? It serves a short-term purpose, what the point?
|Listen to the animated series theme in CBR’s TV Themes.|
MDT: Is there another animated series in the works?
TM: Not currently, though I don’t own those rights. If I get myself free here in the next three or four months, I could devote that time to get that off the ground and make a ninety-minute movie. Maybe sell it as an original movie and turn it into a DVD and VHS rental.
MDT: Why didn’t it continue past season three?
TM: It might be a combination of things. It was costing a fair amount of money. It wasn’t getting the ratings they wanted. There’s also the court case. HBO got sued in that court case, too. Potentially, behind closed doors it was a mitigating factor that they were putting themselves in a compromising position if indeed this guy was right.
MDT: They wanted to wait until the smoke cleared?
TM: I’m not saying that any of that’s true, but behind closed doors, it may have played into the final rationale as to why this all came to be.
MDT: There was talk of a gorilla feature you were going to do…
TM: Yeah, a live-action pilot for TV…
MDT: What’s happening with that?
TM: We wrote it and they looked at it. Fox reared their muscles and said, “We own Planet of the Apes. We’ll bite you in the butt.”
MDT: So nothing came of it. It’s dead in the water?
MDT: Your video work with Pearl Jam and Korn garnered a lot of media attention for you, especially for “Do the Evolution.” Are we going to see some more from your company?
TM: Definitely. I was just talking to a manager of several bands about that very subject today.
MDT: Anybody you can tell us about?
TM: No, I was just telling him that I’ve been distracted with other things, but in a few months my plate was going to be clear and I was going to be more aggressive in doing more work like that. I was open to the idea.
MDT: Are you attracted to doing one big project, doing it, and then moving onto another?
TM: Uh-huh. For the most part, I know how much I can balance. It’s a learning curve to find out how many balls you can juggle at one time. If you can do six balls, but you add the seventh ball and they all come tumbling down… [then] when opportunity comes and you say, I can’t pass that up, well, you have to put one of your other balls down. Put down one, pick up the new one so you can maintain six. I can handle that. That’s the way I make a lot of decision-making. If something comes along, what am I capable of doing with that and what do I have to give up to do that? How important is it to give up that stuff?
MDT: You’ve gotten a lot of exposure in every media. A lot of fame, a lot of money. What is it that keeps you from losing touch with reality?
TM: [Laughs] Most people would say, “Nothing. I’ve already lost touch with reality.” That’s a bit of a loaded question, although I think I have a better idea of the answer than anybody else.
MDT: I’m giving you the chance to answer it. [laughs]
TM: At the end of the day, everything that I do during the day, I could give a rat’s ass about. That’s why a lot of time when people criticize me, I’m almost humorous about it to the point of being immature about it. Go to Comiccon.com and see all my silly shenanigans there. “Todd, you’re an asshole.” “you’re right, and a dickwad.” Whatever.
Once you do anything, you will instantly have an audience that will like it and don’t like it. That’s a given fact. Can’t please all the people all the time. Once you accept that, the rest is sort of nonsensical. I’m more amazed that people buy that I have anything to offer them.
If you took it all away at the end of the day, I have a beautiful wife, three kids. My wife and I started dating since we were 13. We’ve been through it all together from the beginning and not having a penny. We don’t care. We don’t live a fancy life. It’s a surprise to us as much as anybody else.
If by the end of the day, I conduct a business dealing that makes our company $100 million, my wife and kids don’t like me any more because of that. If I do something that bankrupts us, my wife and kids won’t like me any less. What grounds me is that I’ve figured out where the big priorities are. They’re not what I do from 9-5. They’re in places outside of what other people define Todd. To me, he’s just an actor someplace. … He’s just a character that you guys have made as a figment of your imagination. That’s not who I am. You guys have never spent a second with the “real” Todd.
It’s the guy that the neighbors would say, “He called you an asshole? Why? You’re the kookiest guy on the block.” They’ve never been exposed to the hatred and the jealousy. They just see a neighbor that has barbecues and rides his bike with his kids to the park and stuff like that.
Peter David doesn’t like me? Big deal, my wife doesn’t like me any less.
A bunch of lawyers want to sue me? Big deal, my kids still want me to push them on the swing.
You heard the little one screaming? I make a big deal with Spielberg, but he’s still screaming for that grape that he can’t get fast enough. It doesn’t matter. It matters only to the extent that it affects my family.
For as much as I’ve done, I say no far more than I say yes. I say nope, nope, nope. “Why, Todd, it’s a golden opportunity?” Well, because I would have to spend time away from my family and I’m not willing to do that. Won’t do it. “Todd, want to direct a movie?” No. “Why?” Because I would have to spend 65 to 150 days away from my family. Would I like to direct? Absolutely. One day when the kids are grown and they don’t want to hang around Dad. My wife would be a little more free and clear and we can go travel around.
For now, I’ll just write the ideas down and produce the stuff. Get people that are way more skilled to do some things than I do.
MDT: Have you thought about getting your company to the point where you would sell it to somebody, some company, some individual and walk away with however many millions they would offer you?
TM: Probably. Only when I’m ready to retire. Because at that point, I would have two choices. Either light a fire and burn the thing to the ground… Or sell it off and it’s time to retire. Not because it’s a means to an end. I’ve spent 25 years building this stuff up. No sense in turning off the lights and just stopping. Someone’s foolish enough to give me a few bucks than just stopping, I’ll take it. Not that I’ll need it. But I’ll give it to my kids and my grandkids…
MDT: Have you been offered to sell by anybody to buy it?
TM: Only in trying to go public or things like that.
MDT: Have you thought about going public?
TM: I would have to answer to anybody and I’m not about to begin my life… I’d rather quit. At that point, I’d torch the place and walk away. Start all over again. Not going to sit and have someone say, “You have to sell 18 million widgets a year at this price…” Not going to put myself in that position.
MDT: What is it that you haven’t done yet (creatively, business, whatever) but are working towards?
TM: Creatively? I haven’t created something that he world knows about. It’s been done. Most people know who Superman is and most of them know who Donald Duck is. I’ve done a lot of things that a segment of society knows about. I haven’t come out with anything that’s truly global.
MDT: Do you feel since you’ve created Spawn that you’ve tamed what you say in public or in interviews like this? Do you feel like you’ve mellowed in your old age?
TM: I think so. If you were to ask me the same questions about five years ago, I would have rattled off a lot more than I have right now.
You have to understand, when I broke into comic book, I was in my early 20s, I wasn’t even married. I just turned 40 this year, have 3 kids, lived to tell about it. Gone through a lot of big wars to form my perspective, put things in a pecking order as to what’s worth getting riled about and what’s not worth getting riled about.
I think it bothers some people in the comic book community that I don’t want to discuss the same subjects that they do. For good or for bad, I’ve moved on to other places. It’s not worth getting into that conversation. … It’s not going to solve anything. I doubt after 40 years, I’m going to change my mind and same with them… Why even get into the conversation?… Accept people for their differences and accept that they live their life as they see fit. And grant you the same sort of dignity that you choose to live your life the way you do, too.
As I get older, I’m having these conversations with 17 year-old kids. The world’s a completely different place when you’re 17 than when you’re 40. You’re not in the same spot. Hopefully I’m better off for it, for going through the baptism of fire.
Before I was ready to jump into the fight. Now I’m more reluctant to add fuel to the fire to stuff that I also know based on half-facts and there’s no final answer to it…
MDT: Is that a by-product of having children… of having a family? You have to mellow or self-destruct?
TM: I’m hoping it’s that and also of just age. I mean, Christ, if we go at 100 miles per hour like we used to when we were 14, we’ll burn ourselves out and give ourselves heart attacks. I think it’s a pacing device, a survival device.
When you do you have children, they sort of [make you aware] of your own mortality. This little guy’s going to be longer than I am. That’s sort of the way it’s going to go. You have to sacrifice what you want and give it to your children….
You have to balance out what defines you. What defines me is my family and my friends and not the #1 hit comic book, the movie and toys. Its nice to have those creatively and we strive towards those efforts but not at the expense of those first categories.
If the only way I can get that #1 movie is to spend so much time that my wife wants to divorce me because I’m abusing the time we have together, are you kidding me? I don’t give a rat’s ass about that fucking movie. It’s not that important.
MDT: One of the things we’ve read is that you were on your way to playing professional baseball…
TM: I was a wannabe…
MDT: You were a wannabe. I saw a quote saying that you would drop it all if you could play one year of Major League Baseball. Is that still true?
TM: Sure. You have to understand, from a personal point of view, it’s something I failed at. I’ve been very fortunate to try all of these other things and have a decent amount of success at them. I failed.
Some people say, “What are you talking about? You played Pac-10 baseball, you got a scholarship, you got tryouts with the minor leagues. Most people don’t get that far.” That’s true.
I lost my perspective on it. I didn’t get to do it. I didn’t get to get the bases loaded, in the bottom of the ninth, with 40,000 people and see how I’d react to that situation. To do it but once. To close my eyes and do it once, it’d be cool. Now, as time goes by, they don’t draft 40 year-olds. The reality of it is intellectually the chances are smaller and smaller every day.
I have to do it differently. I own a piece of an NHL hockey team and our toy company makes sports toys. We just signed a couple of more contracts with the Major Leagues that will be involved in all the four sports by the end of the year: Baseball, basketball, football and hockey. You figure another way to indulge your interest in sports. People go, “You shouldn’t do sports.” Well, I hate to say it, but sports [have] been there since I was 5, a lot longer than comic books. I started collecting comic books when I was 16.
If I can figure out a way to hang out around sports, that’s cool for me. If somebody said, “Todd, none of your comic books or monster toys are selling. You can only make sports stuff,” I’d smile. If they said the opposite, “You can only sell comic books and monster toys,” I’d still have a smile on my face. … I have more than one interest in life… I’m fortunate enough to delve into both of them at the same time. I don’t have anything to complain about.
MDT: Do you feel a twinge of jealousy when someone like Garth Brooks goes to play on the farm team for the Astros?
TM: Absolutely. He is my personal Viagra. When I see him go out, I say, “There’s still a chance. There’s still a chance for me to go to bat. I just have to get a little more popular, sell 12 million country albums and then I got a chance.” Whatever. The other choice is to sell enough toys that I can sell the company, buy a team and have batting practice with the team everyday.
MDT: The ball that you bought for Mark Maguire’s home run record, where is it now?
TM: I don’t know, it’s always traveling. I think it’s on the East Coast right now.
MDT: It’s still on tour?
TM: Yeah, it’s on a 25-foot traveling exhibit wall that has pictures and write-ups and videos and music. It’s very interactive. You go through these two archways to get to it and memorabilia all around it. It’s sort of a museum-quality set-up that we travel around in and set up at ballparks and places.
MDT: Have you gotten overtures from the Hall of Fame to buy it or get it on loan?
TM: I don’t think that the Hall of Fame pays for anything. But we’ve had discussions and I’m sure when all’s said and done, that’s where it’ll end up being. I’ll put it on loan once we’ve run the course traveling around the country.
MDT: Do you think Barry Bonds is going to break the home run record this year? [Writer’s Note: As of this writing, Barry Bonds is on pace to hit approximately 80 home runs for regular season play]
TM: There’s at least one guy in this country who pulling against him. And that’s me! I got more to lose than anyone else.
MDT: It means you’ve got to buy another ball…
TM: It makes it interesting. Whenever it gets close, they start making the phone calls. “Hey, idiot, you startin’ to sweat?” I keep hoping he’ll keep going three or four games without a homer. He can’t even go one game without one.
MDT: He’s on track.
TM: He’s beyond track. He’s [on track for] 90 plus now.
MDT: What’s your advice for those who are intent upon entering the comic book business today?
TM: Have a thick skin. Really be true to what it is you want to do. Especially in light of the current state of the marketplace, where nothing is overly succeeding. It gives you an opportunity to do something you want to do. Even if it only does half, it’s still pretty good.
[B]efore I don’t know that the opportunity was there when the top books were selling 5 to 6 to 700,000 copies. If you were a new kid and you say, “I’m going to sell half that,” I don’t think that was there.
But with the top books selling only 90-100,000, you can come up with an idea that would sell 30-50,000 and it would be something you would want to do.
Or go on reinvent something at Marvel and DC and maybe it would spark some interest.
Don’t think status quo. I never did.
Keep asking “Why?”