At NYCC 2019 I attended a panel highlighting the ground-breaking Spawn #301. Creator Todd McFarlane delivered an emotional speech and was quick to thank all those who worked on the Spawn title over its twenty-seven year history. When presented with the award for longest running creator-owned superhero comic from the Guinness Book of World Records, McFarlane insisted that it was a team award. There was an unquantifiable energy in the room that only comes from witnessing a historic moment.
MacFarlane assured his fans that this was only the beginning and he intended to keep creating Spawn while he was still on this earth. Ergo even if some young buck sets their sights on breaking Spawn’s 301 record MacFarlane would already be at Spawn 500. It would appear that Spawn’s world record is unbeatable, but I think some mangaka in Japan are crazy enough to try.
After the award ceremony McFarlane gave the pep-talk of all pep-talks to the aspiring comic creators assembled in the room. It’s McFarlane’s belief that the biggest challenge anyone has to face is yourself. He advocated for producing as much content as possible. Not everything is going to be perfect but your audience will judge you by your body of work rather than tiny missteps. As a father MacFarlane encouraged everyone to achieve their dreams but as a business man MacFarlane hopes that most will chicken out and not create competition.
As a devout advocate for creator owned comics MacFarlane had a few things to say about Marvel and DC. He said it wasn’t about slaying the giants it was about the giants not slaying you. Even with more money and marketing the Big Two couldn’t slay Image Comics. Large companies have too much money on the line to take risks and get accustomed to the status quo. Just like any giant they move slowly and leave gaps. Creator-owned comics can fill in those gaps, experiment, and innovate faster.
McFarlane ended on a surprising note and encouraged the audience to go see the new Joker movie. Not because he was a fan of DC Comics but because he wanted there to be a place for successful R-rated superhero movies. Once that movie makes bank Hollywood will be looking for the next dark, serious, and mature comic book property and Spawn will be right there to answer the call.