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Todd McFarlane, Legendary Comic Book Artist — How to Make Iconic Art, Reinvent Spider-Man, Live Life on Your Own Terms, and Meet Every Deadline (#639)

Illustration via 99designs

“Change is part of the human condition. And yet every day you run into systems that are crushingly holding on to status quo, are holding on to yesterday. And for those of us who are wired to think about tomorrow, we become the rebels, we become the outcasts, we become the people who are rocking the boat.”

— Todd McFarlane

Todd McFarlane (@Todd_McFarlane) is an Emmy- and Grammy-winning director/producer and creator of one of the world’s best-selling comic books, Spawn. He is best known to many comic book fans for his work as the artist on The Amazing Spider-Man, for which he co-created Marvel’s top villain, Venom.

Todd is the CEO of Todd McFarlane Productions, McFarlane Toys (one of the US’s top action-figure manufacturers), and McFarlane Films. He is also a co-founder of Image Comics, which debuted Spawn in 1992, selling 1.7 million copies of the first issue. In 1997, Spawn was made into an Emmy Award-winning animated series on HBO and a live-action feature film that grossed over $100 million. In 2019, Todd made history with Spawn #301, earning the Guinness World Record for longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series.

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Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

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The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#639: Todd McFarlane, Legendary Comic Book Artist — How to Make Iconic Art, Reinvent Spider-Man, Live Life on Your Own Terms, and Meet Every Deadline

This episode is brought to you by MasterClass! With MasterClass, you can learn from the world’s best minds—anytime, anywhere, and at your own pace. With more than 180 classes from a range of world-class instructors, that thing you’ve always wanted to do is closer than you think.

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Want to hear an episode about someone else who overcame early failures to ultimately excel in their creative vision? Listen to my conversation with author Steven Pressfield, in which we discussed feline role models, halfway-house theories, eclectic resumes, self-sabotage, writing a first novel in his 50s, the artist’s journey, little successes that lead to big results, and much more.

#501: Steven Pressfield — How to Overcome Self-Sabotage and Resistance, Routines for Little Successes, and The Hero’s Journey vs. The Artist’s Journey

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Todd McFarlane:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

SHOW NOTES

  • [06:40] Baseball.
  • [12:04] Rejection letters.
  • [15:57] Compelling storytelling and meeting deadlines.
  • [19:04] Deadlines pre-Internet vs. deadlines today.
  • [23:25] How industry status quo led to the founding of Image Comic Books.
  • [35:51] The Comics Code and the last straw.
  • [42:14] The Marvel Dream Team exodus.
  • [1:00:35] How is Todd’s camel bladder a competitive advantage?
  • [1:06:23] Career bouncing and double-shifting as a penciler and inker.
  • [1:24:36] The happy accident of Venom.
  • [1:35:28] De-Rockwelling the company icon and inventing “spaghetti webbing.”
  • [1:38:53] Bucking the status quo to become the status quo.
  • [1:42:34] Parting thoughts and a promise for round two.

MORE TODD MCFARLANE QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW

“You never want to have a conversation with anybody where two plus two equals giraffe.”
— Todd McFarlane

“When I was trying to break into comic books, in all those years leading up to breaking in, I was reading everything I could get my hands on about our industry. And what I found was I was coming across a common theme. And the common theme was that everybody, no matter how big your standing had been in our industry, eventually got pushed out against their will, and in some cases got the short end of creative and financial sticks.”
— Todd McFarlane

“When I got my first job in comic books, three weeks before I graduated, I went in with my eyes wide open. And so I knew what the game was, and I go, ‘Okay, their job is to exploit me as much as possible. Can I do the same in reverse at the same time?’”
— Todd McFarlane

“Change is part of the human condition. And yet every day you run into systems that are crushingly holding on to status quo, are holding on to yesterday. And for those of us who are wired to think about tomorrow, we become the rebels, we become the outcasts, we become the people who are rocking the boat.”
— Todd McFarlane

“Sometimes my enthusiasm gets the better of me. And there’s nobody that hates Todd more than Todd.”
— Todd McFarlane

“If anybody is under the age of 30ish listening, I’m going to give you a bit of a golden rule. If anybody asks you to do something, especially somebody in authority, always say yes even if you’re not going to do it. It’s just way easier. You get out of the room faster. No confrontation. Just nod your head yes in agreement and go do whatever the hell you want.”
— Todd McFarlane

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