It’s rare that a panel name tells you exactly what’s going to happen over the next hour, but if there’s one thing that’s true about Todd McFarlane, it’s that he doesn’t care about what people are expecting to happen. Welcome, then, to the Spotlight on Todd McFarlane! Breaking Spawn Movie News, Upcoming Batman/Spawn Comic and more! Panel.
Even though it’s technically Todd’s spotlight panel, he’s not the only one who’ll be walking out on stage: as the mention of Batman/Spawn suggests, his collaborator on that project, Greg Capullo, will also be present, as will Todd’s fellow Image Comics founder and '90s art superstar, Jim Lee. Why, it’s almost as if they’re going to be sharing some unseen artwork from the comic itself of something, isn’t it…? (Psst: that’s what they’re hinting will be happening.)
Popverse is excited to be right here in Room 406.2 of the Javits Center for this panel, and plans to let you know exactly what’s happening as soon as it takes place on stage. If that sounds like something you’re excited to stay up to date with, then bookmark the page and sit tight — but if you have an appointment that you can’t get out of and can’t read along live, don’t worry; in an hour or so, we’ll have everything right here waiting for you to return to.
Throughout all of New York Comic Con 2022, Popverse is going to be keeping up with everything that happens, from panels and breaking news to interviews and the best cosplay on the show floor. We’ll be sharing everything as it happens — including exclusive livestreams from the biggest panels at the show — so let us keep you in the loop all weekend.
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Our live coverage of this event has finished.
It's a busy room as fans are filing in for the Todd McFarlane panel here at New York Comic Con. Busy, as in, standing room only, I suspect. Aren't you glad you're following along via liveblog?
There is such excitement in this room as Todd walks on stage. It's a rockstar experience. Todd promises that Greg Capullo will be here momentarily. "When you see a good lookin' bald dude coming through the door, that's him." Jim Lee is also on stage, getting a big round of applause himself.
"Jim and I go back a long ways," McFarlane says. "What you see up on stage wouldn't happen without some of the stuff Jim and I did together. A little thing called Image Comics, 30 years ago."
"We each had to create a character. I remember sitting around the table, going, what are you going to do?" says McFarlane, before thanking Lee for contributing so much to the success of Image.
Lee says that the first convention he went to in Alberta, Canada, he saw the line for McFarlane, who was working on Incredible Hulk at the time. "I remember thinking, this is what I aspire to."
Lee jokes that McFarlane told him that he had to leave Image Comics so that he could go and run DC and have Spawn and Batman meet. "We got to do it before you left, right?" jokes McFarlane.
Lee is talking about the fact that McFarlane is inking pages of Batman/Spawn while also driving a car. "That's classic Image Comics," he says.
"People are saying, DC, that's a big company, has it been tough? It's been way easier than I thought," says McFarlane. "Look, Jim knows how to make comic books great. We know how to make comic books, we know about deadlines." He says that he applauds DC "given that I know you're under a big corporate umbrella called Warner Bros."
Batman/Spawn is the comic that McFarlane would have wanted to read when he was 17, he tells the audience. "What are you talking about? Of course I would've bought the book!" Says that it's been a whole generation since the last Batman/Spawn crossover. "I try not to lose that 17 year old, 16 year old Todd in me."
"It's not going to be a dissection, it's just going to be a good comic book," says McFarlane, before Capullo arrives to the kind of response that I think any and all of us would want to have when we enter a room.
Before Lee leaves the panel, he reminds everyone that there's a collected edition of the previous Batman/Spawn collection coming out in November. They're also going to reveal variant covers for this December's book, but Lee and McFarlane are joking that they haven't even started their own covers for the issue.
"We expect this to be the biggest book of December, if not the biggest book of the year" says Lee about Batman/Spawn. "It's special because of you guys" he adds, talking about McFarlane and Capullo, who he calls, "one of the best Batman artists ever."
"Can we make it the biggest [book] of the 21st century?" McFarlane says to Lee. "I know what the number is. Last year, we sold over half a million issues of King Spawn. You know what wasn't in King Spawn? Greg Capullo and Batman. I know the number. If we blow past that number enough, then it does become the biggest book of the century. Forget December, I want the century."
McFarlane calls Capullo the best Spawn artist ever and the best Batman artist of a generation. "You're just trying to make my bald head turn red," laughs Capullo.
"We just want to create one of those books for the collectors today, where they go, 'remember when that came out?'" says McFarlane. He's comparing it to The Dark Knight Returns, in that he wants fans to remember some of the visuals Capullo is creating for the issue decades from now.
Batman/Spawn is going to be available day-and-date in Barnes & Noble as well as comic book stores, Lee's revealed. That's something DC has only ever done once before, for Detective Comics #1000.
McFarlane is joking about how straight forward Batman/Spawn is to sell. "No-one's going to say, who's the villain? How many pages is it?"
Capullo and McFarlane are joking about the book's December release date; it's a Christmas gift to the fans, says the latter.
Now they're showing some of the variant covers, with an incomplete list of those contributing: Jim Lee, Sean Murphy, J. Scott Campbell, Brett Booth, Francesco Mattina, Jason Fabok, Gabriele Dell'Otto, Jorge Jiminez. McFarlane describes it as a "who's who of artists." There's literal gasps and awed sighs from the audience.
Capullo says that the visuals have to have "the same level of intensity that we had all those years ago," otherwise they'd just look like "two old farts." It's their best work together, he says.
McFarlane is talking about the previous Batman/Spawn crossovers. "Obviously, the minute we said that Frank Miller was coming back to Batman, boom. The book took off," he remembers. The new collected edition has a new cover by Capullo and McFarlane. The new Batman/Spawn is being treated as an all-new story and the first time the two have met.
Now we're seeing some black and white preview art from the new issue; it's Batman beating up the Joker, which McFarlane says is a metaphor for Batman in action. There's also a logo symbolizing the merging of Bruce Wayne and Al Simmons, he teases. "This is just setting the table for getting everybody ready for the ride that's going to come in the next 46 pages," McFarlane says.
"Anybody who gets this book, it's like an amusement park ride that's just filled with thrills," says Capullo. McFarlane is saying that readers need fast drops and tight turns to keep audiences excited, continuing the metaphor.
"I'm hoping you guys have as much fun as we had when we were kids," McFarlane has, suggesting that fans read it first for the story, then go back to study the art.
McFarlane on the similarity between Batman and Spawn: "They're both badasses and they operate at night, when the sun goes down." Also, they like to scare people. "Bruce Wayne, just like Al Simmons, they've been scrapping since they were kids."
"There's two kinds of dogs in the world: there's dogs that bite, and dogs that don't," says McFarlane. If there's a dog that doesn't bite, you can't train him to, he's just too nice. But then, and I quote, "you get a dog like a fucking chihuahua." Batman and Spawn? They're the chihuahuas.
The story is also about the two loves of the heroes' lives, McFarlane says. For Spawn, it's his wife Wanda, for Batman, it's his mother Martha. It's the death of their loves that have made them into the heroes they are today, he explains.
"The pleasure of working with a guy like Greg, is that I get to see this stuff before any of you," McFarlane jokes. "I get to go, 'oh my gosh,' and then I got to ink it." "You just moan, moan, moan," Capullo jokes. McFarlane admits that he's using readers in order to make sure he's inking everyhing perfectly. "We used to do this all the time," says Capullo. "That's when we had good eyes," McFarlane says.
McFarlane is going through the various Batman villains on one page. "I don't even know who the one that looks like a pig is," he says. "Professor Pyg!" shouts someone in the audience. "Oh, that should be obvious," McFarlane jokes.
Capullo is joking that McFarlane was talking to Jonathan Glapion, who inked Death Metal for DC. Apparently, McFarlane asked him how he managed to ink such details. "He asked, do you just erase some of the figures? The fact that you even thought to ask that!" Capullo jokes. "Here's what you forgot," McFarlane says in response, before Capullo interrupts, "That you're old and tired?"
Now we're seeing some uninked pencils from Capullo, with McFarlane talking about how much of a pleasure it is to get Capullo pages back, because he loves the subtlety in terms of character acting. (The pages show Batman talking to Alfred, if you're curious.)
Now we're all seeing the first glimpse of the alternate Batman/Spawn cover, with the position of the figures reversed. (Also by McFarlane and Capullo.) "Both side by side are a terrific pair," McFarlane says. Now we're getting to see art from other artists, starting with Jason Fabok's variant cover.
Brett Booth and Francisco Mattina's covers are up next, followed by J. Scott Campbell and Gabriele Dell'Otto. "He said, hey, do you mind if I have fun with it, and I was like, sure!" McFarlane says that he's not precious about how Spawn is portrayed, he'd rather have artists have fun.
We're seeing the Barnes and Noble exclusive cover, and it's promotional artwork by Capullo and McFarlane from 2006. "I told DC, it's still good artwork, you should use it," McFarlane says. Jorge Jiminez and Sean Gordon Murphy's covers are also being shown. "Some of this is not out, some of this is live," McFarlane says.
Before Capullo leaves the panel, he says that the most fun he's ever had in comics is when he was working with McFarlane. "It's like we have not stopped doing that monthly thing that we used to do," he says of the new Batman/Spawn. "I'm actually glad we didn't do this in 2006, because now I've had a decade with both characters."
Greg Capullo leaves the panel to loud applause, as McFarlane moves on to Spawn movie news. "Let's just go into some of the breaking news we had earlier in the week." He's talking about the delay in the announcement on social media, saying that it's a factor of dealing with people with a lot of representation.
McFarlane is talking about adding Scott Silver to the Spawn movie, and the fact that people know the names of projects but not necessarily the names behind the scenes. "He's the guy that wrote Joker, and is writing Joker 2," he says of Silver. "He paved the way for R-rated movies," he adds. "If they don't want to do it with my script and I tried, I said, I'm gonna go and get the writer of the biggest R-rated movie ever."
Malcolm Spellman was also added to the writing team; he wrote The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for Disney+, and is currently writing Captain America: New World Order. "When we go to the studio, we can go, A list, A list, A list, and Todd," he says to much laughter. "If I'm doing things right, I'm the weak link." Matthew Nixon has also been added to the writing staff.
"He will go to his grave before he quits the Spawn project," McFarlane says about Jamie Foxx, before playing voice mails Foxx left for McFarlane. (He's literally playing them over the microphone; it's nuts.) To be fair, Foxx sounds enthusiastic and impatient to make the movie.
McFarlane is saying that he's announcing new writers for the movie, because he needs to "give [fans] something or else they're gonna stop believing me" that the movie is really in the works.
Before the end of the panel, McFarlane is pointing out Jim Salicrup in the audience, who he's crediting with giving him all the freedom he needed back in the late '80s and early '90s; he's the best editor he ever worked with at either Marvel or DC, he says.
Salicrup used to ask him why he was drawing things on his page; it's not that he wanted to argue the reason, he just wanted McFarlane to have a reason, McFarlane says.
McFarlane just introduced his son Jake to the audience. "Jake's currently working for the old man," he says. "I'm in the paper or plastic business, if you thinking about comics or toys. I've conned him into helping me." And now he's introducing his wife Wanda, who he's been with for 42 years. "That whole [Spawn] story is not a coincidence," he says.
A quick fan question: what character does McFarlane want to cross Spawn over with? "There's only one that could top that: Spider-Man/Spawn, all drawn by Todd, bad guy: Venom." There's a lot of applause. "That's the only one in the back of my head." He's talked to Marvel about it, and says that the Spider-Man/Spawn crossover is the only thing that would make him draw for Marvel again.
McFarlane is asked about Spawn video games. He's basically saying in response that, as soon as the movie happens, people are going to want to make such games. "We will get there," he promises. "I've been very patient."
McFarlane is saying that he's had a great life, and thanking fans for paying for his house, his car, and putting his kids through college. "The least interesting thing in any conversation with movie people is the cash. We've got cash."
"Every day, you guys reach into your pockets and give me your hard-earned money, I am thankful," he says, as the panel rushes to a close. The fans are very, very happy with everything that was said, and with that, we're closing up this liveblog! Thanks for reading, everyone.