Todd McFarlane’s “Spawn” Breaks World Record at NYCC
It’s not every day that you get to witness “once-in-a-lifetime” moments, but that’s exactly what happened at New York Comic Con this past weekend. On Saturday, October 5, Todd McFarlane was awarded the Guinness World Record for longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series. McFarlane is the creator of the comic book Spawn, which just released its 301st issue. McFarlane emphasized that the record is not for the longest-running independent comic, but for the longest-running creator-owned comic. “[Creator owned is] important to me,” said McFarlane, “because that means that the person who started the idea is still in charge of that idea. […] At the end of the day, the creative breath of fresh air for me is my book. And I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission.” Before even receiving the award, McFarlane called up to the stage all the artists who contribute to Spawn and said, “This award is built on the backs of all these people, so I want this to be a team award.”
McFarlane told us the story of how Image Comics started, back in 1991 when four artists went to New York to tell Marvel they were quitting. Within 24 hours, they convinced three more Marvel artists to quit as well and join them to start Image Comics.
We could never leave one at a time. […] It’s too easy to replace one. And for me, I knew we had to do it as a group, and it was only as a group that it was going to make an impact.
McFarlane continued his speech by inspiring us all to follow our dreams.
The dad part of me says, ‘Go. Do it. They don’t know that you can do it unless you show them. What’s the worst that can happen?’ […] You don’t even have to be the best. I am far from being the best, right? What I am is tenacious. […] I raise my hand, and the other seven people in that room don’t. You don’t even have to be the best at that point. […] The second part of me is the businessman, the creative person, who knows I’ve got to compete, or whatever. I’ve got a different message for you: ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it. I hope you don’t do it. I hope you don’t raise your hand. I hope you don’t compete with me. I hope you don’t show your idea.’ Because then I don’t have to get better. I can be mediocre. […] So thank you for allowing me to have this great mediocre life.
He also joked about the unlikelihood of anyone breaking his world record.
Anybody [who] has any aspirations of breaking this record, it took 27 years of my life. […] There are lots and lots of world records you can go for that take one day. […] So if you want a world record, they have world records like ‘who stacked potato chips the highest in one day. Who ate the most pizzas with anchovies in one day.’
McFarlane took us through a slideshow of images from Spawn’s history. The day he signed the first issue of Spawn in 1992, his daughter was only an infant. After Issue 301, he showed a picture of his daughter, who is now a surgeon. McFarlane also talked about how he inks panels in planes, while waiting for an oil change, and even in the car.
You can’t draw human beings. But you can draw other stuff. You can draw explosions. […] You say, ‘Look at the energy in that explosion.’ I say, ‘That was a deadline bump!’ […] You have to give up the illusion of perfection. […] If you give birth to a lot of babies, some of them are going to be ugly. […] But here’s what happens with longevity: It’s the body of work [that] you guys will judge.
McFarlane ended his speech by reflecting on his life.
‘Spawn’ is just a metaphor for me. I just go against giants my entire life. […] If I’m going to give myself a little bit of credit anyplace, it’s not that I slayed any giants. I haven’t. It’s that I went up against the giants, and they cannot slay me.