The creator of Spawn, one of Image’s most popular characters, has gotten lots of press at Comic-Con@Home this week, with the “Todd McFarlane: Like Hell I Won’t” documentary as the centerpiece.
Courtesy of SYFY Wire
A year ago, Todd McFarlane’s “Spawn” comic book series celebrated its 300th issue, which was impressive. But it’s the release of the next issue, No. 301, that was truly significant as it broke the Guinness World Record for the longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series. Now, there’s a new documentary airing on SYFY, an NBCUniversal cable channel, detailing McFarlane’s journey from college to being one of the most successful people working in comics.
“Todd McFarlane: Like Hell I Won’t” is part of a series of McFarlane-related events and panels built into this week’s Comic-Con@Home experience, the virtual substitute for San Diego Comic-Con which was shelved this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first airing of the documentary will be at 10 p.m. CST on July 25.
McFarlane, who is originally from Calgary, Alberta, is the President and co-founder of Image Comics. Formed in 1992, Image Comics was created by McFarlane and six other comic book artists, including Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri, who left Marvel Comics to start a new publishing company with the intent of developing creator-owned books. Now based in Portland, Oregon, Image remains a publisher dedicated to creator-owned works.
An hour-long intimate look into McFarlane’s history as a visionary creator and entrepreneur, “Todd McFarlane: Like Hell I Won’t” shares much of his success and even some of the failures, including his 300-plus rejection slips before finding steady work at Marvel, lawsuits, and a bankruptcy filing for his Todd McFarlane Productions after losing a multi-million-dollar court case. With a successful toy line, a feature film, an HBO animated series, a new feature movie in development with Jamie Foxx attached, and tons of other creative content and intellectual property under his control, McFarlane is accomplished in comics and as part of the larger entertainment industry, despite the blemishes.
As detailed, honest and thorough as the documentary is, however, the aim of the project and how it’s structured is puzzling as “Todd McFarlane: Like Hell I Won’t” goes through the release of “Spawn” No. 300, the issue that tied Dave Sim’s “Cerebus” for the longest-running creator-owned series, rather than No. 301, the record-setting issue. Even with that omission, extensive interviews and the access the documentary crew received makes this a must-watch movie for those interested in comics creation and the overall business, whether they care for McFarlane’s work or not.
The documentary is directed by David Oster and is a co-production of Syfy Wire and Tongal. Interview subjects include Robert Kirkman of “The Walking Dead,” NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Joe Quesada.
Other McFarlane-related programming from Comic-Con@Home consists of Thursday’s “SYFY: Untold Tales of Todd McFarlane” panel and Friday’s “Legendary Spawn Creator Todd McFarlane Talks Toys, Comics, and More!” panel. Both of which are available to watch via YouTube.
Thursday’s panel is a good tie-in for the documentary, as it includes a roast of McFarlane with friends and fellow comic book artists J. Scott Campbell, the creator of “Danger Girl,” and Silvestri, who helms Top Cow Productions and is the Chief Executive Officer of Image. That panel is hosted by Mike Avila, a senior producer and Emmy Award winner from Syfy Wire.
The panel description for McFarlane’s Friday event on the Comic-Con website reads: “Jim Viscardi, executive editor of Comicbook.com and Todd McFarlane, Spawn and Venom creator, McFarlane Toys' CEO and president of Image Comics, talk about all your favorite geekdom things. McFarlane gives fans a sneak peek into the future of upcoming toys, comics, and what's on his entertainment horizon.”