By Gabriel Neeb
The first thing the room monitors did at the panel where SPAWN creator Todd McFarlane was to interview WALKING DEAD creator, was to tell the audience of 400 people that they were to not rush the stage at the panel’s end.
McFarlane then said that there were no limitations about him, rushing the audience, and he preceded to run into the audience and gave high-fives to a number of the audience members before returning to the stage to introduce Kirkman.
The introduction took the form of a story where Kirkman (in Phoenix for that city’s comic convention) was visiting McFarlane’s home and wanted to hit a few balls in the batting cage McFarlane has at his home. So McFarlane began to pitch and Kirkman, was hitting a lot of these pitches, giving him a good feel about his hitting ability (McFarlane, having served as a pitching coach before admitted that he’s supposed to throw the balls that can be hit). The next day, and the day of Kirkman’s convention appearance, McFarlane got a call from Kirkman’s agent demanding to know what McFarlane did as Kirkman was in bed in immense agony from the aforementioned batting practice.
McFarlane then made sure to mention that this panel was meant to be a casual conversation with Robert Kirkman… which the fans would be able to eavesdrop on. The panel itself was designed to be somewhat unfocused and free wheeling as it could be without giving too much information away before it’s time.
McFarlane began the panel by commending Kirkman for doing what he always wanted to do as a comic creator, which was to achieve creative and market success without the help of the Big Two comic publishers (DC and Marvel), essentially fulfilling the dream of Image Comics as formed in 1992.
McFarlane then took some time to proudly announce that his comic SPAWN was about to hit it’s 276th issue. He then said, “I will never re-number Spawn.” To the applause of the audience.
McFarlane then asked Kirkman, his Image Comics partner, what he was up to as Kirkman’s voice mail is always full. Kirkman replied that the two WALKING DEAD television shows were keeping him busy, and another one, The Secret History of Comics, was in the offing for the AMC Network, which features McFarlane talking a lot, among other things.
McFarlane then asked why one of Kirkman’s Image books, INVINCIBLE, was ending soon at #144. Kirkman, being busy, was tired. He had started INVINCIBLE to have a title he could eventually look at and complain that the eventual writers and artists on it weren’t doing it as well as he did. This attitude changed and he has decided to end it at a point where, if he ever decides to return… six issues later he’d hit #150.
McFarlane then digressed into showing off some of his own selfies is taken with comic book icon, Stan Lee, taken at the Emerald City Comic Con in March 2017. McFarlane then showed several photos where the 94 year old Stan Lee had dozed off. McFarlane was excited that he had “dozens of those…” and preceded to share some of them on the projected screen in the panel room. One in particular being Stan Lee posed with a sign saying “IMAGE COMICS ARE BETTER THAN MARVEL’S.”
McFarlane jokingly mentioned he was thinking if assembling a collection of them entitles, “Naptime with Stan.”
McFarlane then asked what comics Kirkman has another issue of OUTCAST coming and McFarlane began to talk about the Spawn title and displayed a graphic announcing a Medieval Spawn – Witch blade comic. On the toy side, he also announced that RICK AND MORTY figures (From the popular Nickelodeon show) are coming.
McFarlane then inquired about the Hollywood stuff… which Kirkman was reticent to talk about given the fluid nature of such projects. He did say that an INVINCIBLE movie is being developed with a script by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg.
McFarlane then announced that his SPAWN movie is finally getting made with Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, Split, Get Out). McFarlane will write and direct and this was confirmed with a video from the head of Blumhouse, Jason Blum.
McFarlane, excited about the prospect of directing his first feature film asked why Kirkman didn’t direct. “Laziness,” as seeing the work done on THE WALKING DEAD shows has dissuaded him from talking away time from his many projects already at work.
McFarlane then finished with a “PSA” that thanks to DC and Marvel being confined to two major studios, the other large and smaller studios are interested in finding other properties for exploitation. And as Image Comics head is proud to have a great collection of properties available SAGA, LAZARUS, BAY CITY BLUES). He believes that this makes today the best time to create.
The question and answer session began with one about if Michael Jai White would return as Spawn for the new movie. McFarlane was quick to note that this is a full reboot, though Keith David (the Spawn voice actor) might make a cameo.
The next question was a man that, as a child, he’d sent McFarlane a Spider-Man card hoping for a signature, and $5 for return postage. McFarlane had returned the card and the cash, and years later this now adult had decided to show this to McFarlane.
A question about “content over saturation” arose and was dismissed as… the funnel of ideas and properties into major productions meant that there never seems to be enough good ideas going all the way in the greater media world.
And McFarlane is proud to announce that he will continue Image Comics until he died.