Todd McFarlane was fired up as all get out Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con, delivering a blistering motivational speech to a packed room, before ultimately ending on an idea that will forever change Hollywood…maybe.
McFarlane’s speech was a mix between sharing his own history and a sort of no nonsense go out there and get ‘em! encouragement one might expect from a baseball coach (which McFarlane also happens to be). Readers of this website likely know McFarlane’s history: grew up in Calgary, most popular Spider-Man artist of a generation, led an exodus of Big 2 talent (Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Erik Larson, etc.) to start Image Comics in the early ‘90s, and changed the industry forever. Along the way, McFarlane created Spawn, which is rapidly approaching a landmark 301st issue that will make it the longest-running creator-owned comic, and he founded a popular and wildly successful toy company.
And now the legendary creator wants you to do what he did! Or just do what you’re passionate about, if you can. But anyway, he had a lot to say about how you can get what you want from your life.
It’s better told in Todd McFarlane’s own words though, so here are some of the many great sound bites (with a bit of context) from his panel, followed of course by the idea that will change Hollywood…maybe.
Your own worst enemy is…
Some people say that you are your own worst enemy. Not so, according to McFarlane. The biggest threat is complacency.
“The people who are on the inside will always be beholden to the system,” says the guy who didn’t like the system so he made his own. Adding, “The greatest enemy you will all come against…is that you will uphold status quo.”
And to really drive it home…“I started in 1992 with a book called Spawn, and then 27 years later I’m still in charge. I didn’t have to sell it, I didn’t have to compromise, I didn’t have to give up anything.”
Why your mom doesn’t really love you
McFarlane stressed that it’s important to remember that no one will fight harder than you will for yourself, ever. Not even—and get ready because this one hurts—your mom.
“I know some of you think your mama loves you just as much as you: it’s not true. The only person who will advocate for you every day is yourself.”
Getting told ‘no’ in a way that feels good
McFarlane is a viscerally confident guy, even (especially?) these days at age 58. He doled out some of the secret to his swagger, and it has to do with feeling good about being told no.
He said, “Here’s how you don’t disappoint yourself. Go into every interview, go into everything that you do and here’s what you must assume the answer will be every time you go into a rehearsal or job interview or anything. Assume the answer will be no, you will never be disappointed. Here’s what happens, if you fail a lot, you’re on this cool hot streak. So you’re starting to get this Cal Ripken hot streak. You’re going, shit I’m up to like 125 consecutive nos. I’m feeling pretty good.”
Another way to look at this is maybe cast a wide net and build a thick skin, prepping yourself for rejection. That’s certainly what The Todd did. He sent multiple pieces of work to basically every editor at Marvel back in his day.
“I was working at Marvel, getting letters from Marvel saying you will never work at Marvel. It’s kind of cool, right? I just needed the one editor to give me the job, and I went on.”
Spawn #300 drops in August, followed by Spawn #301 in September. These are huge, huge numbers for a creator-owned comic to achieve. Hell (that is a Spawn pun and also I’m sorry), in this marketplace, issue #300 is an unheard of milestone for a corporate-owned comic.
McFarlane said he was still working on the comic, even inking pages in his hotel room when he got done with panels at night. In fact, he even had three aspiring comics artists at the panel get up on stage while he talked and ink black space within pages drawn by Greg Capullo.
“There Is no short cut to get to 300 issues of a comic book. People go, you’re so lucky. I am 27 years of grinding lucky.”
Well, no short cut other than getting a trio of audience members, and basically Tom Sawyer them into wanting to do your work. Now I’m just being jealous that I don’t know how to ink and didn’t get to contribute…
What Ryan Gosling is doing wrong
Last but not least (and the bit I could have maybe led with if I wasn’t so moved by all the motivation), McFarlane talked about the Spawn movie, noting that they had two actors attached—Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Renner—but there was some issue over the tone and content.
“It’s a little bit of an uphill battle, because I just want to do this dark R movie and they’re used to doing these PG-13 movies,” McFarlane said, “but I am relentless. I’m like a dog with a bone, and I promise you, I will get there.”
His backup plan to get there? A Kickstarter campaign, in which he asks 20 million people to give $1, all of which would be returned when the movie eventually makes its money back. An audience member even rushed the page after the panel to give him his first $1.
That, my friends, is the idea that could change Hollywood…maybe.
Or as McFarlane notes, “I don’t get why Ryan Gosling doesn’t do that for every one of his movies.”