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Todd McFarlane

Spawn Kills Everyone!

I recently took a trip to Georgia for a girl’s weekend with my college friends when I saw a comic bookstore named Mountain Man Comics, so I slipped away from them so I could properly geek out in peace. While browsing, I came upon this humorously titled graphic novel and I spontaneously purchased it for my library, thinking the patrons (and I!) would like it.

In 2016 there was a Spawn one-shot comic that spoofed the villain by having him portrayed as a potbellied child attending a comic-con and then going on a killing spree. Wanting a movie deal like the Marvel or DC heroes, he struts around killing anyone he views as a threat, although they in actuality are cosplayers. There is a tongue-in-cheek moment when he meets Todd McFarlane, his creator, but McFarlane is dispatched quickly. This storyline reminded me incredibly of Skottie Young’s 2017 FCBD I Hate Image comic, but Young managed his narrative and art better, as this story just seemed crass. Nevertheless, this was a popular story, with several printings to account for the demand.

So two years later, a second story about baby Spawn was issued with another artist. The story remains the same, Spawn wishes to kill everyone but this time he is able to create little minions to help him- turd babies! Yes, he creates evil little babies on the toilet! Do I even need to share much more about the narrative than that? There actually are some clever moments in this story, especially about how he kills Captain America and the Hulk. Often the names of the heroes are not mentioned and their costumes are a bit different to get away with using copyrighted heroes from other companies in an Image publication. At the end of this story Spawn goes to bed happy that his kill count was so high, and is so very proud of his little turds.

Artist JJ Kirby established the chibi style of Spawn with exaggerated child-like features in the first story. His anime-inspired art was darker, with cluttered panels and a black border. The second artist, Will Robinson, had cleaner looking art with a better panel flow. Plus, he got to draw the adorable (but insidious) turd babies! Both artists had fun with the story, as obviously that’s what attracted me to pick up this graphic novel.

Overall, this was a disappointing read. The humor was too crude, with too much gore. I didn’t expect finesse in a story like this, but I still felt let down. Perhaps I should have spent more time looking at it before I purchased it as I guess my humor is slightly more mature than a teenaged boy…

-Nancy

McFarlane, Todd, JJ Kirby & Will Robinson. Spawn Kills Everyone! The Complete Collection. 2019.

The Image Revolution

This movie just fell into my lap, literally. I happened to be walking by the circulation desk when a patron was dropping off this movie and it fell off the desk, so I caught it, took a look, and knew what my next blog post was going to be about!

I am familiar with Image Comics, as I’m a fan of The Walking Dead and Revival, and most recently Alex + Ada. But I was not aware of how Image Comics got their start in the early 1990’s. During that time I was a huge devotee of ElfQuest, and my trips to Graham Crackers consisted of me heading straight for EQ, and also browsing in the Star Trek area. I was rather oblivious to the superhero genre, so the Image line of comics was a non-issue in my world at that time.

The movie The Image Revolution is a documentary that details how seven artists who were working for Marvel decided to break away and start up their own comic book publishing house, as to have more creative control and to retain rights to what ever characters they designed. The seven men were: Todd McFarlane (Spider Man & Spawn), Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon), Whilce Portacio (X-Factor), Rob Liefeld (Deadpool & The New Mutants), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine) and Jim Lee (X-Men).

All seven of the founders of Image Comics were interviewed, in addition to other professionals in the comic book industry, to share how these artists became dissatisfied at Marvel and decided to strike out on their own. All seven were extremely talented, with their art being progressive and fresh, and had become well known in comic book circles. Them leaving was covered in the national news, and Rob Liefeld was even on the Dennis Miller show (I vaguely remember this). They experienced huge success with their first issues, with the Youngblood comic flying off the shelves.

But just because you are creative and gutsy, doesn’t mean you have the business acumen to run a publishing company. There were growing pains within the company, and infighting began. Some of the artists started to move away from the drawing board and spent more time on marketing and business issues. Jealousy arose among the factions, and eventually some of the original seven left for various reasons. It took several years to balance out, after their initial success, with The Walking Dead being a boon to the struggling but now stable company.

The documentary was extremely interesting, but uneven. Some of the founders had too much interview time (Liefeld!) and there were inconsistencies in the narrative and time line, notably regarding Whilce Portacio. WP left relatively soon after founding Image, but there is no mention of that at all. I understand in a documentary only so much can be covered, but adding a few minutes to explain why he went missing would have added to the flow of the story. It would also have fit with the narrative of growing pains, and that they left out his bio at the end, to me was disrespectful and a glaring omission. The movie only clocked in at 83 minutes, so there was definitely time to flesh out more of the founder’s stories. Another add in, would have been to explain why the 1990’s was the right time to break away from the big houses of Marvel and DC.

While I DO recommend this documentary,  it would be only to the niche of comic book/graphic novel book lovers. But if you are reading this blog, then I’m guessing this movie would be right up your alley…

-Nancy

I just can’t resist posting this site mocking some of Liefeld’s artwork–  although he’s really quite talented, despite the snark of this post!

Picture found on Why so Blu? review website

 

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