Tags Matching: todd mcfarlane

Santa Cruz Skateboards X Spawn Comics

Normally I would post this on Skatenoize, but I thought some of you would like to see this. ashwoodtradingltd is selling a rare Spawn Skateboard from Santa Cruz Skateboards. These apparently made for a charity event back in 1998. Definitely a collecters piece.

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File Under 90s Runoff

Sadly, I’m only doing one day of Comic Con this year. As I run around the days before trying desperately to coordinate my promo books arriving at the strangers house I shipped them to and figure out the timetable of the terrifying LA to Tijuana bus I’m taking to San Diego, I thought I’d post an auction to get you in the spirit. Shifting through all the worthless promotional items and poorly printed merch from Comic Con on Ebay, one turd shined brighter than the rest.

Everyone remembers Lotus, right? That really cool goat-woman with the tail made out of industrial insulated wiring? You remember. She was really hot for exactly one day in 1992, when Todd McFarlane created her at San Diego Comic Con International. Thankfully, a videographer was nearby to capture this important moment in comic history. I wonder if Todd designed the box cover or if he contracted the people who did the JEM cartoon. Relive the memories. Check out this auction.

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Spiderman #1 Autographed

josiedad is selling my favorite Spiderman cover. I love when Todd McFarlane illustrated the Spiderman series for Marvel. This lot is awesome for the price. You get two autographed Todd McFarlane Spiderman number 1’s(variant covers). I was also a big fan of Spiderman 300-350. Some of the best storytelling and art work came out at that time.

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Car Problems got you down?

Well I know they’ve got me down. Brought my truck in to get some routine brake work taken care of (nothing crazy – brakes weren’t even squeaking…) and next thing you know the job goes bad and I’m back to the auto shop three days in a row.

If you’re feeling this like me, shout out to Superman’s first appearance (did you know these reprint issues go for money??) and a Todd McFarlane homage during his Amazing Spider-Man run.

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Checking out SPAWN?

This seems like as good a spot to start as any. As I mentioned in my earlier Greg Capullo post, he may have done Spawn better than McFarlane himself, and even a circa 1992 Grant Morrison is one worth looking into. How did I not know these existed until doing some research today? I guess writing a three issue run on Spawn isn’t something that Grant Morrison is necessarily screaming from the clocktower about these days.

One thing should be said about Spawn, and specifically the first say 50 issues – they knew how to throw down a cool looking cover. That might be the only thing to be said, but major kudos to Capullo, McFarlane and Co…

And if collected editions are your thing, here it is in all it’s glory.

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Greg Capullo, an appreciation.

Greg Capullo started as a comic artist with a style that, while not always the most critically applauded, had it’s own feel. If you know his name, most likely the first thing you think of, however, is his work on SPAWN, which people will argue was just a reference piece rip of Todd McFarlane’s style. It brings to light the question, what role does originality play in terms of recognition of quality. I would like to take a minute to appreciate the fact that Capullo was a master of form, and anything lacking in terms of originality was more than made up for in terms of aesthetic and growth over the years.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite. Quasar.

This is the era with which I recognize the most uniquely “signature” form in Capullo’s style. While he will reference John Buscema as a notable influence, I would say that his style in this period was somewhere between Arthur Adams and the mid ’80s work of Sal Buscema. It had some of the same flair for emotive, but simple facial expression that Adams somehow mastered. Compare the rest of his figure illustrations and then the faces of these figures. His use of fine details in his figures should be seen in a nice contrast with his very simple faces. His focus instead – in his finer moments – in the face was to direction, eyes, and emotion. Capullo did this well, and while his style does not share that fine detail with Adams, it begins to work in sharp but defined lines that work very well with motion and proportion, ala Sal Buscema’s work on Spectacular Spider-Man. I could go on, but just go with me here.

While I definitely enjoyed Capullo’s work (for some reason I vividly remember some of these issues of Quasar featuring Makkari moreso than many of the much more big name Marvel romps of the time) I also will not deny that it had it’s failings. His facial work fluctuated from the emotive style I mentioned above to simple flat and lifeless. Arthur Adams soft, rounded lines helped to cover the deadface moments – with Capullo’s near “L” shaped jaws there’s no room for a lackluster moment. He had those. And it hurt.

When he moved on to be the successor of Rob Liefeld on X-Force, the pressure was on. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel was trying to have a bit on visual continuity on one of it’s more valuable properties at the time. Capullo gave a downright Darwinian effort – he evolved his style to a more bombastic, detailed effort that should be seen as both a success and failure. He was slowly moving away from some of the simple angles that could draw comparison to the work of Sal Buscema, but was also moving towards that Liefeld style of nuclear-steroid musculature. He managed, however, to keep a faithful hand to proportion, a welcome change on X-Force that held it together after the big name ticket left the title.

Given the situation, Capullo did a much more than competent job and by the end of his run on X-Force (10 issues, as compared to Liefeld’s 9) the series had transformed from a vehicle for a single entity to a living, breathing comic book.

And that might be his greatest strength. When Capullo moved to SPAWN, his style again had morphed. This time it echoed with the ever present McFarlane style, with uber-detailing and his angles and line softening, it also can be compared with some of the best work of Adam Kubert in the mid to late ’90s.* He was able to take McFarlane’s level of style and make it an applicable long standing form that transformed the book much the same way he helped to transform X-Force. From a fan’s perspective, Liefeld’s X-Force and McFarlane’s Spawn were merely vehicles for artist/creators who were larger than life, larger than the project. It can be compared to watching a Chicago Bulls game in 1993; you weren’t watching the Bulls really. You were watching MICHAEL JORDAN. Sure there were 9 other players on the floor, coaches, organizations, history… all of that was secondary to this individual.

And it takes something, or someone, transcendent to take interest that is focused on the strength of an individual and redirect it to a more intangible entity. Capullo did this. Twice, in my opinion. And to even do it once is something that should be exalted.

*I would have given my right arm to see what Capullo would have done with some of the Marvel X-Men books in ’90s. It would have been just awesome.

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Top 100 Summer Comics #1

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

but those were our times.

#1 – Spider-Man 1

I was 9 years old when this came out. Do you know what that means? It’s the perfect age for a child into comic books. Young enough to embrace the suspended disbelief, old enough to hunger for something new, something aggressive and fresh. Between ages 9 and 12 children are trying to establish themselves from their parents and peers alike, but especially from themselves as a “child.” Growing from childhood to adolescence. So the graphic medium of comic books where the audience has always maintained a hum of appeal to children and adults is a gateway and transition through those days. It’s no coincidence so many people my age I know who collected or read comics read them during this time period. It’s the comic book window – they either grab you here or they don’t.

I was already locked in – I fall outside of that norm on the early side. I was eagerly anticipating this book, feigning and reading whatever comics I could find, so when Todd McFarlane’s SPIDER-MAN dropped, I was tuned in. And it was good. All the elements of McFarlane’s run on Amazing were there, just amplified. This felt new – even the paper felt different. There was a legitimate low level news buzz about this, and we had just hit the crest of the “comic books as collectible investments” wave.

Why does this issue come in at numero uno on this list? Because this was the breaking point. There are blurred lines on the golden and silver age of comics, and the period that followed that as well. But for the modern age, there’s no question. It started here. For all that means and represents, an entire generation of comic books, comic companies, comic movies, and most importantly, comic fans began with Todd McFarlane and the gnarly, high detail webs of the wall crawler himself. Whether you flip through this one on the first or last day of summer, know that you’re partaking in one of the key elements of a classic summer activity.

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Random Comic Book Friday.

You didn’t think I forgot did you? Perish the thought… and you should probably perish the thought of affording either of these, since I had my search functions set on highest priced this week…

Click the image to see the astronomical price tag on this Todd McFarlane piece … Mind blowing.

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When Tigers Fight

So (further) verdict came down the other day and it seems that Neil Gaiman is entitled to royalties from use of characters he created for Todd McFarlane’s Spawn book and their subsequent (in the court’s view) renaming and continued use by Todd. This isn’t good for Todd because that millionaire’s company is struggling with bankruptcy as result of the “Tony Twist” case. I’m not a Spawn reader or a lawyer specializing in intellectual property, so instead of speaking on matters I don’t fully understand, I thought I’d give our readers the heads-up on auctions for some books from the key players in this thing.

For most of my youth Neil had the same sort of following Anne Rice is plagued with. You knew he was a good writer, but you didn’t want to be “into” him, you know? Cerebus was for the artier-than-thou kids who pretended they understood it, manga was for the spazzes, and Neil’s Sandman series was for the mopey loners. As it turned out, the series was great. But for my money, I thought this spin-off limited series was a creative high-point for the writer.

Here’s the issue that started the protracted legal dispute. Neil came up with some characters, Todd eventually didn’t want to pay, so he made characters that are nearly identical. I’m not picking sides here, but I thought creating nearly identical characters is central to comics? Regardless, I’m gonna be straight-up about this: Why anyone, even if money was at stake, would want to claim ownership of these characters is beyond me. I didn’t like Spawn when it came out, and I don’t like it today. I respect anyone who commits themselves to world-building and runs with it, but man, the Spawn universe is a world I could do without. Mercenaries, hellspawns, evil clowns… I know that probably sounds like fun to a lot of people, but it was entirely too Juggalo for my tastes. That said, Todd has made comics history a few times. Here’s another example, though it may not be history he cares to revisit.

What does Erik Larsen have to do with any of this, you ask? Well, Erik was the head of Image when the initial ruling against Todd came down (2002, maybe?). So this whole thing probably has some residual sting for him, but moreover, he’s an outspoken dude who didn’t shy from comment on the subject, then and now. His Savage Dragon book didn’t keep my interest long, but I’ve recently revisited it and while I’m still not a regular reader, his commitment to the book impresses me. I think he’s going for a Dave Sim longest-single-person-narrative-in-human-history sort of thing. This issue was apparently during Obama’s town hall meeting tour of comicland, because he was in every damn book for about two months.

And here’s an issue of Marvelman, er, Miracleman. Why do I include this? Wikipedia it. A lot of this Neil/Todd beef has overlap with the incredibly complex ownership entanglement over this British property Neil used to work on. Marvel Comics says it owns it now (that’s their reward for bankrolling Neil’s lawsuit… read the wikipedia entry), but who’s to say? If they told me Dr. Dre had majority shares in it, I would believe it at this point. Maybe I own it. I chose an Alan Moore issue of the book because I liked the insane asking price; Neil’s work came later.

If you want to watch professionals take shots at each other in a public forum, I urge you to follow as many of those involved as you can on Twitter. It’s like pro-wrestling but just slightly more literary.

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Top 100 Summer Comics #59

Incredible Hulk, Peter David, yadda yadda yadda, perfect match.

But what about the third wheel on this dream date?

Maybe you’ve heard of him. He’s gone on to do things like buy very expensive baseballs and stuff. He was a new guy. Hadn’t quite found his niche. But you know him as…

Todd McFarlane.

#59 – Incredible Hulk 331

And what an interesting debut it is. Peter David is in a full on Claremont-ian dialogue dump, and Young McFarlane is miles away from what he would become even a few issues into this run. From what I’ve read in various trades and accounts, NO ONE wanted to write the Hulk. David took it as a “yeah, sure. I’ll do that.” gig, no clandestine plan behind it. And McFarlane was considered a potential but somewhat unruly artist who’s story telling ability was poor at best.

Peter David went onto write some 100+ issues of the Hulk. This McFarlane guy went on to create something named “Spawn” which is to see he made the most successful Batman-meets-Spiderman ripoff ever.

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