Currently, one of the most iconic superstar artists in comics is Image Comics founder Todd McFarlane. Known for his toys and his Spawn comic and character, McFarlane has an art style and ambition unmatched in the comics industry. Although his heyday may have been in the 1990s, McFarlene still has a high level of hype unmatched except perhaps by fellow Image founder Jim Lee.
This immediate fan interest can be seen in both his recent relaunch of the Spawn comic book ownership, his upcoming projects, and McFarlane Toys creating merchandise for DC. All of these can help propel not just McFarlane and his properties, but comics as a whole, lifting the industry to great heights again.
McFarlane’s personal brand is hotter than ever thanks to Spawn and Toys
Over the past two years, not only Todd McFarlane Spawn the comic has published over 300 consecutive issues, but it has also grown in ways not seen in decades. Many spinoffs have been released, including the very popular titles Gunslinger Appearance and team book The Burned, all of which sell very well on their own. The former actually broke pre-order records, showing that the hype behind McFarlane’s hellish hero wasn’t as dead as many thought. McFarlane once again made his presence known through social media posts, bringing an aura of anticipation to a property that hadn’t been big in decades.
The result is that Spawn is once again a top-selling book, and McFarlane is trading that renewed popularity for another crossover with DC Comics’ Batman. Speaking of which, McFarlane Toys is popular again. Previously, McFarlane’s plastic creations hadn’t been seen in everyday stores for quite a while. Now, McFarlane Toys figures can be found both in regular toy aisles and in the collectibles sections of big-box retailers.
Beyond the numbers Spawn as well as cartoons, video games and movies such as Avatar: The Last Airbender, mortal combat, and Dunes, McFarlane Toys also handles collectible merchandise for DC comic book characters and movies. Action figures for films such as Wonder Woman 1984, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, The Suicide Squad, The Batman, and the next movie black adam were all run by McFarlane’s company. This has made it synonymous with “media” corresponding to every blockbuster. By cornering the market in nearly every aspect of the fandom, Todd McFarlane is positioning himself as the man who could bring comic books back to stardom.
McFarlane’s hype can turn comics into must-haves again
As mentioned, the Spawn The titles have been hugely successful over the past couple of years, and it’s all thanks to the fact that McFarlane has simply brought to market a product he believes in enough to market and hype endlessly. The Gunslinger Appearance the book made tons of money on its first issue, although not much is known about the protagonist yet. McFarlane had simply designed a character so cool that readers, collectors, and everyone else just had to have it.
Now McFarlane is working with DC Comics again, and they may be the next “target” of his unique branding and marketing style. The next Batman/Spawn book will likely make tons of money, and if McFarlane were able to consistently bring these kinds of sales to DC titles, the sales would be dropped for the entire industry overnight. The same goes for Marvel Comics, where McFarlane could easily do another one. Spider Man Where Venom series. Some might say that would be too close to the speculative market of the early 90s that gave rise to McFarlane’s massive popularity in the first place, but given the way his Spawn books are performing, there is something to be said for his personal brand.
After all, comic books and the superheroes they “spawned” have more potential than ever, even if that hasn’t always translated into sales for the former. McFarlane proved he could sell not just comic books, but all of their surrounding merchandise, making the property set ubiquitous elements of pop culture. If Marvel and DC want to expand their modern success beyond the movies, they may have to turn to McFarlane and see how he does it.