Todd McFarlane - Changing Up Spawn With Portacio

Spawn by Whilce Portacio

Halloween is a month for spooky beings, scares, and surprises—and that’s just what Image is preparing to deliver. That’s the month that Spawn creator Todd McFarlane returns to his most famous creation—and he’s bringing with him fellow Image founder Whilce Portacio, who will join him to illustrate the series beginning with Spawn #185.

"While I'm very happy with where Spawn has gone, it's long past time to inject some new blood into the series while also returning to its roots," McFarlane said. "I feel what Whilce and I are doing with our co-writer, Brian Holguin, combines the old and the new in a way no one would have expected. That's a claim which gets tossed around quite a bit in the industry, but this one really changes everything."

What will Todd McFarlane’s role be as far as Spawn is concerned—will he be working in a supervisory role, will he be plotting, will he be pencilling, will he be scripting? “All of the above,” McFarlane told CSN/Newsarama. “I want to push the book in a new visual and storytelling direction. I can’t do that from a distance, so I’ll need to be involved in the plot, in the way the pages are laid out, in guiding the artwork and doing some of the inking on it, in having control over the way the color blends with the art, and even in the way the letters co-mingle with the art. When I was doing it all myself years ago, I looked at each page as the end result all of those skills, not any one piece of it. So I’ll have my fingerprint on every single one of those aspects.”

What are McFarlane, Holguin, and Portacio doing to make it easy for readers who’ve been away for a while to pick back up with Spawn? We’re going to give Spawn a big cataclysmic event in Spawn #185, and that will offer people an easy jumping-on point,” McFarlane said. “We’ll make it clear enough storytelling-wise that you don’t have to come with a hundred issues of Spawn continuity under your belt in order to enjoy this book. You’ll be able to go ‘Wow, that’s an interesting superhero comic!’ and not ‘Oh, I need to know something about Spawn’ per se.”

What elements of the Spawn storyline remain a vital part of the book since McFarlane was last involved, and what has changed in his absence? “Of course, any big character remains the driving force behind his book. If Bruce Wayne decides to leave Gotham City and relocate in Knoxville, Tennessee, he’s still Batman when he lands there. And anyone who takes up the guise of Batman and kidnaps Bruce Wayne—well, the costume itself has a history that goes with it. Batman is Batman no matter what, and there’s a mystique about the costume.

“With Spawn, not only do we have the character, but we have a living costume. I can play off both of those and put them in completely different scenarios and see if we can’t come up with some creative storylines and changed agendas that you haven’t seen before.”

After a few years of problems with lateness, Spawn has been on schedule; will McFarlane, Holguin, and Portacio be able to maintain that timely release schedule? “That’s the goal” McFarlane said. “Whilce is burning through the pages fast; right now, we’re putting Spawn #180 to bed in anticipation of Whilce’s debut with Spawn #185, so we’ve got a nice lead. Also, part of the way I’m trying to tell stories will acknowledge the fact that we’re trying to do a monthly book and include good storytelling. There are corners that you can sort of get around easier if you’re paying attention to doing clever art while remembering that there are deadlines over your head.”

Finally, whatever happened to McFarlane’s previously-announced Batman/Spawn project that was to be produced in conjunction with DC—any chance readers might see that at some point? “I don’t know—that’s still an up-in-the-air project with no end date in sight, so I wouldn’t want to predict that right now,” McFarlane said.

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