#643: Todd McFarlane, Iconic Comic Book Artist — Lessons from Stan Lee, How to Make Art that Outlives You, How to Compete with Corporate Giants and Win (While Having Fun), Dealmaking Strategies, War Stories from Wall Street and Lawyer Land, Taking Responsibility for Your Life, and Why Creators Need to Smash Limits
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Todd McFarlane (@Todd_McFarlane) is an Emmy- and Grammy-winning director/producer and creator of one of the world’s best-selling comic books, Spawn. He is best known to many comic book fans for his work as the artist on The Amazing Spider-Man, for which he co-created Marvel’s top villain, Venom.
Todd is the CEO of Todd McFarlane Productions, McFarlane Toys (one of the US’s top action-figure manufacturers), and McFarlane Films. He is also a co-founder of Image Comics, which debuted Spawn in 1992, selling 1.7 million copies of the first issue. In 1997, Spawn was made into an Emmy Award-winning animated series on HBO and a live-action feature film that grossed over $100 million. In 2019, Todd made history with Spawn #301, earning the Guinness World Record for longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series.
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[05:58 ] The wit, wisdom, and work ethic of Stan Lee.
[29:50 ] Todd’s four corners: video games, TV, movies, and toys.
[41:46 ] Learning the art of toycrafting and beating the industry at its own game.
[49:11 ] Dumb luck at Toy Fair.
[1:03:31 ] Toy marketing and distribution circa 1994.
[1:10:51 ] The play Todd made with a $3 million baseball.
[1:18:08 ] Todd gets in a hockey fight.
[1:24:12 ] Bringing Spawn to TV.
[1:27:57 ] Being the dumbest guy in the room can win you Emmy awards.
[1:31:17 ] Cancellation.
[1:32:38 ] Todd is bilingual — in art and business.
[1:38:50 ] How Todd finds time to create while managing his businesses.
[1:43:49 ] Brand matters.
[1:49:44 ] Making a music video, winning another Emmy, and almost killing Eddie Vedder.
[1:56:33 ] The momentum of success.
[1:59:15 ] The surface area of (dumb) luck.
[2:01:07 ] Building worlds that will endure.
[2:08:13 ] Building characters who will outlive their creator.
[2:15:13 ] Today will not be perfect, so lower the bar and dance if you want to.
[2:24:45 ] Is Todd’s wife married to a monster?
[2:30:50 ] Be the second person.
[2:35:48 ] Parting thoughts.
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