Todd McFarlane’s 1992 Comics Journal Interview

The fairly infamous Gary Groth interview with Todd McFarlane is up at The Comics Journal and it is glorious. Groth pins McFarlane to the wall on taste, culture, and the fact that McFarlane was an amazing force of mediocrity in the 1990s (and still is.) Highlights are below, but please go read the whole thing.

GROTH: But if you respect writing, and you respect your audience, wouldn’t you try to make yourself a better writer?


GROTH: But you don’t read anything!

MCFARLANE: No, I don’t read anything.

GROTH: So how can you make yourself a better writer if you don’t study writing and read other authors?

MCFARLANE: Maybe there’s my ignorance there, because I don’t think that if I read Shakespeare I’m going to become a good comic-book writer.

GROTH: Well, I don’t either [resigned].


MCFARLANE: Let me just tell you something here. Producing comic books is not magical stuff. But they’ve brainwashed us for so long that people actually think they can’t survive without those two companies. They each had their own reaction to it. Marvel’s reaction pretty much was, “The characters will always be more important than the creators.” They stated that in some of the articles. And I know what they’re trying to say by that. I agree with that on a certain level. Say they buy 1,000,000 copies ofSpawn, not because they give a shit about Spawn, but because they like Todd McFarlane. But by issue number 12,1 don’t think the Todd McFarlane name is going to be enough to satisfy the group out there. If I want to maintain some decent sales, what I’ve got to do is give them enough of a story and enough of a cool character that they’re going, “Give me that Spawn book by that, uh, whatever his name guy is.” They’re buying Spawn. On that level I agree that the characters are important, except it’s flesh and blood that gives fucking vision to those characters from day one, and they’ve not acknowledged that. They’ve not acknowledged what Jack Kirby did for those characters, they’ve not acknowledged what Ditko did, they’ve not acknowledged what Don Heck did. Don Heck wasn’t a superstar, but he kept The Avengers going for a long time so that maybe 10 years later John Byrne could become a superstar.


GROTH: Did it ever occur to you that a lot of these artists might not know how to write?

MCFARLANE: [Long pause.] You know, uh, that really didn’t occur to me because that never occurred to me, you know what I’m saying? I mean, fuck, I didn’t let some little thing like not being able to write stop me, so I didn’t really see where that should actually be that much of a problem. I just wanted to test to see how much balls people had. Some people had a fear, like “Yeah, you’re right, I can’t write.” Well, OK, that’s fine, then plot the thing and give it to a writer. And that’s one of the reasons why I don’t use a writer on my stuff: I think that’s almost an insult to a writer for me to want to plot it and then just give it to them to put words to it. Even though they do a hell of a lot better job than I would … I’m not going to get Alan Moore to just script my book. I’d have to go through the ranks, so I’d end up getting a guy who maybe was my 57th choice that said, “Yeah, OK, cool, Todd, I’ll do it.” And I knew, because I’m just a fuck, that in three months I would have been frustrated with him and I would’ve gone, “What kind of dialogue is that? I could do something just like that.” I couldn’t see where I was going to get a very good scripter, and that’s all I wanted, was the scripts.

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