I don’t claim to know Todd McFarlane. I have met him once...briefly. But if you are a comic fan, you probably have an opinion on him. Back in the early '90s, McFarlane was one of the leaders of the Image Comics revolution of the time. After a long career at Marvel, he was the writer and illustrator of what was, at the time, the highest selling comic of all time: Spider-Man. However, McFarlane’s run on Spider-Man was short lived and ended over a panel. In issue #16, there was a panel in which Juggernaut gets stabbed through the eye. Marvel said it was too graphic, McFarlane left, and for a while remained unemployed.
At his core, though, McFarlane is an opportunist. He’s made millions off spotting opportunities and exploiting them for better or worse, and I think it’s very convenient that in the middle of the Burton-Batman gothic themes, he creates a gothic superhero. Being a former comic illustrator, McFarlane is also intensely drawn to visuals. Back in the mid '90s, Michael Pomaro and I watched a video of McFarlane giving a lecture on how to draw. It was intensely fascinating, but he would go on these long tangents about how you need to make things look “Cool” (it has since become part of the Thas-Pomaro lexicon). I thought this was maybe just this video, but since then McFarlane has started a YouTube channel about drawing, and still will stress the need to make things look “Cool” and how important visuals are. Visuals are his wheelhouse. Iit’s what he deems important.
Jurassic Park. There is not a doubt in my mind that McFarlane desperately wanted to create the next great visual masterpiece, and I’ll argue that there are places in Spawn where these attempts succeed. The makeup on the Violator and unmasked Spawn are great, and where the effects really work is when they blend practical effects with CG effects. Upon viewing it now, Spawn is very dated when it comes to the CGI, so the argument could be made that we’ve made significant gains in the past 20 years in the visual effects department. I would agree that time does play a role, but I’ve seen Jurassic Park, and know that it can hold up. Seeing the Violator in his animal form, or seeing the views of Hell with a giant Malbolgia without a moving mouth makes no sense and take you out of the movie. However, I can forgive the attempt because I can almost guarantee that it’s because they ran out of money and not that they didn’t try or want something to succeed.