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 Todd McFarlane  (1961 - )

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Lived/Active: Alberta/New York / Canada      Known for: comic book artist and cartoonist

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Todd McFarlane
from Auction House Records.
The Amazing Spider-Man #328 Cover Original Art (Marvel, 1990).
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Todd McFarlane (born March 16, 1961) is a Canadian cartoonist, writer, toy designer and entrepreneur, best known for his work in comic books, such as the fantasy series Spawn.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, McFarlane became a comic book superstar due to his work on Marvel Comics' Spider-Man franchise.  In 1992, he helped form Image Comics, pulling the occult anti-hero character Spawn from his high school portfolio and updating him for the 1990s.  Spawn was a popular hero in the 1990s and encouraged a trend in creator-owned comic book properties.

In recent years, McFarlane has illustrated comic books less often, focusing on entrepreneurial efforts, such as McFarlane Toys and Todd McFarlane Entertainment, a film and animation studio.  In September, 2006, it was announced that McFarlane will be the Art Director of the newly formed 38 Studios, formerly Green Monster Games, founded by major league baseball pitcher Curt Schilling.  McFarlane used to be co-owner of National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers but sold his shares to Daryl Katz.  He's also a high-profile collector of history-making baseballs.

McFarlane was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He graduated from William Aberhart High School.  As a 17-year-old teenager, he discovered comic books and was a fan of stars such as fellow Canadian John Byrne and Americans Jack Kirby, Frank Miller and George Pérez (as well as the writing of Alan Moore), but was especially drawn to the more atypical art of Michael Golden and Katsuhiro Otomo, creator of the manga Akira.  Gil Kane was also a major influence on McFarlane.

In the early-1980s, McFarlane attended Eastern Washington University on a baseball scholarship and studied graphic art.  He sought to play baseball professionally after graduation but suffered a career-ending ankle injury in his junior year.  During his time at EWU, he worked at a comic book shop in Spokane, Washington.  Drawings he did of Marvel and DC superheros were sold at local shops.  McFarlane also attended the Alberta College of Art and Design.

McFarlane's first published work was a 1984 backup story in Epic Comics' Coyote.  He soon began drawing for both DC Comics and Marvel, with his first major body of work being a two-year run (1985–1987) on DC's Infinity, Inc.  In 1987, McFarlane also illustrated several issues of Detective Comics' Batman: Year Two storyline. From there, he moved to Marvel's Incredible Hulk, which he drew from 1987–1988.

In 1988, McFarlane joined writer David Michelinie on Marvel's The Amazing Spider-Man beginning with issue 298.  McFarlane was also the first artist to draw the first, full appearance of Eddie Brock, the first original incarnation of the popular villain Venom.  He has been credited as the character's co-creator, though this has been a topic of dispute within the comic book industry.

McFarlane's work on Amazing Spider-Man turned him into an industry superstar.  In 1990, after a 28-issue run of Amazing Spider-Man, McFarlane told editor Jim Salicrup he'd grown tired of drawing other people's stories and would be leaving the book with issue #328 to write his own work.  Salicrup offered McFarlane a new Spider-Man book, prompting the launch of a new monthly title simply called Spider-Man, which McFarlane both wrote and illustrated. Spider-Man #1 sold 2.5 million copies, partially due to the variant covers that were used to encourage collectors into buying more than one edition.  McFarlane wrote and illustrated Spider-Man's first 14 issues, as well as #16; many issues of which were crossovers with characters such as Wolverine, X-Force, and Ghost Rider.

After issue #16 (Nov. 1991), McFarlane left the book due to creative clashes with new editor Danny Fingeroth.  He was replaced on the title by future Image Comics co-founder Erik Larsen.

McFarlane then left Marvel with six other popular artists to form Image Comics, an umbrella company under which each owned a publishing house.  McFarlane's studio, Todd McFarlane Productions, published his creation, the occult-themed Spawn.  Upon release, Spawn #1 sold 1.7 million copies, still a record for an independent comic book.

By 1994, he ceased to be the regular illustrator of his own "signature" book of Spawn, and would only re-visit it sporadically, or as a promotional stunt for the title.

That same year, McFarlane created McFarlane Toys.  Its line of meticulously sculpted Spawn action figures changed the entire industry by focusing on more mature consumers and non-traditional action figure inspirations such as musicians.  The company has licensed the right to produce action figures of athletes in all four major North American sports — baseball, hockey, football and basketball — and several recent, successful film franchises, including The Terminator, The Matrix and Shrek.  He has also created figures of rock musicians, including the members of Kiss, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix and toys related to video games, such as Halo 3.

In 1996, McFarlane founded Todd McFarlane Entertainment, a film and animation studio. In collaboration with New Line Cinema, it produced the 1997 Spawn film and a new Spawn movie, planned in 2008.  Spawn, while critically panned, was a modest box office success, earning $54.97 million domestically, a little over $69 million worldwide.  It also produced the animated series Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, (featuring voice work by actor Keith David), which aired on HBO from 1997 until 1999.  The animated series received significantly more positive press than the film, received two Primetime Emmy awards (including "Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming More Than One Hour))," and was a moderate success when eventually released on DVD.

McFarlane is an avid baseball fan; he briefly tried to achieve a pro career in the sport as a young adult.  McFarlane has bought, at auction, multiple balls from Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's 1998 race to establish a record for the greatest number of home runs hit in a single season. McFarlane owns Sosa's 33rd, 61st and 66th home run balls, and McGwire's first, 63rd, 67th, 68th, 69th and 70th. (McGwire's 61st was the ball which tied Roger Maris' then-record, while McGwire's 70th, bought by McFarlane at auction for US $3 million, set a new record at the time — broken in 2001 by Barry Bonds.)  He later purchased Bonds' record breaking 73rd home run ball for $450,000.

McFarlane's work has won him numerous awards over the years, including:
    •    a 1992 National Cartoonists Society Award for Best Comic Book.
    •    a 1992 Inkpot Award
    •    McFarlane received the National Football League's Artist of the Year award for 2005, for his work on program covers for the Baltimore Ravens.

Source:
Wikipedia: Todd McFarlane


Biography from Heritage Auctions:
Todd McFarlane (Canadian, b. 1961) is a multi-talented cartoonist, writer, toy designer and entrepreneur, most celebrated for his work on Marvel’s Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man, as well as on his own character, Spawn.

In the early nineties, McFarlane became the first of a new breed of independent comic book superstars, thanks to the popularity of his work on Marvel’s titles.  In 1992, he and several of the new wave of comics creators formed Image Comics.

McFarlane based his hugely successful, occult, anti-hero Spawn on a character from his high school portfolio and updated the concept for the nineties.  In recent years, McFarlane has focused most of his time on his entrepreneurial efforts, McFarlane Toys and Todd McFarlane Entertainment, a film and animation studio.


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