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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.
[1:32:38] 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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Past guests on The Tim Ferriss Show include Jerry Seinfeld, Hugh Jackman, Dr. Jane Goodall, LeBron James, Kevin Hart, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jamie Foxx, Matthew McConaughey, Esther Perel, Elizabeth Gilbert, Terry Crews, Sia, Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm Gladwell, Madeleine Albright, Cheryl Strayed, Jim Collins, Mary Karr, Maria Popova, Sam Harris, Michael Phelps, Bob Iger, Edward Norton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Strauss, Ken Burns, Maria Sharapova, Marc Andreessen, Neil Gaiman, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Jocko Willink, Daniel Ek, Kelly Slater, Dr. Peter Attia, Seth Godin, Howard Marks, Dr. Brené Brown, Eric Schmidt, Michael Lewis, Joe Gebbia, Michael Pollan, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Vince Vaughn, Brian Koppelman, Ramit Sethi, Dax Shepard, Tony Robbins, Jim Dethmer, Dan Harris, Ray Dalio, Naval Ravikant, Vitalik Buterin, Elizabeth Lesser, Amanda Palmer, Katie Haun, Sir Richard Branson, Chuck Palahniuk, Arianna Huffington, Reid Hoffman, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Rick Rubin, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Darren Aronofsky, Margaret Atwood, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, Dr. Gabor Maté, Anne Lamott, Sarah Silverman, Dr. Andrew Huberman, and many more.