I have very mixed/sad feelings about the whole "going completely digital" thing. I'm all for having both print and non print formats available. But just digital only? From what I'm gathering, it sounds like McFarlane is scrambling to find ways to survive the times, just like everyone else is. It has been 20 years and reading about a guy who lives in an alley, only to fight mostly with his own emotional torment, year after year again, did get kind of dry. I haven't even bothered catching up on the new Spawn guy.
I mean, I absolutely love Spawn. And I'm currently collecting the old Todd toys because I missed out on so many. But truth be told... I probably wont be following Spawn comics anymore, outside issue 1 - 100. I always felt the story should have ended at 50 while it was still in it's prime, and then given a chance to take a break before coming back for more awesome hell bound action. But it kept dragging instead and it did begin to feel like it was merely trying to reach a numeric goal rather than keeping the integrity of the original story, strong. There were quite a few good tales after issue 50, mind you.
But I do recall slowly losing interest in it after #50. I love reading stories that have strong continuity. Stories that are actually going somewhere and not just starting out with a bang, only to wonder where the bullet actually went and hit the wall. When I read Sam Kieth's The Maxx, I was so in love with it and was very happy with how it ended. It was a well rounded and captivating story in my opinion. At that point, I remember hoping Sam Kieth would have taken no more than one year off before he returned with a new The Maxx series again. But..with the way Maxx ended..it probably wouldn't have made any sense and should be left well enough alone as a beautiful classic.
I wish to some extent, Spawn had the same treatment after 50. Because at that point, I remember my buddies and I were feeling like "where is this going?". And not too long ago, I found out Al Simmons was no longer Spawn, but rather another guy. I said, what??? Then, I forgot who told me this but supposedly the real Al and Todd had a mild disagreement somewhere which encouraged Todd to drop the name and character of Al Simmons all together. OH wait! I remember now! I was actually at Todd's store in AZ, the one next to the movie theater. The clerk told me the story about the problem and why Al Simmons was dropped. I thought wow...that sucks.
You know...honestly... and I mean honestly... I REALLY miss the early 90s. I mean like 91, 92, 93 and 94.
I remember how confused I was to see not ONE Spawn figure in that AZ based store when I got the down low about Al and Todd. It's a Todd McFarlane store and not ONE Spawn. Not even a Spawn display. It was mostly sports figures and movie/tv related licenses. There were even some Marvel toys up on the shelves! True signs of the times. :(
But it's understandable I guess. It's kind of hard to keep a character who came from hell in the faces of the mainstream.
I personally don't think going digital is going to save comics even though it has shown small levels of interest already. I think it's removing the veil of delusions that will be the key to saving at least SOME companies out there.
In the end, comic books are a product. And products are made to sell.
But...is it really that difficult for some of these living legends to figure out how to create a product that will catch the masses attention? In this day and age..probably so.
You know... at time's I would ask myself these "What if" questions and they would keep me in wonder.
Like...what if Todd would draw his Spawn books, from cover to it's last page, consistently (traditionally, putting all digital toys aside)? What would happen then? Would his fans rejoice and buy every single book in possibly doubles or triples? Speaking only for myself and I say this with utmost truth, I would TOTALLY purchase every new Spawn comic if Todd got back on the reigns and drew his damn book from beginning to end on a monthly basis, but with all his passion in it (with full throttle like when he was drawing Spiderman). After all...that IS why I first got into SPAWN. It was Todd McFarlane. Not Whilce Portacio, not Philip Tan. Not even Greg Capullo (although I wont argue Greg's masterful artwork was very exciting to look at in Spawn pages). It was Todd.
The same with Liefeld's books. I want to see HIM draw his books. Not someone else. If you're a fan of Todd or Liefeld, is it too much to ask of them to consistently draw their own books and not rely on other talents (regardless of how amazing they are).
And I don't mean just drawing a few large panels here and there. I mean all out, full throttle, like the way he did it in New Mutants and X-Force even.
I swear, if these guys were drawing all their books full throttle today, I'd totally sign up for a monthly subscription. The art isn't everything and believe me, I understand that argument. But for me the way the art is presented, tells just how much passion the artist has at first glance, which is a rule of thumb when creating a product you're hoping kids/teens/adults will flip over. And yes, it's a subjective matter but..let's not kid ourselves. How many kids do you know that will drool over a Mike Mignola cover vs an action packed, detailed and just high energy image by one of the Image guys?
I've actually conducted my own small survey when I went outside the park and rounded up all the kids who were playing soccer, handing them free trading cards and comics. Non of the more "subtle" - "grown up'ish" stuff was picked. They took all my youngbloods, Xmens and Cyberforce comics. lol.. kids today still gravitate towards intense "bad ass" energy.
Now the question is... how do we develop a product that can attract both young and old at the same time? I would say, draw bad ass art, full of passion, energy, etc. And write a great story. The child within will appreciate the passionate art while the adult would appreciate the depth of the story itself. Kind of like those frosted mini wheats commercials lol...Just my two cents i guess. lol.
Anyhow, it's great to hear Todd is still pushing away at his creation. My wishful thinking, I'd hope he starts drawing all his books from here on out and bring back Spawn toys on the shelves (spawn TOYS, not static mini statues). But that probably will NEVER happen. Todd's a busy man now. Meetings on top of meetings and a big family to look after. I don't know how he does it. It's incredible.