"Malibu Comics Presents SPAWN" - Twenty Years Gone

Twenty years ago the world was a far different place than it is today.  The internet was a baby really, bulletin boards and basic newsgroups ruled the roost, and, compared to today, very few people took an active role.  For the bulk of people wanting to discover what was happening in the world at large, print media was the king.  Newspapers, magazines – those very institutions that are slowly, but surely, dying these days were the only viable source of instant news, and even that had lag times.  As such this preview magazine, the Malibu Sun, was the first look that a lot of people got at Todd McFarlane’s then new creation, Spawn.  Today there’d be images all over the internet and the concept would be chewed up, spat out or devoured at will.  The first issue would be scanned and posted and it’d be highly debatable if it would sell even 10% of what it sold back in 1992.  Look at the numbers for Youngblood #1 – 307,000+ - and weep.  Companies would sell their mothers to have those numbers today, but this was a climate that saw the original Ghost Rider series cancelled only five years previously for slipping to an average monthly sale figure of around 100,000 per month.  Yes, the world is vastly different, and don’t you forget it.

It’s also interesting to note that the ‘founders of Image’, back in May 1992, only consisted of McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld and Jim Valentino, with contributions from George Perez, Dale Keown and others.  Either Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri hadn’t already come on board, or, if they had, nobody knew about at the time the magazine came out.  Also of interest is the appearance of Erik Larsen’s famous quote about how the Image founders had been ‘holding back’ when it came to creating for Marvel or DC.  It wouldn’t take long for this quote to be twisted and interpreted as the artists not delivering their best (artistic) work in their pre-Image careers.  Here you can see the quote, in context, and make your own mind up as to if Larsen was being insulting towards the buying public, but it is worth mentioning that he had introduced the Savage Dragon previous to working for either DC or Marvel.

May 1992, Spawn was announced and, for better of worse, a whole new era of comic books was introduced.  Where were you?


Where was I? Being a panelist with Rob Liefeld, Peter David, and one or two others whom I forget at the San Diego ComicCon, trying to sell a couple different indie publishers on the idea of a comic book/game hybrid done right (as opposed to the "TSR Comic Modules" that either came before or after... I no longer recall which), and watching the comics industry change, evolve (well... I ultimately concluded it was DEvolving), and move beyond something I could become an active part of.

(Although I would still write a comic book in a heart-beat if I should see a realistic opportunity to do so. I still love the medium.)

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