Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo. Two legendary cartoonists conjuring up images of dark crusaders and explosive action. Individually, your work in Appear Y bat Man represents the most dynamic and exciting comic art in the history of the medium. Now, after countless requests from fans, they’re coming together for a new one. batman/spawn Cross.
Announced last summer at San Diego Comic-Con, McFarlane wrote the script. batman/spawn He surprised fans and easily became the most popular comedian at the concert. The book is penciled by Capullo, who has a pretty solid history with both characters, and it’s due out here in December. Yeah, that seems like a long time to wait, especially considering it’s been almost two decades since the last time. batman/spawn Cross. So, both to whet your appetite and help you prepare for what’s ahead – because trust us, you’re not ready – we spoke to the extraordinary creative team, along with DC’s chief creative officer (and batman/spawn cover artist) Jim Lee on his approach to bringing this upcoming team to life, how his years of experience inform this new project, and whether we’ll get some cool action figures from the deal – this is Todd McFarlane, after all!
Todd, you worked on the first Batman/Spawn crossover book, with Frank Miller writing. The following was done by a different creative team. For this new one, what would you do to separate your story from what came before and establish your own take on the dynamic of Batman and Spawn?
Todd MacFarlane: The easy thing is that it was 25 years ago that I drew the first one. It’s a bit like making a movie 25 years ago. It’s like we’re not making a new version. It’s more like a reboot. I never worried that a reader had read them before, and if you’re interested in them, now you can get them. DC reprints them. But what Greg and I are doing is a reboot: doing a modern Spawn and Batman story without worrying about what came before.
The first crossover explicitly stated that Batman was in that story. The Dark Knight Returns version. Did you have a personal version of Batman that you wanted to do, or were you unconcerned about that?
TM: I remember when I was working with Frank Miller on that book, one of DC’s rules was that you couldn’t change anything about Batman. Even down to the belt and the symbol. I wanted to do the version without the yellow oval, but they told me to keep it. Today there are two dozen Batman and fifty different costumes. Everything is open to interpretation.
Greg Capullo: Now we are forbidden to use the yellow oval!
TM: Yes! Now the oval is like retro-chic cool.
So we went from being in a box at the time to now we can do whatever we want and that’s great.
Greg, you’ve been drawing Batman for over ten years. This story with you and Todd was originally supposed to come out in 2006. Between then and now, what have you learned about drawing Batman that helped prepare you for this book that you didn’t know then?
CG: Draw Batman, of course! It would have been great in 2006, but now it’s easy for me because I don’t have to think about anything. Todd has been my partner for many years and we work together very loosely, and on one of my favorite characters. Together they are like family to me. I can really let my instincts run wild. I feel free.
Do you think that Spawn and Batman are different but both suit your style?
CG: Well apparently they both suit my style! I never intended to be a dark hero artist. I guess I’ve been typecast! They are similar characters, but I approach them differently. Spawn has crazy details, and the way I’m approaching Batman is to make him more graphic, more monolithic. Not to add too much detail. If you put them in the same story, it’s a balancing act. I wanted to give fans of both characters what they’ve come to expect. It is an abyss to bridge. The Batman I’m drawing in this is very familiar, maybe with a little more detail. But it is pure instinct.
Jim, is this your first time drawing Spawn? And did you ever think that you would draw it for a DC? Cross?
Jim Lee: Oddly enough, I drew Spawn in a variety of pin-ups and covers while he was a part of Image Comics and even after leaving Image to join DC. This particular piece is the first time Spawn draws. with However, Batman was a challenge on several fronts. In many ways, Batman and Spawn are similar in that they’re two dark, brooding characters obsessed with seeking justice, and of course they both share the same taste for giant, sweeping capes that are characters unto themselves. But at the same time they are very different under the surface and I wanted to highlight these elements visually through the final image.
You mentioned on your Instagram that one of the biggest challenges was finding a composition you liked that other artists hadn’t used. How many other compositions did you try and what led you to this one?
JL: Oh, there were probably five or six compositions I played with before settling on this last piece, which has them “dancing” around each other. My artistic partners were already bringing to life a number of great compositions, so he eliminated a number of options early on. One variation that I liked at first but eventually gave up had the two of them in a very short, intense close combat. But in the end, I didn’t want to show one character overshadowing the other, so I chose a different path. I also wanted to bring out their personalities through their mannerisms, so that they would play a big part in how Batman and Spawn would stand or pose. And that prevented a close-up of the two of them with their faces inches apart.
Greg and Todd, a lot has happened since Spawn debuted in the 1990s, and now we’re in a comic book media boom. What do Batman and Spawn mean to you, after everything that’s happened to them as characters and the general medium of comics, in 2022?
TM: I’d say bringing the two together is different in the comics than anything else. Outside of the comics, the Batman brand is much, much stronger, especially on a global scale. Spawn is not what Batman is in that arena. In the comics they are much closer. In the past, Spawn outsold Batman. That the two are next to each other is not a trick, they are both A-listers. It’s fun to do it with any heavyweight in the industry. This is just going back to what worked before for a whole new generation of fans who didn’t read them both together the last time we did this. You may have heard of it, but never got to share the moment. Not until now.
CG: The characters are very different. Spawn will kill or do anything – he is a mercenary from hell. Batman is very different from me. The reason why he is so great and amazing is because he was given the opportunity to claim sacrifice or victory. He could have been an alcoholic or a drug addict, but he wasn’t. That willpower makes the character so special and relatable. Spawn is the complete opposite. There are no moral barriers to keeping you online and just doing whatever. This is what separates them. But they are both very skilled physical fighters. Batman doesn’t cross the line to kill, but if he did, he’d be on par with Spawn. This is how I see them and describe them.
TM: Just to explain Spawn, he is not the violent version of Batman, but he will do whatever it takes. If you want a knife with you, he will bring a knife. If you want a bazooka, he will bring you a bazooka. If you want to bring a nuclear bomb, he will bring a nuclear weapon. And he won’t apologize for any of it. We all draw lines about what we want or don’t want. If we were to argue about what constitutes swearing, we have a different line on what words are defined as swearing. So just defining the differences of what superheroes will or won’t do due to historically being owned by corporations, I’d point that out from the start to say that he’s not looking for violence. But what if it’s the only way to survive or save someone? So he has no scruples. It is war for him.
It is like Brave Heart. Either you cut off someone’s head or you cut off your own. This is what happens on the battlefield. If you hesitate at any point, you will lose your mind. You must go face to face when necessary. Not all the time, but on the battlefield you have to.
Jim, what has been the best thing for you, both as an artist and a fan, about seeing this book come together?
JL: I remember being a fan and being so excited when my favorite characters from different universes came together. It was such a powerful moment in the fandom to see that kind of collaboration between companies in the past, and being able to help put this deal together now in 2022 was a particular highlight for me this year. And getting the lead artist on Batman in Greg Capullo to be colored by Todd McFarlane was just icing on the cake! A world-class crossover with world-class talent… these are the moments we comic fans live for! And being able to contribute to this project, even if it’s just a variant cover, brought out the kid in me!
Last question, what else would you like to see come out of this? Can we expect some Spawn and Batman action figures designed by Greg Capullo?
CG: Ha ha! Good! I told Todd we better get going!
TM: I’d also like to see… I mean, we probably could have had a hundred artists doing variant covers. We have thirteen, but we could easily have put together a hundred covers. But I would have liked to see those covers turned into the book. But it would also be nice at some point to do a book showcasing Greg’s amazing pencils. Show black and white ink without lettering so people can see the full artwork.
CG: And I filled in all the black and did full pencils in anticipation of a pencil only version. I go the extra mile because I look forward to something as cool as this, I hope something like this happens later.
Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo’s Batman/Spawn will be available in print and as a digital comic this December. Check out the official trailer by clicking here!