Back in the 80’s there was really only 2 major comic book publishers, Marvel and DC. Some of the guys at Marvel were tired of seeing all the money they were making for the big 2 while they were being paid very little to reward their work.
They banded together and decided to start their own artist owned comics publisher (at Marvel and DC if you created a character for their comics they retained all legal ownership of that character). This is how Image Comics came into existence.
Todd McFarlane is one of those early Image Comics guys. The comic book he developed for Image Comics is Spawn. The first issue of Spawn was very popular with sales of 1.7 million copies. During Spawn’s second year of publication, Wizard noted that “The top dog at Image is undoubtedly Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. It became the best-selling comic on a consistent basis without the added marketing push of fancy covers, polybagged issues, or card inserts.
Origin of Spawn
Lt. Colonel Albert Francis “Al” Simmons,USMC (Ret.) was a highly trained Force Recon Marine. He was at his most successful point when he saved the President from an attempted assassination. Al was promoted to a high level and recruited to a highly classified unit within the CIA devoted to black ops. Once there, he began to question the morality of what his agency was doing.
Al’s friend and partner, Bruce Stinson (codenamed Chapel), was hired to kill him. Simmons was killed and his soul was sent to Hell because he had knowingly killed innocents while working for the CIA.
Simmons made a deal with an evil being known as Malebolgia. In exchange for his sou, he would get to see his wife once again. When Simmons returned to the human world five years had passed. He had been transformed into a demonic creature with little memory of his former life. He eventually regained his memories and sought out his wife. She had moved on and married his best friend. They now had a daughter named Cyan.
Al, now going by the name Spawn, decides his purpose is to fight evil. Malebolgia was agreeable to Spawn’s new mission as every evil person killed was another body in his army for his future war against Heaven.
The Spawn movie
The popularity of Spawn peaked with the 1997 Spawn feature film. The film was only a mild commercial success and failed to start a film franchise based on the character. The film had lots of CGI scenes. The budget was continually raised to cover the the ballooning cost of making the computer generated shots. This coupled with studio forcing the film to be cut from a Rated R movie down to a PG-13 rating undoubtedly helped to damage the appeal.
The new Spawn movie has already been written by Todd McFarlane. He doesn’t want to retell the origin of Spawn. This time he wants to focus on the real world implications of the character. The new Spawn movie will rely more on practical effects rather than computer generated eye candy. McFarlane has promised this Spawn movie will be a R rated horror movie. With Todd McFarlane writing the script and the studio green-lighting an R rated horror movie, we should finally get the Spawn movie befitting the character.