I'm talking to Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, about the latest orders of his new comic, King Spawn, the first new ongoing series featuring the character in many years. It has received orders of 497,000 from comic book stores, and he is comparing that to other big orders in recent years, asking if I know any bigger in the USA? I point out comics like Dog-Man, the Friends series, or the work of Raina Telegemeir which get millions of orders – but they aren't monthly comics. I mention the launch of Matt Kindt, Keanu Reeves and Ryan Ottoman's BRZRKR at around 650,000 – he points out that was returnable by stores. I point out a small fraction was returned, but he says it betrays retailer confidence. "If I say, hey, King Spawn, buy as many as you want I'll take as many as you want back they'll buy two million." King Spawn #1 was not returnable and stores ordered shy of half a million anyway. Indeed, he was tempted to find someone to make up that 3,000 – but didn't. We have to go back to Action Comics #1000, Detective Comics #1000, Champions #1, Amazing Spider-Man #800, or the 2014 #1 relaunch to get these kinds of numbers from monthly, non-returnable comic books – and that was achieved through many retailer exclusive covers, where retailers ordered 3000 copies each for a cover all of their own. There was a flurry of top-selling books from Star Wars to Bravest Warriors that were achieved through a combination of Loot Crate exclusive cover bulk orders and retailer exclusive covers. But for monthly, non-returnable non-retailer-exclusive cover comic books, it's back to the early days of Image Comics, the Death of Superman and Knightfall at DC, and the launch of books like Punisher War Zone when such numbers were achievable. King Spawn, it seems, is nostalgic in more ways than one.
Considering that towards the end of 2014, Spawn was only printing in numbers of just over 12,000 was down to a little over 12k toward the end of 2014, so go from that to where he is now, is insane. Aside from the fuss over Spawn #300 and #301, Spawn hasn't sold under 50,000 in a year, and most of the time, it's been well in excess of that. This time last year he had three issues topping 100,000 and his most recent issue was just shy of 80,000. And then next year is the book's 30th anniversary….
Todd tells me "if you can start to do something that is comparable or better than what the billion-dollar companies are doing, they're your competition. Once you get to a number that's half a million, you get to ask them the question. What do you got that sold a half a million? And it starts to get down really thin really fast. And I'm talking about any book any month for the last 25 years, a thousand of your characters, those numbers are gonna get small so for you… I'm not saying any of this to say that Todd's great, or Spawn's great, that's not my goal here, the story is that if you are a creator, or you're at home, or you have an idea and you want to put it out and you want to go against the giants, it can still work. There are plenty of examples and they keep coming all the time and every now and then Todd and his guy is one of the examples. So why don't you start and come up with your idea and do it, go look at Robert Kirkman or go look at Mark Millar or go look at Dog-Man, there's lots of examples of not sitting on the sidelines, and then if you don't sit on the sidelines, you get something that maybe, every now and then, turns into something big. Some of them are going to be the new lightning in the bottle, it would be awesome if there's ten more by next year." At current rates, it looks as if there are going to be significantly more than ten.
Todd talked about what numbers he initially expected on his new titles and what it was like before the Monday of Final Order-Cut Off for King Spawn #1. "We were at a 130,000 on Thursday and then it was 180 by Friday"… at which point Thank FOC highlighted the book on Bleeding Cool. "Then it was 300 Saturday, and then it was 380 on Sunday, and then on Monday, I said hey 380, f*ck, that's good. And no, we're in the 490s… I thought Spawn's Universe would do 210 or 220,000. King Spawn does 300 and then Gunslinger Spawn and The Scorched… I was hoping I'd get 230, 240, that that may end up at 400, who knows, right? The bandwidth isn't between 200 and 300 the bandwidth is now up to five hundred thousand… Honestly, my first reaction was that maybe too many, because you don't want there to be a flood of anything. The stronger story is if you and I came back a year from now, when all the books have been out for a while, and say, 'hey Todd, what's the floor on all these books, what are you selling now on issue number five, six seven, and eight of all these books. If I could have four books and they're all selling about forty to fifty thousand each, that's that's a home run."
It's a date, Todd, we will speak in a year… King Spawn #1 is published on August the 25th.
KING SPAWN #1 CVR A LEE
(W) Sean Lewis, Todd McFarlane (A) Javier Fernandez, Brett Booth, Philip Tan, Stephen Segovia, Todd McFarlane, Marcio Takara (CA) Puppeteer Lee
A historical NEW ongoing SPAWN series begins! The launch of this book, nearly three decades in the making, further expands the SPAWN UNIVERSE with a growing presence of Hell, Heaven, and Heroes here on Earth. A classic villain from Spawn's past has begun asserting his powers on Earth by corrupting as many souls as possible. And only Spawn knows that he even exists. Continuing the dramatic battles from SPAWN'S UNIVERSE #1, this is where it all begins!!!!! Don't miss out…the last time a new ongoing SPAWN series launched was in 1992.In Shops: Aug 25, 2021 SRP: $5.99