Image Comics' President Todd McFarlane announced his plan to create a greater multi-character, interconnected comic book universe based around his Spawn comic at the retailer summit, ComicsPRO. His stated goal is to establish a shared fictional universe over time in the vein of what the other comic industry giants, Marvel, and DC Comics, have accomplished with their comic book universes.
As part of his announcement, McFarlane announced four new titles coming out in 2021, with three of them continuing on as regular monthly titles, meaning that there will be an opportunity for fans of the Spawn character and his new expanding world, to get their stories from it on a weekly basis instead of just twelve times a year. In June, in what McFarlane is calling "2021… the year of Spawn", comic retailers will be able to order SPAWN'S UNIVERSE #1. A book that will set the stage with a story that will then spill out into the other new monthly titles.
The first of which is published in August with a book called KING SPAWN #1. "The character Spawn will now join the rare company of stalwart characters, like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, that will have multiple monthly books for the same title character. It will also mark the first time in twenty-eight years that anyone can buy a monthly issue #1 Spawn book". Giving McFarlane hope of reaching a new generation of readers that missed out on the initial launch of Spawn back in 1992.
In October comes the second new monthly called GUNSLINGER SPAWN. This title character has been a huge hit among the fanbase the past year and each of his appearances has garnered enthusiasm at the stores and online.
Finally, there will be a new #1 team book, which will band five characters together to fight against forces too big for any of them to take on alone. That book is titled THE SCORCHED. Spawn, Redeemer, Gunslinger, Medieval Spawn and She-Spawn begin the group's adventures, but McFarlane promises a rotating cast of heroes over the coming months to keep the roster of heroes fresh. He also said that he will be bringing in new major villains into the fold, too.
McFarlane says: "The simple question is this: DC Comics started a shared universe in the late 1930's. Marvel Comics began theirs in the early 1960's… so, can lightning strike a third time beginning in 2021? I personally do not have the answer to that question right now, but the only way to get an answer to that question is to make the attempt in the first place."
When Todd McFarlane first launched Spawn, he followed it with a number of other connected books, including Angela, Hellspawn, Sam & Twitch, Boof, Medieval Spawn, Violator and others but in recent years, has stuck to the solo Spawn series. Todd told Bleeding Cool that this was more of a haphazard approach rather than anything as planned as Spawn's Universe intends to be.
Spawn's Universe is a long-intended plan that will need the help of dozens and dozens of creators to help create hundreds and hundreds of characters. And then to reward those creators if any of their ideas pay off in a big way outside of the comic industry. Todd states that "the quest isn't to have our ideas exclusively live in the comic book industry but to have merit and value outside of that industry as well. My character Spawn has been an example of what can happen with creation… so, what are the possibilities if hundreds of creations are brought together? Marvel and DC Comics have shown us that a collective group of characters, together, in a shared universe can resonate globally. I think it is time for David to attempt to join the same arena as the Goliaths of the world."
To lend a creative hand on some of this expanding list of titles, McFarlane has recruited an all-star list of comic book creators such as Art Adams, Jason Shawn Alexander, Carlo Barberi, Brett Booth, J. Scott Campbell, Greg Capullo, Donny Cates, Jim Cheung, Mike del Mundo, Javier Fernandez, David Finch, Jonathan Glapion, Kevin Keane, Aleš Kot, Puppeteer Lee, Sean Lewis, Sean Gordon Murphy, Ben Oliver, Stephen Segovia, Paulo Siqueira, Marc Silvestri, Marcio Takara and Frank Quitely, as well as others he will be announcing in the coming months.
The announcement was given by McFarlane during a first look presentation at the Direct Market Retailers at the Annual ComicsPRO Conference.
The character Spawn, created by McFarlane, will be at the forefront of the initial launch of new titles, but the long-term goal is that Spawn will become but one of many characters that will succeed not only in the comics industry but in many mediums across the globe.
Spawn has recently seen sales recently increase between 150 to 600% from pre-pandemic orders. The Spawn title currently is a top 5 monthly selling title on the Diamond Distributors Top 100 Chart. Recently, a new release of a Spawn figure on Kickstarter set that set a new Kickstarter record, in its category, for raising just under $3.5 million in 30 days. That figure was also recently awarded the People's Choice 2021 Toy Of The Year (TOTY) by The Toy Association, Inc.