Todd McFarlane just announced a new adaptation of the Spawn spin-off comic book Sam And Twitch by wiip, the studio behind The Mare Of Easttown for HBO and the upcoming Toast Of Tinseltown for the BBC. But this is not the first time around the block for the comic book featuring the police detectives Sam and Twitch of the Spawn universe. So I had a chat about this version- and others. I first asked about the odds of this version getting made. He told me "I don't know that I bet my kid's life on any Hollywood Vegas odds but I would say that Hollywood at times can be a matter of being in the right place at the right time. With the huge success of Mare Of Easttown and Spawn sort of having a resurgence and the introduction of Spawn's Universe, you combine the producers of Mare Of Easttown and the creator of Spawn and co-creator of Venom, if those two people get married what would their baby look like? We'll be in as good a position as we possibly can at that moment."
I pointed out that Hollywood does love to take an existing comic book property, like Lucifer, iZombie or Flash, and turn it into a cop show. But that with Sam And Twitch, Todd seemed to have done that already. "My instincts have always been to try and come up with ideas and do stuff that is accessible. If they get too big and too fantastic then you're gonna have budgets that are gonna sort of scare people or limit your audience. My question has been can you do a detective show that is slightly odd and it has some sort of creepy element in it, but not in such a way that it would be offensive to a giant swath of people who just go, no, that's too scary for me. I think the writers are on the right path to writing those kinds of stories that have enough of the real world with just enough strangeness in it that you just go, okay, I can go along for the ride. And when it gets a little quirky, that's okay because I understand who the characters are. And there's enough believable stuff in it that I'll give you your little fantasy your little supernatural moment… I think it was one of the reasons amongst many why Mare Of Easttown was super successful because I think a lot of people could relate just to the characters, I either grew up in that town, I either have an aunt and uncle that is part of that town or I've passed through that town. Oh, by the way, there's a murder mystery on top of it."
I asked if Todd would have any plans to introduce the rest of Spawn's universe through this show. "My first instinct is that any show you do has to be able to live on its own. Even if it's a spin-off of The Walking Dead, it still has to live off in its corner, and if it never butts into the original, it still is worthy of an audience. Given that Sam And Twitch are not the biggest characters in Spawn's world by any stretch and the TV show has to work on all levels to people who've never heard of Sam And Twitch, that have never heard of Spawn, that don't know who I am, that don't read comics, none of that should matter if we do our job right. So does that mean that there might not be a wink in the nod to things that we know as being part of a bigger mythology? I think we can have a little bit of fun with it."
I asked Todd if there were any plans to base any of the storylines on those from the Spawn or Sam And Twitch comic books. "When I go to the creative people especially the writers here Jason and Todd, it's like. hey look, here are the characters. I'll give you some stuff, here are some issues use it for as much as little inspiration as you need. I've always thought that all the ideas that I'm involved in, whether I have a direct hand and help them create them, or just help shepherd them, that I always look at all of them as more like word clouds, there's usually three that are the biggest words and so as long as you adhere to those three words right yeah then I think that that you're basically doing what you need to to to keep the audience that actually knows about it. As long as the thematic beats are there, that Sam and Twitch have this almost unbreakable bond with each other, you would argue that they're the biggest critics of each other but they're also the biggest fans, so to me, it's almost like two brothers, I get to make fun of my brother but nobody else on the planet does and I'll take on anybody who attempts to, I think people hopefully will be able to relate to those kinds of things that these two characters that hopefully have this relationship that people will relate to. Also, put them in a circumstance from time to time where they're not getting much help and there will not be a calvary because they're a little bit they're out there, they know the world to be much more than what everybody else does, so they don't even have anybody else they can confide in so they're going to have to do a lot of this on their own which is only going to make their relationship even more important."
So what, if anything, does the new Sam And Twitch development have to the version from a few years ago, in which Law And Order's Dick Wolf was going to make a Sam And Twitch TV show for BBC America and for which Kevin Smith wrote a number of scripts? As one might expect, nothing. Todd told me "whenever you move to someplace else and you've got a new person that's behind it, and time has gone by, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, whatever it was, which is vastly different than potentially doing something 20 years later now on streaming, whoever is helping to drive it has a pulse of what they think their audience wants and why they think anybody's even turning to their dial, and so you just factor all that in and when and when that development doesn't work then when you go to the next sort of iteration of it you don't bring any of that with you. You go, guys, today is today, what do we need to do with this group of creative people that we think will work for us today not five years ago not 10 years ago. Some of the elements are there but it's just the core elements, to go back to the original sort of subject matter."