I’m back today to continue my Indie Comic Month run through the original titles from the 1992 launch of Image Comics. As it turns out, I already had a guide for this title, which I launched in 2019. However, a lot of things can change in just a few years, and this title’s 30th anniversary in 2022 opened up a whole new universe of comics and collections. It’s time for a major update to my Guide to Spawn by Todd McFarlane!
Guide to Spawn by Todd McFarlane
When I first created this Guide to Spawn back in October 2019, Spawn seemed like it was in “Legacy Mode” with no signs of change on the horizon. Little did I realize that had begun to change the very month I published the guide!
To me,”Legacy Mode” is when a longstanding comic is only publishing more issues because it has a core of fans that will keep buying them. There’s no extra effort being put into marketing it beyond that existing core of fans. The stories start to feel repetitive and insular. And, there’s no efforts being made to collect or re-collect older issues of the title – since the assumption is that all of the fans already own all of the collections!
That described Spawn as it existed prior to October 2019, but not after.
The same month I published the guide, Spawn released issue #301 – which earned it the Guinness Book of World Record title for the “longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series” (having surpassed Dave Sims’ Cerebus, which reached issue #300 back in 2004 but had since switched to publishing as a series of one-shots).
The world-record and the ensuing attention was good for both McFarlane and his creation. Sales of Spawn spiked due to an influx of readers, with fans and comic creators talking about how influential Spawn (and McFarlane) had been on them as comic fans.
McFarlane seemed re-energized by the realization of his lasting impact on the industry and you could feel it in the page of Spawn (which I was reading monthly at the time, thanks to working on my guide). As the title revved up to telling more-ambitious stories, behind-the-scenes Todd began plotting how he could continue the momentum of his record-setting.
That came to fruition in 2021 with the release of issue #318-319 and the Spawn’s Universe one-shot, an anthology book that set up a newly-expanded Spawn Universe.
In the following six months, McFarlane launched three additional ongoing titles – King Spawn, written by Sean Lewis with art by Javi Fernandez, Gunslinger Spawn written by McFarlane with art from 90s Image superstar Brett Booth, and The Scorched – a team book piloted by Lewis & MacFarlane with art by Stephen Segovia.
Spawn hit its 30th anniversary in 2022 surging with popularity. With the expansion of the Spawn line came an expanded appetite from McFarlane to continue several collection lines, all of which were considered completed since they reached close to the end of the title’s original run of McFarlane scripting for Greg Capullo’s art with issue #125.
Suddenly, in 2022, three collection lines reawakened all at once – the Deluxe Collection slipcase line (which had ended in 2013 with issue #100), the oversize hardcover line (which ended in 2016 with issue #125), and the standard paperback line (which ended in 2014 with issue #123).
All of them quickly pressed forward to issue #150 over the past year – and, there’s no indication they’ll be stopping there!
Furthermore, McFarlane launched a new line of Spawn Compendiums. He had previously released this line as a black-and-white phonebook in the style of Marvel Essentials or DC Showcase. Now the line was back in full-color, and it has quickly pumped out four volumes to reach issue #200 – covering several previously-uncollected chunks of the title!
Spawn entered 2023 with four ongoing titles and four ongoing collection lines and there’s no signs that it will be slowing down anytime soon. I was excited to have so much to do in this update to the Guide to Spawn! With so many releases hitting each month, I’m going to dial up the frequency of updates to this guide for the rest of the year.
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