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King Spawn No. 1 is reigning at comic book shops. The Image Comics title from creator Todd McFarlane has sold 497,000 copies, a monster launch for the ongoing series that makes it the largest monthly title release of the past 25 years for Image.
McFarlane introduced Spawn in 1992 after making a name for himself as a writer and artist on Marvel’s Spider-Man. He is particularly proud that his creation can go toe-to-toe in terms of sales with Marvel and DC, with King Spawn ranking favorably against (and even topping) many of those publisher’s biggest characters.
“I was always growing up the underdog kid,” McFarlane tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Moments happen when you can take on giants and live to tell about it.”
For context of how big King Spawn is, DC’s Action Comics No. 1,000 sold an estimated 504,000 units to become the top-selling comic of 2018, with DC’s Detective Comics No. 1,000 topping 2019 with an estimated 574,705 in sales. (Comics sales are tracked by how many issues are purchased by retailers, who then sell them to customers. King Spawn will be available to readers on Aug. 25.) McFarlane notes those were historic issues with the machines of two big companies behind them. Image, the indie publisher McFarlane and other artists founded in 1992, is the third biggest publisher in the industry.
Last year, retailers and publishers feared the coronavirus pandemic would be an apocalyptic event for the industry, with stay-at-home orders shuttering comic stores and new comic book issues delayed. There are signs of the industry rebounding, with customers showing they are still interested in monthly comics, King Spawn among them.
King Spawn comes as McFarlane seeks to build out a Spawn universe with four new titles, also including Spawn’s Universe, October’s Gunslinger Spawn and the December teamup book The Scorched. Spawn’s Universe previously set a milestone for Image, becoming the publisher’s top-selling issue of this century with 211,000 units ordered by stores.
For McFarlane, the sales data suggests the 29 years he’s spent building the Spawn brand have paid off. He thinks it’s time to move into film and television in a bigger way. McFarlane has been attached to direct a Spawn feature for Blumhouse since 2017 and recently revealed he is developing a Sam and Twitch TV show centering on the characters who first appeared in the pages of 1992’s Spawn No. 1. Those projects remain in development, and McFarlane is ready to get them off the ground. Says the creator: “At some point, Hollywood is going to have to wake up for it.”
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