When I spoke to Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, last week, he mentioned a little nugget that I thought deserved its own space. Wed discussed the upcoming Venom 2 movie, using the character he co-created for Marvel Comics, now getting a second movie. But I also asked him about his plans to bring in other comic book creators to spin off new Spawn-related comic books, and creating new characters for Todd. This seemed the opposite to what he originally co-created Image Comics for, and I asked why creators should work for him, when they could, like he did, just go off and do their own work. He pointed out that not every creator is like him, not everyone wants to go off like that, they may prefer a regular page rate instead. But he hopes that people would work on his comic as well as creating their own. At which point, he paused and brought up the fact that he was getting paid twice as much for the Warner Bros CW TV series Stargirl, than for Venom. How?
When Todd McFarlane was an artist for DC Comics, he drew a number of issues of Infinity Inc, written by Roy Thomas. This included the creation of the minor villain character Artemis Crock in Infinity, Inc. #34 in 1987, also known as Tigress. Originally the daughter of Golden Age villains Paula Brooks and Crusher Crock, she had taken up a career of crime like her parents. She would later head a revived Injustice Unlimited and planned to murder the members of Infinity Inc. During the Infinite Crisis storyline, Artemis appeared as a member of Alexander Luthor, Jr.’s Secret Society of Super-Villains. In the New 52 reboot, she was reinvented as a powerless fighter who helped the Teen Titans before she is killed, fighting against Harvest. More recently, Artemis Crock appears in the live-action series Stargirl, portrayed by Stella Smith. This version of Artemis is an athletic student at Blue Valley High and classmate of the titular character with a competitive streak.
And yet, compared to Venom, the lead star of two movies, with plenty of other multi-media usages, Warners pays Todd McFarlane out twice as much as Marvel does for a minor Stargirl TV character. Todd didn’t even know he’s co-created her, he had no knowledge of her until the cheques arrived. He told Bleeding Cool “I didn’t even know what the check was because I’m like, what is this? It was it for… Stargirl, I wasn’t even aware, but I’m going, wow here’s the character I didn’t even know I created, wow, that was nice. It wasn’t a lot but it was a surprise that I even got it. And then two days later, I got my Venom check, and it might not have been inclusive but it was half a Stargirl. I’m going to create a system where if you create a Venom for me, then you will reap the benefits way, way bigger than that you would working for the other companies. Because I don’t have giant overheads, I don’t have to pay to make my stock profit.”
This also comes off the back of Ed Brubaker talking about his unhappiness with Marvel’s use of The Winter Soldier in movies and TV shows, all Steve Epting and I have gotten for creating the Winter Soldier and his storyline is a “thanks” here or there, and over the years that’s become harder and harder to live with.” Talking to Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin’s Fatman Beyond Batman podcast, he also stated that he made more from the residual payment for appearing in a cameo role for a couple of wordless seconds in Captain America: The Winter Soldier than for co-creating the Winter Soldier, from both that film. subsequent films and The Falcon & The Winter Soldier TV show for Disney+. “I have made more on SAG residuals than I have made on creating the character for my one line that got cut” and “There’s nothing preventing anyone at Marvel from looking over how much the Winter Soldier has been used in all this stuff and calling me and Steve Epting and saying, ‘You know what, we’re going to try to adjust the standard thing so you guys feel good about this’… It’s just weird that they’re so ungenerous to me. It’s especially weird because a lot of them are friends of mine. Or people that I thought were friends of mine.” He states it’s not Tom Brevoort, but not that it is not Joe Quesada. Which also mirrors Jim Starlin when he said that he made more from the occasional supervillain KGBeast’s tiny role in the Batman Vs Superman movie than for the entirety of Thanos…