Say what you will about the live-action movie, but HBO's late-'90s animated series "Todd McFarlane's Spawn" was one of the most faithful adaptations of a comic book to ever hit the screen. Taking full advantage of the network's restriction-free environment, the 18-episode series managed to offer the same violence, sex and dark, adult-oriented tone that made McFarlane's "Spawn" comic such a success.
And now the Emmy-winning series could be headed back to television.
I spoke to McFarlane about his recent announcement that the "Spawn" animated series could be returning to production in 2010, and got the lowdown on why next year could be a big one for the popular Hellspawn, and what form his big comeback could take if it happens.
"I had a lot of people saying they loved the animated series more than the movie, because the movie was PG-13 and HBO wasn't shy about going into the R range with the series," said McFarlane of contrast between the 1997 "Spawn" movie starring Michael Jae White and the 1997-1999 animated series which cast Keith David as the voice of Spawn.
However, even all the power of a Hellspawn wasn't enough to avoid a pair of nasty legal disputes that stalled new Spawn-related projects for the last ten years. Now, with the bulk of the legal wranglings settled, McFarlane says he's preparing to unleash an animated Spawn on the world yet again.
"We developed another 85-minute, movie-length storyline, but things got complicated near the end and there were some legal issues, so it got frozen because of that," explained McFarlane of the long delay between the animated series' final, award-winning season and now. "Recently, we were able to come to a compromise where everybody is happy. As a result of that, at the end of this year—as long as both parties do what they're supposed to—then all the rights come back to me."
"Not only do I get the rights, but I get all the work that was done," he added. "And the work is fairly extensive."
According to McFarlane, not only is the story for the 85-minute "Spawn" feature written, but "the characters are designed, the background is there, and we've even done the voice recording."
"It stalled right at going overseas to find a studio, so it's pretty far along," he explained.
McFarlane said the question isn't whether Spawn will return with a new animated series, but whether the new "Spawn" series will kick off with that full, 85-minute pilot or a series of individual episodes cut from the pilot. And this time around, he hopes that the animated series will have a much better connection with a potential live-action "Spawn" movie he described to MTV News last month.
"[The animated series] has a lot of the same dark sensibilities as the movie I've talked about," said McFarlane. "This animated story is fairly compatible with the ideas I talked about with the movie. They would go hand-in-hand fairly well."
So, when will we know more about Spawn's return to the animated world?
"Arguably, January 2 I can go into Hollywood and start knocking on doors," said McFarlane.
Would you liek to see another "Spawn" animated series? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!