Rock n’ Roll and Comics collide in 2012 as Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and comic book legend Todd McFarlane team up for a new line of licensed Spawn t-shirts — just in time for Spawn’s 20th anniversary! Barker’s apparel company Famous Stars and Straps— popular not only in rock and hip-hop circles, but the BMX/skateboarder/motorcycle arena as well — is working closely with McFarlane to bring his unique style to this special t-shirt program.
Todd McFarlane wearing his new Spawn shirt, with the legendary Stan Lee
MTV Geek recently chatted with McFarlane about the new apparel line, and why his creations and aesthetics seem to gel so well with the world of edgy music and extreme sports:
MTV Geek: How did you and Travis Barker get together for this apparel project?
Todd McFarlane: Travis was in town and came into the studio, and we had a bit of a pow-wow. We started talking about art and design, and I recognized him as a kindred soul who is an artist first — we were on the same wavelength. The visit was a success, and we decided to turn that success into a business.
Geek: Spawn and the Spawn style seems to mesh really well with the worlds of rock n’ roll and sports communities like the skateboarding and the BMX crowd. Why do you think your comic book creations have been able to make such a crossover into those other areas?
TM: I think it’s because it doesn’t necessarily come across as a comic book character. I think for “that crowd” — to use a generic term — they respond to the same things I do, which is chains, and spikes and skulls and sort of dark/cool stuff. Spawn is all that — but by the way, it also happens to be a comic book. So I’ve had people come up to me and show me a tattoo of Spawn, and I’ve asked them, “what if Spawn is just a fad, and goes the way of the hula-hoop?” And then they get all flustered and I reassure them: “don’t worry about it — all you have to do is say it’s from the cover of a heavy-metal band,” because there’s the same design elements. So I’m sure there will be people who like the shirts but have zero knowledge that it’s from a comic book character named Spawn. I think they’ll just buy it because it’s a cool-looking shirt.
Geek: What was it like working with Famous Stars and Straps lead designer Maxx Gramajo?
TM: Well, I showed him my own artwork that I thought might look great with the t-shirts, and then I also asked him what’s out there that might be selling well in the marketplace — because again, as someone who has done both business and art, you don’t want to necessarily start forcing people to buy what youthink they should. Sometimes you need to just make what they are already buying. So he showed me a couple of designs, things that sort of emulated spraypaint and graffiti imagery, and others that looked like a bunch of letters pieced together like a ransom note, and some just very clean ones with just the company’s logo — and we just discussed the range of it.
Geek: Are there any plans to have Famous Stars and Straps/Spawn branding on products and apparel outside of T-shirts?
TM: The by-product of that will come after the first couple of successful launches of the shirts. As somebody who puts out many series of toys, I’d always like to have ten series of everything, and expand it — but it’s all predicated on the prior success of the previous stuff you’ve put out there. They’re putting out about 6 shirts in early 2012, and depending on how well that and their Fall drop goes, we’ll be in discussion about putting out jackets, caps, backpacks, etc.
Geek: The t-shirt launch is in 2012 — the 20th anniversary of the character Spawn. Do you have any other plans, at this time, that you can tell us about to celebrate the anniversary?
TM: I’m just finishing up the script for a movie, and I’ve got a bunch of producers waiting for it — but part of the deal is that I’d actually write it, so that’s what I’m doing right now. So hopefully, we won’t just have product to sell off the back of the 20th anniversary — because that’s a very limited audience in comparison.