Gamasutra recently visited
the GameStop Expo in Las Vegas to investigate exactly what happens when
the biggest game specialty retailer puts on a shindig for its staff.
Exhibitors were there, of course, to both pitch product and sign autographs.
Among them was famous comic book creator and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, whose toy company has
partnered with Microsoft and Bungie to produce a line of Halo 3
toys that are due out in March. Alongside the game's release, a special
limited edition Halo 3 controller wrapped with McFarlane's art
was also produced.
Thus, Gamasutra spoke to McFarlane - just before Halo 3 launched - about
the realities of making toys based on games, his company's relationships
with Bungie and Microsoft, and his venture with baseball player Curt
Schilling and author R.A. Salvatore, 38 Studios, which is currently
in production on an MMORPG.
So obviously you're here at the
GameStop Expo to promote the Halo figures you're doing with Microsoft.
Todd McFarlane: Right.
How did you come to get involved
with that project?
TM: You know what, someone just asked
me that, and it's interesting. Most times it's somebody who just walks
into the room and goes, "Hey, how would you like to do that?"
And I never know whether it was because someone was asking us or we
asked them, at that point. But we've been keeping our eye on
Halo, wanting to get back in doing some video game figures again.
You know, we had done Metal Gear Solid --
Those made a big splash back in,
I guess that was probably 1999?
TM: Yeah, so. We followed up on a couple
of other games that didn't do quite as well as Metal Gear, but
I also have a bunch of guys that work for me who are huge Halo
fans. They've always been sort of nudging me the whole time, and I think
between us looking for them and the Bungie developers wanting to have
a bunch of cool toys -- luckily a bunch of guys who work at Bungie also
collect our stuff, so they knew that we would deliver quality to them.
And not necessarily just that we offered the most money, but just that
we could come in there and actually make toys that looked like what
was on the screen.
Bungie's philosophy, essentially. They care most about quality.
TM: Right. And so whenever that happens
on the license, that puts us high up on the pecking order because there
are very few companies out there, if any, that I'll take a back seat
to in quality. If they want art, all of a sudden our phone starts to
ring. If they want the most money, usually they go to the public companies.
But anyway, we ended up making early contact and talking about the toys,
and as a byproduct of talking about the toys we sort of splintered off
into doing the wireless controller artwork that they had on the drawing
Who's producing the controller?
That's not your company...
TM: No, no, no. That's Microsoft.
They're producing it themselves?
TM: Yeah, what we did was, they came
up with it and wanted to see if they could actually wrap some artwork
on it, so we did some artwork for it and then we produced the little
tiny figures for it -- those little guys right there [indicates display]
are going to be packed in with the controller, and then you get both
of those for whatever the retail price is on that.
So did you actually do the illustrations
or do you have a staff that completes the illustrations?
TM: Nah, the guy I've been working
with over the years, a guy named Greg Capullo, he and I, when it gets
down to the artwork, he and I are like Batman and Robin, we do it all.
There are other things that we do, that I let my staff do, but then
I don't sign my name to it.
Right, I understand.
TM: So if I sign it, I'm doing artwork