Special to Page 2
74,949 Spawn comic books.
Four months salary for an NHL player.
Or one Barry Bonds No. 715 HR baseball.
While that list might seem a bit eclectic, it might very well have been Todd McFarlane's shopping list recently.
Many of you know McFarlane as a comic book icon and toy company mogul, but McFarlane wears many hats -- and we're not just talking about Spawn and Spidey masks here. The comic book artist also co-owns the Edmonton Oilers, hosts his own radio show on MLB.com, and has designs on becoming an MLB owner one day.
A huge sports aficionado, McFarlane also owns a boxful of record-breaking baseballs -- including Bonds' No. 73 ball, as well as Mark McGwire's No. 70, which he paid nearly $3 million for in 1999. While McFarlane ended up passing on paying $221,100 for Barry's No. 715 on eBay, he can smile knowing he almost landed a different kind of trophy when his Edmonton team went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals this season.
Check out Page 2's interview below, as Todd gushes over his Oilers' recent run as a No. 8 seed, and learn why he passed on the deed to No. 715. Also, see how McFarlane spawned a new logo for his hockey club, and watch an animated McFarlane sketch out his highly touted design (it should come as no surprise that it is the NHL's top-selling third jersey).
Just how does he do it all? Who knows, maybe McFarlane himself has superhero powers. Judge for yourself below.
1. Congratulations on a great season, you were just a game away from winning it all. What do you think of your Oilers' chances next year?
Well, of all the teams that were out there since prelockout, I would say that the Oilers were one of the more entertaining ones in terms of putting out guys who can skate, we cared less about whether they could outmuscle teams. Part of the reason why is because Edmonton's ice was consistently voted as the best in the league. Which means if you have good, fast ice, then you might as well put good, fast guys on there and don't worry about having big, plodding guys, like Minnesota or Detroit might. So, now fast-forward postlockout and all of a sudden that style, which is actually more attuned to our strengths, turned into an advantage for us, especially by the time we got to the playoffs.
So, as long as the NHL continues to adhere to the rule changes that they instituted, and they do it on a diligent level, we'll be there. That's sort of the big hook for me I think we're in good shape.
2. Can you describe your ride to the Stanley Cup Finals as a No. 8 seed?
My guess is that everybody who gets into the playoffs says they hope to win the championship. But you have to, in the back of your mind, be realistic about your chances. If you're an eight seed, you have to acknowledge that you're an eight seed. We've been there before. When we've made the playoffs the last four or five times, we've been in that No. 7 or 8 slot. We haven't gotten up higher, like we did during the Gretzky era. It's nice to win a round or two because, depending how long the series goes, you can actually make a few dollars for the organization -- which we can always use.
I think we're going to have a pretty good year next year, and hopefully our players will go, "Hey we're good -- what are we messing around in the No. 8 slot for?" and perhaps we'll be in the middle of the pack come playoff time. Then, who knows?
3. You designed the new Oilers logo. Can you tell us what inspired your design and the thought process which went into its conception?
(See Todd discuss his design and sketch out his vision in this video clip)
4. Would you ever consider becoming an owner of a team in a different sport? Which team would you buy your hometown Diamondbacks?
Baseball is the sport that I played the longest. I played in the Pac-10. As much as I love hockey, my formative years were spent in California, where I actually picked up baseball. By the time I moved back to Canada when I was 14, my life got very clear. You could either be the best baseball player on the team because you are coming from California, you play year-round and you've got a skill set -- or you can start playing hockey with all of these kids who have been playing since they were 4 years old and you would be the biggest doofus on the team if you even make it. You can imagine what I chose. "Do I want to be an All-Star, or a doofus?" So, baseball is the one I chose. I'd love to be the owner of a baseball team.
One of the things I've found with the Oilers is, being sort of the lone owner away from the Edmonton area, you don't get to have fun with them as much as you would if you were living there. I would have gone to all the playoff games, and I would have sat there to whoop and holler as we were making our run. I had to just follow all of that from a distance. But if I was to get involved in baseball, I obviously could have a lot more fun with a team like the Diamondbacks than I could with, let's say, the Detroit Tigers.
5. Is it true you were recruited by a Seattle Mariners scout to play semi-professional ball in Canada?
I was left-handed, so that limits you to three positions. You can either pitch, be a power-hitting first baseman (I didn't have the goods for that), or you can just play the outfield. I couldn't throw 90 miles per hour, and I obviously wasn't built to be a power hitter, so they shoved me out to the outfield a long time ago when I was a young kid and I literally ran with it. I coach my kids' teams, and I say to these kids that the outfield is not a punishment. If you actually go out there and make it your own, you can assert yourself so that people sort of recognize you and your skill in the outfield as much as they recognize a good shortstop. I could run like the wind and never lost a race in my life, and with those two things you'd be surprised how far it will carry you.
I played in the Pac-10, and then at that point you have to be drafted to keep going. That year when I played, you weren't allowed to draft Canadians, only American kids -- even if they went to American colleges. The rules have been changed -- if you go to college you can get drafted. But back then you could only draft Americans -- then Canadians fell into the same pool as the Puerto Ricans and the Dominicans and those other great big ballplayers. That was the free agent pool. I imagine that most Canadians that had some athletic ability were hockey players, so we were at the bottom of the totem pole unless you were an extraordinary talent. I wasn't one of those.
6a. You regularly do a radio show for MLB.com -- how do you like that experience?
It's not a bad deal. What's nice is that I can do it from the comfort of my office instead of having to be in New York. I think that one of the things I bring to the show is that I also work in the entertainment field. I can tell stories that the listeners are not hearing elsewhere. I do some anecdotal stuff, and some pop cultural stuff. And I can sort of come at things from different angles -- the ownership point of view, the player's point of view, the fan's point of view, the businessman's and CEO's point of view, the marketer's point of view, etc. And also I don't have too many deep ties with anybody, so I don't have to be overly politically correct during that hour.
6b. Who do you like in the playoffs? Do your Diamondbacks have a chance in the NL West?
If the hockey players have taught us anything, it's that anybody can win anything if you get to the playoffs. Look at the Diamondbacks of 2001, or the Marlins -- teams that weren't the powerhouses, just found a way in and then went all the way to the World Series. You don't have to dominate for 162 games. What you have to do is be diligent and just make sure you finish in the top eight, and then go, "OK, now it's a different game." This year I think it is a lot like 2001 -- if you've got a good 1-2 punch on your pitching staff, as we had with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, you could make a run at it. A team like Minnesota, if they can get into the playoffs, arguably could do some damage.
Could the Diamondbacks make it to the playoffs? Yeah, but I don't think they'll make a run all the way to the World Series. But it's like with the Oilers -- with a little bit of faith and a little bit of luck, they can get there, sure.
6c. What do you think is wrong with ex-Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson? Why hasn't he adjusted with the Yankees -- is it because of his age, or does it involve adjusting to being in NYC?
I don't think it's specific to Randy Johnson. I think a lot of athletes take the wrong mind-set into New York. It's like the A-Rod situation as well. If I'm an athlete, whether I am Randy or A-Rod, and I'm going into New York, I actually would go in with the mind-set that the players and the media are going to hang me. Because if they don't hate you, then you ought to say, "Hey, today was a good day." And eventually you have to know they are going to turn on you. Because if you go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts with the bases loaded three times -- they're going to boo you that day. So at some point, if I'm A-Rod, it shouldn't be like: "Oh, whoa, why are you guys turning on me?" It should be, "What took you so long to get on me? I thought you guys were going to get on me from Day 1. I was able to pull the wool over your eyes for 18 months while I was cool. I got away with it for a year and a half. You're right, I'm not playing as well as I can and I'm hurting the team a little bit. I'll do my best, but I thought this was coming a long time ago."
6d. Do you think there are any other players out there (A-Rod, Ken Griffey Jr.) who have a legit chance of passing both Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron in the all-time home run chase?
Griffey, you know, it's too bad he squandered so many years. He possibly squandered 100 home runs away. As you get older, as we're seeing with Bonds, those home runs are hard to come by. If he was at 660 right now, Griffey could have made a run at it. If I was a betting man, I'd say Griffey gets into the mid-660s and tries to get into the 700s. But that's about it. A-Rod's the guy who legitimately can keep at that 35-45 per year pace and keep himself in contention, because he put together a bunch of 45-plus seasons already. He doesn't have to play as many years to do it, like Aaron. Forty homers times 20 years is 800, and he's averaged over 40 homers. He's the real deal right now. But again, he could hit a bad streak like Griffey and all of a sudden start having bad luck and missing games. It can happen, but if you're going to bet on a pony right now, he's the guy.
7. You own Barry Bonds' No. 73 ball and paid $3 million for Mark McGwire's No. 70. How much would you spend on Bonds' No. 715? What will Bonds' legacy be and how will it affect your ball's price down the road?
I figured No. 715 could go over for over six figures. It went over six figures in two days, but if you actually look at who was bidding on it -- a couple car dealerships, casinos -- they're just trying to grab a piece of history that they can put in their lobby and have people walk by and oooh and aaah a little bit. I don't think that Barry's actions one way or the other are really driving that price, because again, that's a lot of money to spend for a No. 2 ball. No. 715 is a nice historical moment, but again, the reason why I pick up some of these balls and memorabilia is because you can tell stories about them. Ultimately, Barry's last ball that he hits will either be the last No. 1 ball or the last No. 2 ball he hits. That will be a new mark that you will see in the record books. There has already been too much crazy bidding for No. 2. I'll get to that type of bidding when I deal with No. 1, not with a No. 2.
8. Since "Spawn" was adapted for the big screen in 1997, there have been a bunch of new comic book movies, including "Spiderman," "X-Men," "Batman" and now "Superman." What did you think of those adaptations? Do you have any other movie plans in the future?
I think it's a terrific time for comic book movies, with all of the fantastic imagery people are capable of creating today. You take a look at the original "Superman" and the original "Batman" and they look a little bit stiff now. It is nice to go along for the ride with the large superhero movies, but I'm also very intrigued with some of the stuff that isn't necessarily superhero-driven, like "Road to Perdition" and "A History of Violence." Those two turned out terrific. Those are "comic book" movies, but people don't realize they are because they didn't have guys with bazookas and flashy tights.
The other movie I am working on which is also a "comic" sort of picks up on Elliot Ness' life after leaving Chicago and putting Al Capone away. That's the one that David Fincher is signed up to direct. There is a screenplay being written now, the outline was just handed in. And everybody wants him to do this as his next movie, but he has another one lined up with Brad Pitt, so hopefully, worst case, it would be his second one -- he just finished "Zodiac," sort of a serial killer film, and he might want a breather from another serial killer story. Hopefully we can just keep this rock being pushed uphill.
Shane Igoe splits his time between New York City and Los Angeles.