Todd McFarlane: The Devil You Know
Todd McFarlane: The Devil You Know is a documentary directed by Kenton Vaughan and was originally released in 2000. It features interviews with a host of people McFarlane has worked with over the years, such as Jim Valentino, Erik Larsen, Jim Salicrup, and Tom DeFalco, as well as his family and friends, such as Terry Fitzgerald and Al Simmons.
McFarlane is the most successful comic book artist in history, and has parlayed that success into a multi-million dollar entertainment empire that spans comics, action figures, a television series, a movie, music videos, and video games. Though McFarlane aspired to play professional baseball, he was cut from the team, and turned his focus and drive to comics. Though he started out small, he soon found success with his dynamic art style on titles like Incredible Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, and Spider-Man, all at Marvel Comics. However, he soon became frustrated with the medium, as he wasn't allowed to do the type of comics he wanted. Along with several other talented artists from Marvel, McFarlane left and formed Image Comics. It was here that Spawn was born and the title quickly became one of the best-selling comics ever. From the success Spawn brought him, McFarlane was able to create a thriving and diverse empire.
I've been a fan of McFarlane for quite some time, as my first comics were by him (Amazing Spider-Man #310 & #312). I admit that my knowledge of him is fairly limited, as what I do know stems mainly from Wizard: The Guide to Comics and the documentary and interviews found on In the Mind of Todd McFarlane, released as part of the Spawn: The Ultimate Collection DVD Box Set. However, I can say that the documentary is really hit or miss. I enjoyed seeing and hearing from Al Simmons, Terry Fitzgerald, Wanda, and Cyan (all characters from Spawn named after real people in McFarlane's life), and I learned some interesting stuff, such as an event that caused him to leave Marvel. It was also interesting seeing McFarlane's famous bid on McGwire's 70th home run ball. However, the documentary leaves out quite a few things, most notably the founding of Image Comics and Greg Capullo, who took over penciling of Spawn when Todd left early in the title's run. Still, it's a decent documentary about one of comic's most famous and visible creators that fans should consider checking out.
Todd McFarlane: The Devil You Know is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is fine throughout, with little in the way of print defects. There is some shimmering on occasion and the older footage, taken from comic conventions, shows some wear as well.
Todd McFarlane: The Devil You Know is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The documentary is entirely dialogue based, for the exception of some added comic sound effects when comic pages are shown. These effects, ranging from "twhipp!" to "bam!" are cool at first, but soon become annoying and seem out of place. Dialogue throughout is crisp and clean with no distortion. No optional subtitles are available.
Perhaps the extra I was most excited about was an art gallery with "never-before-published" images. However, I was disappointed to discover the gallery consisted of only nine items, several of which I know I've seen before. There was only one piece of Spider-Man/Batman art and a layout from an Incredible Hulk comic. Also featured was the original concept for Spawn from the late 70s. The rest of the gallery was filler.
Also included are pictures from Spawn toy lines 21 & 22, a Spawn 2000 promo trailer, a biography for Vaughn, text information about Docurama, and a Docurama catalog with trailers.
Todd McFarlane: The Devil You Know will certainly appeal to fans of his work in comics and his action figure lines, but might also make an interesting rental for those who only know him as "the ball guy." However, I really recommend sticking with a rental, rather than a purchase, as the MSRP doesn't really justify what you get. Rent it.