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SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2007


By Ernie Estrella

SAN DIEGO -- At last year's Comic-Con International, Robert Kirkman crashed the Todd McFarlane panel, challenging McFarlane to draw again. McFarlane, at the time, didn't even know who Kirkman was.

But it appears the prodding was productive. At this year's McFarlane panel, it was announced that Kirkman and McFarlane will be collaborating on a new series, The Haunt.

After many phone calls and sketching, they hope to release the monthly Haunt in early 2008 as a high-action horror tale with plenty of superhero aspects. McFarlane has agreed to draw covers.

When asked about his lack of desire to draw as he once did, he brought up his family and business ventures in his action figures and new video game production company, 38 Special. However after fielding comments from a supportive audience, McFarlane said, "I will go back to comics eventually. Life is a circle and I began in comics so I'm sure I will end my career in comics. I just have to get that itch of everything else I want to do before I go back to drawing regularly."

Kirkman will write The Haunt, but McFarlane will also have creative input.

In other news from the panel:

* McFarlane said that he did close a deal with Warner Brothers to make a film with him. He had tried to sell a film with director Michael Bay, but Transformers lured him away. Bay will not be on board for the recently picked up film and because of the legalities, it was too early to share any details or specifics.

* McFarlane will still continue to produce four regular Spawn books: Spawn, Spawn Godslayer, Spawn: Architects of Fear and Adventures of Spawn.

* 38 Studios is McFarlane's new massively multi-player, online role playing game (MMORPG) that will share the same audience of online gamers who play World of Warcraft. The game they are developing is still in the early stages but it looks to aim fans of dark fantasy and will specifically have nothing to do with Spawn whatsoever. His business partners include Brett Close (President & CEO), Curt Schilling (Founder and Chairman) and R.A. Salvatore (Director of Creative Content).

* Schilling was not present for the panel due to his commitment to the Boston Red Sox and rehabilitating an injury. He did pre-record a brief greeting for the audience.

* McFarlane is continuing to shop Spawn: The Animation but is also looking how to make it even better given the leaps in technology since the HBO cartoon aired several years ago.

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