The Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane

Closer to hagiography than biography, "The Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane" is a fawning yet sporadically intriguing docu about the creator of the cult fave "Spawn" comicbook series. Pic has little to hook auds who know nothing about the violent exploits of McFarlane's back-from-the-dead vigilante superhero.

Closer to hagiography than biography, “The Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane” is a fawning yet sporadically intriguing docu about the creator of the cult fave “Spawn” comicbook series. Pic has little to hook auds who know nothing about the violent exploits of McFarlane’s back-from-the-dead vigilante superhero. But die-hard fans and casually curious viewers could propel modest homevid rentals and sales.

McFarlane, a Canadian-born, U.S.-based artist-writer, is frank in admitting that, like the unforgiving Spawn, he’s a rabid advocate of capital punishment. However, he sounds like a left-winger while theorizing why U.S. murder rates exceed those of other civilized countries: “I hate to say it, but it’s because we’ve got different gun laws.” Director Kenton Vaughan effectively emphasizes McFarlane’s contradictions as a regular guy who married his high school sweetheart, dreams of baseball superstardom — and operates a multi-million-dollar business built on indie comics, action figures and TV and movie spin-offs. McFarlane makes no apologies for his immense success as a comicbook mogul. And he appears happier than a schoolboy when he makes a winning bid of nearly $3 million for Mark McGwire’s 70th home-run baseball.

The Devil You Know: Inside the Mind of Todd McFarlane

Canada

Production: A National Film Board of Canada production. Produced by Silva Basmajian. Executive producer, Louise Lore. Directed by Kenton Vaughan.

Crew: Camera (color, video), Derek Rogers, Joan Hutton; editor, Greg West; sound (Dolby), Stephen Barden. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (Documentary Special Screening), Austin, Texas, March 15, 2001. Running time: 78 MIN.

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