Puck Culture: Five Todd McFarlane-hockey crossovers

Comic book creator and artist Todd McFarlane is a legend in his industry, having worked for many years on The Amazing Spider-Man and Spawn. But he’s also a huge hockey fan and has been involved with the sport in one way or another over the past 30 years.
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Spawn-Themed Hockey Merchandise

McFarlane’s Spawn comic character appeared on some hockey-related merchandise in the 1990s. Spawn, dressed up as a hockey player, was pictured on a trading card that was given away with a sports magazine in 1994. Then, in 1998, the Spawn logo was emblazoned on a pair of 1:45-scale die-cast Olympia ice resurfacers sold in stores, as well as a puck given away at OHL Plymouth Whalers games on “Spawn Night.”

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The Amazing Spider-Man: Skating on Thin Ice!

This PSA comic book was given away in Canada in 1990 to warn children about the dangers of substance abuse. In the story, Spider-Man tracks a shipment of drugs to Winnipeg, meets a group of youth hockey players and stops one of them from experimenting with drugs. McFarlane illustrated the cover, which pictures a child wearing an Oilers shirsey. But this wasn’t the last time McFarlane would draw an Oilers logo.

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Hockey Action Figures

McFarlane Toys made action figures of the three Hanson Brothers from Slap Shot in 1999. Then the company produced its line of hockey “SportsPicks” action figures, first in generic NHLPA uniforms (2000), then in officially licensed NHL gear (2001 to 2013). The figures were light years ahead of the competition – Hasbro’s simplistic Starting Lineup figures – with an impressive level of detail, striking likenesses and dynamic poses.

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The Tony Twist Lawsuit

McFarlane’s penchant for naming characters in his Spawn comic after NHL players got him in trouble when he called a crime boss Antonio Twistelli, with the nickname ‘Tony Twist.’ The corpulent, murderous mobster appeared in both the comic and the R-rated animated series on HBO. The real-life Tony Twist sued both HBO and McFarlane in 1997 for using his name. HBO settled for an undisclosed sum in 2001, while the lawsuit against McFarlane continued until 2007 when it was settled for $5 million.

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Partially Owned the Oilers and Created Their Alternate Logo

McFarlane bought a percentage of the Edmonton Oilers in 1998 and co-designed the team’s third jersey and alternate logo: a drop of oil and a metal gear with five sprockets, representing the Oilers’ five Stanley Cup championships. The team sporadically wore the jerseys from 2001-02 to 2006-07. The next season, McFarlane sold his shares of the team to Daryl Katz.

This feature appeared in The Hockey News 2020 Rookie Issue. Want more in-depth features, analysis and opinions delivered right to your mailbox? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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