Backstage - Interview - Eric Radomski
Perhaps best known for collaborating with Bruce Timm in creating Batman: The Animated Series, Eric Radomski came aboard Todd McFarlane's Spawn four months into production to help give the show a focus and definite direction to follow. Toon Zone sat down with Eric Radomski to discuss his work on Todd McFarlane's Spawn and to get an inside view on how it came to be. 

How did your job on Spawn come about?

I was at the end of my contract with WB, working as a director on Freakazoid. I did a little bit of development with Bruce Timm on Superman and "Mask of the Phantasm" had finished six months earlier. I had made a proposal to Jean MacCurdy, President of Warner Animation at the time, to develop new/original properties, but Warner Bros was not prepared to develop original ideas. The future at WB looked bleak for me. Out of the blue I received a call from Catherine Winder, who was a freelance Producer for HBO. She was in the midst of developing Spawn Animated, with an independent animation studio. They were about four months into development and were having difficulties pulling the project together. Based on what she knew of my work on Batman, she asked if I was interested in coming on board to help her organize a studio in house at HBO. I decided almost immediately to accept her offer and left WB about one month later.

Had you read much of the comic before taking the job?

No. I had never heard of Spawn before taking the job.

Fellow director Frank Paur and composer Shirley Walker from B:TAS also worked on Spawn. What was it like working with them again?

I was very fortunate to have Shirley Walker to accept my request to compose the entire Spawn series. Having had a great experience with her on Batman, she was my first and only choice as composer. She was very open to my direction for the music to be mostly electronic and very organic, unlike the traditional movie score of Batman TAS. I did not work with Frank Paur on Spawn. Frank joined the project after my crew and I left HBO at the beginning of third season.

Spawn was a very dark show with a lot of adult thematic elements in it. Considering your past work had been on much lighter shows, was the transition to this kind of animation difficult?

I had a strong interest in pursuing more mature content for a long time, hoping to build on the success and audience we found producing Batman TAS.

The first season of Spawn had an extreme level of violence, language and adult situations. To you, was there too much of this in the first season?

Most of the scripts for season one existed prior to my joining the production. The content that existed in those scripts was integral to the stories of “Spawn” that Todd McFarlane wanted to portray. At times I felt some of the language and violence was gratuitous and unnecessarily repetitive. That said, I strongly supported the level of drama, sophistication and maturity in the story telling we were attempting to produce.

What was it like working alongside the creator of Spawn, Todd McFarlane?

I have great respect and admiration for Todd’s success with Spawn. I appreciate his support and trust in me with his creation. I think it took Todd a while to feel comfortable with my ability to help him realize his vision for Spawn, animated. At times, the production road was rough. We didn’t always see eye to eye but I believe we both felt we did a good job with the series but felt we could have done better.

Spawn had a lot of reused animation, particularly in season two. Was this budget related or was some of the animation that came back just not up to standard?

As I remember, most of the reuse animation was “flashback” imagery necessary to storytelling in season two. For me, season two was far better animated than season one.

The three seasons of Spawn were all different in tone. Is there a specific season you enjoyed working on the most? Why?

Season two was my favorite. I felt it had the most focused and logical and believable storytelling of the three seasons. Also the overall quality of production: music, sound design, was pretty close to what I originally intended for the series.

Season three of Spawn ended rather abruptly. Were there any storylines that were planned for future seasons?

Nothing specific. Season three began to depart into much broader fantasy storytelling depending much more on heaven and hell as the settings for stories. I believe the future storylines were more likely to become individual hero vs. villain scenarios rather than the epic life and death story of Spawn from the first two seasons.

Were there any stories or characters that you wanted to adapt into the series?

I would like to have done more stories involving the character Chapel because he is at the root of Spawn’s origin and was equal to him in his never-ending struggle with good vs. evil, right vs. wrong and of course he was human.

Are you involved with the new Spawn: The Animation project at all?

I have nothing to do with the current Spawn production.

What are your overall thoughts on the Spawn cartoon?

Spawn TAS was a personal triumph for me. Very rarely do artists get the opportunity to have as much uncensored creative freedom as I did at HBO on Spawn. I’m proud that Spawn represents the “animated” version of the incredibly successful productions that come out of HBO. The creative executives that I worked with, Chris Albrecht, Carmi Zlotnik, and Catherine Winder, trusted and supported me and my team throughout the entire production. I will forever look on Spawn and HBO as a highlight of my animation career. I would love the opportunity to work with HBO again in the future. Spawn has inspired my partners and I at phuuz entertainment to continue pursuing high quality, mature, sophisticated projects. I hope Spawn continues to inspire others to take risks and believe that animation can be successful with adult audiences as well as kids.

Toon Zone would like to thank Eric Radomski for his participation in this Q & A.

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