Wide receiver Steve Breaston (left) looks at some comic artwork with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane Wednesday at The McFarlane Companies offices.
Steve Breaston just wanted to meet Todd McFarlane.
Maybe – just maybe – the Cardinals' receiver came out of it with a second career. Or at least a potential dream come true.
A huge fan of comics, including the McFarlane-create Spawn, Breaston reached out to the Tempe-based McFarlane to set up a meeting. The two did Wednesday at The McFarlane Companies offices just down the street from the Cardinals' Tempe facility, talking for two hours. Breaston got a short rundown on how McFarlane builds and sells its SportsPicks line of athlete action figures, and then sat down in McFarlane's office to talk comics.
Breaston mentioned he was a writer. And McFarlane offered an opportunity.
"We've always got projects going, so if you want, we could see what your interests are and see what you could write," McFarlane said.
"A tryout?" Breaston said, smiling. "That's how I got here."
Determining whether it's Steve Breaston or maybe writing alter-ego Stevie Phantom that eventually gets credit for a Breaston-penned chapter is a long way off.
"I was awestruck when I got in there," Breaston said after the visit was over. "The experience was! great for me, growing up and reading comic books and then getting in there … and it was just us talking, us shooting the breeze. It was a lot of fun."
Breaston said he learned just before the visit that McFarlane made the sports action figures (the company, over the years, has released figures of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Emmitt Smith, Beanie Wells, Anquan Boldin and Matt Leinart as Cardinals and has a new pose of Fitzgerald coming out in September). Soon, McFarlane had given Breaston a couple of Barry Bonds figures, a nod to Breaston's long-time Pittsburgh Pirates love. Breaston also ended up with a couple of college football figures – Charles Woodson decked out in Breaston's beloved University of Michigan uniform, and teammate Wells, wearing the hated colors of Ohio State.
But it was comics that Breaston had come to talk about. McFarlane, in learning Breaston read Spawn and the new Haunt, gave Breaston a couple of issues that are yet to reach the stores. Breaston talked about his older brother bringing home the first issue of Spawn when he was younger (Spawn recently had its 200th issue), a comic so graphic Steve wasn't even allowed to read it once upon a time.
Breaston doesn't have to worry about that anymore.
He listened intently as McFarlane showed how he draws comics via a computer instead of a sketchpad. He talked to McFarlane, who rose to fame in the industry drawing Spider-Man in the 1990s for Marvel Comics before branching off into his own company – about Spider-Man storylines.
"You created Venom?" Breaston said, with the tone of a true fan. McFarlane said he did. "Cool."
At one point, Breaston scanned the office, looking over the many figurines, books and comics on the walls and in cases, showing sports stars like Tom Brady and replicas of Spawn and other comic characters brought to 3-D life. "This is an experience for me, I'm just happy to be here," Breaston said. "I thought I had a creative imagination. I mean, how did you harness that to what you have been doing?" McFarlane talked about turning his talents into a business empire while Breaston listened intently.
For now, Breaston already has a day job, playing football.
There's a chance, though, that McFarlane could give Breaston the gateway to another life he'd also love.
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