Marvel legend speaks up about Todd McFarlane and Mister Bones

Legendary Marvel creator Roy Thomas has an addendum to crediting Todd McFarlane as the co-creator of Infinity, Inc.’s Mister Bones, a character Thomas claims the celebrated artist didn’t draw first.

After a line-up of character redesigns by artist and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, including a Venom bearing chains and the Neil Gaiman co-created Angela in Thor, was announced to coincide with the release of a new wave of Spawn comics, the Image founder has run into trouble with an old partner over creator credit for one of those designs.

Roy Thomas, a big name at Marvel under Stan Lee once upon a time, reached out to website Bleeding Cool with a statement to clear the air about artistic co-credit given to McFarlane for the original design of Mister Bones as he appeared in issue #16 of DC Comics title Infinity, Inc.

Bones to pick

In their piece, Bleeding Cool shows and Thomas notes, pulp hero and Dynamite Comic stable character The Black Terror served as a source of inspiration for Mr. Bones, and so did the skull head of Ghost Rider.

“I not only conceived Mr. Bones on my own (though conferring with Dann [Thomas, wife to Roy], he was my idea, where other Infinity, Inc./Helix characters were sometimes initiated by her or by both of us together)…” said Thomas through his manager John Cimino, “but I drew the first picture of him, costume, skull and bones design, etc., clearly influenced by the old Black Terror character visually, plus Blazing Skull and Ghost Rider at Marvel.”

Give Mister Bones the Mike

Thomas’s statement further reveals the final costume was drawn first by penciler and cover artist Mike Machlan. “Besides that: the first professional drawing of Mr. Bones–the final design of the costume–was done not by Todd McFarlane but by Mike Machlan,” it said.

“Mike, as per instructions, followed my costume and look exactly, except that he gave Bones the high-boot look he sported, and maybe have improved on the cape/cowl a bit. That drawing was later published in INFINITY, INC. #15,” the statement continues.

Thomas clarified McFarlane was third in line to draw Mr. Bones and, even though he claims to have “no quarrel” crediting the Spawn creator, Thomas wants everyone to know that he himself is primarily responsible for conceiving and writing the character:

“So, while I’ve no quarrel with Todd being considered the ‘co-creator’ of Mr. Bones (however he may have now evolved into, yech, Director Bones), Todd was only the THIRD person to draw Mr. Bones’ basic look. By the standards used for, say, Wolverine, Todd would no more be the co-creator of Mr. Bones than Herb Trimpe is currently considered of Wolverine…although again, as I said, I’m willing to count all three of us as the co-creators of the visual aspect of Bones… though only I conceived the original character, named him, wrote him, with Dann’s help.”

Todd strikes back

McFarlane countered he was always “riffing off stuff” and looking back his style had a rather clear direction:

“When I was asked to create the look of Mr. Bones for this DC Comics Infinity Inc. cover you can already see early indicators where my career and style was going. The BIGGEST indicator is the cowl and cape. Since I was creating a bunch of characters at 16 (especially Spawn), I was riffing off stuff I normally did.”

Mister Bones started as a member of the evil counter organization Helix until he reformed and joined Infinity, Inc. He later became Director Bones of the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO) – which would’ve been interesting to see on Supergirl or in the Arrowverse/CWverse at some point – and returns this month in Infinite Frontier #5.

Black Terror, if you are curious about the public domain crusader, has had sporadic appearances in the last decade in independent comics including Dynamite’s team-up series Masks.

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