Most celebrated in the comic-book universe for creating Spawn and illustrating Spider-Man, Todd McFarlane is also renowned in the rock world for the music videos he's worked on, from Pearl Jam's "Do the Evolution" to, mostly recently, Ozzy Osbourne's "Patient No. 9."
Arguably, the most iconic, though, is Korn's 1998 "Freak on a Leash" video, which intercuts between live action footage and McFarlane-helmed animation, following a destructive bullet through both. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the comic-book legend looked back at the clip, pulling back the curtain on the process and illuminating the video's meaning.
"Korn had done a song ['Kick the P.A.'] for the Spawn soundtrack," McFarlane noted of how he connected with the band. "'Do the Evolution' ended up getting nominated for a Grammy. I think Korn went, 'Todd just did this thing that was kind of cool with Pearl Jam. Let's give him a call.'"
He continued, "I knew in advance 'Freak on a Leash' was going to be half animation, half live action, so my piece of the puzzle was the animation side. The live-action directors — the husband/wife combo [Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Farris] — went on and did this cute little movie called Little Miss Sunshine, so good for them. Our conversations were, 'Well, do we want to separate the animation from the live action, or do we want to pass it on?' I came to the decision that we would use [the bullet] as a baton. I would start and hand it to them and they would do their thing and then they would hand the baton back to me and end it on the animation. And it would also play with the imagery [I made] on the cover of the album, too.
"I'd looked at all their album covers, and they all had this weird sort of mystery about them, like looming shadows. The one I remember [1994's Korn] had a girl on a swing, and there was like a shadow on the ground. What was interesting about it was, 'Was that shadow a predator or a protecting parent?' It left it to the imagination of whoever was looking at the image to decide. On the Follow the Leader album cover I worked with Greg Capullo, who's the guy I'm working with on the Spawn/Batman book right now. He and I said, 'Well, what if we do hopscotch, but it's on the edge of a cliff. So the question is, will she keep going or will she do what you're supposed to do in hopscotch, which is turn around, and come back?' We did that to play with some of the stuff that Korn had already established with some of their prior album covers.
As for the video's deeper meaning, McFarlane explained, "In the video, the thing was that bullets and guns are adult toys, and children are innocent. And although we've seen plenty examples where adults' bad behavior can cost children their innocence and at the extreme, their lives, we wanted to create it as a bit of a metaphor that when the guard comes in, he shoots the bullet, and then you see the potential danger when you cut into the live action of how it's crashing and blowing things up and barely missing people. But at the end, the little girl just grabs it, and gives it to him. And it was a little bit of, 'Silly man, Trix are for kids, not for rabbits,' like, 'You're an adult. This is your stuff. Here, take it back.'"