Todd McFarlane has his hands all over sports. The comic book artist owns prized home run balls, sells sports figurines and owns a small stake in the Edmonton Oilers. But the Calgary native -- who was born in Alberta and attended high school there -- gained fame as the creator of "Spawn," which has blossomed into an entertainment empire.

Your company makes NASCAR action figures, baseball action figures, football, hockey, movie stars. How come no politicians?

You know what, on some level I actually have to make stuff that would appeal to people nationally, and I don't know that most of those guys would fall into that category. I don't know that I could find someone from New Mexico or Grand Forks, N.D., who would say, "My God, that senator from Utah, I just love that guy."

Are you the most famous person from Calgary?

No, what are you talking about? . . . I'm just an artist. I'm probably like 157 on the list. That's because the guy who was 154 died last week, so I moved up.

So why didn't you play hockey growing up?

Because I grew up in southern California, and by the time I moved up there at age 14, they said you can either be the best baseball player on your team or the worst hockey player on your team. It was an easy choice for a 14-year-old; either be an idiot or an all-star, and I chose all-star.

Explain to me why hockey's so big in Canada.

I don't know, it's a weird one. It's something that we glom on to. . . . It's just there from the time you're one year old; your dad talks about it, your uncle talks about it. It's an institution, you talk about it as much as religion.

What would it be like if the Flames won the Stanley Cup?

Oh my gosh, my God, you actually might see 65-year-old ugly women dancing naked in the street; this is how far it goes. It's not just college guys turning over cars.

-- Dan Steinberg

MCFARLANE