Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

January 31, 2012

Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane Settle Spawn Lawsuit

I totally missed this moving across the wires yesterday: it looks like the writer Neil Gaiman and the cartoonist/toy maker Todd McFarlane have finally settled their longstanding dispute over work Gaiman did for the Spawn comic book series as of last Friday. Most of the details are confidential, but the Associated Press story describes the deal as making Gaiman "a 50 percent owner of Spawn issues 9 and 26, the first three issues of a spin-off series on the angels and the issues' contents." It's also believed that both sides will bear their own legal costs. Gaiman's attorney Jeffrey A. Simmons declined to discuss specifics with the press but claimed that all parties were pleased.

As I recall, Gaiman received a major judgment in 2009 or 2010 on these matters, with a court-ordered directive that the rest be settled within the next year. So what this settlement actually takes care of other than it maybe makes McFarlane stop seeking appeals and gets ride of any and all existing claims is a bit beyond what I know about the case. At any rate, it looks like Gaiman came out far ahead according to the original conception of each side in the case, which came down to a violation of an oral contract Gaiman believed he had for the exploitation via reprints and merchandise for characters on which he worked: first for the characters Angela, Cogliostro and Medieval Spawn; later roping the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany. McFarlane's maneuvers during the long-running case included trying to bring in the box of screaming crazies that is the Marvelman case in suggesting a swap for properties and, as I recall, arguing that the characters Gaiman introduced were derivative in a way that cut into Gaiman's right to claim unique creation.
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink

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