An epic battle of two of comicdom’s most successful figures that lasted more than 10 years has ended, not even with a whimper but a settlement, as Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane have at long last agreed on how to share the rights to characters and stories Gaiman created for McFarlane’s Spawn comic.
The battle had raged through courts since 2002, with public sniping going back much further. At issue: Spawn #9 and #26, the former written by Gaiman and introducing the characters Angela and Cagliostro — both would be much used by McFarlane and other Spawn creators over the years—the latter introducing medeival Spawn based on Gaiman’s concepts. Gaiman sued in 2002 for joint ownership of the characters and half the profits from their uses in various media.
Although details of the settlement are private (RATS!!–eds.) the final agreement was…that Gaiman owns 50% of the two issues in question and the three issue Angel mini-series. Wow. ALL THAT struggle for THIS? Attorneys for both sides filed papers last Friday saying that an agreement had been reached and asking the presiding judge to dismiss the case. And so…just like that, it was over.
“This is intended to put an end to the whole thing. It’s fair to say both parties are pleased to have this resolved,” Gaiman attorney Jeffrey Simmons told the AP.
Juries and judges alike have ruled consistently in Gaiman’s favor over the years. Continuing legal tussles have been over how much money is owed, and so on, complicated by McFarlane’s bankruptcy filing a few years back.
Still out there somewhere…Marvelman, which some thought was a hostage in the negotiations — McFarlane claims to own the US publishing rights to the book, but we’re not going to get into that right now. Our own guess is that the tangled legal threads of the Marvelman matter are far more complex than just this aspect of it.
And so…an era ends. We’ve been using various versions of the above split-screen graphic for nearly a decade. It is time to retire it to the hall of fame. With age comes peace…and lawyers bills.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.