This is what we call a “hot drink” post in the biz*, as in, you must get a hot drink and a comfy chair before you dive in to the next link. Pádraig Ó Méalóid has done an amazing job of putting together a Gaiman/McFarlane/Marvelman timeline, which, although it only skims the details of the Marvelman deals of the ’80s, does cover the 10-year legal battle between Gaiman and McFarlane as it pertains to Marvelman. It’s a tale of (Tony) twists and turns. Of course the pre-history is also stunning:
February 1986: Dez Skinn and Garry Leach sell their rights to Miracleman to Eclipse Comics, at least partly due to their unhappiness at Eclipse Comics’ Editor-in-Chief cat yronwode’s choice of Chuck Beckum as the next Miracleman artist, from issue #6. Garry Leach at this stage also owns Alan Davis’s share, so has 60% in total, with Dez Skinn still owning his 10%, meaning that Eclipse end up buying a 70% stake in the character.
You’ll recall (or maybe not) that Chuck Beckum is a pen name of Chuck Austen, so you can add Marvelman/Miracleman to the list of things Austen has touched and doomed.**
Anyway, that is just the beginning as we hop into a boat and drift past the “It’s an IP World After All” ride covering the last 20 years of comics, with stops for the formation of Image (BOOM!), the bankruptcy of Eclipse (BAM!), the early Gaiman-Quesada team-up at Marvel (CRASH!) and so on and on to the current day. When, Ó Méalóid accurately observes, it’s not over yet.
And still, Miracleman lies in total limbo. At this point, the story can never live up to the story behind the story, if you know what I mean.
Although, before I left for WonderCon, I held a copy of the FLEX MENTALLO collection in my hand so…miracles can happen.
* PS: I just made that term up this minute.
** We here at Stately Beat Manor have no personal beef against Austen, but we would agree that his stripped-down art style was probably not the best choice to follow Gary Leach.