[Previous chapters: 1 to 8 – 1953 – 1985 Roundup, 9 – The Dawn of Eclipse, 10 – Alan Moore at Eclipse, 11 – The Twilight of Eclipse, 12 – All About Angela, 13 – More Angela, More Courtrooms, and Much More Todd, 14 – Back to Marvelman]
Before I get around to doing a round-up of all the previous posts, and attempt to squeeze meaning out of it all, I just want to update a few things, and clarify a few others. The Marvelman story is ongoing, and I am continually making contact with people who know bits of information, big or small, which continue to illuminate further aspects of the story. Really, it’s all fractal – no matter how much you drill down into it all, there always seems to be further levels of complexity waiting for you, just like this lovely Fractal Cauliflower. Much like life itself, I suppose…
Anyway, here’s a few things I wanted to clear up, first:
In Part 9, speaking of the Marvelman Family and the Invaders from the Future story, I said,
And, if Marvel Comics ever get around to reprinting this, it will be it the presumably unique position of having been published by four different comics companies, on two sides of the Atlantic.
A number of people, including comics writer Kurt Busiek, quite rightly pulled me up on this. There are any number of comics that are in that position, of course. What I should have said, more specifically, was that I thought that this story would have been unique, because it was first published by two comics companies in the UK, then by two comics companies in the US, a situation which I do think is unique. I strive for accuracy, though, so I’m genuinely happy to have these things pointed out to me.
Something that got mentioned a few times over the past weeks, particularly in the comments on the most recent post, Back to Marvelman, was, as one person put it, the idea that ‘Alan Moore gave his rights to Mick Anglo, who sold it to Marvel‘. This is wrong on a number of fronts.
First of all, there has never been any kind of transfer of rights between Alan Moore and Mick Anglo, in either direction, unless someone can point me to a specific piece of information saying there has been, which I’ve certainly never found, and not for want of looking. Moore has asked Marvel Comics to give his share of the money from any reprint of his work to Anglo – a situation that is obviously complicated by Anglo’s death in 2011 – but Moore retains any rights he has. And, before you all jump in and tell me that he transferred his rights to Neil Gaiman, let me clarify the difference between his rights in the character of Marvelman, and his rights to the Marvelman stories he created. To the very best of my knowledge – which in these matters is considerable! – what Moore gifted to Gaiman was the former, but not the latter. Gaiman owns what were Moore’s rights to the Marvelman character, but Moore retained – and still owns – his rights to the work he created.
There is also the issue of what Mick Anglo sold to Marvel Comics. Actually, Anglo didn’t sell them anything. He sold whatever rights he had, which were invested in his company, Mick Anglo Limited, to Jon Campbell, who then sold these on to Marvel. Obviously, it looks a lot better for Marvel to announce they’ve been dealing with Anglo, though, rather than saying they’ve bought the rights for the character from someone who got them from Anglo for a few thousand pounds. What those rights actually were, if indeed there were any at all, is something that I shall be dealing with later.
A few interesting points about the Emotiv story: A very early indication that someone was claiming that Mick Anglo was actually the creator and original owner of Marvelman, which had really not been suggested before, can be seen on this thread on the Creator’s Rights forum dating from April 2006, where a frankly very rude and borderline illiterate poster calling him/herself The Truth started posting comments suggesting that both Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane were thieves – or, as s/he put it, thief’s – and that something was happening. Here’s a selection of hir comments, to save you the trouble of having to go through the whole thing if you don’t wish to (I’ll spare you all the bold, block capitals, and huge letters sizes used):
Gaiman and McFarlane are both thiefs, they dont own Miracleman, Mick Anglo does, you people are hypocrites.
What about Anglo’s creators rights? They are both guilty.
Well lets just wait and see what happens when the shit hits the fan.
3 months and we’ll see who’s slandering who.
Lets put it this way Stephen, British copyright laws were very differant and now the U.S. have to tow the line with every country who is a member of the the Berne convention, you CANT cut the creator out of the process.
McFarlane knows it
Moore knows it
Gaimen knows it
Skinn always knew it.
and soon (If Neil Gaiman doesent do the hounerable thing) everyone will know it.
Its not slander when it the truth.
Another thing, the trademarks that Eclipse/McFarlane had registered were aplied in “bad faith” as there was a predated copyright on the trademarked image of Marvelman.
IP is what I do and I cant believe that all you people in comics are so naive to copyright laws, its not rocket science.
Tell Gaimen if he wants to speak to me on here he can, but if he contacts Ken Levin and decides to hide behind his coat tails, we will go public and expose all of the above named infringers in a heartbeat. (he knows exactly what I’m talking about)
No you are wrong, It isnt Anglo who is making the claim, Its the one man from whom it was stolen, an ex movie producer no less.
Who also just happens to be my employer
It is a myth that Marvelman is a take off of Captain Marvel, it was Captain Universe that was supposed to be the replacement for Captain Marvel but Anglo shopped it to another company at the last minute.
He had a whole Captain Universe Family ready to go, but It never got as far as 2 Issues because of a threat of legal action from DC.
If you manage to get a copy of the original Captain then you will see what I mean.
However our friend is right, in that the Marvelman design is nothing like Captain Marvel. The big red cheese however is just Superman in a red suit.
There is no copyright that I know of on the whole superhero genre.
Miracleman is just one of thousands who are superheroes who look nothing like Superman.
One last thing..
Its not a law suit that is coming, its something that is going to take the whole comics world by surprise.
There was also this to-and-fro between The Truth and another poster, calling himself Joseph:
Joseph: You should learn to spell before you try to lecture someone on copyright law. It’s “thieves,” not “thief’s”.
The Truth: Hey I type fast and wasnt paying attention, dont confuse bad typing for a lack of intellect and judging by what you have written its you who doesent get it, I have a secretary who usually does my typing so i do admit its not my strong point.
Joseph: The latter implies that Todd and Neil belong to someone called Thief. Studying copyright law first might be helpful, too.
The Truth: I did for 5 years and there is NOTHING that I dont know about it.
So, from all of that, and other comments on that thread, it seems the person involved was a claiming to be a – probably male – Intellectual Property expert (there is NOTHING that I dont know about it) with a secretary, who was employed by an ex-movie producer, and that this ex-movie producer was claiming that Marvelman had been stolen from him. There is also the line, almost hidden in amongst it all, where s/he says ‘there was a predated copyright on the trademarked image of Marvelman‘. I have, over the past few years, heard mentions of an image of Marvelman that supposedly predates the L Miller & Son comic, and I think this is what is being referred to here. I’m also interested in the line that says ‘He had a whole Captain Universe Family ready to go, but It never got as far as 2 Issues because of a threat of legal action from DC,’ which I’ll also be coming back to in the near future, as I think I can tie it to a few other similar statements over the years.
Normally, mind you, an anonymous commenter who was making the kind of wild claims that were being made here would be rightly ignored – except that it seems there was something in it all, after all. But, although I can’t find any confirmation that the person who is referred to here – presumably Jon Campbell – was a movie producer, I do find that The Time Frequency’s Real Love was featured in the 2001 film Lawless Heart, but that’s hardly the same thing, really. Perhaps the movie being referred to is that most elusive of titles, the documentary Who Stole Marvelman?, which was being touted as ‘coming soon’ on a website now gone, and proclaimed as the ‘real’ story of what happened, which was apparently both written and produced by the self-same Jon Campbell, as mentioned here, amongst other places. And this is very likely to be what Alan Moore was referring to when he told me the following:
So someone came down to Northampton, eventually, and filmed an interview with me where I just answered all the questions that they asked me as honestly as I could.
Amazingly, despite all their apparent rudeness in putting their claim forward, the people from Emotiv did make contact with Neil Gaiman, and he’s quoted on Bleeding Cool in 2009 as saying,
Ken Levin (Marvels & Miracles attorney) put Emotiv directly in touch with Marvel at the point where it became apparent that they owned the rights, and that Dez Skinn really hadn’t had anything to sell in the first place. But the negotiating was between Emotiv and them and went on for a long time. I’m sure they talked to other companies: I know they were in touch with Todd to try and point out that he didn’t own anything.
So, after Emotiv got talking to Marvel Comics, what happened next? They had some sample comics pages prepared, it seems. A friend pointed me at this page from last year, where occasional comics artist and letterer Gordon ‘Kid’ Robson, a native of Glasgow, says:
I happen to know an extremely talented artist who is easily as accomplished as some of those working in comics today. He drew the MARVELMAN sample pages (which I lettered) which were submitted for MARVEL’s consideration when they were deliberating over acquiring the character. One of the head honchos at the company told me in a ‘phone call that he was well-impressed with the artwork, and that the pages were “model” comics art.
Guess what though? The artist concerned does not work in the industry and his name is unknown to the legions of comics fandom. He happens to suffer from dry eyes syndrome and it’s absolute agony for him to draw for more than brief and infrequent periods at a time. He would probably be incapable of meeting the deadlines of comics’ monthly production schedules and would therefore be unable to make a living in the business of sequential art.
Which is interesting, as elsewhere, a few years after he lettered those pages, he says of Mick Anglo’s creation of Marvelman, To be honest, as Marvelman was merely an imitation of FAWCETT’s CAPTAIN MARVEL, I’m not sure if ‘creator’ strictly applies in ol’ MM’s case, but I don’t have an axe to grind over it.
Who could the artist with Dry Eyes Syndrome be? Is it possible that it was an artist called Tom Campbell, also of Glasgow, referred to here, on a page about Scottish artists, who ‘did illustrations for Fantasy Tales and for record covers, had begun to illustrate articles by Duncan Lunan before being disabled by Dry Eye Syndrome‘? The same Tom Campbell who did artwork for the covers of records by The Time Frequency, his brother Jon Campbell’s band, including the one here? (Yes, I know that there are huge amounts of people in Scotland called Campbell, but I think I’m on safe ground on this one.)
(It is just possible, I suppose, that the ex-movie producer mentioned is meant to be Arnold Miller, who certainly did have a long career making films, but I really don’t feel that is the case, despite the interesting case that could be made in his favour. The Truth is unlikely to have been representing for both Anglo, as supposed creator, and for Miller, the publisher. One or other, yes, but not both.)
So, as I said, small pieces of information lead to even smaller pieces of information, and I find myself staying up ‘way past my bedtime, trying to force Google to find me facts that don’t wish to be found…
[The Fractal Cauliflower (actually a Romanesco Calibrese cauliflower) photograph is used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, and the original is here.]