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.

In 2010 Gaiman filed a new suit seeking ownership of an additional three “derivative characters.” A judge ruled for Gaiman in that matter, as well.

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.


  1. >> Although details of the settlement are private (RATS!!–eds.) the final agreement was…that Gaiman owns 50% of the two issues in question. Wow. ALL THAT struggle for THIS?>>

    According to the article you link to, it’s 5 issues, not 2. A 3-issue mini seems to be included as well.

  2. Aw. This has been the biggest ongoing feud in comics since comic news very first started getting reported online.
    If you’ve been reading online comic news articles since they started up, then you’ve seen it from its beginning to now, its end.

    I’m kinda going to miss it.

  3. It makes me wonder if Miracleman, at this point, would ever live up to the hype to those who haven’t read it. It’s themes have been explored in so many other superhero stories that use analogues of familiar characters.

  4. “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?”

    Well, since characters in those issues were used in the Spawn movie, cartoon and toys, there are millions wrapped up in who owns what and how much.

  5. Some people wonder why this couldn’t have been settled earlier. It’s because Todd believed his wealth would keep Neil from lasting this long because ten years ago Neil Gaiman wasn’t a wealthy writer, but soon his books started becoming bestsellers and it was clear that Todd couldn’t bury him under legal fees any more. I believe the final settlement is all Neil ever wanted to begin with, ten years ago. And Todd knows he has no legal rights to Marvelman. As a sidelight to the lawsuit Todd was forced to produce a document from the former Eclipse Comics files which stipulated that Eclipse would lose all rights they’d licensed to Marvelman should the company go out of business, so those rights were lost before Todd bought the Eclipse material, and he knew this for years.

  6. So over a decade of legal entanglement could have been avoided if Todd did the right, legal thing in the first place?

    What an @$$clown.

  7. Yeah, this definitely seems to be Todd’s fault. And I just don’t mean the way he dug in his heels about the whole thing, but mainly because he didn’t seem to have the legal paperwork up front to specify who owned what and who was entitled to what. I’m glad it’s finally resolved.

  8. This whole mess happened for one simple reason. McFarlane didn’t have work for hire papers. The other 3 guest writers of 8,10, and 11 didn’t sign anything ether.

    In his own testimony Gaiman stated McFarlane drew the cover to issue #9 first and he based the story he wrote around the cover. He went on to say Angela did not look at all like anything he’d would have envisioned. He also mentioned the armor of the medieval Spawn on the ground. So he put that Spawn in the story and “gave” McFarlane the idea to use other Spawns from different ages. lol

    Does anyone really think McFarlane wouldn’t have had Angels in his story about a man brought back from the dead from Hell to lead its army against Heaven. What would he have Heavens army look like then? And how the Hell can he drew other hot angels that don’t look like his own style? lol

    As for Cog Gaiman wrote him as just a drunk old bum. McFarlane’s continued writing of the character is what made the true character.

    And 50% is not a clear cut # as people think. If Angela appeared in 3 seconds of the Spawn movie that does not = 50% of movie profits. Nether does it for Cog appearing in them. As Spawn is the reason people are seeing and buying the properties.

    Also do people think that meant Gaiman could not write or help to produce anything new to the characters and still get 50%? While McFarlane invested not only his talents but money into them. Hiring numerous other artist and writes for his story. That would end up with Gaiman getting a way larger % then McFarlane as Gaiman didn’t have to invest any of his time or money into the properties any more then the 6 figure payment McFarlane paid him to write the 4 issues and 3 pages in #26.

    It was never a 50/50 partnership Gaiman was paid big time to write #9 and came back to McFarlane wanting to write the mini series because his son liked the character. How much did he get paid for writing #9? It was over 3 times what he got paid for writing the 3 issue miniseries and 3 pages in #26.

    Alan Moore wrote issue #8 and other Spawn miniseries setting up how Hell works in the Spawn universe but you don’t see him suing McFarlane ever time a demon or Hell is mentioned.