Robot 6

McFarlane to pay Gaiman $382,000 following Spawn settlement [Updated]

Todd McFarlane will pay Neil Gaiman $382,000 in the wake of the settlement in January of their nearly decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, Angela and other characters.

According to documents obtained by Daniel Best, a federal bankruptcy judge last week ordered the release of the funds placed into escrow in 2008 under McFarlane’s reorganization plan to offset potential losses from the lawsuit. Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million.

Best notes that with interest, Gaiman should receive somewhere around $464,000, although much of that will likely go to legal expenses. The writer has publicly stated that he gives money won in the proceedings to charity.

The agreement reached in late January gives Gaiman 50-percent ownership of Spawn #9 and #26, as well as the three issues of the 1994 Angela miniseries, ending a fierce court fight over the characters he and McFarlane created together some two decades ago. A federal jury had already found in 2002 that Gaiman has a copyright interest in the characters, but the subsequent bankruptcy of Todd McFarlane Productions left the writer unpaid. McFarlane was dealt another blow in 2010, when a federal judge ruled that Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany are mere derivatives of Medieval Spawn and Angela, meaning that Gaiman is also the co-owner of those copyrights and entitled to one-half of the profits generated by the characters.

UPDATE: Gaiman wrote on Twitter, “that simply says the escrow money has come out of escrow. I could have been paid none of it or ten times it.”




Now I shall create French Revolution Spawn and get payed!

If I understand that correctly, it seems sad that Gaiman didn’t get paid what he was due because the hockey player Twist got the money because McFarlane made up an evil character that alluded to him.

Another perfect example of Todd being forced to do something by the courts that if he was honest w/Gaiman from the get-go, would never have gotten to this point.

First Tony Twist, then Gaiman, who’s NEXT to sue McFarlane?!? LoL

A lot of money just for putting Spawn on a horse, eh?

Highway robbery! NHL player is a thief! You think he’d be proud of having his name in a comic. Complete B.S.! Todd needs better attorneys.

This is good. For the interest of creators who work with other creators! Todd has based the big 2 for years for slave labor, yet has created a similar situation. I enjoy both creators so lets hope they keep doing great work and move forward to entertain us for years to come.

Guilherme Mariano

March 2, 2012 at 10:16 am

Venom should have sued Macfarlane a long time ago, maybe if he had hired Murdock at the time…

Matty Macomber

March 2, 2012 at 10:19 am

Weird to realize that it was 20 years ago that Gaiman created Medieval Spawn and Angela. KInda sad that the main legacy McFarlane has in comic readers’ consciousness post-Marvel, as far as I can tell, is he left the big company on the banner of creator rights and has spent the last two decades losing his legal battles where he tries to deny the creator rights of others.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 2, 2012 at 10:46 am

want my Marvelman/Miracleman tpbs by Moore/Gaiman from Marvel, now!!!!

Todd might have to start drawing again soon. If him and Scott Snyder could team up, I’d be totally down with that.

Matthew Petersen

March 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I just love the hypocrisy of the entire situation.
McFarlane made a HUGE stink about creator’s rights in the 90s, and helped create Image because of it.
Then turns around and does exactly what he complained about to another creator………..
Stay Classy!

I’m glad this money is finally going to go to a charity!!

$382,000 added to the $100,000 Gaiman was paid for the original script, adds up to a heck of a lot of money for writting a comic involving derivative characters.

nice to see Neil finaly get what he had due from Todd too bad it had to take almost twenty years of legal wrangling before todd finaly gave Neil the money owed for his work . espically when Todd even offered to give up claims to Miracle man for a settlement with Gainman.

Get the Kirbys Neil’s lawyers…

I grew up with McFarlane comics, and I think it’s sad that he’s continually getting sued. 1) by a hockey player that wasn’t that popular to begin with and 2) by a guy who’s giving his “winnings” away to Charity? I don’t know, just sounds like a middle finger to a one time collaborator. I know money is sparce in this world these days, but suing people shouldn’t be the answer for some easy money. Or as a means to show how irritated you are with someone. Maybe they just need to have a fist fight about it, sort out their issues.

Sure, Todd could have handled Neil better, being honest etc. But as far as the hockey player goes (who I won’t name here in fear of getting sued) the justification of recieving excessive monies just because someone used your name, is just a bit outrageous. But that’s the world we live in. Sue a person who says your name in a tone that doesn’t sit right with you, and Gene Simmons copyrighting OJ so that now commercials have to say orange juice or pay Gene Simmons..

This was a classic case of “put it in writing”. Neil was extremely well compensated (to the tune of $100,000) for writing, as work for hire, a single issue of Spawn in which he “created” one derivative character in Medieval Spawn, and another character that is arguably derivative in Angela – because really, in a book about Heaven vs Hell what are the odds that Todd wouldn’t have had an angel in there? Neil created none of the visuals for the characters but used already established mythos and visuals to further the story and history of an already established character.

Ridiculous, but whatever. Neil owns half of two characters which are derivative of a character created solely by McFarlane.

Along comes another angel, and another Spawn – both visually distinct of Medieval Spawn and Angela, and somehow they are derivative of Gaiman’s creations? Really?

Isn’t one judgement a direct contradiction of the other?

Either way, the real lesson in all of this is put it in writing. Don’t just assume that the other guy is dealing in good faith. If the deal was that each collaborator owned half of the issue they were hired to write, why hasn’t Alan Moore sued for Spawn #8, Dave Sim for #10, or Frank Miller for #11? Hell, Grant Morrison wrote a few issues of Spawn as well, he’s probably entitled to a piece of the pie. I suppose that Todd’s lucky he owns the character of Spawn at all given the judgements that the courts are obviously capable of.

McFarlane continues to be hypocritical with his latest comments about creator rights in articles about the 20th anniversary of Image. What a joke. I am so sick of creators like McFarlane and Alan Moore bashing the corporations and then doing the same things they are complaining about. I will never buy anything by either one again.

raymond montagna

March 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm

cheese burgers for every one , tee -hee!! stupid stuff people talk about.

Sue a person who says your name in a tone that doesn’t sit right with you, and Gene Simmons copyrighting OJ so that now commercials have to say orange juice or pay Gene Simmons..

That’s an urban myth. Gene did no such thing.

Reading this I feel a little sorry for McFarlane. Is there anyone who hasn’t sued him and won? haha… I mean 5 million…. 5 MILLION DOLLARS!! For using someones nickname in a comic that ain’t worth shit now. I’m in complete shock!

From the sounds of it, I’m thinking I might see him on the streets begging for change! haha..

5 Million is way too much for someone who was already a washed up hockey player.

Just makes a guy never want to collaborate with anyone without a binding contract. Almost $400,000!

Are these Canadian Clown Courts making these decisions? Todd could have kept Marvel in the courts for years over the rights to Venom, but he decided to not even go there. I don’t think he would purposely try to screw someone over.

It’s official–I hate how work-for-hire’s become one of the biggest issues in the comics industry, and now I want it eliminated, corporate-owned or independent. It’s time they got rid of such an outdated, outmoded, draconian system and replace it with something so we can avoid fiascoes like this, the Kirby situation, the Siegel/Shuster incident, Moore’s ramblings, Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s schoolyard brawl, and Gary Friedrich’s woes. I highly recommend that comic companies, corporate-owned or not, adopt a system where company and creator–or in this case, creator and collaborator–enter into a co-ownership deal everytime a new character is created, or something new is added to an established character’s mythos. It saves a lot of time, energy, money, and dignity.

What do you all think of THAT???

Companies would never go for it. The best case scenario to get to what you’re asking for is for the Big Two to go under because until that happens, things won’t ever truly change. Only in the US is there a two publisher rule on the comics field. Nearly everywhere else in the world, the major authors owns his or her own work like a novelist and the publishers make their money off of the creator and his name.

I mean, the creator of Bleach makes 8 mil annually off of the manga alone. I forget how many copies a volume sells each year but it’s in triple figures for sure, making the piddly 20 to 40,000 copies of your average Big Two book seem like small potatoes.

I’m pretty sure that Gaiman doesn’t co-own Domina, Tiffany and Dark Ages Spawn. He was paid damages, but doesn’t own a piece of those characters from what I understand.

Either way, the real lesson in all of this is put it in writing. Don’t just assume that the other guy is dealing in good faith. If the deal was that each collaborator owned half of the issue they were hired to write, why hasn’t Alan Moore sued for Spawn #8, Dave Sim for #10, or Frank Miller for #11?

Todd and Dave basically made a deal in which each of them can reprint Spawn #10 with having to get the other’s permission.

Gaiman laughed off the idea of suing over the Tim Hunter/Harry Potter resemblances, he knows DC would destroy him if he tried to sue for ownership over Sandman (a revamp of a Kirby creation), and plus he must be a millionaire off his bestselling novels and movie deals, so I just think he must hate Todd MacFarlane and wanted to screw him over. There must be something personal to it.

Gaiman has made tons of royalties off the Sandman trades, no? Every year.
Not sure about merchandise, t-shirts, cards, etc. probably not……

What court ruled in favor of Tony Twist? hahaha. What a fiasco. How was he damaged that a character shared his name?

My uncle is named Stephen Strange, can we get 5 million? We’ll settle for 2-3 million….


You forget that Marvel and DC are nut like other publishers. They are entertainment conglomerates that own characters. Nothing is stopping creators from challenging Batman, Spiderman, and the X-men. If they have a better idea, that will capture a larger audience? Good luck! Cuz you are competing with all entertainment media for attention.

So has Kirkman, Bru, Millar, and Bendis made millions off of their creator work?

It’s a shame Daniel Best isn’t as good at reading and understanding legal documents as he is at finding and posting them. Now of course the headline about Gaiman getting a $400,000 payment will be all people remember, never mind that it could be a lot less or a lot more.

@alekesam and Trey
I don’t want them to go under, I want them to stop being the puppets of their parent companies, start being less corporate, and start acting more cooperative. DC and Marvel showed great results when they were independent of Time Warner and Disney–it’s time they grew a spine and did so again. My idea is a way for that to happen.

I love all the articles that precede this

“Creative Owned Titles are the future of Comics!”

“Is Image the Future of Comics?”

“Tony Moore sues Robert Kirkman”

“McFarlane empty escrow releases $0 to Gaimen lawsuit”

This crap, DC couldn’t even make up

Googam son of Goom

March 5, 2012 at 4:12 am

I have this character I created called “Cowboy Spawn” and I’m willing to let McFarlane have it for $100,000. What a deal. At that price how can he refuse!

-i read some early issues of Spawn and I never liked the reader’s letter section because mcfarlane made it a mission to always include fans’ negative comments against Marvel and sometimes about DC. I was a marvel zombie for a lot of years.

-mcfarlane continues to be a HYPOCRITE because he is doing to other creators what Marvel did to him when he worked for the company.

-Neil Gaiman has all the rights to receive royalties from his creation. isn’t that one of mcfarlane’s goals when they established image comics? sheeessshhh.

Leave a Comment


Browse the Robot 6 Archives