We’ve all seen Hello Kitty grow from a quirky Japanese import into a household name, but do you remember the time its corporate owner set out to “conquer comics”? Me neither, but I learned a lot from reading comic/animation historian Fred Patten’s excellent post on Cartoon Research called “Sanrio And Me.”
In 1978, Sanrio held a series of press conferences in the United States trumpeting its goal to, as Patten says, “take over the American comic book industry and the moribund theatrical animation industry.” With an office in Santa Monica, California, the means for doing that was a slick manga anthology publication called Lyrica (which it had already launched in Japan) and a full-length animated feature called Metamorpheses, which executives promised as their Fantasia, referring to the Disney feature that had been reissued the year before. Metamorpheses had a trial run in the Japanese edition of Lyrica as a comic strip by American animation artist Dan Morgan, who did double-duty in the movie’s art department.
“The health of the industry is based upon having good stories and good characters, and a wide customer base. If bringing some of these characters back to the fold in a meaningful way adds to that, then it just strengthens our industry. [...] “Good stories that entertain are something that we all should applaud on any level. Whether we’re doing it directly at Image Comics, or at our competition, it helps keep our industry that we love alive. I will sit back and be as interested as anyone else.”
– Todd McFarlane, who was embroiled in a nearly decade-long legal battle with Neil Gaiman over the rights to the characters they co-created in Spawn #9, responding to the announcement last week that the writer will introduce Angela into the Marvel Universe this summer. McFarlane also confirmed to Newsarama that as part of the 2012 resolution to their lawsuit, Gaiman owns the rights to Angela outright.
In “By the Numbers,” ROBOT 6 takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers.
With Thursday’s announcement that Neil Gaiman is returning to the Marvel Universe and bringing with him Angela, the character at the center of his eight-year legal battle with Todd McFarlane, we’re left to wonder about the whereabouts of Marvelman. We also look at the surprise departures at DC Comics, and what the right price is when you name your own.
Few were more excited by this morning’s announcement that Neil Gaiman will introduce Angela into the Marvel Universe than Kearstin Fay Nicholson, who referred to it on the Comic Book Resources Facebook page as the “greatest news I’ve heard all day.” That’s because the Chicago-based cosplayer won The Superhero Costuming Forum‘s 2012 Most Epic Female Costume Contest for her take on the Spawn character — and deservedly so.
You can see for yourself below, and on Nicholson’s photo gallery.
Legal | Todd McFarlane Productions has emerged from bankruptcy after more than seven years, having paid more than $2.2 million to creditors, according to court documents dug up by Daniel Best. Of that, $1.1 million was part of McFarlane’s settlement with Neil Gaiman, which brought to a close the decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, the heavenly warrior Angela and other characters (it’s unknown how much of that disbursement was eaten up by legal fees and how much actually went to Gaiman; the writer has publicly stated he gives money won in the proceedings to charity). 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. [20th Century Danny Boy]
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.”