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The Walking Dead #77

Publishing | Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson talks at length about market share, the economics of creator-owned comics, fallout from the prolonged legal battle between Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman, and retailer concerns about simultaneous print and digital release of The Walking Dead: “… I was honestly a little thrown by the sheer amount of invective generated by the day-and-date release of a single Image digital title, sold at exactly the same price point as the print version of the book. Nobody was undercut, nobody had an unfair advantage, and I don’t see how it’s any different from offering the book for sale through any other storefront. Virtually every comic is available digitally on the same day it’s released to comic book shops — for free — and that has been the case for several years at this point. Publishers have slowly begun to establish a foothold in digital publishing, but I would be willing to bet more people downloaded The Walking Dead #77 for free than paid for it through our app. In fact, I’ll even go one better and speculate that more people downloaded The Walking Dead #77 illegally than bought the print comic. And you know what? The book’s sold out — we have more reorders than we can fill and we both know those reorders wouldn’t be coming in if retailers weren’t selling out of the books.” [Bleeding Cool]

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Ruling in Gaiman vs. McFarlane case spawns a Twitter feud

Spawn: The Dark Ages #1

Spawn: The Dark Ages #1

In the days following last week’s ruling in the long-running copyright dispute between Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman, we heard from Gaiman, countless fans on both sides, and an Image Comics founder. However, we didn’t get comment from McFarlane — that is, until last night.

“Neil Gaiman has the absolute right to defend his position,” he wrote on Twitter. “That’s one of the great privileges we all have in this country.”

That’s it; just two sentences. That’s in stark contrast to Erik Larsen, who has tweeted on the subject more than 50 times since early Monday. His flurry of comments, which were largely critical of Gaiman, drew a few replies from the writer.

“Waves. Hi Erik,” Gaiman tweeted last night. “When Todd comes out of bankruptcy you owe me $40,000. [...] Of course @erikjlarsen is grumpy over me winning again. He ran Image when the 1st round of the case gave me a $40,000 judgment against them. Last time @erikjlarsen blamed the loss not on Todd breaking the law, but on a female jury (& now on a female judge?) http://bit.ly/cbrs8i.”

This morning, Larsen fired back at Gaiman’s initial tweet with, “what did *I* ever do to you? Seriously. What was it that *I* personally did to you which would warrant such a thing?” Minutes later, he added: “How did you ever come up with Spawn on a horse, @neilhimself?”

When one Twitter follower, Brandon Fox, replied, “Dude, a judge, a jury, & the court of public opinion ALL believe @neilhimself deserves a portion of a characters he CO-created,” Larsen answered: “and a jury decided OJ Simpson didn’t kill his wife. What’s your point?”

Quote of the day | Erik Larsen, on the latest Gaiman vs. McFarlane ruling

Spawn: The Dark Ages #12

Spawn: The Dark Ages #12

“The Neil Gaiman thing perplexes me because it seems so unfair. The characters he created were clearly derivative of the ones Todd created. How anybody can look at Medieval Spawn and side with Neil just shows their bias against Todd. It’s Spawn on a horse, for cryin’ out loud! Everything Neil created was derived from Todd’s creations and all of it was designed by Todd. Claiming ownership just seems really unfair. Now Todd is forced to have people sign work-for-hire contracts. It’s sad — but that’s the price we all have to pay.”

– Image Comics partner Erik Larsen, on last week’s ruling that Todd McFarlane
owes Neil Gaiman a share of profits from the derivative characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany

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Spawn #9

Spawn #9

Legal | The big news over the weekend was that a federal judge ruled in the latest chapter of the prolonged Neil Gaiman/Todd McFarlane legal battle that the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany are simply derivatives of their earlier creations Medieval Spawn and Angela. Therefore, Gaiman has a right to a share of profits from the properties.

Maggie Thompson, who has been covering every twist and turn of the case from the beginning, offers her take on the ruling. Meanwhile, John Jackson Miller revisits sales estimates of the Spawn issues written by Gaiman, Alan Moore, Dave Sim and Frank Miller. [MaggieThompson.com, The Comichron]

Organizations | Friends of Lulu appears to have been spared from dissolution after volunteers stepped forward to fill board positions. [Occasional Superheroine]

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Judge rules Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany are derivative characters

Spawn: The Dark Ages #1

Spawn: The Dark Ages #1

A federal judge has dealt another blow to Todd McFarlane in his long-running copyright dispute with Neil Gaiman, ruling that the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany are mere derivatives of their earlier creations.

In a decision filed Friday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb declared that the three characters are simply variations of Medieval Spawn and Angela, co-created by Gaiman in 1993 for McFarlane’s Spawn series. Therefore, McFarlane has until Sept. 1 to provide Gaiman with an accounting of money earned from Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany. As co-owner of the copyrights, Gaiman is entitled to one-half of the profits.

McFarlane’s attorneys had argued the three characters were based on the Spawn universe, and not on earlier creations. Gaiman, and ultimately the judge, disagreed.

The case, which began last month in Madison, Wisconsin, is rooted in the prolonged legal battle between Gaiman and McFarlane over ownership of Medieval Spawn, Angela and Count Nicholas Cogliostro. A federal jury found in 2002 that Gaiman has a copyright interest in the creations. However, in 2004 Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following the $15-million judgment in the Tony Twist case, leaving Gaiman unpaid. With TMP now emerging from bankruptcy, Gaiman petitioned for a ruling on the “knock-offs,” and an accounting of what he’s owed by McFarlane.

Crabb’s decision is interesting for a few reasons, not the least of which is the role continuity and story logic plays in her findings.

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Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

Legal | Neil Gaiman addresses some of the news coverage of his continuing legal dispute with Todd McFarlane, which was punctuated this week by an evidentiary hearing regarding the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany: “There are some knock-offs of the characters I’ve co-created that Todd published and made toys of over the years, and I felt they were derivative of the characters I’d created (or in one case, one actually was the same character I’d created). Todd didn’t want to pay anything at all on them so he (not me/my lawyers) took it back before the judge. Nobody ‘stole characters’ and there’s no argument over ‘ownership of characters’ going on. We’re now waiting for a ruling on if those characters are (in my opinion) derivative or (Todd’s opinion) not of the characters I co-created and have an established copyright interests in. It’s not an ‘epic battle.’ The epic battle was fought and won in 2002.” Gaiman and McFarlane have until July 25 to submit additional arguments. [Neil Gaiman's Journal]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Spawn #9

Spawn #9

Legal | A federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin, heard testimony Monday from Neil Gaiman, Todd McFarlane and Dark Ages Spawn writer Brian Holguin, but didn’t rule on Gaiman’s claim that he’s owed royalties from the characters Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany.

In 2002, a jury found that Gaiman co-owned the copyrights Medieval Spawn, Angela and Cogliostro, which he created in 1993 for McFarlane’s Spawn series. Since then the two creators have attempted, with little success, to determine how much money Gaiman is owed for the three characters.

On Monday, Gaiman testified that he thinks Dark Ages Spawn is merely a copy of Medieval Spawn, while Domina and Tiffany are copies of Angela. Holguin, who created Dark Ages Spawn, said any similarities to Gaiman’s character were unintentional, while McFarlane argued that all of the versions of Spawn share certain features. The judge gave both parties until June 25 to submit additional arguments. [The Associated Press]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Todd McFarlane

Todd McFarlane

Legal | A federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin, will hear arguments today regarding Neil Gaiman’s claim that Todd McFarlane owes him money for his copyright interests in three characters — Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany — that he says are derivatives of their earlier creations Medieval Spawn, Angela and Count Nicholas Cogliostro.

“Our view is McFarlane just took some of the characters Neil was a co-creator of and just gave them different names,” Gaiman’s attorney Allen Arntsen told The Associated Press. “It’s a matter of principle.” In court filings, McFarlane attorney James Alex Grimsley denied Gaiman has any rights to the three additional characters, claiming they’re not based on the earlier creations. [The Associated Press]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

Legal | Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane will return to court next month after more than seven years to hash out how much Gaiman is owed for his copyright interests in Medieval Spawn, Angela and Count Nicholas Cogliostro. Gaiman wants to learn how much money was generated by three other characters he claims are derivative of those he co-created with McFarlane: Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany.

McFarlane asked for another trial on the issue, but on Tuesday U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that Gaiman has a plausible claim, and ordered an evidentiary hearing to be held on June 14. [Wisconsin State Journal]

Conventions | As the bidding war for Comic-Con International continues, convention organizers have asked San Diego hotels to sign contracts guaranteeing room rates for the next five years. A decision on whether the four-day event will remain in the city after 2012 was expected weeks ago, but Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said that’s been delayed because the competing cities — Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego — continue to amend their offers. He now expects a decision within the next month. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

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Spawn is a member of the Guardians of the Globe, too

Guardians of the Globe teaser

Guardians of the Globe teaser

In the latest teaser from Image Comics, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn declares that he, too, is a member of the Guardians of the Globe. He joins Invincible — revealed on Monday — although judging from the tongue-in-cheek quote, it’s not willingly: “Todd lost a bet so he’s loaning me out for this.”

SDCC ’09 | But who holds the record for the most fat Supermen in one place?

Guinness World Records was at the San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend presenting awards for various records achieved by comic books, TV shows and other activities you might associate with the con. Here’s a complete rundown of what they presented:

DC's Paul Levitz and Guinness’ Craig Glenday

DC's Paul Levitz and Guinness’ Craig Glenday

Longest Running Sitcom and Longest Running Animated TV Series – With over 443 episodes, The Simpsons is the longest running sitcom (by episode count) and longest running animated series. During its 20th season (2008-09), The Simpsons finally overtook the 435 episodes of former record holder The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952-66).

Best-selling Comic (single edition) – Spider-Man No.1, first published in August 1990, is the Best-selling Comic (single edition). With an initial print run of 2.35 million, the record-breaking edition was sold with a variety of differently colored covers and several reprints were ordered to keep up with high public demand.

Longest Continuosly Published Comic Book – The longest running comic book is Detective Comics, which has been printed continuously by DC Comics in the USA since Issue #1 in March 1937. The comic introduced the character of Batman in Issue #27 in May 1939.

Most Successful Sci-fi TV Show – Doctor Who, the longest running sci-fi television show, is now the Most Successful Sci-fi Show on Television. Based on the length of the show’s run and international sales data, the series about the adventures of the iconic Time Lord was presented with the new record at Comic-Con 2009 International.

Most Digital Effects in a TV Series – Farscape employed about 25 computer artists to create between 40 and 50 effects shot per episode. The effects team had just seven days to work on each episode, at a rate of 22 episodes per year.

Largest Gathering of Zombies – The record largest gathering of zombies was achieved by 3,894 participants in the ‘Red White and Dead Zombie Party’ in association with Night Zero on July 3, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. Ryan Reiter, Artistic Director for Freemont Outdoor Cinema Events.

Picture via The Source

SDCC ’09 | A peek at Todd McFarlane’s cover for Prince of Persia

"Prince of Persia" cover, by Todd McFarlane

"Prince of Persia" cover, by Todd McFarlane

USA Today’s Game Hunters blog has the first, but tiny, look at Todd McFarlane’s cover art for Disney Book Group’s graphic-novel prequel to next year’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

The 128-page anthology will feature six stories written by Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner and illustrated by Bernard Chang, Tommy Lee Edwards, Tom Fowler, Niko Henrichon, David Lopez and Cameron Stewart.

The graphic novel will be released simultaneously in hardcover and paperback in April 2010, ahead of the movie’s May 28 opening.

Game Hunters also notes that McFarlane and Stan Lee will be recognized on Saturday at Comic-Con by Guinness World Records for 1990′s Spider-Man #1, which sold 2.5 million copies, becoming the best-selling comic book of all time.

SDCC ’09 | Image Comics hosts Image United signing event, more

Image United #1

Image United #1

Image Comics will be out in full force at the con, with several panels and a huge list of folks who will be signing all weekend — everyone from Mike Allred to Christopher Yost.

The biggest event on their schedule is a special signing event with everyone involved in their upcoming Image United book: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio and Jim Valentino.

Find their full press release and schedules after the jump

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McFarlane gearing up for another Spawn movie — but will he direct?

Spawn

Spawn

MTV’s Splash Page spoke with Todd McFarlane about the possibilities of bringing Spawn back to the big screen. The co-founder of Image Comics and creator of the long-running series said he has five offers on the table, and he is trying to decide between a low-budget film he would direct and a big-budget film he’d produce.

“If I go with the lower-budget movie, they’ll let me direct it. And if I go bigger, than I sit in the producer’s chair; if the budget’s too big, they’re not going to give me the chance at [directing] it. So I’m trying to decide whether I want to go big production, bigger money, bigger marketing — or just do something that’s a little bit smaller, more rock ‘n’ roll, and the way I’ve had it in my brain for the last five years.”

He also said he’d want the film to be less of “big comic-book movie” and more of a crime flick, a la The Departed or L.A. Confidential. Spawn would forgo his traditional outfit in favor of an all-black ensemble. McFarlane also would take a “less is more” approach with the character. “To me, it’s more along the lines of ‘Jaws,’ where you didn’t see [the shark] for half the movie, and then you caught glimpses of him.”

The first Spawn movie came out back in 1997 and starred Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo and Martin Sheen. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it all the way through, only bits and pieces of it on cable. But the idea of doing it more as a crime movie with Spawn as some sort of shadow-y figure sounds more appealing than watching Leguizamo walk around in the clown outfit. What do you guys think?

McFarlane appears at this weekend’s Supanova in Australia

Todd McFarlane faces off with Spawn

Todd McFarlane faces off with Spawn

While the American comics community has the Emerald City ComiCon in Seattle this weekend, Australian fans in Brisbane can meet Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, Heroes star Hayden Panettiere, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac creator Jhonen Vasquez and many more guests at Supanova.

Writing for the Courier Mail, Suzanna Clarke profiles McFarlane, who is making a rare convention appearance:

About 20 years ago, McFarlane became a comic book superstar as a result of his work on Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man. So how did he get into the comic biz?

“I was the proverbial best artist in the class,” he says, from Berkeley in California, where Image Comics is based. “I spent a lot of time doodling . . . around 16, I started collecting American superhero comic books. It seemed cool.”

Taken on at Marvel comics in 1984, he was filled with doubt about his abilities. “Every year there was a new kid coming along. I realised I had to get better and figure out how to draw.”

McFarlane said if he had one piece of advice for young people, it is “don’t buy into the corporate line that there is only one way to get what you want in life.”


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