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Comics A.M. | Marvel’s ‘fathers of invention'; Gaiman, Tan win Locus Awards

Jack Kirby

Legal | Brent Staples pens an editorial for the New York Times on the legal battle between the Jack Kirby estate and Marvel: “The Marvel editor Stan Lee sometimes offered general ideas for characters, allowing the artists to run with them. Mr. Kirby plotted stories, fleshing out characters that he had dreamed up or that he had fashioned from Mr. Lee’s sometimes vague enunciations. Mr. Lee shaped the stories and supplied his wisecrack-laden dialogue. And in the end, both men could honestly think of themselves as ‘creators.’ But Mr. Kirby, who was known as the King of Comics, was the defining talent and the driving force at the Marvel shop. Mr. Lee’s biographers have noted that the company’s most important creations started out in Mr. Kirby’s hands before being passed on to others, who were then expected to emulate his artistic style.” [New York Times]

Awards | Writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, The Graveyard Book) and artist Shaun Tan (The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia) are among the winners of the 2011 Locus Awards. Gaiman’s “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” won for best novelette, while “The Thing About Cassandra” won best short story. Tan won for best artist. [Locus Online]

Legal | Jeff Trexler reviews the legal battle between Warner Bros. and the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster through the filter of the Neil Gaiman/Todd McFarlane decision, where a judge ruled Gaiman has copyright interest in Medieval Spawn, Angela and other Spawn characters. [The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | Asterix family feud heats up; WonderCon’s Hollywood appeal

Asterix

Publishing | In the latest twist in a bitter, and prolonged, family feud, the daughter of Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo is seeking to have her parents declared mentally incapable of running their affairs. Uderzo’s only child, Sylvie, accuses her parents’ advisers of “pillaging” and “destroying an entire family.” Albert Uderzo, 83, fired back by accusing his daughter and her husband of “legal harassment” stemming from his 2007 decision to remove them from senior positions in Editions Albert-Rene, the publishing company he founded in 1979, following the death of Asterix co-creator Rene Goscinny. The family quarrel erupted into the public eye in 2009, when Sylvie Uderzo criticized her father’s decision to sell his stake in the company to Hachette Livre and authorize the publisher to continue Asterix after his death. [The Independent]

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Your other video of the day | Todd McFarlane shows you how to draw a face

Spawn creator Todd McFarlane channels his inner Bob Ross and shows you how to draw a face. This is a third in a series of videos he’s posted; he’s also covered how to draw eyes and how to start a comic page. You can find them all on the McFarlane Companies YouTube page.

Send Us Your Shelf Porn!

Your eyes do not deceive you … it’s the return of Shelf Porn! We had a pre-holiday lull in submissions that led to several Shelf Porn-less weeks, but luckily Andrew Chapman sent in a fresh batch to feast you eyes on. He and his wife have a great collection of graphic novels, toys, a Tintin puppet and even a table made from Captain America’s shield.

We love sharing people’s shelves, but we can’t do it without you! So if you’d like to see this feature continue, please send in your Shelf Porn to jkparkin@yahoo.com.

And now let’s hear from Andrew …

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

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

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

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

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


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