Judge rules that Todd McFarlane owes Neil Gaiman back pay for Spawn characters

Illustration for article titled Judge rules that Todd McFarlane owes Neil Gaiman back pay for Spawn characters

In 1992, Neil Gaiman created Medieval Spawn and Angela, a warrior angel, for Todd McFarlane's up-and-coming Spawn comic. Years later, the characters "Dark Ages Spawn" and "Tiffany and Domina" debuted in Spawn. McFarlane must now pay Gaiman for these derivatives.


The legal foibles between McFarlane and Gaiman are nothing new. In 2002, Gaiman won co-ownership of Medieval Spawn, Angela, and Cagliostro, characters he scripted in Spawn 9. Gaiman and McFarlane returned to court after Gaiman claimed that the Spawn creator owed him money for the knock-off characters Dark Ages Spawn (who is similar to Medieval Spawn) and Tiffany and Domina (who resemble Angela).

In her decision on July 29, US District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that McFarlane owes Gaiman money for these derivative characters. Furthermore, McFarlane must produce info pertaining to how much he owes Gaiman by September 1. Crabb's decision makes for some wonderfully surreal legal reading as she's ridiculously well-versed on all things Spawn. Here's her take on the Angela vs. Domina and Tiffany dispute...

Tiffany and Domina are visually similar to Angela and share her same basic traits. All three are warrior angels with voluptuous physiques, long hair and mask-like eye makeup. All three wear battle uniforms consisting of thong bikinis, garters, wide weapon belts, elbow-length gloves and ill-fitting armor bras. Angela and Domina each wear a long cloth draped between their legs and a winged headdress. Tiffany and Angela are shown in the Spawn Bible as having sharp wings. [...] All three of these female characters are warrior angels who fight in the war between Heaven and Hell. When plaintiff conceived of Angela, he saw her as part of an army of 300,000 "female, kick-ass warrior angels, who are hunters, merciless and not very nice." [...] Tiffany and Domina are part of this same heavenly army. Like Angela, Tiffany is described in the Spawn Bible as having failed to kill only one of the persons she intended to kill: Al Simmons, the original Spawn.

...and her say on Medieval vs. Dark Ages Spawn (who Gaiman believes is the exact same character as his creation).

If defendant really wanted to differentiate the new Hellspawn, why not make him a Portuguese explorer in the 16th century; an officer of the Royal Navy in the 18th century, an idealistic recruit of Simon Bolivar in the 19th century, a companion of Odysseus on his voyages, a Roman gladiator, a younger brother of Emperor Nakamikado in the early 18th century, a Spanish conquistador, an aristocrat in the Qing dynasty, an American Indian warrior or a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I? It seems far more than coincidence that Dark Ages (McFarlane) Spawn is a knight from the same century as Medieval (Gaiman) Spawn.

Gaiman plans to give the money he receives from this case to comics charities. And just for the record, I would totally read Judge Crabb's Odysseus Spawn.

[Via The Beat]




I am going to take a probably unpopular view and say that I sure hope Mr. Gaiman has been as respectful to other people's characters and property. And by that I mean, isn't The Graveyard Book just a retelling of The Jungle Book? Aren't a lot of Gaiman's works derivative?

Gaiman had the idea for the story in 1985 after seeing his then two year-old son Mike "pedaling his tricycle around a graveyard"[4] their family lived across from, in the English town of East Grinstead, West Sussex. Recalling how at home his son looked there, Gaiman thought he "could write something a lot like The Jungle Book and set it in a graveyard."[5] -Wikipedia

IMHO, it's seem the authors who are most protective of their work are always the most liberal with everyone else's property. It's weird but it always seems to be that way...