For my latest post I was going to review the last book I read; it was really bloody good and I think you Geeks would get a real kick out of all the pop culture references buried within just like I did. But y’know, it’s been a really long day and the cricket is about to start so I thought I’d just discuss lawsuits instead.
Namely, this one. Neil Gaiman was hired to write issue nine of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn series in 1993 for Image Comics; a company which was founded to protect the rights of creator-owned characters rather than the work-for-hire attitude employed by the Big Two.
In writing the issue, Gaiman created three new characters: one of whom, Angela, will soon begin life in the Marvel universe as a character in Age of Ultron, part of an arc which is to be overseen by Gaiman in other Marvel properties. Gaiman’s residual payments – which he was entitled to after being credited as co-creator alongside Spawn creator McFarlane – were eventually withheld by McFarlane following years of compliance. McFarlane was said to have claimed full ownership of the character due to Gaiman’s being work-for-hire at the time. Years of litigation later, and Gaiman is now preparing to take Angela’s story into a different universe after winning a sizeable settlement from reprint royalties due to him.
It’s really rather ironic that a comic publisher which was set up specifically to grant comic writers the rights to their own property was then plunged into a rights war by one of its co-founders over a character which, while only telling a part of the whole story, remains a fan favourite in her own right to this day.
I’ll leave you with two things: First, Image’s second key concept: No Image partner would interfere – creatively or financially – with any other partner’s work. (Obviously that doesn’t extend to employees.)
And this: Image was founded by disgruntled ex-Marvel employees; the very place where Gaiman has taken his Image creation. As Bart Simpson would say, the ironing is delicious.
What do you make of Angela’s move to Marvel Comics? Will you be picking up the future adventures of the angelic bounty hunter?