While I was at San Diego, I tried repeatedly to get comment from Todd McFarlane Productions over Marvel’s new claim to the Marvelman/Miracleman character, without joy. Years ago McFarlane bought the assets of bankrupt US Miracleman publisher Eclipse, including their license agreement with Quality Communications, publisher of Warrior magazine that serialised Marvelman, . However, not only did that licence include a reversion clause after non-use which had expired, but it now transpires that Quality Communications never had the legal rights to publish the character in the first place. So the licence was worthless.
During this period there was an attempt by Neil Gaiman to secure the rights to the character from Todd McFarlane in return for the rights to certain characters he co-created for Spawn. Which ended up with Neil getting the photographic files that Eclipse had created, the rest hitting the courts, tying up in Gaiman’s rights battle for Spawn characters he co-created without a work-for-hire contract, and the details of exactly what it was Todd owned getting laid bare. When Gaiman chose to take profits from the Spawn characters over the rights to Marvelman/Miracleman, many including myself believed, and Gaiman later confirmed it, that what we expected all along was true. Todd right to produce comics and statues featuring the character were as legally sound as, well, when Dez Skinn published those stories stories in Warrior.
Now Marvel are publishing Marvelman, trying to tie up the rights to the eighties and nineties run, and it’s time for everyone to dive in.
Over on the Image messageboards, Erik Larsen, publisher of Image Comics during much of this period, has a few comments. Initially;
Marvel owns it and that’s creator’s rights “winning out?”
They could certainly collect all of the Mick Anglo’s Marvelman stuff from the ’50s–not that most readers will care a whole lot about a Captain Marvel knockoff but it’s going to get pretty messy if they try and reprint the Moore or Gaiman Miracleman stuff–and that’s the only stuff people really care about.
If they skip that and update Marvelman and avoid the other stuff–will fans really care?
Is DC–who sued Fawcett because Captain Marvel was too similar to Superman going to be cool with Marvel collecting all of the Marvelman stuff–considering the fact that Marvelman is a far more blatant a knockoff of Captain Marvel, a character that they now own?
Marvel seems as though they wanted a big announcement and that Marvelman would generate a lot of buzz but without the Moore material–Marvelman is just another shitty knockoff. If they have to start over in order to stay out of court–who’s going to give a shit? Alan Moore’s not going to write it and as much as folks say they love Neil Gaiman–his Marvel superhero stuff has been greeted with lukewarm sales and he did not make a significant splash when he did Miracleman all those years ago.
Marvelman’s best days were at Warrior Magazine, when the strip ran in black and white. The stories were great–the art was great–and that run was incredible. It lost a lot when it went to Eclipse. The color was subpar when they collected the Marvelman material and the new artists weren’t as strong. The stories got progressively less interesting.
I can’t help but think that Marvel’s new Marvelman will disappoint. Fans will be unenthusiastic about the reprints and if they don’t have the Moore material–they’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. Even with the Moore stuff–you’re looking at a handful of outstanding comics before it starts to fall apart.
I don’t recall Moore being bitter about Eclipse–Moore wrote Miracleman for Eclipse. The thing is that Eclipse owned part of the property and that was sold to Todd McFarlane–so things are likely to get messy.
Then when Neil Gaiman’s twitter feed was reposted;
they bought them from Mick Anglo’s representatives. Todd mcfarlane could still sue everyone but I hope he won’t.
Neil Gaiman is a dick. Neil “created” Angela and then sued Todd over accounting (even though, according to the records–Todd had overpaidhim) –Todd offered to trade Miracleman for Angela which Neil had initially agreed to but then he backed out–choosing to keep his fingers in Angela even though she is a clearly derivative character–designed by Todd–that he couldn’t do anything with–and yet he hopes Todd doesn’t sue?
What an asshole.
He hadthe chance to own Miracleman outright and he didn’t take it so that he could dick-block Todd from using an evil twin of his own character–but now Neil’s trying to act like the nice guy and paint Todd as the villain.
I would hope that Neil would go back to Todd and take the deal which he had been offered and had agreed to–and make it possible for both Angela and Marvelman to be put to good use.
And we’re back in the room. I’ve added a few comments on the thread – Mick Anglo getting a significant sum to see him and his wife live in comfort, asking about what if anything Todd owns of Marvelman/Miracleman, that sort of thing – but I was disappointed not to see a similar one on the Spawn.com messageboards… maybe someone should start one?
UPDATE: Erik and I discuss this matter further at the Image message boards, Neil Gaiman twits in response to this “funny man. You’d think a $40,000 judgment against him might make him check his facts before talking” and here’s the Spawn.com Marvelman thread… aw, and look which site it links to.