10-year Spawn legal feud between Gaiman and McFarlane finally over

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Marc Bernardin
Dec 16, 2012

In 1993, Sandman scribe Neil Gaiman wrote an issue of Todd McFarlane's blockbuster Image comic Spawn. And in that comic, he introduced a number of characters—but he never received the royalties he believed he was due. For 10 years, Gaiman has been suing McFarlane ... until now.

In Spawn #9, Gaiman told a story that tracked previous incarnations of the demonic main character and featured a medieval version of Spawn, as well as the angelic hunters Angela and Gabrielle and the former Hellspawn, Cagliostro. All of those characters have gone on to play major roles in the Spawn comics and, in some cases, even the 1997 feature film and HBO animated series.

Given that Image Comics was founded by artists, including McFarlane, who struck out on their own so they could have ownership of their work, Gaiman felt that he should be compensated for the work he'd done—work that had been exploited in various media. And it took him 10 years before he could announce the following on Twitter:

According to that linked story, Gaiman and McFarlane have reached a settlement that "calls for declaring Gaiman a 50 percent owner of Spawn issues 9 and 26, the first three issues of a spin-off series on the angels and the issues' contents." As such, there will be some money coming Gaiman's way.

Not that the best-selling author needs that money, or plans to keep it. This was always about the principle of the thing, not the reward. As he said in the past:

"I wish I took some kind of joy in this, but I don't... At this point all I hope is that Todd can do an accounting for all the comics I wrote for which he paid no royalties, and the rest of it; and that he'll settle up and I will make some comics charities very happy."

(via Twitter)