Miracle on Ice, but Gaiman co-owns three

Thu, February 26th, 2004 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Seth Jones, Staff Writer

[Miracleman]But all they want is a Miracle.

Miracleman, that is.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit recently upheld the decision made in district court in favor of Neil Gaiman in his case against Todd McFarlane involving the copyrights of characters introduced in "Spawn" # 9: Medieval Spawn, Angela and Count Nicholas Cogliostro. You can read the court's 27-page decision here.

In a nutshell: Neil Gaiman is the creator of those three characters and most importantly, co-owner.

Gaiman posted this on his on-line journal:

"It's... an important judgment for protecting creators from rapacious or crooked publishers, in that it clarifies what a copyright notice is there for, and what a copyright form is there for."

You can read the rest of Gaiman's post here.

Angela may dress well but the character most fans want to see freed of his courtroom hell is Miracleman. The character, originally called Marvelman, was first introduced by Alan Moore in "Warrior Magazine," the same title that introduced "V for Vendetta," in the early 1980s. The premise is that of an aging superhero that has forgotten the magic word that changes him into a superhero.

The character had a long history of multi-ownership troubles, which can be loosely taken back as far as the 1941 DC Comics suit against Fawcett Publications over Captain Marvel's infringement on Superman.

Currently, the Miracleman character is involved in a tug-of-war with McFarlane and Gaiman and just about anyone else who has ever wanted to lay some creative claim to the character. McFarlane's claim comes from his 1996 purchase of the remaining Eclipse Comics assets for $40,000. Gaiman was writing Miracleman for Eclipse when the company went out of business in 1994. At the time of the company's demise, Miracleman #24 was on shelves and # 25 was complete but still unrelaesed.

With the victory regarding the three characters introduced in Spawn # 9, Gaiman is now speaking out on the next step with McFarlane regarding the Miracleman character. He has this to say on his journal:

"So one thing that the court case did establish was that (McFarlane) obviously didn't, as he had been claiming, own all of Miracleman. As far as I can tell, or any of the lawyers working with us on the case could tell, (McFarlane) probably doesn't actually own any share of Miracleman. He certainly has no copyright in any of the existing work.

"Currently (as of late 2001) (McFarlane) has another trademark application in on Miracleman, on the grounds that it was an abandoned trademark, which we've opposed.

"There may well need to be a final court case to tie up some of the last loose ends on Miracleman, which may wind up going to some very fun places indeed. At least with '1602,' there's the money there to fight it. And there are a lot of places that want to republish the work that's been done on Miracleman, and the new work that Mark and I hope to do."

McFarlane spoke with CBR News in June of 2001 regarding the Miracleman ownership issue.

CBR News

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