One of the longest-running creator-on-creator legal battles in comics history has come to a seemingly quiet end.
Today, word hit via Minnesota Public Radio that writer Neil Gaiman and cartoonist Todd McFarlane have settled their years-long legal dispute over characters that they created together starting with 1992's "Spawn" #9 for Image Comics. The NPR affiliate revealed that moving forward, the pair will share a 50/50 split in "Spawn issues 9 and 26, the first three issues of a spin-off series on the angels and the issues' contents." A best-seller upon its release in the collector market heyday of the '90s "Spawn" #9 introduced heavenly warrior Angela and the Medieval Spawn – both of whom grew to be major parts of McFarlane's comic cosmos over the next few years.
After a creative falling out, the pair battled back in forth in court in very public exchanges over Gaiman's claim to part of the copyright – exchanges that included several decisions in Gaimain's favor. The last such case hit in 2010 when a judge ruled that Gaimain was due a share of profits from derivative characters Dark Ages Spawn and Tiffany. The writer has publicly stated that he gives money won in these proceedings to charity.
As for today's settlement, the parties are keeping the specific terms confidential, so it is unknown what effect, if any, this will have on McFarlane's publishing plans. The creator has refrained from reprinting "Spawn" #9 in collections in the past, though issue #26 (which features the characters but not Gaiman's works) has been included in such packages. And doubtlessly fans will wonder whether the agreement reached by the pair will impact the ownership of Marvelman/Miracleman, whose Gaiman-written adventures expected to continue from Marvel Comics have been delayed due to legal maneuvers that may or may not include McFarlane's supposed buyout of the American rights to the character.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on this story as it comes to light.