Since Marvel announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego that it had bought the rights to Marvelman from creator Mick Anglo, several of the creators who have history with the character, including Rich Veitch, Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham, have spoken publicly about Marvels’ purchase. Image Comics founder Erik Larsen even offered his assessment of the deal and his opinion of Gaiman.
But what about Todd McFarlane, whose purchase of the Eclipse Comics assets and subsequent claim to a stake in Marvelman became central to his bitter court fight with Gaiman?
CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland spoke with McFarlane during Comic-Con for a videotaped interview that will appear soon on this website. When asked to comment on Marvel’s announcement, McFarlane responded, “Here’s what I know as a guy who’s been living a complicated life: I will be having meaningful conversations with my lawyer when I get home.”
“Complicated” is a bit of an understatement when it comes to Marvelman, or Miracleman if you prefer, a character born out of the legal battle between National Periodicals and Fawcett Publications over Captain Marvel’s infringement of the Superman copyright. (When National emerged victorious, and Fawcett ended its Captain Marvel titles, U.K. license holder Len Miller turned to Mick Anglo to create an analog character to replace Earth’s Mightiest Mortal.)
It’s not publicly known at this point exactly what, beyond the rights to Anglo’s original 1950s and ’60s Marvelman stories, Marvel has purchased. But most of the interest, and the contention, begins with the 1982 “Warrior” magazine revival, by Alan Moore, Garry Leach and Alan Davis, the Pacific/Eclipse U.S. license, and the later work by Moore, Chuck Austen, Rick Veitch, John Totleben, Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham. Of those creators, at least Gaiman and Buckingham have been talking with Marvel about reprinting their work.
McFarlane entered the picture in 1996, when he purchased for $40,000 the creative assets of bankrupt Eclipse, which supposedly included the Marvelman licensing agreement with Warrior publisher Quality Communications. Although McFarlane apparently had plans for Marvelman, those rights eventually became leverage in his dispute with Gaiman over ownership of the characters Angela, Cogliostro and Medieval Spawn. It later emerged, however, that Marvelman was not part of the Eclipse assets, and that Quality never owned the rights in the first place.
McFarlane has claimed to hold the Miracleman trademark — although Gaiman has countered that he only owns the rights to a Miracleman logo. Beyond that, though, it’s unclear what stake McFarlane has in the property.
“Todd McFarlane could still sue everyone,” Gaiman tweeted shortly after Marvel’s Comic-Con announcement, “but I hope he won’t.”