Todd McFarlane will pay Neil Gaiman $382,000 in the wake of the settlement in January of their nearly decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, Angela and other characters.
According to documents obtained by Daniel Best, a federal bankruptcy judge last week ordered the release of the funds placed into escrow in 2008 under McFarlane’s reorganization plan to offset potential losses from the lawsuit. Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million.
Best notes that with interest, Gaiman should receive somewhere around $464,000, although much of that will likely go to legal expenses. The writer has publicly stated that he gives money won in the proceedings to charity.
The agreement reached in late January gives Gaiman 50-percent ownership of Spawn #9 and #26, as well as the three issues of the 1994 Angela miniseries, ending a fierce court fight over the characters he and McFarlane created together some two decades ago. A federal jury had already found in 2002 that Gaiman has a copyright interest in the characters, but the subsequent bankruptcy of Todd McFarlane Productions left the writer unpaid. McFarlane was dealt another blow in 2010, when a federal judge ruled that Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany are mere derivatives of Medieval Spawn and Angela, meaning that Gaiman is also the co-owner of those copyrights and entitled to one-half of the profits generated by the characters.
UPDATE: Gaiman wrote on Twitter, “that simply says the escrow money has come out of escrow. I could have been paid none of it or ten times it.”