Gaiman, McFarlane fight over Dark Ages Spawn

Author/comics writer Neil Gaiman and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane took a long-running legal battle into a Madison, Wis., courtroom on Monday, June 14, according to the New York Times. The reason? Gaiman claims that McFarlane owes him money for characters in the Spawn comic-book series that bear what Gaiman says is a suspiciously close resemblance to characters that Gaiman created for the franchise in the 1990s.

Gaiman testified for three hours in federal court, alleging that his character Medieval Spawn formed the basis for Dark Ages Spawn, while his red-haired creation Angela was the template for the avenging angels Tiffany and Domina. McFarlane, a resident of Arizona, also took the stand, saying that while all the Spawn characters share some similarities, he did not direct writer Brian Holguin to copy Gaiman's character for Dark Ages Spawn.

Holguin, who testified as well, said that he and another writer conceived Dark Ages Spawn in 1998 and that any resemblance to Gaiman's monster was coincidental.

The battle between Gaiman and McFarlane, both heavy hitters in the world of comics, has been going on for more than 10 years. A jury in 2002 found that Gaiman was owed money as a co-owner of the copyright for Medieval Spawn and Angela, along with another character named Cogliostro. While the two sides have spent years trying to figure out just how much money Gaiman should get, the addition of the three later characters into the legal mix could make for a bigger haul if Gaiman wins again.

The writer's lawyers say that he'll donate any money he gets out of the case to charity. The judge did not rule on the case on Monday, instead giving both sides until June 25 to introduce any additional arguments.

McFarlane created Spawn, a murdered CIA agent who turns into a vengeful demon, in 1992 for Image Comics, spawning (no pun intended) a successful line of action figures, an HBO series and a 1997 movie starring Michael Jai White as the title character.

Gaiman, of course, struck gold with his own comic-book seres, Sandman, and has written acclaimed novels such as American Gods and The Graveyard Book.

Who do you think is right? Should these two comic-book giants lay down their arms and stop fighting once and for all?

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