Author Topic: Sim on Todd's "Man of Miracles"  (Read 34806 times)

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Al Nickerson

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Sim on Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« on: March 01, 2006, 07:37:31 PM »
In a letter to Dave Sim, I started a conversation concerning Todd McFarlane's "Man Of Miracles" statue. Here's what I wrote to Dave about the subject...

At Rich Johnstonís LYING IN THE GUTTERS ( VOL 2 COLUMN 38 ) website, Rich posts a picture of Todd McFarlane's "Man Of Miracles" statue (I am also including the "Man Of Miracles" picture for you to check out.)Ö

"Todd McFarlane's "Man Of Miracles" toy. That's right, ignore the logo, that's "Man of Miracles". A leather jacket can hide many a sin. You don't think that needle's in an unfortunate position to be crouching?"

Concerning the topic of Todd McFarlane's "Man Of Miracles" statue; at his blog, Steve Bissette writes, "Todd McFarlane once again defies all rational behavior, continuing to traffic in characters and properties that are not his, never were his, and which he never, ever had a hand in."

It seems to me that Todd just wants to aggravate people by his continued use of the Miracle Man property. As Iíve said before, this whole mess could start clearing up if Todd and Neil Gaiman just worked out an agreement where Neil exchanged his ownership of his Spawn characters with any ownership that Todd has over Miracle Man. Itís sad seeing all the spitefulnessÖ. But, we are talking comics, arenít we?




Dave responded with this letter (which I'm posting in it's entirety)...


Al Nickerson

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Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2006, 02:14:56 PM »
Although I tend to almost always agree with Dave Sim on issues of creatorís rights, I have to disagree with him on this one. I think Todd McFarlaneís "Man of Miracles" statue shows Toddís unyielding behavior in trying to claim the rights to Miracle Man.  I think that Todd calling this property "Man of Miracles" and not "Miracle Man" suggests that Todd really isnít trying to make Miracle Man a public domain property. I donít think I would be wrong in thinking that Todd McFarlane would not be all too happy if anyone takes the idea that Miracle Man is within the public domain and creates their own version of Miracle Man.

For more info on the Neil Gaiman vs. Todd McFarlane feud with commments by Erik Larsen, Dave Sim, and Steve Bissette, go here.

Al Nickerson

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Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2006, 10:38:34 AM »
From Steve Bissette's blog, Steve shares his thoughts on this issue...

"I think Dave's full of shit on the whole Marvelman/Miracleman issue, though I understand he's talking about the rights to the character and concept, not the body of work which is still the property of Alan Moore, Gary Leach, Alan Davis, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, Neil Gaiman, etc. -- or at least, I hope he's not talking about the entire Miracleman canon. To my mind, Todd McFarlane has been 100% in the wrong since day one on this issue, and has only continued to act like a bully and lout. But, hey, that's (just) me."

Rich_Henn

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re: Man of Miracles
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2006, 07:23:40 PM »
How quickly Todd forgets the whole TONY TWIST debacle.

I'm more insulted that McFarlane can't create something new, he has to swipe from other, BETTER characters/ideas.

Sad.

The Truth

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Frauds
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2006, 05:33:44 AM »
Gaiman and McFarlane are both thiefs, they dont own Miracleman, Mick Anglo does, you people are hypocrites.

What about Anglo's creators rights? They are both guilty.


The Truth

Al Nickerson

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Re: Frauds
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2006, 09:56:29 AM »
Quote from: "The Truth"
Gaiman and McFarlane are both thiefs, they dont own Miracleman, Mick Anglo does, you people are hypocrites.

What about Anglo's creators rights? They are both guilty.


The Truth


Hi Truth. You seem very passionate about Mick Anglo. Many of us are passionate about the subject of Creatorís Rights, as well.

You do bring up a good point, though. For example, I think we can all agree that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (and maybe Jack Kirby, but thatís another totally hot topic) should, ethically, own the rights to Spider-Man. However, legally they do not.

So, in the case of Mick Anglo (as far as my understanding goes), Mike created Miracleman, so he should (at least partly) own the rights to the character. However, Iím not quite sure what sort of contract he signed with his publisher. So, I donít know, as in the case of Spider-Man, if he had signed away his rights to Miracleman.

It does look like the ownership of Miracleman has turned into a very complicated matter. Up until now, weíve focused our attention to the claims of Gaiman and McFarlane over Miracleman. Iím sure there are even more creators who have a stake in ownership of the character.

Stephen R Bissette

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Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2006, 10:36:30 AM »
I'm hoping 'The Truth' is willing to follow up, as this is all important stuff, given (1) the ongoing debacle involving the MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN rights situation and (2) the by-and-large undiscussed issue of UK creator proprietary laws vs. US copyright and TM laws.

I hasten to add, I am posting here as an interested creator with 30 years experience as a freelance creator, not an attorney -- I'd looooooooove to read someone genuinely verse in law (US and UK/Europe) weigh in on this in detail.

First off, let's be clear: We're discussing three 'entities', if you will, now four:

(1) The Mick Anglo MARVELMAN body of work created and published in the UK prior to 1980.

(2) The character of Mick Anglo's MARVELMAN relevent to that body of work, and all relevent trademarks.

(3) The Alan Moore & various artists/Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham (is that right? I'm writing off the top of my head here) body of MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN work created after 1980.

(4) The character of MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN, based upon Mick Anglo's original creation, as revised and revamped by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, et al after 1980, and all relevent trademarks.

As far as my reading and experience (I'm friends with, or was friends with, a number of those involved in #3 and #4) goes, it's clear to me that somewhere between the end of the runs of Mick Anglo's MARVELMAN -- created, by all accounts, to 'fill the gap' suddenly created by the demise of CAPTAIN MARVEL UK reprints following Fawcett's closing up shop (prompted by National Periodical/DC's lawsuit against Fawcett contending CAPTAIN MARVEL was a SUPERMAN ripoff) -- and the historic resurrection of MARVELMAN in WARRIOR #1, either a legal transaction over, or an assumption of rights to, MARVELMAN took place involving UK WARRIOR publisher Dez Skinn. This event, and Dez Skinn's involvement, is absolutely critical to the entire Mick Anglo MARVELMAN ownership issue.

To date, I've read or heard no coherent account of "whatever happened." I welcome anyone who can definitively clear up that matter, as THAT is the key issue as far as 'The Truth''s strident claims on this board.

Thereafter, we've got the further complications caused not only by Dez Skinn's involvement (as publisher of WARRIOR, and whatever promises he made to the WARRIOR MARVELMAN creative teams: Alan Moore, Alan Davis, etc.), but by the partnership later in the 1980s between (ahem) Dez Skinn in the UK, the creative MARVELMAN (hereafter MIRACLEMAN) teams in the UK, and the US comics publisher Eclipse Comics.

Sadly, the various tales of Dez Skinn's myriad adventures and misadventures in comics publishing do not create a clear legal trail here -- nor, by my own first-hand experience with Eclipse as a publisher, can I put a great deal of confidence in the various accounts of Eclipse's legal dealings regarding this character, these copyrights, and the tangled international trademark and rights issues.

(Again, though I have no first-hand experience regarding MIRACLEMAN, I vividly recall the phone call from one of the MIRACLEMAN creators after their visit to France, where they found a French edition of MIRACLEMAN licensed via Eclipse without the knowledge or participation of the creators. In my own dealings with Eclipse, I found lapses in respecting contracts and/or legal agreements and less than happy dealings with materials related to those works, right up to the final auction sale of the Eclipse negatives, including some of my own work -- which leads directly to the following:)

Further complicating matters, we also know, via various public documents (interviews with the involved creators, etc.), that:

(a) Alan Moore 'deeded' his 'share' of whatever rights he owned or believed he owned to his respective MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN works to Neil Gaiman. This is characteristic of Alan's dealings with other (uncontested) creations and creators, and as such is nothing but honorable and worthy of our collective appreciation -- whatever the complications, Alan's intentions were clearly honorable and of good intention.

(b) In the auction of Eclipse properties, Todd McFarlane purchased (1) the negatives to some portion (if not all) of the Eclipse-published MIRACLEMAN comics and graphic novel collections;

(c) In the auction of Eclipse properties, Todd McFarlane claims to have also purchased Eclipse's 'share' of the Eclipse-published comics and graphic novel collections -- and claims that 'share' or those 'shares' included proprietary rights to the TRADEMARK and the relevent copyrights.

The latter two points are not at all clear; Todd's claims seem contradictory over the years, and his outright contempt via his actions to the rights of all others involved (and the subsequent court verdict, re: the Gaiman vs. McFarlane trial) via his attempts (two, at least, that I know of, via Diamond Catalogue solicitations) to relaunch the MIRACLEMAN character(s) and trademark as his own property only muddies the waters further.

HOWEVER, there is still the matter of:

(d) The nature of UK copyright and creative ownership laws, relevent to both the Mick Anglo era of MARVELMAN and the WARRIOR revival of MARVELMAN;

(e) The nature of UK copyright and creative ownership laws relevent to the Eclipse-published MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN material, both phases of which were written by British writers (Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman) but in part illustrated by American (John Totleben, Rick Veitch) as well as British artists;

(f) The nature of US copyright and trademark law, relevent to the Eclipse-published era of MIRACLEMAN, and the contracts signed between Eclipse and the various creative parties involved with that body of work.

As should be obvious, (d) through (f) is of enormous consequence, and in and of itself presents an enormous legal tangle, which to my knowledge hasn't been addressed adequately in any public venue.

Further complicating this rat's nest are whatever legal exchanges may have occurred since the demise of MIRACLEMAN and the collapse of Eclipse -- I mean, though I'm still friends with many of those involved (Neil, John T., Rick V.), I've no idea what if any agreements may have or may not have passed between those parties.

Regardless of whom owns the trademarks, the ownership of the individual phases of the MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN property, from Mick Anglo and his collaborative partners to Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and their various artistic collaborators requires an enormous (not insurmountable) amount of legal work to sort out. Eclipse was sometimes quite cavalier about contracts and such, and I do recall that the French MIRACLEMAN collection was something that fell outside the contracts or arrangements, per the conversations I had with Alan, John, etc. at that time.

Thus, I've little confidence in the merits of the Eclipse/McFarlane chain of ownership (if that's what it is), founded as it is upon the reportedly dubious Dez Skinn chain of ownership.

Thus, championing Mick Anglo while slandering Alan or Neil or anyone else is of little value.

However, illuminating this lengthy and increasingly historic proprietary legacy is of great value.

I, for one, would love to see Mick, Alan, Neil, Alan, Steve, John, Rick, 'Bucky', etc. and/or their heirs able to profit from the re-release of their remarkable respective contributions to the MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN saga. It's a crime that they aren't -- and Todd, rather than working on behalf of these creators and making something extraordinary possible, continues to carry on in an appalling manner.

One can always hope he'll see the error of his ways and turn the tide...

The Truth

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Wrong
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2006, 01:52:31 PM »
Well lets just wait and see what happens when the shit hits the fan.
3 months and we'll see who's slandering who.

Lets put it this way Stephen, British copyright laws were very differant and now the U.S. have to tow the line with every country who is a member of the the Berne convention, you CANT cut the creator out of the process.
McFarlane knows it
Moore knows it
Gaimen  knows it
Skinn always knew it.
and soon (If Neil Gaiman doesent do the hounerable thing) everyone will know it.

Its not slander when it the truth.
Another thing, the trademarks that Eclipse/McFarlane had registered were aplied in "bad faith" as there was a predated copyright on the trademarked image of Marvelman.
 
IP is what I do and I cant believe that all you people in comics are so naive to copyright laws, its not rocket science.

Tell Gaimen if he wants to speak to me on here he can, but if he contacts Ken Levin and decides to hide behind his coat tails, we will go public and expose all of the above named infringers in a heartbeat. (he knows exactly what I'm talking about)
Just think, the biggest names in comics, all copyright infringers, I guess its going to be the comic equivalent of Watergate.

The Truth.

Anonymous

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Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2006, 08:35:46 PM »
Quote from: "Stephen R Bissette"
I, for one, would love to see Mick, Alan, Neil, Alan, Steve, John, Rick, 'Bucky', etc. and/or their heirs able to profit from the re-release of their remarkable respective contributions to the MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN saga. It's a crime that they aren't -- and Todd, rather than working on behalf of these creators and making something extraordinary possible, continues to carry on in an appalling manner.

One can always hope he'll see the error of his ways and turn the tide...


What you are refering to is "chain of title" and as all of the above have stolen someone else's work (by law) they own nothing In terms of copyright ownership and it is very doubtfull If they have any rights to the work that they wrote or drew.

You cant hide behind trademarks when you have stolen someone else's copyright, actually as I wright this the thought has just occured to me that McFarlane is in deeper shit than Gaimen as in 2003 McFarlane registered the copyright for Miracleman with the U.S. copyright office and as a result of this he is up shit creek big time.

Anonymous

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Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2006, 08:37:43 PM »
Quote from: "Anonymous"
Quote from: "Stephen R Bissette"
I, for one, would love to see Mick, Alan, Neil, Alan, Steve, John, Rick, 'Bucky', etc. and/or their heirs able to profit from the re-release of their remarkable respective contributions to the MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN saga. It's a crime that they aren't -- and Todd, rather than working on behalf of these creators and making something extraordinary possible, continues to carry on in an appalling manner.

One can always hope he'll see the error of his ways and turn the tide...


What you are refering to is "chain of title" and as all of the above have stolen someone else's work (by law) they own nothing In terms of copyright ownership and it is very doubtfull If they have any rights to the work that they wrote or drew.

You cant hide behind trademarks when you have stolen someone else's copyright, actually as I wright this the thought has just occured to me that McFarlane is in deeper shit than Gaimen as in 2003 McFarlane registered the copyright for Miracleman with the U.S. copyright office and as a result of this he is up shit creek big time.


one last thing Gaimen  doesent know about McFarlane doing this.

The Truth

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?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2006, 01:18:18 AM »
Quote
one last thing Gaimen  doesent know about McFarlane doing this.


Its GaiMAN, but you are right.


The Truth.

Stephen R Bissette

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Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2006, 04:46:41 AM »
Absolutely no disrespect intended, but:

(a) I wonder who you are, writing as you are with such ire behind a pseudoname, and

(b) your sloppy writing habits demonstrated herein diminishes some of your thunder, though I hasten to add all your points are well-taken.

I sincerely doubt you'll be seeing any of the directly-involved parties posting here, if only for your tenor, tone and outrage. Again, your writing skills don't help in this regard, either -- no insult intended, just an observation, 'The Truth' (seemingly interchangable with 'Guest').

Don't direct your anger my way, though, as I've no stake in any of this, and have a pretty good record of asking the very questions you are (in less bullish terms) since the 1990s.

As I implied in my single post, the gap between US copyright and trademark law and European (specifically, in this case, UK) copyright and proprietary rights laws is wide, and little has been done to address this situation over the decades.

Sadly, there's precious little written, outside of legal journals (which are by and large inaccessible to laypersons of any trade), on the striking differences between European copyright laws and US copyright and their relevance to any particular industry, much less comics.

Again, I welcome anyone who can either discuss these issues rationally or direct us all to any texts that do so.

I again stress, the following is just a practicing freelancers questions and speculation -- I have no legal expertise whatsoever.

For instance, Alan Moore's recent discussions of his upset over feature film adaptations of his work (the most recent being V FOR VENDETTA, natch) beg coherent analysis of whether, under UK law (in which authors and creators indeed have moral rights, which it is my understanding CANNOT be signed away), any of the contracts between the many UK creators who've worked with Marvel (the 'British Wave' of the '80s began with John Bolton's work at Marvel), DC and Vertigo are indeed legal to both countries' laws. Alan raised the issue of 'moral rights' (a term of vague meaning to US creators, though most US contracts I've seen since 1990 try to cover that, too, though it's my understanding moral rights are inherently the property of the author and cannot be signed away under European copyright law).

To broaden the scope of this discussion -- and hopefully discuss the issues at hand without the pointed personalization and anger reflected in the above posts from 'The Truth' and 'Guest' -- I recall my friend Jean-Marc Lofficier years ago discussing at length with me the moral rights explicit in European copyright law. He mused over the impossibility of European comics creators signing away all rights, and the decades of published Disney comics and books scripted and illustrated by countless European creators.

CAN Disney legally own all that work?

Can the European creators legally sign away all rights, as Disney habitually requires?

With popular Disney publications originated throughout Europe dominating so many markets, it seems to me the MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN controversy is pretty small potatoes alongside that massive body of published works, which now covers generations of creators, almost every country in the world, and a US-based corporation claiming all proprietary rights as their own with a mighty paper trail to defend those claims.

Stephen Bissette

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Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2006, 04:58:15 AM »
Oops, I see if I don't place my 'username,' the board doesn't 'recognize' the poster as me. Apologies to 'Guest' -- for the record, I see 'The Truth' and 'Guest' posting above are indeed two different folks (sorry for suggesting otherwise), and note that I, Stephen Bissette, wrote the post above credited to 'Guest' (ending with the big Disney question).

'Truth,' don't come down too hard on comics creators regarding these laws. It's often an uphill battle discussing US rights issues (hence, Al's founding of this site), much less international legal rights issues. Most US comics creators assume US law is still applicable elsewhere, which isn't unreasonable given the multitude of US copyright law revisions since '76 -- when my generation entered the field -- and the long legal ties between US-owned comics properties and a multitude of multi-generational European writers and artists (I cited Disney, but note that venerable comic strip creators like Lee Falk's THE PHANTOM, which has almost nil visibility in the US, remain tremendously popular around the world, fueled entirely by new work done by regional creators, all under the ownership and contracts of the Falk estate and syndicate).

Most Americans are completely oblivious to all this, and comics creators are usually as ignorant as anyone else, though it's not a willful ignorance. For instance, the changes in public domain laws -- which have dramatically shifted the landscape profoundly, thrusting previously public-domain works like the film IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE back into corporate ownership chains of title -- impact us on many levels every day, though most of us never notice this fact.

'Truth,' I'd welcome your expertise in IPO being applied to more fully discussing the issues specific to MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN for all, if you're up for that.

Stephen Bissette

  • Guest
Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2006, 05:02:17 AM »
Man, I wish there was an edit function on this board!

Corrections to the above:

"creations," not "creators."

"dramatically" OR "profoundly," but not both (sloppy writing)!

"IP," not "IPO."

Stephen R Bissette

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Sim & Todd's "Man of Miracles"
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2006, 05:51:37 AM »
PS: One the other other thread, which I posted on to refer 'The Truth' to this one to continue the conversation in one venue, 'The Truth' last posted:
______________

The Truth
Guest
Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:04 pm    Post subject: Stolen   
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stephen R Bissette wrote:
Howdy, 'The Truth' -- I'll post my comments on the other thread, http://www.creators.qcomics.net/viewtopic.php?t=27 -- hope to see you there.

OK, but they are both guilty.
___________

Judge and jury!

There's a world of difference between Todd and Neil -- and the fact that Neil has had this thankless position thrust onto him purely by circumstance and being the last prominent creator in the WARRIOR-spawned lineage is a compelling factor here, 'Truth.'

As I stated (and you agreed), it seems to me that Dez Skinn is the key to the WARRIOR lineage; in all versions of this I've heard and read, it was Dez's claims that initiated the entire MARVELMAN resurrection, prompting the original 'revival' creators to work on the character believing they did so legally. To date, the book KIMOTA! offers the only comprehensive overview available in the US of this case history, and I came away from that wondering why Mick Anglo and/or his heirs didn't challenge the revival 20+ years ago, and how exactly Skinn (and, later, Eclipse) maintained their own tentative 'claim' to the property unchallenged for so long.

Which brings us, inevitably, to Todd and Neil, and your statement, above.

Assigning 'guilt' to Neil alone for being the lone man standing at the end of the WARRIOR-spawned lineage, per your view, isn't consistent with the historic reality behind this bizarre case history.