Gaiman v. McFarlane 2010: Neil Gaiman Begins His Testimony

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Part Five [This is part of my running report on the 2010 hearing in the Neil Gaiman v. Todd McFarlane case. To see coverage from the beginning, click here.] Arntsen asked Gaiman to introduce himself, and he responded, "I'm a writer." He cited his comics, adult novels, and children's books and commented that he'd won Eisner, Hugo, Nebula, and Newbery Awards [and has, since his testimony, won the Carnegie Medal] and noted that the Coraline film (nominated for an Oscar) had been based on his novel.

How had he gone about creating for McFarlane? "Todd had ... asked me to write an issue of Spawn. ... He wanted celebrity writers. ... Todd ... had told me that I could write anything that I wanted. He said that I had complete carte blanche. If I wanted to do 23 page of Spawn reading a newspaper, I could." At that point, he said, McFarlane was working on #4 or #5 of Spawn, writing him as a warrior of Hell. "If you're a warrior of Hell," Gaiman said, "then you've got to be fighting something. So fighting Heaven seemed to make sense. And I thought, if you're warriors, you can't have nice angels, because you have to have somebody to fight - so, therefore, they have to be warrior angels. And thought, Why not make it a female character?
"So I called Todd and said, 'OK, this is the idea: female character, angel, talked him through it a little bit, and also asked Todd, 'Could there have been previous Spawns, because you haven't actually seen any previous Spawns at that time?' And he said he didn't see why not, as long as there weren't a lot of them. You couldn't have one every few years; they had to come along every hundred years or so. Because I thought, well, the best way to introduce a character who is going to fight Spawn is to actually show her killing a previous one of his predecessors, which establishes that she's the kind of person who does that kind of thing: kills Spawns."
The solicitation had to be ready before #9 shipped, so McFarlane drew a cover to accompany the solicitation. [It appeared in Diamond Comic Distributors' Previews catalog with the cover date of March 1993.] Gaiman explained the concept of the comics industry's solicitation process and then remarked on what McFarlane had drawn to accompany the solicitation: "I had to give Todd a little precis of what it would be, and he drew that cover - which wasn't exactly what I had in mind for the character. ... I thought when we were talking angels, we were probably talking something with more clothes. But I thought, Great, that's what we're given and that's kind of fun and, so, took the elements that Todd had created in there, the spear that he'd drawn. I thought, great, I'll play with that. So that ... was the first image." [The image appeared in the full-page ad, above, as well as in the solicitation itself.] "I'd come up with the idea of a character, she was going to be called Angela, and I did a little precis and a description for Todd of what was going to happen. He drew that image. I then took that image and made that the character that I was writing when I wrote the comic."
"Did you write the entire Spawn #9?"
"Were you aware of other characters like [this]?"
"There definitely hadn't been an army - as far as I know, anyway - ... an army of female kick-ass warrior angels, lady angels, who were also - who were hunters and merciless and not terribly nice. Because I thought, If Spawn & Co. are fighting these guys, then the other side needed to be almost as bad."
He commented that he was "making her a hunter ... somebody who just hunts these things and she has their heads on her wall."
As to "Medieval Spawn": "The idea was that there would have been a Spawn who was a knight in armor, and I had him essentially show up. I didn't have that many pages; it was one issue, so I came up with the idea of a Spawn who was a knight in armor. He shows up on his finely caparisoned horse. He has a shield, a sword, and a version of the Spawn costume that's essentially armor or something closer to what a knight in armor might wear or what a medieval knight would have worn. He shows up. ... I created a little backstory for him: the idea that he had been tricked by a devil; that his sister who he loved had - he returned from the dead to find that she had married his greatest enemy, somebody he hated, but he was still trying to be noble and knightly."



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