Gaiman v. McFarlane 2010: Dost Speak Medieval?

Monday, July 5, 2010

[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.]

Part Fifteen Todd McFarlane attorney Alex Grimsley asked Neil Gaiman, "What period in time is Medieval Spawn from?" "800 years ago ... 12th century ... Obviously, somewhere between 1100 and 1200, maybe 1250, if you wanted to push it." ... "And there was nothing in issue #9 that told us what country this character lived in?" "I assumed it was England, but I don't think we ever locked that down, that part." "So there was nothing saying whether he was English, French, German, whatever." "He does speak English." "But it's an English comic book, correct?" "Yeah, but I'm the kind of person who actually, if it was in France, might well have written in French just to make kids go and look up French words in dictionaries. I did that recently with some Latin stuff in a comic." "OK, so if a Medieval Spawn spoke French, would that be different than the character you created?" "Actually, a Medieval Spawn, thinking about it, probably would have been speaking French. ... Because Saxon would have been - I'm sorry." "OK, but your character spoke in English." "His dialogue was written in English." "So, if his dialogue was written in French, would that be a different character than the one you created?" "I've seen issues of Spawn #9 translated into French and Japanese and Spanish, and it's the same character."

"If there was ... a Spawn from medieval times who spoke in rap, would that be different than the character you created?" "One would assume he was under some kind of horrible spell." "Is that a 'yes'?" "That was - I think it's a silly question, with all due respect." Grimsley referred to Spawn: The Dark Ages #1 (March 1999) and the first appearance of the Spawn shown in that series. "He simply says, 'What am I?' right? ... Is that line particularly medieval ... speech?" "No ... That's a simple English declarative sentence. It would have been the same going back all the way. That's nice." "OK," said Grimsley, "so a modern person would not say, 'What am I?'" "The ... King James Bible, which was written a long time ago, is filled with beautiful simple English declarative sentences that we would say now and that they said then. ... It's a glorious little sentence." "And in your mind, that's speaking medieval?" "In my mind, that's a good, clear English declarative sentence." "And is that speaking medieval?" Gaiman replied, "There is no such thing as speaking medieval. Medieval is a time period. It goes approximately 1,000 years, maybe 1,500 years, but definitely 1,000 years. It's not a language." Grimsley asked, "The way that you view the way Medieval Spawn spoke is really in just short declarative sentences, there's nothing else distinctive about his speech?"

Gaiman said, "No, I had him talking to a young lady in fair knightly terms." [All of Medieval Spawn's speeches appear in this post.] "That's something that - a character, you assume, has learned a little knighthood and he's talking to a young lady and he's using his fancy words. ... There's a difference between demotic speech and the fancy stuff and the stuff that you'd use, if you were being knightly. If you're being courtly, I assume that, if you're talking to your king, you don't talk the same way that you talk to your dog." Referring to Spawn #9, Gaiman discussed the character's speech. "The last thing that Spawn says here is, 'I don't understand.' It's a nice simple English declarative sentence. It's not harsh. It's not clever. 'I no longer have a name.' And so on and so forth. It's absolutely how you would, as a knight, speak to a maiden. It's not necessarily how you'd speak to the person killing you, which is why the language changes a little bit."

Asked whether Dark Ages Spawn speaks the same way Medieval Spawn does, Gaiman answered, "Looking through the comics, I thought Brian [Holguin] was doing a fairly creditable job of trying to give the feeling that this was happening in the old days." "Your contention is that Brian Holguin, sitting here, the writer on Dark Ages, didn't create a new character?" "Yes. ... I assume it's the same character. It's Spawn in the 12th century as a knight in armor."



Post a Comment

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP