Gaiman v. McFarlane 2010: Scantily Clad Angels

Monday, July 5, 2010

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?[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 Fourteen Todd McFarlane's attorney Alex Grimsley asked whether Neil Gaiman had collaborated with other writers on a series. Gaiman said, "I did a book called The Children's Crusade which I ... wrote sort of book-ends and worked with a number of writers: Jamie DeLillo, Alisa Kwitney, Rachel Pollack, Nancy Collins, and many others. ... And ... my most recent comics work was a two-parter last year where I got to kill Batman." It was Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? - drawn by Andy Kubert. He described it as "the last Batman issue of Detective Comics and Batman Comics, and on that level you're kind of collaborating with 70 years of people who have written Batman and the people who are writing it now." However, Grimsley's next questions, which started with asking whether Pollack could have created an angel without being derivative of Angela, were objected to as calling for a legal conclusion, and the objections were sustained.

Grimsley turned to Spawn Bible and the page devoted to Tiffany: "Tiffany has ... on her right leg ... what appears to be like a little ammunition belt?" Gaiman responded, "I thought it was chocolates, but it could be ammunition. It could be anything." Grimsley asked, "Did you ever write anything or have any drawings where the angel used a gun?" "No." Grimsley showed another picture of Tiffany in which she was holding a gun. Gaiman said, "I don't believe somebody becomes less derivative of another character if they pick up a gun. Batman is still Batman if he's holding a gun." Grimsley went on, "And Tiffany has some sort of wing on her back. It looks like blades, correct?" "Yes." "She doesn't have the headpiece that Angela wore?" "No." "Both of these characters ... are, I guess to put it mildly, scantily clad?" "Yes." "Is it common in modern comic books to portray women scantily clad?" "Not the ones that I write." "OK, but putting aside the hadful that you write, is it fairly common?" "No." "No?" Gaiman said, "I was the editor this year of Year's Best American Comics and I read an awful lot of comics and most of them had fully clad women. I will accept there may be some comics out there with scantily clad women, but, no, I don't believe it's the norm." Grimsley said, "Well, when we're using the adjective 'scantily clad,' do you consider Wonder Woman to be fully clothed or scantily clad?" Gaiman said, "I haven't read a Wonder Woman comic in 10 years. I have no idea what she's wearing currently. Throughout her history, it has moved backwards and forwards. At one point in the '60s and '70s, she was in a trouser suit. The costumes vary."

Grimsley referred to a copy of Previews and asked Gaiman to describe the purpose of Previews, which he did. Then Grimsley displayed a page and asked whether Gaiman would describe them as scantily clad or fully clad. [I've tried to locate this specific copy of Previews without success. I believe the first image was of the Image title C.H.I.X., which was dated January 1998. In fact, as far as I could determine, most of the pages he chose in these samplings were from the Image listings of such series as Savage Dragon, and at least one was a special "swimsuit issue."] "Of the ones on here," Gaiman said, "one of them appears to be wearing fishnet bondage gear. One of them looks like Power Girl, who is a Superman knockoff in a cape. And one of them is a weird manga thing. I'm not even sure if she's - what she's - wearing. Are they fully dressed? No, they're wearing spandex." After a further sampling, Gaiman said, "I can absolutely, utterly, with my hand on my heart, testify that the ladies in those pictures in those ads that you showed me weren't wearing very much - nor were the men. Beyond that, I think generalizing the comics is deeply problematic."

Grimsley returned to differences between Angela and Tiffany and discussed differences between hair styles and that the headdress of Domina isn't the same as that of Angela. Gaiman said, "There are lots of different headdresses."



Michael July 31, 2010 at 1:52 AM  

The headdress thing strikes me as kind of a "Malibu Stacy" defense. "But she's got a new hat!"

Greg,  August 8, 2010 at 8:12 AM  

I've been in the courtroom many times, and it's usually tiresome and awful. The lawyers are usually leaps and bounds smarter than any witness, and witnesses are generally coached to robotics. I keep waiting to read, "Then Mr. Grimsley removed himself from the case as he was supremely overmatched by Mr. Gaiman."

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