Gaiman v. McFarlane 2010: Spawn Bible and Spawn #8

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Part Ten [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.] After a 15-minute recess, the hearing continued with Todd McFarlane's attorney Alex Grimsley beginning his cross-examination of Neil Gaiman. Grimsley referred to Spawn Bible (August 1996), whose credits were that the art was pencilled by Greg Capullo and inked by Danny Miki and Kevin Conrad and the entries were written by McFarlane, Beau Smith, Tom Orzechowski, and Andrew Grossberg. He asked Gaiman whether the page devoted to Angela summarized her "drives and personality." Gaiman responded, "The text is an adequate and fairly literate description by somebody else of the plot of Angela - of Spawn #9, and of Angelas #1 to #3. I don't know that I would agree with everything. I didn't write this." Asked whether there were parts with which he disagreed, Gaiman said, "The line 'Angela comes from Elysium, the first level of the Seven Heavens, closest to God' is not, for example, anything that I - You know, I just created Elysium. If Todd wants seven levels, he can add another six. That's fine." Asked whether he claimed co-creation of the idea of seven levels, Gaiman answered, "No. Alan Moore came up with the idea that there was seven levels of Hell in Spawn #8, and ... that was Alan's idea, and I imagine that is a reflection of the same thing done in angel terms." [In Spawn #8, a demon says his home is "the eighth sphere, some call it the Malebolge."] In any case, Gaiman agreed that the Spawn Bible description - though, "I would probably quibble with words all the way through it, but that's because I didn't write it" - was "a perfectly adequate description by somebody of the character in Spawn #9 and Angelas #1 to #3."

The questioning turned to "Medieval Spawn." "Medieval Spawn is another character you co-created?" "Yeah. I call him 'Olden Days Spawn,' I think, in this script, but Todd started calling him 'Medieval Spawn.'" "In the script, you actually think you named him something?" "He was Spawn. He was the Spawn of 800 years ago." Again, Grimsley referred to Spawn Bible, asking whether the "Medieval Spawn" entry was a fair description of the character Gaiman co-created. "It's an invented backstory, I guess," Gaiman said. "It could be - I didn't make any of that up, so that's not my - ... The story that I made up is the stuff right at the end and the stuff about the sister, which doesn't seem to be in there." The portion of description that he said was what he had created was, "... he was destroyed by Angela, without ever fully comprehending what he was." Gaiman said his creation had included providing thumbnails and drawings of the characters but he hadn't drawn any of the published images of the characters. "I described [Angela] in the script, but my co-creator had already had already given her a look." Regarding the Spawn of the Middle Ages, he said his script, "would have said ... it would be a medieval version of the Spawn costume or an armored version of the Spawn costume. I would have included the big Spawn shield, because that was on the cover."

The questioning turned to the issue that preceded Gaiman's: Spawn #8, drawn by McFarlane and written by Alan Moore. And, I discover with some shock, a fact I'd forgotten. It's "Dedicated To: Don & Maggie Thompson." My goodness! I remember now that we'd been touched and delighted at the time. But ... pause for a moment to grin. Then back to the hearing. Sorry for this self-indulgent interlude. Ahem. The story is titled "In Heaven (Everything Is Fine)." Gaiman said, "It's actually set in Hell. That's an ironic title." Grimsley noted the reference to an evolving neural parasite. Gaiman said, "Todd had asked Alan, and he mentioned to me, that he kept drawing the Spawn costume differently because he couldn't ever remember how many chains and spikes there were to be. So he was now getting letters from kids saying that the costume kept changing and could we come up with a rationale for why the costume was changing. So Alan came up with the idea, and I think we were talking about it, that ... the costume was a neural parasite and the costume was alive and it would keep the Spawn costume evolved and changed and responded and it wasn't actually a frozen thing."



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