McFarlane Sticking the Middle Finger to Gaiman with Miracleman
By Hervé St-Louis
January 2, 2014 - 16:21
In 2003, after years of legal fighting with comic book writer Neil Gaiman, cartoonist and toy producer Todd McFarlane decided to release a statue of the British character known as MiracleMan for sale. McFarlane who has always been known as an opinionated and driven individual was metaphorically giving the middle finger to the English writer that had defeated his aspirations in court over the ownership of comic book characters the two had been fighting about.
MiracleMan, known as MarvelMan as a character has been caught in a legal mess for years. Created as a replacement for American publisher Fawcett Comics’s Captain Marvel, MarvelMan inherited his powers and magical formula to turn from a young lad into a super heroic man. When DC Comics successfully sued Fawcett Comics and reached a final settlement out of court over the perceived infringements of Superman by Captain Marvel, this led the British publisher of the American source material, L. Miller and Son to create MarvelMan as a replacement character that had similar background and backstory but sported blond hair and a blue suit instead.
When Warrior Magazine sought to revive the character years later with creators Alan Moore, Alan Davis and Garry Leach, the Samson theme borrowed from Captain Marvel (now owned by DC Comics) was updated with one of imagined realities where MarvelMan and is allies were kept in a virtual reality world while the British government exploited their powers. Selling MarvelMan to the American public would prove difficult as Marvel Comics now owned the trademark to any comic book called Marvel in the United States. MarvelMan became MiracleMan, Alan Moore gave away his portions of copyrights to the property to writer Neil Gaiman who continued MiracleMan’s stories for American publisher Eclipse Comics.
When Eclipse folded, McFarlane bought the license and film prints of the MiracleMan comic book and agreed to trade them away to Gaiman in exchange for the rights in characters the writer had created for the Spawn comic book. McFarlane changed his mind and the two fought for years over the Spawn-related characters and indirectly MiracleMan. After an unfavourable ruling in 2002, McFarlane just announced the MiracleMan statue pissing off more people than Gaiman across the United States and the United Kingdom.
The statue was released and sold in 2003. A resin version and a smaller reissue with a Spawn action figure were both released later while MiracleMan-like characters appeared randomly in Spawn comics by McFarlane. The pause is inspired from one frame in the comic book book where the character transforms for the first time from a regular human to a super human, after years of amnesia. The statue can still be found in some comic book stores and in comic book convention’s flea markets and since these are not sold directly by the producer. I suppose it is not considered bootlegged material!
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