Marvelman for those who don’t know has been a kind of gordian knot of legal issues in the comic book world. He was originally a knock off of Captain Marvel (the one that says “Shazam!”) in the UK in the 1950’s. He vanished after a few years of publication only to get a new series by a young Alan Moore in the early 1980’s that was his first attempt at a post-modern superhero. When the book came to the US it was retitled Miracleman and when Alan Moore moved on to bigger projects he handed it off to an obscure comic fanboy named Neil Gaiman. Eventually with the rights getting passed around from publisher to publisher and creator to creator Todd McFarlane wound up owning part of the character and Neil Gaiman owning the other part. Since Gaiman felt that McFarlane abused the creator rights Gaiman had in the exact way that McFarlane championed against Gaiman wasn’t inclined to let McFarlane just yank his ownership of Marvelman away from him.
So the character with this spectacularly good series featuring early work by some of the biggest names in comics has been unavailable for nearly twenty years. McFarlane refused to pay Gaiman, Gaiman refused to let McFarlane use the character, and the legal system has gotten involved. And Marvel has come along and bought the whole thing; lock, stock, and barrel.
I’ve read the series and it’s terrific but my collection of issues that I acquired in the late 80’s has a lot of gaps in it. I know that I’ll be first in line for the omnibus edition that they’re sure to announce…
I thought the situation was that Mick Angleo, Miracleman’s original creator had never transferred the character’s ownership to Warrior owner Dez Skinn in the first place. Therefore, Skinn was never entitled to grant Alan Moore the ownership, so Moore was never in a position to give it to Neil Gaiman so Todd McFarlane’s deal with Eclipse was completely irrelevant anyway.
Or has Marvel bought the rights directly from Mick Angelo?
Apparently they announced at Comic-Con that they had acquired the ‘rights’. I’ll be interested in seeing how it plays out.
And feh, I still have all five of the original trade paperbacks. Found them in a box in the attic earlier this year. My local comic shop owner gave me my week’s comics for free for letting him read them.
This sounds like the comic-book equivalent of the Tetris rights debacle in the 1980s.
Interesting story (thanks for posting it!), and I’ll be interested to see what happens-- I had a spotty collection of the Eclipse releases, and enjoyed them, and would like the chance to read the whole thing.
Torrents of Moore’s Miracleman work are easy to find. That’s how I read it a few years back. I don’t feel guilty about not paying for it, because no company could put it up for sale, back issues are a small fortune, and money going to back issues doesn’t go to the creators anyhow.
As with anything, they’re worth what someone will pay for them.
But maybe this site can give you a better idea of what they’re going for.
Man, issue 1 doesn’t seem too valuable. Too bad that’s the only one I’ve got. Oh well, I didn’t even pay for it in the first place, some mail order company just threw it in with my order 20+ years ago, as a bonus.
And, yeah, they bought Mick Anglo’s rights, not Neil Gaiman’s “rights” which derive from Alan Moore’s “rights.”
Since Moore was practically doing fanfic without realizing it, Anglo’s rights are probably paramount for the basic trademark. However, until they get the rights to the Moore Marvelman & Gaiman Miracleman, all they have rights to are the original stories & those versions of the characters–much lighter stuff.