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Friday, July 30, 2010

Cutting stuff, watching parking meters, getting graphic in Sydney

As of 2:30 this morning I was certain I'd be blogging again today. I'd just sent off the finished draft of the Doctor Who script, and I was done.

Then I got up somewhat later this morning, and read an email from my script editor at the BBC a) giving me a thumbs up for all the new stuff [which I wrote for practical and budget reasons, but which will, I think, actually be much cooler than the stuff it replaced] and b) having formatted everything correctly according to BBC rules, letting me know that the script's actually a good ten pages too long.

So there will be another draft, over the next couple of days. By the end of it, all redundancies, slow bits, things that can be thrown overboard, or lines of dialogue that the author is particularly proud of will have gone, and it will be ten correctly formatted pages shorter.

And I will keep them in reserve in case they call to tell me that the episode's coming in short, and can I write three pages of sudden conversation?

...

This evening I got an email from my lawyers in the Todd McFarlane case (quick! If you have no idea what I am talking about, or if you are writing something about the case, read this first: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2010/06/despatches-from-alternate-universe.html. It's short and explains everything. Did you read it? Okay...) and attached to the email was this pdf file.

The PDF file is Judge Crabb's ruling on the matter that Todd wanted brought back before the court -- the question of accounting for the characters that Todd felt weren't even a bit derivative, and which I thought were not just derivative of the characters I had created for him, but in one case, actually was the same character I'd created with Todd originally. In her ruling Judge Crabb said, yes, she thought so too...
The two characters are similar enough to suggest that either Dark Ages (McFarlane) Spawn
is derivative of Medieval (Gaiman) Spawn or it is the same character to which plaintiff owns
the copyright.

Much as defendant tries to distinguish the two knight Hellspawn, he never explains
why, of all the universe of possible Hellspawn incarnations, he introduced two knights from
the same century. Not only does this break the Hellspawn “rule” that Malebolgia never
returns a Hellspawns to Earth more than once every 400 years (or possibly every 100 years,
as suggested in Spawn, No. 9, exh. #1, at 4), it suggests that what defendant really wanted to
do was exploit the possibilities of the knight introduced in issue no. 9. (This possibility is
supported by the odd timing of defendant’s letter to plaintiff on February 14, 1999, just
before publication of the first issue of Spawn The Dark Ages, to the effect that defendant was
rescinding their previous agreements and retaining all rights to Medieval (Gaiman) Spawn.)

If defendant really wanted to differentiate the new Hellspawn, why not make him a
Portuguese explorer in the 16th century; an officer of the Royal Navy in the 18th century, an
idealistic recruit of Simon Bolivar in the 19th century, a companion of Odysseus on his
voyages, a Roman gladiator, a younger brother of Emperor Nakamikado in the early 18th
century, a Spanish conquistador, an aristocrat in the Qing dynasty, an American Indian
warrior or a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I? It seems far more than coincidence
that Dark Ages (McFarlane) Spawn is a knight from the same century as Medieval (Gaiman)
Spawn.

Anyway. That's that round done with.

I wish I took some kind of joy in this, but I don't.

At this point all I hope is that Todd can do an accounting for all the comics I wrote for which he paid no royalties, and the rest of it; and that he'll settle up and I will make some comics charities very happy; that his comics company will finally come out of bankruptcy; and that I can forget this forever.

For the curious, there is an account of this round at Maggie Thompson's excellent blog, starting with
http://www.maggiethompson.com/2010/06/june-15-in-madison-with-neil-gaiman.html and going on from there, an entry at a time.

And here's an article from 2002 that summarises the original round of findings against McFarlane and Image.

This is a photo from Maggie's blog of Todd McFarlane (right) and his witness Brian Holguin (left) after they'd testified.

...

Tomorrow Maddy and I go to Australia for the Graphic Festival at Sydney Opera House. (The overall link to the Festival is here: http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/about/program_graphic.aspx).

I'm going to read my novelette "The Truth is a Cave In The Black Mountains" for the first -- and possibly only -- time in public there, next Saturday night. There will be accompanying music by the FourPlay String Quartet, something I find exciting and scary at the time, as I've never attempted an accompanied reading, and Eddie Campbell has painted about 40 illustrations, which will be projected while I read.

There will probably be some other stuff -- I'd love to do a Q&A there, for example, but need to check with the organisers if it's permitted.

There will be a signing afterwards.

If you don't yet have a ticket, they are at: http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/whatson/neil_gaiman.aspx

Eddie Campbell used to blog. This is the blog, frozen in time: http://eddiecampbell.blogspot.com/


And just to bring things all the way around to the beginning of this blog, http://shop.fourplay.com.au/Catgut.php is a link to FourPlay's online shop. And the first track (which you can hear a smattering of on the site) is the FourPlay version of the theme from Doctor Who.

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