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This is Marvelous! No - Miraculous! No - it's fucking MARVELMAN!

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Image via Wikipedia

Today is a momentous day for comics.

A couple of months ago I was at a Neil Gaiman signing (about the third or fourth time I've met the legend) and I was that annoying fan to ask the worn out Miracleman/Marvelman question.

An audibly irritated Gaiman attempted to (politely as possible) let me know that I wasn't getting my exclusive from him - he said that the further the legal battle progressed, the less likely it seemed that he would have any control over the character. I asked him if Miracleman might pass into the public domain and he implied that this was less than likely... I asked him what would happen next if he continued his run and he implied that I should move along because there were seventy or so people standing behind me.

Fair enough, every writer has a question like that - that they can't stand hearing.

For those of you not in the know - Marvelman was a Golden-Age British knock off of Fawcett's Captain Marvel (now owned by DC comics). Captain Marvel used to be reprinted in England, but scared by the legal battle between DC and Fawcett, thanks to the ingenuity of a writer by the name of Mick Anglo - they decided to rip-off the Captain Marvel concept, creating their own atomic powered stand-in by the name of Marvelman who would say 'Kimota!' to change between the forms of a small boy and a super-human adult (Captain Marvel does a similar trick by reciting the name of the wizard 'Shazam').

Miraculously (or some might say 'marvelously') this was all nice and legal in the day - and Marvelman was published for a long time after. Our own little British Superman.

Eventually there came a lull in the superhero market and people seemed to forget all about Marvelman - until the bearded mad-genius wizard of comics Alan Moore began using him again in the eighties. First (I believe) for a cameo in his run on Marvel's Captain Britain - and later in his own ongoing series 'Miracleman' under Eclipse comics.

The disclaimer in the back of issue one let's us know that the name Miracleman was purely affected because Marvel comics were uncomfortable with anyone else using the word 'Marvel' in either a title or a character's name
Miracleman #23, art by Barry Windsor-Smith.

Image via Wikipedia

So, Moore ultimately finished his amazing run - and Neil Gaiman took over. Both of these runs on the book were titanic. These old issues are everything that Swamp Thing and Sandman would later become - and unfortunately they're no longer widely available.

Out of print.

Long story short. Eclipse died before Neil ever finished his run. Todd Macfarlane bought the rights. Gaiman claimed he held the rights to Miracleman. Todd Macfarlane tried to ignore that. Big legal battle. All Miracle-Man stuff ended up up out of print.

Marvel sided with Gaiman - created 1602 as a 'war-chest' of sorts to raise money
and so on and so forth...

It's been such a long time but the battle is over.

Finally the courts decided that EVERYTHING since Moore's Eclipse run started was all some kind of accident. The rights never truly left series creator Mick Anglo. Anglo still owns the Miracleman/Marvelman property and everyone involved was under the misapprehension that the rights had passed on.

Now that's resolved, Anglo - the fucking awesome guy that he is - has sided with Marvel Comics.

You know what that means, kids?

Moore's run will be reprinted (Anglo will get a 50% cut, because Moore says so)...

Marvel are in talks with Neil Gaiman about finally completing that epic run... I also foresee reprints in his future too...


Because Marvel owns him...

Miracleman, or Marvelman or whatever you want to call him - will finally live again:

Rule Britannia!

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