Okay, this is just surreal.
Todd McFarlane is suing Al Simmons, his former friend and employee, after whom who he named the secret identity of his character Spawn.
And who he then employed to dress up as Spawn and appear at various comic conventions, and launches at his comic store.
And its all due to a book that Simmons wrote, The Art Of Being Spawn, in which McFarlane claims Simmons has stated that Simmons’ life was the inspiration for Spawn, and that Simmons has violated his employment terms and breached his duty of loyalty, as well as alleging libel for danaging his reputation, and exposing trade secrets, false endorsements, false advertising and both trademark and copyright infringement. He is claiming damages of at least $75,000. Al Simmons’ wife, and fellow ex-employee Melanie Simmons, is also named as a defendant.
Todd has had a history of this… he named Spawn’s wife and child after his own, named Spawn’s best friend Terry Fitzgerald after a senior member of his publisher, and then transformed by Dave Sim‘s Cerebus into “Ferry Titz” Gerald.
The lawsuit claims that “Al Simmons, who was flattered and eagerly gave his consent to McFarlane in 1993 for his name to be a part of ‘Spawn,’ was not the inspiration for ‘Spawn’s’ central character and no one has ever confused the character with Defendant Al Simmons… Curiously, Defendant Al Simmons has, over the years, as ‘Spawn’ enjoyed popularity, remarked on how his association with Plaintiffs has provided him with some name recognition or notoriety, where he had none before ‘Spawn.’… Defendant Simmons has, in effect, traded on Plaintiffs’ fame, brand and copyright protected creation, and now is deliberately using falsities in the Book to further attempt to improperly capitalize and infringe upon the McFarlane Companies’ property interests and McFarlane’s name, likeness and identity.”
I tell you this, I had no interest in reading the book before. As a result of reading this lawsuit, I’ve ordered a copy. Guerilla marketing campaign anyone?
Probably not. Spawn.com has removed all trace, it seems, of Al Simmons from the website. Because it’s possible that articles like this, which claim Al Simmons as the inspiration for Spawn, might not go down well.