This week Federal District Judge John C. Shabaz handed down a 'Second Amended Judgment' that forcefully brought the second round of the lawsuit brought by Neil Gaiman against Todd McFarlane and Image Comics to a close.  The results were exactly the same as is the jury's verdict  (see 'Gaiman Sweep'), but this time they were expressed with Judge Shabaz's customary directness.  The verdict awards Gaiman $45,000 for the unauthorized use of his name, likeness, and bio on the Angela's Hunt trade paperback, but more importantly also awards ownership of the characters of Medieval Spawn, Cogliostro and Angela to Gaiman, whose authorship will also have to be credited in future editions of Spawn #26, Angela #1, 2, and 3, and Spawn #9, and perhaps most importantly from a financial point of view, puts in place a previously stipulated accounting process to determine what profits are owed to Gaiman by Todd McFarlane (and Todd McFarlane Productions) for sales of comics, books, and toys that featured the characters that the court has awarded to Gaiman.


In a court memorandum that was issued in conjunction with the Second Amended Judgment, Judge Shabaz rejected each of the arguments brought by McFarlane's attorneys and also limited the payment of attorney's fees in this case to the portion of it that was given over to the unauthorized use of Gaiman's likeness, name and biography on the Angela's Hunt trade paperback.  The court awarded Gaiman some $33,639.40 in legal fees as part of the judgement of $45,000.  Needless to say this is only a portion of the legal cost of Gaiman's suit.  Gaiman is donating the proceeds of this lawsuit to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and those proceeds will inevitably be reduced by legal costs.


As for Todd McFarlane, he has to decide if he wants to opt for another expensive round of legal confrontation.  Interestingly enough, the day after Judge Shabaz handed down his decision, McFarlane posted a picture of a Miracleman resin statue on his website (see 'McFarlane to Offer Miracleman Statue').  McFarlane could have avoided this entire imbroglio if he had granted Gaiman the rights to Miracleman in exchange for Gaiman's rights to the Spawn characters as the two had agreed in 1997.  Perhaps some sort of deal is still possible, or maybe this isn't the final round.