Marvelman – The OTHER Bid

mm_leachSo what did Marvel pay exactly to buy Marvelman from Mick Anglo and his representatives, Emotiv Records? And what kind of deals will have to be struck to publish the most famous run by (breathe in) Moore, Leach, Davis, Austen, Veitch, Totleben, Gaiman and Buckingham?

One way is looking a bid that failed.

By… well, let's call them An Anonymous Investment Group. The "Anons" for short.

The budget for the Anon's bid, who were basically going to use a published Marvelman to kick start a new media brand, reached $80 million for the production of a Marvelman movie planned to be faithful to the first book, with the intention to eventually produce three films covering the entire Alan Moore story. Neil Gaiman would have been approached to co-write the scripts with an A list screenplay writer and separate financing was acquired to publish a recreation of the Alan Moore run. This would have been a complete redrawing of the run by a new artist, inked by Marvelman co-writer/artist Garry Leach, with A list covers, published as three six-issue mini-series. Image would have been the likely publisher and Mick Anglo would have received a high six figure sum as an advance for the rights, rather than own them outright.  Included in those rights would have been limited statues and two T-Shirts a year.

The Neil Gaiman stories would have hopefully followed, though as Emotiv wanted to arrange a deal where they owned the stories in question and licensed them to any successful bidder, this might have been a little tricky. Alan Moore had already agreed a deal regarding his rights, with initial payments going to Mick Anglo.

But once a deal betweem Emotiv and the Anons had been signed it would also have opened the door for the Anons to negotiate with the other original creators to print a "classic" remastered version of the original series.

The Anons had also suggested to Emotiv that a tribute book to Mick Anglo be produced that would reprint in colour several old stories by Mick and Don Lawrence alongside a gallery of pin-ups by the industries top creators.  Also planned was a signed edition of Miracleman #1, hopefully by Anglo, Moore and Leach, limited to 100 copies and slabbed to be auctioned with all proceeds going to Anglo.

So, basically, Marvel must have beaten all that.

Neil Gaiman tells me

Ken Levin (Marvels & Miracles attorney) put Emotiv directly in touch with Marvel at the point where it became apparent that they owned the rights, and that Dez Skinn really hadn't had anything to sell in the first place. But the negotiating was between Emotiv and them and went on for a long time. I'm sure they talked to other companies: I know they were in touch with Todd to try and point out that he didn't own anything. (He still has a trademark application in on Miracleman/Marvelman, I believe, but does not have a trademark, as it was challenged by Marvels and Miracles).

And as explained to the Anons by Jon Campbell of Emotiv, Alan Moore had agreed to have his continuing work on the title reprinted for 10% of the cover price. Given that 60% of the cover price of a comic is taken up just by distribution costs, one wonders just how the rest will be split up to other creators and owners after the production costs had been paid.

Moore was quoted in May by Pádraig Ó Méalóid saying

I was happy to do everything that I could to help Mick Anglo, who is the person who has always owned all of the rights to Marvelman, as far as I now understand it, that we never had the rights to do those stories, even though Mick really liked the stories that we did. We didn't understand at the time that Mick Anglo was the sole owner of the rights. We were misled. So I've done everything that I can to clear all that up. I've said that, they talked about the possibility – what they want is money quickly, because Mick's a very old man, he's got a sick wife to look after, and they could use some dosh quite quickly.

I mean, I believe that the Todd McFarlane thing, his ridiculous claims to the character have now been dropped, so it can move on. I believe that they're going to be reprinting some of my stuff, but I'm not sure of all the details, I've just said, "Yeah, go ahead," and all the money from the first book, from the first printing of the book, should go to Mick Anglo. They've also said that what if there's a possibility of some animated Marvelman cartoons, and I've said, again, "Don't put me name on them, and give all the money to Mick Anglo." So I hope that some of it turns up in time to do Mick some good, because he's a great artist, you know, the British comics scene would be poorer without him, and I'm making great use of Captain Universe – oh, I've given it away!

Mick was the owner, and also, Len Miller never went bankrupt, and all of the things that we were told when we were doing Warrior turned out to have been fabrications, you know, unwitting fabrications, but fabrications none the less, and that goes for all of the American versions. Apparently Mick Anglo was abused, by the usual suspects in today's rather venal comics industry, you know, right up to the Todd McFarlane part of the case. Neil Gaiman has been an absolute diamond throughout all this, and I've done me best, and the important thing is supporting Mick Anglo, really.

However there has, as yet, been no published reaction by Moore to the decision by Mick Anglo and Emotiv to sell to Marvel.

The negotiations took over two years, and contracts between the Anons and Emotiv were drawn up three weeks before the Marvel announcement, when suddenly Emotiv stopped returning calls and e-mails to the Anons. This was after they asked about a contract clause – in that they would have had to sign a statement that Emotiv were not responsible for the legal rights that the buyer would or would not buy. So if there was a subsequent challenge to them, the buyer not the seller would be responsible for all legal fees to fight it.

One aspect of this was the name of the character possibly infringing Marvel's trademark. And with Todd McFarlane making legal noises, there was even a possibility from Emotiv that the character would would be renamed again to Masterman.

If Marvel chose to sign that clause, it's possible that their lawyers could have some work to do in the future, although at least any trademark infringement on the Marvelman name has been avoided. But they are the kind of company who are in a position to resist such challenges. and the work of Neil Gaiman's Marvels & Miracles LLC group seems to have been principal in deciding exactly who owns what, giving Marvel the confidence to make the bid and sign the proviso.

Campbell also told them that all his profits from the deal would be donated to children's charities, a decision we can presume may continue under the Marvel deal.

It's also worth adding as a footnote, before everyone totally dogpiles on Dez Skinn, publisher of the Moore/Leach/Davis episodes of Marvelman in his Warrior magazine and the one who erroneously claimed publishing rights to the character, that in the Kimota! book (and boy there needs to be a reissue of that volume) Mick Anglo is quoted as saying "He contacted me and he wanted to revive it and I said go ahead and do what you like, as far as I was concerned."

This aspect may or may not be reflected in Jon Campbell's upcoming documentary produced for Emotiv, Who Stole Marvelman? Anyone got an advance DVD on this? I reckon it will be a corker.

Of course the Marvel deal may also have scotched a discussed Marvelman/Captain Marvel cross-over set in the Mick Anglo era and using the classic CC Beck characters including Tawney…

Artwork by Garry Leach, a recreation of the Marvelman #1 cover.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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