Todd McFarlane Sues Former Employee Al Simmons For Claiming To Be Inspiration For Fictional Al Simmons
Clearly, Todd McFarlane likes spending time in court rooms. How else to explain the fact that, having finally reached a legal settlement with Neil Gaiman over the ownership of Spawn supporting character Angela, he’s now suing a former employee who claims to be the inspiration for the original Spawn, Al Simmons. That employee’s name? Al Simmons.According to the lawsuit McFarlane filed in Arizona federal court, Simmons is being sued as the result of a book he wrote last year titled The Art of Being Spawn, where he claimed that he was the inspiration for the comic book character that shared his name. Simmons, the lawsuit explains, “was flattered and eagerly gave his consent to McFarlane in 1993 for his name to be a part of ‘Spawn’,” but he “was not the inspiration for ‘Spawn’s’ central character and no-one has ever confused the character with Defendant Al Simmons.” Well, for one thing, only one of the two Simmons is a virtually immortal superhero who can use “necroplasm” to fight crime.
Simmons — a regular presence at conventions in the 1990s, when he wore a Spawn costume and signed autographs for fans — sought, and received, permission from McFarlane to write an autobiography in early 2011, but McFarlane wasn’t happy with the result. “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,” the lawsuit alleges.
Accusing the real Simmons for breach of contract, libel, unfair competition, false endorsement, false advertising and copyright infringement amongst other things, McFarlane is not only seeking $75,000 from Simmons and his wife (and fellow former McFarlane employee) Beverly, but also an injunction on further attempts to link himself to the Spawn property as well as the seizure of the Simmons’ personal computers to look for company information.
Those with good memories may remember that this isn’t the first time McFarlane has faced legal action resulting from his using the name of real people in the Spawn series. In 2004, hockey player Tony Twist won $15 million in damages from McFarlane after the creator named a mob enforcer after him (The verdict was upheld through two appeals). We can only await the day when someone called Malebolgia steps forward with their own complaint, at this rate.