In the wake of the recent court ruling that Neil Gaiman was entitled to royalties from "Spawn" characters that were derivative of creations like Medieval Spawn, it's no huge surprise that Image co-founder and frequent flame-war instigator Erik Larsen immediately took to Twitter, where he has discussed the "unfairness" of the ruling against fellow Image co-founder and "Spawn" creator Todd McFarlane in nearly 100 tweets and counting since Monday.

Larsen's passionate defense of McFarlane, comments like "How did you ever come up with Spawn on a horse, @neilhimself?" and a tweet comparing the ruling to O.J. Simpson's acquittal for murder are pretty much par for the course.

But when considering his response, it's worth noting another comment Larsen made earlier in the case on the Image message boards, where he specifically blames the the presence of women on the jury for the previous ruling:

it seems patently unfair that Neil could claim ownership of "Spawn on a horse" much less that an all woman jury, charmed by his English accent and sad story would award him that.

It's one thing to start a flame-war, or be a loudmouth, or try to argue that, say, a court ruling was unfair. That, after all, is just another Tuesday on Twitter. It's a very different thing to blame a judicial ruling you disagree with on sexist caricatures of women as irrational, swooning groupies -- especially if you're starting to make a habit of it.

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If any of this reminds you of Dave Sim's rhetoric about how women are emotional child-people incapable of rational thought, then you may be interested in Gaiman's tweet yesterday, which noted that this wasn't the first time that Larsen has blamed unfavorable court rulings on women -- or rather on caricatures of women so outdated it's hard to believe I'm not reading dialogue from "Mad Men." In a 2005 letter from Larsen to Dave Sim about the previous court case between Gaiman and McFarlane, Larsen repeats a quote from Sim that he says illustrates the "unfairness" of the situation:

The McFarlane/Gaiman thing still burns me up in the basic unfairness of it all. As you said, "Had the judge asked them, I'm sure the all-female jury would have been happy to give Neil the rights to Spawn, Todd's house and cars, Madonna's uniform from A League of Their Own and the Mark McGuire baseball and anything else Neil expressed an interest in" and that's not right.

Something is indeed not right, and whether you agree or disagree with the court rulings in question, the idea that Larsen would essentially question the fitness of women to serve impartially in the justice system is reprehensible, and deserves censure from both sides of the McFarlane/Gaiman conflict.

For his part, McFarlane has been at the very least courteous about the recent decision, declaring on Twitter that "Neil Gaiman has the absolute right to defend his position. That's one of the great privileges we all have in this country." Kudos to you, sir, for maintaining a level of decorum and decency, despite whatever personal or professional differences are in play.

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