Thursday, December 23, 2004



One of the nicer guys I worked with when I spent time at DC Comics was Todd McFarlane. He achieved most of his professional success after my time at DC (I still remember him mostly as having worked on a strip called Omega Men, which was written by my office-mate, Roger Slifer) with a character called Spawn. Spawn was eventually made into a movie. Later he achieved fame beyond comics by purchasing Mark McGwire's record-setting home run baseball -- and watching it lose value as Barry Bonds out-bulked McGwire three years later and slugged 73 home runs.

Apparently, one of the characters in Spawn was a mobster named Tony Twistarelli, nicknamed "Tony Twist." Unfortunately, the St. Louis Blues hockey team seems to have a goon (press reports refer to him as an "enforcer," which is a euphemism for a player who isn't good enough to do anything except beat up on the other team's good players) named Tony Twist. Twist has sued McFarlane and won, saying that the character in Spawn has earned profits for McFarlane and his company and infringed Twist's publicity rights by using Twist's name without permission. McFarlane's loss has caused him to file for bankruptcy.

My spouse, in forwarding the story to me, used the subject "research is important." I couldn't begin to guess whether McFarlane didn't know who Twist was, but even if he did (and he's got a sports background, and his company manufactures dolls of sports figures), it would seem that Twist is a public figure and shouldn't be winning lawsuits such as this. And if he can, well, heck, I can easily go and pick on DC Comics and several of its writers, including Cary Bates (who created the character Flynt Brojj back in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #209 in 1975) and Tom and Mary Bierbaum, who made me one of the baseball players in a Legion of Super-Heroes story in the early 1990s. Even though I wasn't originally thrilled by the Flynt Brojj character, I wouldn't have thought to sue. Then again, there are fictional characters who resemble real people, and that's always been considered to be fair game for public figures.

That seems to have gone by the boards. It's way, way wrong.

Todd may or may not remember me, but I hope he finds a better lawyer and winds up telling this Tony Twist guy to buzz off (legally). Even if I didn't remember him fondly, he deserves better.

Here's the press release.

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