The headline is rather confusing, right? Al Simmons is the alter-ego of the superhero Spawn in the comic book of the same name, so how can Spawn creator Todd McFarlane being suing Al Simmons for being who McFarlane tells him to be? Interesting question.
The answer is that McFarlane came up with Spawn’s secret identity of Al Simmons by basing him on his friend who has also named Al Simmons. The real life Al Simmons was also once an employee of McFarlane Productions and his duties included making personal appearances as, you guessed it, Spawn. So the two of them were pretty close, right? What could possible make McFarlane want to sue the man he was so chummy with that he named his best selling comic book character after him?
In a word: book. Simmons wrote a book called The Art Of Being Spawn, in which he takes no small credit for being the inspiration for Al Simmons. According to McFarlane, writing the book has violated Simmons’ employment terms and breached his duty of loyalty. He’s also libel for damaging his reputation, and exposing trade secrets, false endorsements, false advertising and both trademark and copyright infringement. McFarlane is suing both Simmons and his wife for at least $75,000.
Further, the lawsuit claims that “Al Simmons, who was flattered and eagerly gave his consent to McFarlane in 1993 for his name to be a part of ‘Spawn,’ was not the inspiration for ‘Spawn’s’ central character and no one has ever confused the character with Defendant Al Simmons… Curiously, Defendant Al Simmons has, over the years, as ‘Spawn’ enjoyed popularity, remarked on how his association with Plaintiffs has provided him with some name recognition or notoriety, where he had none before ‘Spawn.’… 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.”
Of course, this isn’t McFarlane’s first turn at litigious endeavors, but it is his most recent. One wonders if McFarlane just misses the courtroom, and just what Simmons might have written to get the artist to hammer down so hard with the lawyers on his old buddy. Either way, it’s great press for Simmons’ book. Way to guerrilla market, Al!
Source: Bleeding Cool