Just as one Image Comics-related legal issue is resolved, another begins! Yesterday, Todd McFarlane filed a lawsuit against the man that inspired the name of Spawn’s alter ego, Al Simmons.
Simmons, a college pal of McFarlane and former employee of his toy company, was a staple of comic conventions from the mid-90s until the mid-2000s, according to Comic Book Resources. He would often appear at booths (and Wal-marts, apparently) offering fans to “meet Spawn himself.” These appearances had McFarlane’s blessing, though; it wasn’t until Simmons, in a book he wrote entitled The Art of Being Spawn, claimed that his real life inspired the character that things got ugly. Another point of contention with the book is the fact the cover users McFarlane’s name (he is listed as a co-author on Amazon UK, but only conducted “background talks” with Simmons for the book).
Here’s an excerpt from the actual suit: “Al Simmons… 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.”
Libel, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and false endorsement are amongst the many acts of malfeasance named in McFarlane’s suit. He feels he is entitled to $75,000 in damages and access to Simmons’ computer to check it for company information. Unless Simmons can produce the demon that brought him back to life, his case seems fairly weak. We will have more on this as it develops.
UPDATE: It appears that either Simmons’ official website, Simmons-spawn.com, has either been taken offline or ran out of bandwidth.