McFarlane to Appeal Twist Court Ruling
Todd McFarlane Says "It's Not Over"
July 6, 2000
Round one in the Tony Twist-Todd McFarlane lawsuit ended Wednesday with a jury in St. Louis Circuit Court awarding Twist $24.5 million.
Twist, a former NHL enforcer with the St. Louis Blues, claimed McFarlane had stolen his name for a character in the Spawn comic book, Antonio Twistelli, known by the Tony Twist nickname.
In a surreal several days in St. Louis, Twist claimed McFarlane's character - which shares a nickname with the real person, but no physical attributes - had damaged the value of his name and cost him the ability to get product endorsements.
Twist is not currently on any team roster in the National Hockey League.
McFarlane immediately started the appeals ball rolling.
"It's not over," McFarlane said. "I'm willing to go the whole nine yards on this one."
A judge will look over the ruling within the next 30 days, at which point the case may move up to the Missouri Appellate Court.
Although there is a person with the same name, the Tony Twist comic book foe shares no physical characteristics and is not based on Tony Twist the hockey player. The Twist character in Spawn is a minor one, appearing in only 166 of the nearly 31,000 images in the Spawn series.
"I'm taking this very personally," said McFarlane. "I resent the state of Missouri for taking away my constitutional rights."
"This is not about Twist," he continued. "We get along fine, this is way beyond Tony Twist, this is a First Amendment issue."
Though the ruling is huge, McFarlane said it's not really about the money.
"If I lost and the damages were only $10, I'd still fight this thing, because you can't let what happened stand. I'm not trying to cover my ass on this. What I was just found guilty of, there are now thousands of people in the entertainment and publishing industry guilty of the same crime. We all became guilty. You can take my name out and put in CNN or Time Warner or Stephen King ... you're guilty."
The appeals process is lengthy. It's likely to be several years before this drama plays out.
"I'm just glad this part is over so I can get back to work. I can approve more toys this week, read more scripts. This ruling does not affect any of our daily activities," said McFarlane over lunch in his Tempe, AZ, office.
So the McFarlane companies will still run on time. The action figures will still be on store shelves, the comics will still be printed, the movie and entertainment pitches will still be made.
"The only dramatic change in my day-to-day activities will perhaps be changing character names in reprints or trade paperbacks," said McFarlane. "That's it."