Earlier today, Neil Gaiman announced that he was supporting Dave Sim's Patreon fundraiser, saying that "the world of comics is a big one", but "I won't sign his pledge", a reference to Dave Sim's online petition which asks people to confirm that they do not believe Dave Sim to be a misogynist. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to ask Neil (via Twitter) to make clear his reasons for not signing Dave's petition. Neil's response was as follows:
@MomentOfCerebus For one, my disgust re Dave's statements on the McFarlane trial (eg I won it because all-women juries can't understand law)— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) August 26, 2015
@MomentOfCerebus As I recall, Dave explained you either sign his statement as written, unmodified, or never communicate with him.— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) August 26, 2015
@MomentOfCerebus I don't force friends to sign ideological passes before they can talk to me. I'd rather they disagreed with me to my face.— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) August 26, 2015
To give some context to Neil Gaiman's objections to Dave Sim's perceived misogyny, the following is an extract from a letter to Erik Larsen (then Image publisher) from Dave Sim posted on Al Nickerson's Creator's Bill Of Rights Website on 27 July 2005. The letter comments on the dispute between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane over the ownership and royalties due from Medieval Spawn and Angela, characters created by Neil Gaiman in Spawn #9 in March 1993, written by Gaiman and illustrated by McFarlane. The dispute was finally settled in 2012 with Neil Gaiman being award the full ownership rights to Angela. The Hollywood Reporter has a handy summary of the case if you're interested.
...I conceded your point on Medieval Spawn. Even though a court of law said Neil had a case, I don't think it serves the comic-book field's best interests to see that as a precedent -- or, perhaps, more accurately -- that it proves that those things need to be established by the publishing creator. "I don't go in for that. If you want to take back Medieval Spawn, go ahead, but I don't see variations as innovations and I can't concede ownership of something that’s just a modification of my own intellectual property". I think it was a very badly-reasoned verdict in the Neil vs. Todd trial that would make very bad case law -- all you have to do is reverse it to see that: what if Neil had created Medieval Spawn and sold it to Vertigo? Would anyone in their right mind think he was entitled to do so? -- and just between you me and the lamppost I think it had more to do with the all-female jury at the trial. It wouldn't matter what Todd and Neil were disagreeing about, an all-female jury was going to find Todd in the wrong and Neil in the right just because Todd is Todd and Neil is Neil. 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 McGwire baseball and anything else Neil expressed an interest in.
Angela, I would maintain was a different matter entirely and I would think that all of these "well after the point of creation" items could be better handled on an issue-by-issue basis. It would seem to me that Neil was entitled to a royalty on each appearance of Angela and on the action figure and if that seemed unreasonable to Todd -- and, as I've said, I can certainly see Todd thinking that $100,000 should be you some consideration -- then the easy answer, it seems to me, is to write Angela out of the book and discontinue the action figure. And I quite agree with you on who was driving the Spawn bus. As far as I know the sales on Spawn 9 were probably higher than on Sandman to a factor of ten. Just as the sales of Spawn 10 were higher than on Cerebus to a factor of 100...