Ex-NHLer Twist won $15M from McFarlane

PHOENIX -- A $15 million jury award against "Spawn"
creator Todd McFarlane has pushed his comic-book business into
bankruptcy court.

Todd McFarlane Productions Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection
from creditors Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court here.

Last July, a St. Louis Circuit Court jury awarded former NHL
player Tony Twist $15 million after concluding that McFarlane and
his company profited by using Twist's name without permission and
Twist's publicity rights were infringed.

McFarlane gave the name Antonio "Tony Twist" Twistelli to a
violent New York mob boss character in his "Spawn" comic books in
the early 1990s.

McFarlane had said the use of Twist's name was protected under
the First Amendment.

Last year, he said his McFarlane Cos., then an umbrella of seven
businesses, had annual sales exceeding $50 million.

The bankruptcy filing frees up McFarlane's Tempe-based company
from the threat of creditors' lawsuits while it reorganizes its
finances, but the company can continue to operate.

A majority of creditors must approve the reorganization plan.

The filing also lists McFarlane's toy company, a related
business, as the second-largest creditor, being owed $683,902. Nine
contract artists are owed about $60,000 and a collection agency is
owed about $7,700.

Wanda Kolomyjec, McFarlane's wife and a director of the company,
declined comment on the bankruptcy filing.

Todd McFarlane made headlines in 1999 for buying Mark McGwire's
70th home-run baseball for $3 million.

He also paid $450,000 last year to buy Barry Bonds' record 73rd
home-run ball at an auction in New York and owns Sammy Sosa's 66th
home-run ball.