Todd McFarlane Productions Inc. of suburban Tempe filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
A jury in St. Louis awarded former NHL player Tony Twist $15 million after concluding that McFarlane and his company profited by using Twist's name without permission and that Twist's publicity rights were infringed.
McFarlane gave the name Antonio "Tony Twist" Twistelli to a New York mob boss character in his "Spawn" comic books in the early 1990s.
The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) in January rejected without comment an appeal by McFarlane arguing that his work was free speech.
Last year, he said his McFarlane Cos., then an umbrella of seven businesses, had annual sales exceeding $50 million.
The bankruptcy filing allows McFarlane's company to continue to operate and reorganize its finances while freeing it from the threat of creditors' lawsuits.
In 1999, McFarlane paid $3 million for Mark McGwire's 70th home-run baseball. He also paid $450,000 last year for Barry Bonds' record 73rd home-run ball and owns Sammy Sosa's 66th home-run ball.