It’s “unintentional comic book creator screw-over day” here on the site. First we had Phil Yeh’s very personal story about the long in place outrage over Marvel’s treatment of Jack Kirby and the Kirby estate, then we ran our editorial on Marvel’s attempt to mug Gary Friedrich and our boycott of everything Ghost Rider.
Now this — artist Tony Moore is suing Robert Kirkman over proceeds from The Walking Dead. From the complaint, by way of people at THR that are better at this job than I am:
Moore claims he was told in 2005 by Kirkman that a big TV deal was on the table but “that Kirkman would not be able to complete the deal unless [Moore] assigned all of his interest in the Walking Dead and other works to Kirkman,” according to the complaint. Thinking the deal would fall apart, Moore signed the contract, he says, allowing Kirkman to “swindle” him out of his 50 percent interest in the copyright and never intending to pay him his share of royalties.
The complaint goes on to say that, ”[Moore] and Kirkman were thus joint authors and co-owners of the copyrights in these works.”
Moore worked on Image Comics’ Walking Dead series from issue 1-24 (principal art until issue 6, cover art to the end of his run). He also helped Kirkman design and create the characters.
What’s Kirkman and Image’s response to all this? Well Image told me no comment and Kirkman’s lawyer told THR:
“Totally frivolous. Mr. Moore is owed no money at all. And Mr. Moore’s contract has an attorneys’ fees clause in it so we will be going after him to collect attorneys’ fees. We are taking this matter very seriously.”
My Take: I don’t claim to be a world class legal mind, but I can see merit in both arguments. Is it possible that Kirkman schemed Moore out of his share of Dead? Maybe, Kirkman could have been banking on his ability to out lawyer Moore. Really, that is all it takes — better lawyers, more resources, and the ability to outlast your competition. Can Moore really afford a lengthy process, or is he hoping that Kirkman offers a settlement?
On the other hand, it is easy to poke holes in Moore’s story. Kirkman has become one of the biggest names in comic books and one can see how Moore might feel like he is owed a bigger slice of the pie. Also, he thought the deal would fail? What gave him that suspicion, and if he bet against the success of the endeavor and surrendered his shares, why is that Kirkman’s problem?
Surely there are layers to this that have not yet been revealed, layers that may shift public opinion one way or the other.
Until we know more though, there is sure to be ample speculation and tumult over the deeper questions that are being raised by many a comic fan, artist, and writer.
Who has more of a stake in a comic? The artist or the writer?
To me it’s simple — I can enjoy a comic with lackluster art and tremendous writing, I can’t endure the the opposite of that.
It’s a visual medium though, so I suspect I’m in the minority, but The Walking Dead? My jaw drops often but it’s more about the story, not the art. That said, Kirkman is sitting on a pile of money and Moore surely helped create the basis for something that has grown quite large and he likely deserves a bigger cut on principle. That won’t matter though if he can’t prove his argument’s worth in court.
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Written by Jason Tabrys (@jtabrys)
The former editor-in-chief, Jason still reappears in the rafters of our fair site from time to time but he now spends his days leaping from one place to another, trying to put right what once went wrong. You can still find his words across the toxic constellation that is the… More »
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