After a prolonged hiatus, the acclaimed Amazon Prime Video series Invincible has finally returned for its second season. The show, which aired the first half of season 2 back in November, is based on the hit graphic novel of the same name, penned by The Walking Dead author Robert Kirkman. Unfortunately, Kirkman is currently being sued for breach of contract by William Crabtree, a colorist who claims the author talked him into signing away his rights to royalties from the hit series.
Bill Crabtree was responsible for coloring the first 50 issues of the Invincible comic book which began circulating back in 2003. Though the artist is credited for his work on the covers of issues he colored, Crabtree also considers himself to be a co-creator of the comic series, though Kirkman has denied this claim. Now, Crabtree has filed a lawsuit seeking financial restitution due to a verbal agreement the pair allegedly shared regarding royalty structuring for the comic, as well as any adaptations of the work.
According to William Crabtree, Robert Kirkman verbally agreed to provide the artist with 20 percent of all profits from the Invincible comic series and 10 percent of any revenue accrued from future adaptations such as the hit Amazon Prime Video series. However, the pair signed a written agreement naming Kirkman the sole owner of the brand in order to smooth out the process of forming an adapted work, as shared ownership would require a great deal of hands-on contract signing and meetings to get a show off the ground.
Due to the nature of this contract, Crabtree has not received any royalties from the adult animated series, resulting in the impending suit. Robert Kirkman and artist Cory Walker are officially listed as co-creators on both iterations of Invincible, with Walker signed on as a lead designer for the Amazon Prime Video series. Though Crabtree hasn’t been involved with the comic since 2008, his lawyers claim that he is entitled to profit sharing through the verbal agreement he allegedly made with Kirkman over 2 decades ago.
Despite a U.S. District Judge dismissing elements of Crabtree’s suit, the case has been given the green-light to proceed next month on the grounds that the oral contract was breached and that the signed contract has not been appropriately compensated. The Invincible author previously faced a similar suit in 2012, when The Walking Dead artist Tony Moore claimed that he was entitled to a greater revenue share, though that suit was settled before going to trial.
Due to the nature of Crabtree’s filing, some fans have questioned if the suit exists solely to emulate the 2012 dispute in order to establish a pattern of behavior that pushes Kirkman to settle out of court. Verbal contracts are nearly impossible to prove in a court of law unless the discussion has been recorded and acknowledged by both parties. Still, the suit could cause problems for Invincible‘s third season, as Crabtree is not currently credited on the show in any capacity.