The Walking Dead Creator Sued For Allegedly Swindling Another Creator

By Carolyn Jenkins | 2 seconds ago

the walking dead

Robert Kirkman has certainly been seeing the rewards for his hard work. The comic book writer first gained popularity through the extremely prolific series The Walking Dead. He created the series along with artist Tony Moore which resulted in almost 200 issues (via comicbooktreasury.com). The series was so successful that it was adapted for television in AMC’s longest-running show. The Walking Dead’s current season will be its last, after over a decade of content. But despite all of his success and spin-offs including Fear the Walking Dead, Kirkman has encountered some legal issues.

The Walking Dead creator has had several other ventures including the series Invincible. The comic has recently been adapted for the screen in Amazon’s animated series. But with this popularity comes a great price. Kirkman is now being sued by a former artist who worked on Invincible in its comic stages. William Crabtree was a colorist on the first 50 issues of Invincible and is now claiming that Kirkman is the cause for his lost profits (via The Hollywood Reporter). Though he evidently co-created the series, Crabtree is claiming that Kirkman convinced him to give up his controlling stake in the profits as of 2005. 

Initially, Crabtree stated that he and Kirkman had a verbal agreement in regards to the profits. Crabtree was promised 10%  of “other film or television commercial exploitation of the Work together with any derivative projects based on the Work and any allied or ancillary rights in the Work.” With Invincible being a highly successful series on Amazon and even being voiced by The Walking Dead alum Steven Yeun, Crabtree has filed a lawsuit claiming that Kirkman knowingly swindled him out of the proceeds. Kirkman had allegedly convinced Crabtree to assign his copyright interest over to Kirkman’s company. 

According to Crabtree’s representative, Kirkman claimed that by having Crabtree sign a ‘Certificate of Authorship,’ his rights would remain the same but this would allow Kirkman to better sell the source material for adaptation. Although Crabtree had been paid for licensed comic sales, he was informed upon the release of Invincible in 2020 that he would not be seeing any proceeds from the television adaptation. These statements come from Crabtree’s representative and Kirkman has not yet made a comment on the matter. But this is not the first time The Walking Dead creator has reached conflict with a former collaborator.

invincible

Comic book artist Tony Moore sued Robert Kirkman over the proceeds of their collaborative work on The Walking Dead in 2012 (via The Hollywood Reporter). His lawsuit was strikingly similar to Crabtree’s. At the time of the lawsuit, Moore also stated that Kirkman had misled him into signing over his interest in the comic. He claims that he should have received 20% of motion picture proceeds but claimed to have never received that amount. Kirkman then countersued Moore, claiming that he did not owe his former friend any proceeds. Ultimately all lawsuits were resolved and the two reached a settlement agreement.

The Walking Dead has not wavered in popularity despite the negative attention. Moore stated that he was entitled to at least half of the profits. Moore and Kirkman were reportedly childhood friends and still this previous lawsuit came about. Now, there is no telling how Kirkman and Crabtree will resolve their issues over the new series. Invincible has not reached the success of The Walking Dead but then again, it has only been on for one season. Comic book franchises have reached extreme profits and it is understandable how incendiary these disputes can become.