It's too early to tell what is the truth and what is just regular court filings.
It's also too early to tell if we'll ever learn the truth or if everything will be hushed up with NDA's.
But if it is true, I will never be able to respect Robert Kirkman ever again.
I don't know Kirkman personally, but I knew him when he first arrived down here in the trenches. He was self-publishing as Funk-O-Tron, and his first title was Battle Pope. I bought the first mini from him at Wizard that year and we talked a bit. I told him I guessed he was a fan of the video game Toejam And Earl, since the home planet in the game was called Funkotron. He seemed nice, and the series was good. Money well spent, including the next line up he had the following year.
Kirkman eventually did what so many of us dream of and climbed out of the trenches. He started working on high profile titles for Marvel and also wrote a Jubilee miniseries. He also created Invincible, a throwback to Silver Age superheroes and stories. The Image crew thought him and his work were awesome, and they invited him to become a full Image partner. Kirkman signed up with his own studio, Skybound Entertainment. Those of us in the trenches were thrilled that one of our own had made it and toasted his success.
But since then, Kirkman has done things that make us wonder. How can a veteran of the trenches do these things? For example, word got out that any title Kirkman agrees to publish through Skybound, the studio gets 50% of all spinoff rights and moneys. The comic is still yours, you still have creative control. But anything else, TV, webisodes, whatever, Skybound gets half. (If true, I suspect it's to funnel projects to Kirkman's entertainment partners. You won't see as much money with Joe Blow as you will if you let me and my friends handle this.) That sounded like the kind of deal that, had Kirkman been offered it with Battle Pope, he would have stormed away insulted. He also once said during a podcast interview, when asked how to get an artist to draw a writer's stories, Kirkman dryly replied, "Trickery and deceit." (Uncovered by Reuters.) The jokes we make reveals much about us because it says what we are comfortable getting away with. That "joke" does not bode very well.
Tony Moore is a comic penciller who, among other things, helped Kirkman co-create The Walking Dead. I don't watch The Walking Dead and don't read the comics. I'm not much of a zombie fan, and too much of The Walking Dead is a rip-off. Listening to people talk about the TV show, there isn't a lot going on there other than people arguing, crying, and praying for three quarters of the episode. The official Walking Dead trading cards are 5 to a pack and cost $4. A little girl played a zombie in one episode and only appeared as an extra. She was at Wizard World Chicago last year, hawking her autograph for $20 a pop. Don't get me wrong, I know it's people's money to spend on whatever crap they want, and I say that as a guy who bought a ton of Pokemon crap back in the day. It just seems like The Walking Dead is much ado about nothing.
Moore co-created the comic series and characters with Kirkman and even drew the first six issues before the chores were handed off to Charlie Adlard. Moore is now suing, claiming he was coerced into signing a deal that handed over rights, he hasn't received any royalties, not even the profit statement he claims he is legally obligated to.
Now, this is just the filing. People say all kinds of shit in filings. It's just allegations, and they don't have to back those up in court since they can be abandoned, so it's can be used as legal libel if your shark is up to it. And filings sometimes go nowhere, as we saw with Valiant trying to sue Jim Shooter just last year and letting things die after Shooter filed his response. So we don't know for sure what's going on. But quite a few people, such as Rick Remender, who works with Moore on Fear Agent, have apparently known this is coming and just might be having their actions informed by insider knowledge. Phil Hester tweeted, "Now I can’t rest until I know. Mmmmaybe I know." To which Remender tweeted back, "We all fucking know. But why burn a bridge in this small industry, right?" Uh-oh.
Well, we know this much for sure -- Kirkman is pissed and saying there will be blood. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Kirkman’s attorney Allen Grodzky tells THR that the case is “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.”"
We'll have to see how this all plays out. I'll be watching closely. Suffice it to say, if it's true, then no wonder Kirkman is a partner at Image. He's in good company there.