While Image Comics "The Walking Dead" continues to dominate sales charts in almost all categories which comics are sold thanks in part to AMC's TV adaptation, the creative history behind the hit series is undergoing more scrutiny than ever due to a new lawsuit filed by original artist Tony Moore against writer Robert Kirkman.
As CBR reported earlier this week, Moore filed a lawsuit claiming that as co-creator of the comic, he was owed more money in royalties for his work on the initial six-issue arc. In addition, the suit claims that Kirkman and his partners were deceitful in how they presented the contracts for Moore's royalties and in how they've safeguarded information as to the profits "The Walking Dead" has made. For his part, Kirkman released a statement called the suit "ridiculous" and saying that "Tony regularly receives payment for the work he did as penciler, inker and for gray tones on the first six issues of 'The Walking Dead' comic series and he receives royalties for the TV show, to assert otherwise is simply incorrect." However, Moore has been quiet outside his initial filing, until today.
"Robert procured our agreement by deception," Moore told CBR. "He then failed to perform the agreement. While he has paid some royalties, he has refused to provide the documents and information he is required to provide under the agreement and which are necessary to confirm that he has paid what is owed. I have tried to obtain this information by means other than a lawsuit but have been denied and stonewalled in every attempt by Robert and his sharp-elbowed handlers. His conduct is unlawful and immoral, and he ought to be held accountable. He can try to falsely minimize my contributions, but both he and I know the truth, which I believe will be revealed in the course of this lawsuit."
After two weeks that saw the comic book industry hit with news that was at the least disheartening and at the most depressing on the front of creators rights, such a public battle between creators working for one of the central creator-owned publishers in comics adds a new level of questions to how hard it can be to make collaborative comics in an age of major media exploitation.
At least in the case of "The Walking Dead," a final judgment for the courts may be able to find an equitable solution. Only time will tell.