Last year at Comic-Con International 2011, Allegory, LLC and Speed Racer Enterprises joined forces to produce a new series of licensed comics based on "Speed Racer." "Speed Racer: Circle of Vengeance" #1 by veteran "Speed Racer" writer Tommy Yune, "Transformers" writer Robby Musso and "Kindergoth's" Lee Kohse had an early debut at CCI 2011 and saw a wide release in September 2011. As recently as CCI 2012, Allegory had created a full-size replica of Speed Racer's Mach 5 and displayed it during the show with numerous pieces of "Speed Racer" themed merchandise for sale.
However, Allegory's time with "Speed Racer" has come to an end due to the U.S. license holder Speed Racer Enterprises' loss of the "Speed Racer" rights more than a year ago in May 2011. In a post on Facebook, Allegory stated it will no longer produce any "Speed Racer" comics or merchandise and has indefinitely postponed the conclusion of "Speed Racer: Circle of Vengeance."
"We love Speed Racer and its legacy, however we recently discovered that the U.S. licensee, Speed Racer Enterprises (SRE), lost its legal right to produce products associated with the property on May 31, 2011," Allegory said via Facebook. "This is extremely frustrating as Allegory began producing new Speed Racer stories in 2011 after SRE’s license had lapsed.
"Allegory immediately postponed the conclusion of the 'Speed Racer Circle of Vengeance' stories and suspended the development of future stories and merchandise. Despite our best efforts to secure a legal license from Tatsunoko, the Japanese license owner, they are unable to approve any new agreements until they resolve the outstanding legal issues associated with SRE’s improper business licensing of the property.
"Allegory respects Tatsunoko’s legal due diligence and efforts, however we can not stand by as Speed Racer fans inquire about new stories. We place corporate responsibility above profit, and without a legal agreement to produce Speed Racer, the Mach 5 will remain parked in the garage with Tatsunoko until they make a decision on the next move for this great property."
CBR has reached out to Allegory for further comment.
UPDATE 11/2/12 1:00 PM PT: Allegory Chief Operations Officer David Fawley has responded to CBR's inquiries for further clarification on the current situation.
CBR News: Allegory's announcement on Facebook notes that Speed Racer Enterprises actually lost the rights to the property nearly a month before the first press release went out -- was Allegory's deal to use the Speed Racer rights ever actually closed?
David Fawley: Yes, we did have a signed deal. Allegory signed their deal with Speed Racer Enterprises in early May, granting Allegory the rights to produce books and a wide assortment of products. Allegory paid Speed Racer Enterprises a large advance in June, a month after SRE lost its rights to Speed Racer.
When did Allegory become aware that Speed Racer Enterprises lost its legal right to produce products based on the property?
Allegory was notified by Tatsunoko's legal counsel in early July 2012 regarding the status of SRE’s right to license the property.
Is Allegory taking any action to regain the rights to produce "Speed Racer" stories?
Allegory immediately began discussing the situation with Tatsunoko’s counsel and has expressed its desire to legally obtain the rights to continue creating new Speed Racer stories and merchandise. At Tatsunoko’s request, Allegory submitted a new license proposal in September. Although Tatsunoko acknowledged receipt of our proposal, the company is undergoing all legal approaches to clear up the title and is not focused on new arrangements until the SRE matter is resolved.
Is there any further clarification you can give on the current situation?
We respect Tatsunoko’s legal due diligence and efforts to resolve the intellectual property violations. For any creative company, theft of intellectual property is without question, the worst that can happen, so, we sympathize with Tatsunoko, however, we can not wait for the legal process to play out. As a result we felt it best to notify our fans so they would be aware of the situation and move on towards other exciting projects in our pipeline.
In the end it’s bittersweet, as the creative team assembled to revitalize Speed Racer produced wonderful stories and artwork well received by fans and the industry trade. We have completed stories, wonderful art, high quality collectibles...the list goes on.
Allegory is not a one property publisher and will continue to focus on developing new IP and strategically search for new properties to license legally!