reading Brian K. Vaughan talk about Saga, it feels like a surprise to see him mention a 50/50 split of royalties with artist Fiona Staples. Or, to put it another way, you know that you've become too cynical about comics when Tony Moore upgrades his legal battle against Robert Kirkman, and your first thought is, "Well, sure. Of course."">

Robot 6

The Middle Ground #116 | All’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds

You know that you’ve become too cynical about comics when, reading Brian K. Vaughan talk about Saga, it feels like a surprise to see him mention a 50/50 split of royalties with artist Fiona Staples. Or, to put it another way, you know that you’ve become too cynical about comics when Tony Moore upgrades his legal battle against Robert Kirkman, and your first thought is, “Well, sure. Of course.”

One of the first things that struck me when reading through Moore’s second lawsuit against Kirkman last week was a sense of confusion. It wasn’t from the similarity to the first lawsuit Moore filed against his former collaborator — although I did have a twinge of, “Wait, did I miss the first one being settled or dismissed or something?” as I read through the new filing, trying to stop myself being derailed with admiration for including the over-the-top description of Kirkman as “a proud liar and fraudster who freely admits that he has no qualm about misrepresenting material facts in order to consummate business transactions” — but from the Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman case, Image Comics’ original sin when it comes to creator rights.

It’s potentially unfair to compare the two situations — Gaiman was guest-writing an issue of a series that was already established to some extent, and working within those parameters, as opposed to Moore designing and setting the visual tone for works from their very first public appearances — but I do, almost subconsciously. Both represent some kind of worst-case-scenario for creator-owned work in my head, the point where the relationship between co-creators collapses to such a point and it becomes an argument about who did what, and where, and (more importantly, more depressingly) how much each contribution is worth in the grand scheme of things, both creatively and financially.

And yet, as weirdly ugly as the Gaiman/McFarlane lawsuit got, there’s something uglier about the Moore/Kirkman one. Maybe it’s that Kirkman countersued Moore after the first filing, claiming to have overpaid the artist for the work he delivered for the first six issues of The Walking Dead; even if you go along with Kirkman’s argument that Moore was only ever doing work-for-hire on those books, the idea that Kirkman would sue him for overpayment on a series that has changed and arguably improved Kirkman’s life (definitely, his career) so dramatically just feels … tacky, at best, shall we say. (The subpoenaing of Image Comics, and its refusal to share records and contracts about The Walking Dead, troubles me as well for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on.) It helps, perhaps, that both Gaiman and McFarlane seemed equally successful in life, despite different career paths; there’s a discrepancy between Kirkman and Moore’s levels of fame and success that feels uneven and “underdog just trying to get recognition” to me, but your mileage may vary on that one.

But, yes. The cynicism comes in finding it acceptable, even expected, that creative partnerships will end in acrimony (and court), and finding the alternative — 5hat partnerships can be fair, and harmonious and rewarding to all involved parties — surprising. There’s something to be said for trying for the best in all areas, whether it’s treating those you work with fairly from the get-go, or simply not falling prey to your own worst impulses regarding the way people treat each other,  and, even if it makes no difference in the real world, I’d rather hope for more Brian K. Vaughans and Fiona Staples than creators who fall apart when things get good.

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It’s hard to resist putting a narrative on this when we don’t know all the facts and circumstances surrounding Moore and Kirkman. When comparing it to Gaiman vs. McFarlane though, I think you’re looking at a case of Moore vastly overstepping his bounds. Gaiman was only looking for ownership of characters he created, that’s it. Moore is claiming he’s done just as much for the Walking Dead as Kirkman has, and he’s downright delusional if thats the case. Moore drew six issues, Kirkman has written 101 issues and counting. Moore left the series very early on, and his claim that he’s the series co-writer is a slap in the face to all the work Kirkman has done over the years.

Again, I don’t know all the facts. I’m guilty of putting a narrative when I shouldn’t, but it seems to me that Moore is simply going for a cheap money grab instead fighting for recognition.

Yes.. it´s seems like a cheap shot at getting your share while your share is up and done for. In Tony Moore´s case i would just go on and draw the shit out of myself and quit looking back at what could´ve been. In Kirkman´s case I would say: hey Tony how about I give you a calculation over the first 6 issues plus the succes the series has become, make that calculation an honest one, here´s your share, let´s move on, cause I´m still making money and you can finally buy whatever it is you wanna buy or at least be at peace with the fact that you dropped out or got dropped out of one of the most succesfull independent comicseries ever.

If they continue to be ugly human beings both of them then fuck off and live with yourselves the way you want to, it makes no difference to me.

Oy. It’s the same stupid deal in the world of songwriting.

There has got to be something done to ensure that these ugly situations never happen again. I personally would’ve broken up Moore and Kirkman’s fight myself.

I don’t like the situation one bit (from my viewpoint of “mostly ignorant about the case itself comic book fan”), but to be completely fair to Tony Moore, he designed or co-designed Rick, Carl and a few more characters that still stand to this day, so…

I am honestly shocked to see so many anti-Tony Moore sentiments.

I´m really not anti-Tony Moore and I really don´t know that much about the case, but i´ve been in similar situations myself and just said fuck it, you can have my share, you can choke on it and I´m all the more happier never to have you in my life for the rest of my life. And than I said thank god I can still draw and nobody can ever take that away from me.

Really not anti-Tony Moore and If he´s really right and the facts are straight and true and you´re up for it than yeah sue the shit out of the fat pig.

And than continue drawing as if your life´s depended on it.

“I’d rather hope for more Brian K. Vaughans and Fiona Staples than creators who fall apart when things get good.”

If you want cynicism, don’t forget that there’s still plenty of time for that to happen with Vaughan and Staples.

@just a guy: “Moore is claiming he’s done just as much for the Walking Dead as Kirkman has, and he’s downright delusional if thats the case.”

No, he’s claiming he had just as big a role in creating it, which is entirely different.

Copyright law gives specific rights to the creator(s) of a work. And, absent a work-for-hire contract, Tony Moore is the co-creator of Walking Dead. That means he was the co-owner of the copyright, until he sold that stake (based on false claims made by Kirkman, according to the suit).

While there is absolutely no question that Kirkman and Adlard have done more for the series than Moore did, that’s irrelevant to the question of legal ownership of the copyright. Adlard gets paid for his work (and paid well, I hope), but he has no ownership stake in The Walking Dead.

“The cynicism comes in finding it acceptable, even expected, that creative partnerships will end in acrimony (and court), and finding the alternative — 5hat partnerships can be fair, and harmonious and rewarding to all involved parties — surprising.”

It’s not surprising, it’s just…”two people get along!” isn’t really news, y’know?

To be honest, this whole thing has really soured my view of Kirkman. I still can’t understand how someone who has dedicated their career to creator’s rights can have there be any question that every property he creates is half his, half his artist collaborator’s. To do it any other way seems, as you said, tacky.

Moore could never be a co-writer. He never wrote. He is an artist that worked on the first 6 issues who self admittedly cannot meet deadlines. This problem has followed him with every project he has participated in. That is why all of his projects are short term. He is a good artist but plagued with ADD or something that keeps him from working any one project very long. So now he is trying to sue to be paid for work he never had any creative input for. If he loses this suit who will ever want him to work for them.

The question isn’t whether he was the co-writer of The Walking Dead. It’s whether he was the co-CREATOR of The Walking Dead, which is something else entirely.

Dave Sim (for all his faults) had an amazingly generous relationship with Gerhard. Dave Grohl is the same with the Foo Fighters. It doesn’t always go so sour. I suppose the lesson is get things on paper from day one. A comics pre-nup.

It’s a tough one. If I am guessing correctly, Kirkman no doubt feels ripped off by an artist who failed to meet his obligations, who took little of the risk, put in minimal amounts of work and now would like an equal haunch of the lion’s share.

If I am guessing correctly, Moore feels as though he cooperated as well as he was able, and while was not able to meet every deadline, expected some compensation from helping to create the original characters- which Kirkman has, in his view, defrauded him of.

The reason I keep using guess…is that who the hell knows? I have been on both sides of this in business (not comics) and it is best settled where both sides get something and no one is entirely happy. Looks like they are not there yet. Walking Dead is so successful that Kirkman is going to use what it takes to quash Moore, and Walking Dead is so successful that Moore is going to keep fighting Kirkman because he has little to loose in the fight.

Moore’s lawsuit does a lot of name calling and insults. “a proud liar and fraudster ” and so on .. basically, Moore is flaming Kirkman and trying to libel him through the mechanism of a lawsuit.

Kirkman’s responses have been more just to the facts.

Which makes it seem like Moore is as much about harassment as it is a legitimate claim ..

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