Robot 6

Valiant, please do right by creators and your legacy

QuantumAndWoody1

Quantum, Woody and a goat

I’m totally digging Valiant Entertainment’s comics right now. When I met a couple of the guys from the company at the recent Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, they were extremely friendly and generous, especially considering I showed up at their table as the event was shutting down for the day. I stocked up on their books and have been diving in ever since: X-O Manowar was great fun; I’m halfway through Harbinger, and it’s even better; and I’m really looking forward to Archer & Armstrong, which had a funny and clever first issue I read on comiXology. Fantasy world-building is one of those things comics can really excel in, as evidenced by the Marvel and DC universes, so it’s always exciting when a new one comes along that does it so well.

However, I have some concerns about some things I’ve read. In case you don’t know, these current Valiant titles are relaunched versions of the series published in the ’90s by Valiant Comics. That company was very successful and was eventually bought by the video game company Acclaim Entertainment, which went bankrupt soon after, taking Valiant down with it. A number of years passed until a new company called Valiant Entertainment purchased all of the original properties, and began bringing them back to life. Sounds like a happy ending, and it mostly is — but there are a couple of red flags.

Before I get into all of this, though, it’s important to note that Valiant Entertainment has done nothing legally wrong. I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I know, the company is under no legal obligations to change its actions. That said, there’s a lot of goodwill capital to be gained by doing right by the creators of the original properties.

The major issue is the relaunch of Quantum and Woody, a popular comedy series by Christopher Priest and Mark Bright about the world’s worst superhero duo. According to fellow Valiant/Acclaim creator Kevin Maguire, their contracts stated they “could buy the rights to the material back for half the profits the material made in the previous 3 years.” Following Acclaim’s bankruptcy, Priest and Bright attempted to do just that but allegedly were told their contracts were “considered invalid” because they were submitted to the wrong department at Acclaim. If that’s true, it means Acclaim allowed Priest and Bright to work without a contract for more than a year, and then at least six more months a year later, without notifying them of the supposed clerical error. Unable to pay the legal fees, Priest and Bright had no choice but to let it go. Then Valiant Entertainment purchased the property, along with the rest of the Valiant Comics/Acclaim rights, likely unaware of these issues. Last fall, Valiant Entertainment released all of the published Quantum and Woody issues through digital provider comiXology, and a relaunched Quantum and Woody by new creators is planned for July. So far, neither Priest nor Bright have publicly commented on this news. About a month ago, Maguire shared the above details as well as his thoughts on the hypothetical relaunch of his own Acclaim title Trinity Angels, which he also unsuccessfully attempted to buy back after the company went bankrupt.

During a recent video interview with Comic Book Resources, Valiant CEO Dinesh Shamdasani said the company was in touch with Priest and Bright about finishing never-released Quantum and Woody issues, which would suggest the creators are, at least to some degree, OK with the relaunch. Shamdasani was also quick to point out that Valiant owns all of the properties free and clear. However, his mention of building a family with the current Valiant (a sentiment echoed by Joshua Dysart in a recent interview announcing his exclusive contract with the company), prompts an appropriate response by CBR’s Jonah Weiland that they’ve inherited an extended family with the original Valiant. And one member of that family is not yet satisfied.

Maguire responded to the interview over the weekend on his Facebook page, saying he’s declining to draw variant covers until he hears that Priest and Bright have “signed off on the revamp.” He also brought up the question of digital royalties for the re-release of Trinity Angels on comiXology, a question for which he has yet to receive an answer after six months of dialogue. Valiant has also digitally re-released The Grackle by Mike Baron and Paul Gulacy, and other Acclaim-era titles.

The current Valiant can’t help whatever questionable actions may have been taken by the previous incarnations; they’re separate companies. But the new owners did inherit the accompanying baggage. They can either blissfully ignore it or they can go above and beyond by doing their best to make right by those screwed over from the Acclaim days.

Valiant Entertainment has done a lot right so far. It’s making entertaining comics, and I have high hopes for its future. The time to do right by the creators past and present is now, while the company is still young. This story is still developing, so more details will probably come out over time. With luck, Valiant Entertainment is already taking the time to work all of this out to the best of its abilities. If the company isn’t, I ask it to consider sharing royalties of reissued material (digital or otherwise). Also consider getting the participation of the original creators, especially in the instance of those robbed of the opportunities they were promised by Acclaim. Is creator approval on all relaunched properties too much? I don’t know, maybe. But ignoring this issue, or simply offering them new work without addressing their concerns about past work is not the solution.

In some way Valiant should honor those that created what they now benefit from. If you’re building a family, then treat them like family.

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Comments

45 Comments

>>The current Valiant can’t help whatever questionable actions may have been taken by the previous incarnations;

Which can be said for Marvel and DC, too, since both have been sold half a dozen times since the 1940s.

Send this to the folks at Valiant themselves–that’s something all of you writers here on CBR, Robot 6 or CBSG or otherwise. Let them see for themselves what people think, it could have an effect on them the point is to get them to THINK.

I’m serious, Corey–send this to the fine folks at Valiant; let them KNOW.

@Ed
The same could be done for both Marvel and DC–I’m sorry if this will still annoy anyone here, but someone PLEASE initiate a coup d’etat in both companies’ management.

The current Valiant has been Valiant since 2005. So, why wasn’t this issue already tackled by these creators between 2005 and 2012? For the same reason no one talks to their third cousin until he wins the lottery.

Weak Sauce Hit it right on the nose here. VEI Owes Them Nothing! They’ve also stated that they are open to working with them and have had conversations with them. As far as I can see they’ve been more than graceful in this manner. Again, read what Weak Sauce said. ^^^That attitude alone would tell me you just shot yourself in the foot and If I were VEI I wouldn’t work with them at all (The ones who suddenly feel they are owed something for properties they did not win during the bankruptcy proceedings).

So Valiant buys an asset out of bankruptcy free and clear and completely legal. They invest in this asset and develop it to grow their company. Their business is a success and now they are supposed to be “good guys” and just give it away. That might e the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

Yes, Rubicon, this is what they are suggesting!! HAHAHAHAHAH!!!

Hiding behind the “it was the other guys in the past, not me!” is a totally weak excuse. The moment you speak with the company’s voice, you take on the responsibility of their present and past, because you’re relying on the work of those who came before.

So, if you work for Marvel or DC, you condone the theft of creators work to enrich the corporation. And now, if you work for NuValiant, you condone taking the work that was “legally stolen” with apparently no means to get it back. It doesn’t matter if they decided it recently. The creators should be given their properties back.

Richardson at Dark Horse proved it could be done. Marvel and DC should have done it decades ago. Now Valiant has this moment to prove whether they are honorable people or just another shady IP farm.

Hedley, I would agree with you but: In a bankruptcy, there is a SPECIFIC TIME when ANYONE who has any claim to ANYTHING in the bankruptcy assets has to step forward and make their claim known.
This means making it known to the bankruptcy trustees… not making it known to Acclaim.
Acclaim was dead… everything belonged to the trustees… there was a window of time to contact the trustees.

After that specified time, the window of opportunity to make a claim is CLOSED.

None of the creators made a claim to the trustees when they were completely within their right to do so… in 2004 and early 2005. None.

To attempt to make a claim now is too late. About 8 years too late.

It’s like having the right to vote. Yes, if you’re a registered voter, it is your RIGHT to cast your ballot.
You can’t sit at home instead of voting, wait until 8 YEARS after the election is over, and then decide your right was somehow violated.

– Greg Holland

Smart Internet Man

May 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm

“Now Valiant has this moment to prove whether they are honorable people or just another shady IP farm.”

why is it either/or? It’s a new company, arguably a start-up, in a struggling-if-not-dying medium.

I understand the ‘good will’ that could be earned, but lets be practical. Valiant can’t pay everyone nor make every disgruntled creator happy. the way I see it, the company does not have an obligation. It’s be courteous, sure, but they are not the same company.

I hope something can be worked out, I’m a huge Q&W fan but I can’t support this new book until I hear from the original creators.

Considering Valiant/Acclaim had Priest and the others working without a contract, doesn’t this mean they technically didn’t do their characters as work-for-hire or for Acclaim to have publishing rights and thus own them already? Maybe the CBLDF should be giving these guys money to go to court and get their stuff back.

That said, does Robot 6’s goodwill extend to the likes of Jim Shooter and Barry Windsor-Smith, the guys who created most of the original Valiant characters in the first place? Monetarily speaking, the amount of money Jim Shooter had stolen from him after being backstabbed by Steve Massarsky is probably only exceeded by Jack Kirby himself being screwed over by Marvel.

It’s a pretty toothless call to arms if you yourself aren’t even going to stop buying the comics. “Change your behavior, or I’ll never change mine!”

Mixed feelings here. While I think you are asolutely right in the principles you present, both regarding legalities and ethics, still the facts are unclear. It is not fair to anyone, including Kevin Maguire, to use a sketchy memory as the center-piece of your article, especially as Kevin himself has pointed out that it is not the absolute fact. What we know is that Priest himself has presented a differing view in an interview. As for what the absolute facts are, the concerned parties have not yet spoken and we fans can only speculate.

The quote above by MoonChild is from me, but it was a cut-and-paste from a ValiantFans.com discussion. Not sure how I feel about a “semi-private” statement being posted here as if I just said it out loud over here, but there you go.

The bottom line is… the ONLY clear way for these creators to make their claims on their creations was DURING the bankruptcy process and WITH the bankruptcy court.

The bankruptcy was a legal process that WEDDED the new Valiant owners to the Valiant properties.
There was a very clearly announced time for “Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace!”

No one said anything.

You raise an interesting point, Red Comet, regarding the exact legal status of the characters’ ownership. The problem is that the pursuit of that particular line of inquiry would likely be even more tangled, time consuming, and expensive than the one Priest and Bright tried to pursue with Acclaim and dropped because they couldn’t afford the legal fees. And the CBLDF isn’t a viable resource because they don’t handle contract/labor dispute cases. Their focus is squarely and singularly on cases dealing with First Amendment issues.

Jason Waters

May 2, 2013 at 6:36 am

The right thing to do is not necessarily the same as the legal thing to do. I’m sure Valiant has to check with a bevvy of lawyers to see if they are going to open themselves up to future legal action if they concede anything. The more interesting thing will be to see if any of the creators in question will be as open with the public on the issue if they get what they want…

Valiant can either be a “family” or it can be a business. It can’t be both.

I wonder if these same commenters saying the creators should have pressed their claims eight years ago are leaving Marvel and DC off the hook for the handling of their creators?

Just a quick note, in case anyone is wondering… No… no one liked Trinity Angels from Acclaim. No… no one bought Trinity Angels from Acclaim… and no, no one wants to see Valiant bring back Trinity Angels. There… now I’ve said Trinity Angels in a Valiant context more times than anyone in the past 10 years. Besides Maguire.

Seeing Maguire discussing Trinity Angels (as if it’s a legitimate part of Valiant) is like having someone who is supposed to be discussing Spider-man constantly bringing up Paste-Pot Pete.

Who?!?

Exactly.

Bill — I don’t know enough about the Marvel and DC situations to comment.

Seems like comparing apples to a mustard seed, though.
Valiant is not exactly a global brand with household name recognition since the 1930s.

It was small, it went bankrupt, it was rescued, and now it lives again.

If everyone who ever did any work for hire is suddenly given a piece of the pie by some kind of Valiant Santa, there won’t be anything left in the bag for anyone.

If Kevin Maguire wanted Trinity Angels, he could have gotten it during the bankruptcy.
He didn’t want it until there was a TINY chance that someone, somewhere might make $1.
All the sudden, he wants to be paid. (Again, no one is clamoring for Trinity Angels… it has always been a JOKE title in the Acclaim line.)

I, personally, did more to promote Trinity Angels in the past 10 years than Kevin Maguire.
My site, ValiantFans.com has kept full profile reference pages and price guide listings for each Trinity Angels issue online for the world to see, non-stop since 2004. I’ve “promoted and published” far more than anyone else about Trinity Angels for years.

If Kevin Maguire ever gets another $1 from Trinity Angels, he probably owes me $0.90, as far as “doing right by those who really got you there” concepts go.

But he can keep it. I don’t want to be a fair-weather leech. When you love something you fight for it.
He didn’t do squat when it counted.

“The current Valiant can’t help whatever questionable actions may have been taken by the previous incarnations;”

I disagree.

It’s a simple matter of either wanting to honor the contracts with the creators – which the New Valiant bought along with the properties they bought from Old Valiant – or not wanting to honor those contracts. There’s nothing complicated at all about the situation.

The conditions under which those properties were created don’t just miraculously evaporate when the properties change hands. Everything else is white noise.

I don’t understand the contract as explained by Mr. Maguire.
To me, from a afar, and without ever reading said contract, sounds weird that anyone could disown just one clause from a contract. The whole contract should be valid or invalid, unless the clause to buy back the rights was a separate contract, and it would still be a very shady practice to disown a second contract just because some other division of the parent company disagrees with its terms (unless they never signed it).

Now if its only one contract and the original Valiant declared it invalid/null, how could they prove ownership of the properties or that it was produced under Work for Hire?

I’d like to know more about that… please.

Marc, what don’t you get? There was a bankruptcy and an auction! Its LAW, VEI Owns the rights to all the properties outright. There are no strings attached. Anything they do for or with the original creators is out of choice. Period.

Sorry for quoting you here Greg but I couldn’t have said it better.

@Greg Holland How do you even know that…

a) Kevin Maguire didn’t try to get back his property or at least wasn’t discouraged from the previous attempts done by Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright?

b) How much money he had to pay to buy back the rights of Trinity Angels?

Since you want to spend his money, why don’t you let me spend yours.

And yes if Trinity Angels never makes money again he probably wouldn’t have said anything about it, but I doubt that he didn’t care.
Do you have a spare car? I’ll go pick it up from your house and use it since you don’t really seem to care about it.

And… I also have a website. I’d charge comicbook companies for the good reviews, but I don’t know if I can pay back for the bad ones.

Esteban,

a) Being discouraged to do something means you DIDN’T DO IT. If I am discouraged to try to get my driver’s license because I hear someone else say they failed the test, then I don’t get my driver’s license. Whose fault is that? You can’t blame anyone but yourself when you don’t act.

b) You have to contact the bankruptcy trustees if you want to make a claim for assets in a bankruptcy. If Maguire had contacted those trustees, he would have said so. It would be in the record. Maguire’s own statement says he was too scared or poor to even try. What happens when someone is too scared or poor to try something? They fail. Every time.

Marc-Oliver Frisch

There’s a huge difference between buying a company and buying whatever remains after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy court determines which assets are left.

Valiant didn’t buy from Acclaim. This wasn’t one company buying another.

Valiant bought whatever was salvaged and remaining from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.
http://www.gamespot.com/news/acclaim-bankruptcy-now-official-6106290

Chapter 7 makes a difference. This wasn’t a Chapter 11 re-organization.
This wasn’t Chapter 12 or 13 adjustment of debts.

It was Chapter 7 liquidation.

The Chapter 7 liquidation process determined which assets remained, the court handled all claims against those assets, and the court that dissolved all entanglements.

The existence of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to cut all the strings between losses and assets.
Any asset that can be saved in that process IS saved. Everything else is lost. It’s all bankrupt… literally.

Anything purchased by Valiant was purchased free and clear… freed and cleared by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.

Arguments being made in this article and in the comments seem to imply that Chapter 11 rules are in place.

It was Chapter 7.

They certainly don’t seem legally obligated to “do right” by Priest and Bright and I don’t think it is right to ask that they compensate Priest and Bright for use of the characters (or even relinquish the characters to them–though I suspect they would be utterly worthless outside of the Valiant universe). But to do a new series without the blessing of Priest and Bright does risk damaging the goodwill of the property so they have to be mindful of that. I’m frankly not sure why Valiant would bring back such a creator-driven book without the creator’s blessing, but the Comixology “reprints” must have been so popular as to drive their decision. I’m guessing that those willing to buy the Comixology issues without Priest and Bright being “made right” would be willing to buy the new series as well?

The elephant in the room that calls itself ‘bankruptcy ‘ makes this a very very different situation to any shenanigans Marvel and DC have gotten up to over the years. Much as it leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth morally, Greg Holland is correct that, legally, the bankruptcy changes everything about this.

At the time of the bankruptcy, the properties were owned by Acclaim. Legally, that’s very important. Whether the contracts were filed with the right department or not is now a moot point as any clauses in the individual contracts ceased to be legally enforceable when Acclaim went bankrupt. The intellectual properties were (rightly) classed as assets in the bankruptcy and bought by New Valiant. They now own those properties outright, with no (legal) obligation to compensate the original creators for anything. Any entitlement to rights reversion (or royalties) died with Acclaim.

This kind of thing happens when companies are liquidated all of the time. Kevin Maguire and Priest/Bright could have lodged a claim with the liquidators to pick up the rights but they probably wouldn’t have been successful. It’s the liquidators job to realize as much cash as possible to pay the creditors – they were acting on behalf of the people to whom Acclaim owed money after all – and clearly New Valiant’s offer ($$$ for everything) was the best on the table.

I’d be very (but pleasantly) surprised if anybody in New Valiant’s legal department suggested that compensating Maguire/Bright/Priest in any way was a good idea. Simply put, they don’t have to, so why would they? It’s not even about setting a precedent – the law is 100% on New Valiant’s side and there isn’t a crusading attorney in the land who would ever fight this in court.

It’s a shitty situation that would require an almost unprecedented corporate altruistic gesture to resolve. Sincerely, I wish the creator’s the best of luck in getting something out of it but, if I were them, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

I recognize that the tone of my posts is very negative or defensive, but I want it to be clear that I am very POSITIVE about Valiant.

If I’m defensive, it’s because I watched Acclaim kill Valiant in 1996.
They killed their own version of re-imagined “Valiant” in 1997.
In 1998, they weakly tried again, and again, they messed it up.
Nothing produced for years in the early 2000s…
Then years of bankruptcy court work, and the Acclaim assets being sifted and salvaged.

Valiant bought the assets free and clear in 2005.
Valiant fought another “company” trying to blackmail them about trademarks for years… and they won.
Valiant hired Jim Shooter as Editor-in-Chief and tried to launch their universe with him at the helm… he walked out.
So, Valiant took even more time to reset their plans with a new editor, and FINALLY, in May 2012… Valiant was back!

This Valiant relaunch is AT LEAST 7 years in the making and AT LEAST 10 years since Valiant fans held a new Valiant product.

Valiant won Diamond’s 2012 Publisher Of The Year in the lower market share category, and they only had 7 months of books!

The Valiant dream is alive again! It’s a fantastic time to be a Valiant fan… new or old.

These “do right by creators” discussions don’t make a lick of sense.

There was EVERY POSSIBILITY that new Valiant was going to sink a ton of money in these properties and fail.
Who took those risks? Who fought those fights in the court? Who put all the time, effort, and long hours into the new Valiant?
Who would have lost their shirts if Valiant didn’t work out? The creators? Not one of them had anything riding on the gamble.

Valiant made this happen.

Valiant already OWNED it all… and now they’ve EARNED it all.

Viva Valiant!

If Valiant lets one creator have the rights back to the Acclaim character. then there all going to want there rights back. They could of got their characters back way before now. Not wait till the characters are being used. If any think the creators should only be sue the person that didn’t file the claim for damages.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, but again, I would point out, the same people who think the current Marvel owners should honor promises Martin Goodman made to Kirby 50 years ago, that were never in writing, are totally fine with Valiant doing the same thing to Priest and Bright.

What I’m saying is, if you support Kirby and get angry about the Avengers movie because of it, you shouldn’t be okay with this situation, but yes, this is how business is done. People don’t buy a company and suddenly decide to retroactively pay people they aren’t contractually bound to. It’s as naive to expect Valiant to do it as it is to expect Marvel or DC to.

And this is why creators should never give up any percentage of their ownership, or know what they’re getting into when they do.

In law, and I believe this to be true everywhere, nobody can transfer more rights than the ones they have. There is no magic bankrupcy policy that can alter the conditions under which a contract was signed… the point is, we don’t really know what those conditions are.

I find it really annoying the whole “deal with it”, mentality of some people, specially since I don’t really get how could you possibly call youself a fan of any given character and put them over the rights of the people who created that character. That’s just nonsensical to me.

Whichever interest you may have on these sort of disputes, if you are going to go and criticize the creative people who may be having a lot of real life problems with these sort of disputes, don’t be a douche… “you should have done that”, “don’t whine if you didn’t do that”, that’s undeservedly harsh. You don’t even know what the real life circumstances that originated those problems are. For all we know Christopher Priest and M.D Bright did try to get back the rights of their characters, hired lawyers and still couldn’t obtain what they wanted, and we don’t know exactly why, but I doubt it was because they didn’t care enough.

@Greg, whatever many years and hours of your time you devoted to those characters and to keep an active fandom around them, you simply can’t claim more ownership than the ACTUAL CREATORS of the characters. Not sentimentally and certainly not legally.

Yes, remember Todd McFarlane bought Eclipse in bankruptcy to get Miracleman, which it turned out Eclipse never owned. If the story about Acclaim telling Priest the contracts were never properly filed is true, then they were never under contract and (old) Valiant stole from them.

Ed:

“If the story about Acclaim telling Priest the contracts were never properly filed is true, then they were never under contract and (old) Valiant stole from them.”

Surely the question whether or not a contract signed by both parties was properly filed at either party is that particular party’s problem, and not the other party’s. If it weren’t, Priest and Bright could argue that they never properly got their own contracts filed, hence Valiant/Acclaim never had any rights to begin with.

The whole thing is shady to the extreme, and whoever publishes those books doesn’t just get a free pass on the responsibility.

Instead of just making stuff up based on Jack Kirby love… some of you should actually read about Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Valiant wouldn’t have even bought the rights if the court hadn’t given the free and clear documentation.

If these properties belonged to the creators, the courts would have handed them over.

If these properties at least PARTIALLY belonged to the creators, Valiant wouldn’t have paid full price for them.

What you guys are arguing is, in effect, that someone goes to a garbage dump… finds one or two things that might have some value… maybe a broken iPhone… and when they somehow get it to work again, there’s now an argument about how much money is owed to Steve Jobs.

None.

Esteban wrote…

“@Greg, whatever many years and hours of your time you devoted to those characters and to keep an active fandom around them, you simply can’t claim more ownership than the ACTUAL CREATORS of the characters. Not sentimentally and certainly not legally.”

Esteban — my comment was completely tongue-in-cheek. I know that I have no claims on these properties. No matter what I have done in the past to promote them or keep them alive or even to build a possible fan base that would be needed to turn a profit… none of it is mine. Sentimentally or legally.

Maguire might be sentimental to his creation, but he doesn’t have any legal claim to it.

I’m sentimental to my first bicycle… it was “my baby”… but when it was gone… it was gone.
If I happened to find it today, I’d have zero claim to it. Sentimental or not, everything that has occurred
regarding the Valiant properties has occurred because of the legal aspects.

You can’t throw out every move in a chess game when someone realizes later that they should have started with a different pawn.

@Esteban Pedreros 8:35: The whole point is that we don’t know what happened. But everyone knows what has been stated. For instance that Priest stated “I never took any action on it, and neither did Doc”. Even so, many people jump all over a quote-of-the-day (by its very definition something taken out of context) from a third party who has stated that his memories on the matter are inexact.

To hold judgement until the facts are presented can not be called nonsensical, nor is it so to put more trust in a quote from the person closest to the matter. While there are other aspects to consider one must still realize that currently it does look like the creators forwent their rights.

Personally, as a typical Valiant fan, I hope somewhere there is a journalist who can ask the concerned what really happened. Until then we must harshly look at what is known now.

I’ve been saying all along that we don’t know enough, and in that context, I find it very questionable to put blame of the creators for whatever it is that’s going on here.

As Ed Brubaker said, Todd McFarlane bought Eclipse because of Miracle Man only to find out he didn’t acquire the rights to that character (I’ve also been told that he wanted to give back the rights of Beanworld to Larry Marder). Without blaming Valiant Entertainment for past sins, there’s people who created an Intellectual Property and now have no rights to it, despite the fact the signed (or believed to have signed, at the time) a contract that would allow them to claim those rights.

What happened? WE DON’T KNOW.

I don’t like to be indolent about these sort of issues. It’s something that the comicbook industry has to fix.

As I pointed out before: “To me, from a afar, and without ever reading said contract, sounds weird that anyone could disown just one clause from a contract. The whole contract should be valid or invalid, unless the clause to buy back the rights was a separate contract, and it would still be a very shady practice to disown a second contract just because some other division of the parent company disagrees with its terms (unless they never signed it).

Now if its only one contract and the original Valiant declared it invalid/null, how could they prove ownership of the properties or that it was produced under Work for Hire?

I’d like to know more about that… please.”

The answer to that question, might very well tell us whether or not Kevin Maguire, Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright have any claim (or what sort of claim), to those characters. It might just be that Valiant Entertainment didn’t acquire all the rights they thought they did, or under the conditions they believe they have (or that in fact they do have all the rights). At this point, I’d like to find out.

This article is calling for action due to moral obligations, the kind of obligations that people fulfill out of righteousness or kindness, not the ones that can be enforced by law. I think that’s a good idea, and I think that as fans of the comicbook artform in general, we should care about that sort of thing, we should care more about the authors and creators of the properties we enjoy, since there a long list of creative people that got screwed in the past, and it shouldn’t keep on happening over and over and over again.

@Greg – The iPhone analogy is just… don’t school me on bankruptcy if you can’t tell the difference between intellectual property and an inanimate object.

@Esteban, you are still putting more credence to the inexact third-party quote than to Priest. Your standpoint is based on a statement that contradicts what is generally known. That is your prerogative but I think that we two, and probably Greg as well, would all come to the same conclusions if we based our reasonings on the same assumptions.

And yes, the article is mainly calling for action based on moral obligations, for which I commend it. But it is centered around an inexact quote which unfortunately (and quite possibly incorrectly) has raised the legal questions discussed above.

As far as I can Tell Christopher Priest has said nothing at all. The only reference from him I’ve found is this Podcast (14:50)
http://www.thedollarbin.net/shows/interview-christopher-priest-part-2.html

Which doesn’t really clear anything up

Thanks for the podcast link. While it may not clear things up, at least combined with what I’ve read on the fan forum (and copied here), I think it does give a background to the awkward silence.

“To me, from a afar, and without ever reading said contract, sounds weird that anyone could disown just one clause from a contract. The whole contract should be valid or invalid, unless the clause to buy back the rights was a separate contract, and it would still be a very shady practice to disown a second contract just because some other division of the parent company disagrees with its terms (unless they never signed it).

Now if its only one contract and the original Valiant declared it invalid/null, how could they prove ownership of the properties or that it was produced under Work for Hire?

I’d like to know more about that… please.”

Hi Estaban.

The contract is invalid. It was invalidated by the bankruptcy. One of those contracted parties has ceased to exist. Valiant can ‘prove’ ownership by virtue of the fact that the liquidator legally satisfied, to the best of their abilities, the fact that the properties were owned OUTRIGHT by Acclaim at the time of the bankruptcy. The clauses within the original contract are no longer worth any paper they may be printed on.

The clause in the contract for rights reversion was a contract with Acclaim. If none of the creators acted on that while Acclaim were still solvent (and anecdotal evidence suggests they tried to but Acclaim put the stoppers on it), then at the point of bankruptcy Quantum and Woody, Trinity Angels and all of the rest were assets owned 100% by Acclaim. As they were 100% owned by Acclaim, 100% of them was sold at the bankruptcy auction to New Valiant. They are under no legal obligation to honour any clauses whatsoever from the old contract as New Valiant wasn’t either of the parties that contract was between.

Bankruptcy can be a incredibly complex and labyrinthine process, but unfortunately for the creators involved here, it doesn’t look that way in this case.

*An aside*

I believe (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that in the Eclipse lawsuit it turned out that Eclipse only had a limited right to publish Miracleman and no rights to the characters themselves (and similarly with Matt Wagner’s Grendel when that was caught up in Comico’s bankruptcy). Of course it’s since transpired that even that ‘right’ to publish was on spurious grounds – Dez Skinn thought he’d bought the rights to Marvelman in bankruptcy from the liquidators of L. Miller & Son (Marvelman’s original publisher). Everybody seems to agree now that L. Miller never owned the rights and they remained with Mick Anglo, who’s since sold them to Marvel.

This is likely the reason we still haven’t seen reprints of the Moore/Gaiman stuff. They have contracts that say they own a stake in the character; contracts they signed with Dez Skinn or each other. But if Dez never owned the rights, then all of those contracts are worth squat. I’m sure everybody was happy for Mick to get a bumper payday, but to agree that your work can now be republished in any way shape or form with no prospect of ever receiving royalties or having any say in how your work is presented? Sounds like a pretty hard sell for Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. And if Marvel were to test it, what if the court decided that L. Miller & Sons did own it? That’s a whole lot of money down the drain for Disney.

In my opinion……….
Greg, what you said.

PJK

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