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In a surprising conclusion to their rights dispute, Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. and Dynamite Entertainment this morning announced an agreement for the worldwide release of John Carter comics, archival material and the publisher’s Lord of the Jungle line.
ERB Inc., the family-owned company that controls the existing rights to the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars novels, sued Dynamite in February 2012, accusing the publisher of trademark and copyright infringement and unfair competition through the release of its Lord of the Jungle and Warlord of Mars comics. Dynamite responded, insisting that its series were based on material that’s lapsed into the public domain, and noting that other publishers have released Burroughs-inspired comics, using similar titles, without a license from ERB Inc.
Now that the two parties have settled their differences, and ERB Inc. has reacquired the John Carter comics rights from Disney and Marvel, Dynamite will be able to relaunch Warrior of Mars later this year as John Carter: Warlord of Mars, and introduce characters and plot elements “that were, until now, absent from recent comic book interpretations” (presumably because they remain protected by copyright). Dynamite will also republish John Carter archival material, dating back to the early 1940s comic strips written by Burroughs’ son Coleman Burroughs.
“It was important to us that we reacquire the comic book and comic strip rights from Marvel Entertainment so we could reintroduce them in the market place,” James Sullos, president of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., said in a statement. “We’re excited to see the exploits of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first science fiction adventure hero brought to life in their fullness by the passionate creative talents assembled by the folks at Dynamite. They’re true fans — and it shows on every page and in every idea they’ve shared with us. Now fans everywhere will be able to appreciate the original adventure stories that later spawned Flash Gordon, Superman, Star Wars and Avatar.”
Although the publisher’s Lord of the Jungle line is expected to be relaunched as a result of the agreement, there’s no indication in the press release of a title change (to, say, Tarzan) or access to additional character or story elements. More details, including creative teams, presumably will be announced closer to Comic-Con International.
“Working together with Jim and the team at ERB, we will be taking the worlds of John Carter and The Lord of the Jungle publishing initiatives to a new level,” said Nick Barrucci, CEO and publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “There’s a rich history, and an incredible amount of archival material in the ERB library, and we’re looking forward to bringing it to the fans around the world.”