They say failure is an orphan, and success breeds a lot of lawsuits, and that's definitely true of The Walking Dead, the long-running smash comic book series that is now a smash TV show on AMC. In February, artist Tony Moore—who drew the first eight issues of the comic–sued for profits he believed he was owed under the deal he signed with Robert Kirkman, best known as the writer and creator of the series.
Now Moore has upped the ante with a new lawsuit alleging he should be awarded half the copyright of not only The Walking Dead but Image comics series Battle Pope and Brit, both written by Kirkman, and unproduced series Dead Planet and My Name Is Abraham. In the suit, Moore alleges that Kirkman is "a proud liar and fraudster who freely admits that he has no qualm about misrepresenting material facts in order to consummate business transactions, and it is precisely that illicit conduct which led to the present lawsuit (and to Kirkman’s business “success” generally)."
Moore's specific allegations—which expand on claims made in his February filing—include Kirkman removing his name from the copyright notice in the indicia, unknown to Moore, and fraudulently coercing him to sign away his rights for what Moore has now learned was a then non-existent TV option: "Kirkman, Kirkman LLC and their agents prepared the Assignment and told Moore that if he did not immediately sign it, the aforementioned television deal would go away,” the suit says. Kirkman promised Moore that he would receive more money by entering into the Assignment because Kirkman would be able to sell the television and theatrical rights to the works.
It's all part of more legal maneuvering in an increasingly messy case. In March, Kirkman filed a countersuit, claiming that he had actually overpaid Moore. Moore's attorney told Newsarama that the new filing is an extension of the previous lawsuit in that the first was filed in state court and this is in federal court, which has jurisdiction over copyrights.
What no one disputes is that Moore drew the first eight issues of the comic—a story line that has hundreds of thousands of copies in print by now in various printings. After that, it’s a tangled web that could take years to sort out in court.