Thursday January 27, 2022

In 2021, Amazon Prime Video debuted the animated superhero series Invincible. The series won acclaim from viewers and critics alike while becoming a breakout hit for the streamer. Now, Invincible and The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has found himself at the center of a lawsuit over rights and the source material.

In a lawsuit (via THR), comics colorist William Crabtree alleged that the Walking Dead impresario pursued him to give up his ownership stake in the popular comic series. Crabtree claimed he and Kirkman were co-creators of the landmark comic as he was the colorist for the first 50 issues. The suit alleges that, in agreeing to this arrangement, Crabtree lost the chance to generate any revenue connected to Invincible. The official documents from the lawsuit allege:

Kirkman falsely told Crabtree that Crabtree’s rights and financial interest in the Work would remain unchanged if he signed the Certificate of Authorship and that the document would simply allow Kirkman to market the licensure of the Work more easily, resulting in greater profits for both of them.

The lawsuit also made some allegations about Robert Kirkman’s character, claiming that “Fraud and deceit has become a standard business practice for Kirkman” and “apparently where his true creative aptitude lies.”

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William Crabtree alleged he and Kirkman made an oral agreement in 2005 where the artist would get 20% of the comic’s sales profits and 10% of any revenue generated by any film or television project associated with the property. Crabtree claimed he continued to receive payment from Robert Kirkman regarding their agreement as Invincible went through two failed adaptations before it took off as an Amazon Studios series. He alleged that the Prime animated series was a turning point as Kirkman reportedly notified Crabtree about his stake in the series.

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The lawsuit further alleges that he questioned Kirkman about receiving recurring royalties, and claimed that the Walking Dead creator referred to the payments as “bonuses.” Kirkman is accused of reducing Crabtree’s contributions to “work-for-hire” status. William Crabtree is looking to regain his status as co-creator and receive any profits generated by the comic.

This lawsuit marked the second time Robert Kirkman and attorney Devin McRae, who is representing William Crabtree, have crossed paths regarding a comic book. In 2012, Kirkman was sued by artist Tony Moore over similar issues related to The Walking Dead. The two parties settled their disagreement for an undisclosed sum.

After becoming a breakout hit, Invincible was picked up for two more seasons with possibilities of a live-action movie. Of course, the series is one of the multiple comic adaptations Kirkman has going on, and the Walking Dead TV universe isn’t going away even as the original series approaches its ending. As more developments come from this lawsuit, follow CinemaBlend for the latest news.

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