In 2021, Amazon Prime Video launched the superhero anime series Invincible. The series received acclaim from viewers and critics alike while becoming a smash 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 source material.
In a lawsuit (via THR), comic book colorist William Crabtree alleged that the Walking Dead the impresario sued him to give up his involvement in the popular comic book series. Crabtree claimed that he and Kirkman were the co-creators of the historical comic as he was the colorist for the first 50 issues. The lawsuit alleges that by agreeing to this arrangement, Crabtree lost the opportunity to generate income related to Invincible. Official trial documents allege:
The lawsuit also made allegations about Robert Kirkman’s character, saying that “fraud and deception have become standard business practice for Kirkman” and “apparently where his true creative aptitude lies”.
William Crabtree alleged that he and Kirkman entered into an oral agreement in 2005 that the artist would get 20% of the profits from sales of the comic book and 10% of any revenue generated from any film or television projects associated with the property. Crabtree claimed that he continued to receive payment from Robert Kirkman regarding their deal as Invincible went through two failed adaptations before taking off as an Amazon Studios series. He alleged that the Prime animated series was a turning point because Kirkman allegedly told Crabtree about his participation in the series.
The lawsuit further alleges that he questioned Kirkman about collecting recurring royalties and claimed that the Walking Dead the creator called the payouts a “bonus”. Kirkman is accused of reducing Crabtree’s contributions to “work for hire” status. William Crabtree seeks to regain his status as co-creator and to collect the profits generated by the comic.
This lawsuit marked the second time Robert Kirkman and attorney Devin McRae, who represents William Crabtree, have crossed paths over a comic book. In 2012, Kirkman was sued by artist Tony Moore for similar issues related to The Walking Dead. The two parties have settled their dispute for an undisclosed sum.
After becoming a resounding success, Invincible was picked up for two more seasons with live-action movie possibilities. Of course, the series is one of multiple comedic adaptations by Kirkman, and the Walking Dead The TV universe isn’t going away even as the original series nears its end. As more developments stem from this lawsuit, follow CinemaBlend for the latest.