I have no opinion on Tony Moore’s claims of co-ownership of the Walking Dead franchise. I will say that some sort of lawsuit against Robert Kirkman was probably inevitable. You don’t have one of the biggest hit series on television with multiple spin-offs without somebody deciding you owe them a piece of that action.
Moore, for those wondering, drew the first seven issues of the Walking Dead comic waaaaaay back in 2003. He continued to do covers until issue #24.
But according to Moore, he helped co-create the series, and is therefore entitled not just to co-authorship but also the right to start his own Walking Dead TV show. To give you an idea of just how hardball Moore is playing, this is an actual excerpt from the actual legal filing about Robert Kirkman:
…a proud liar and fraudster who freely admits that he has no qualm about misrepresenting material facts in order to consummate business transactions…
This isn’t just about The Walking Dead on paper: Moore wants co-ownership on Brit, Battle Pope and two other series that never saw publication. In reality, it’s totally about The Walking Dead, unless there’s a Battle Pope anime or something we don’t know about.
Nobody knows how much money is at stake. Image has probably been raking it in hand over fist with The Walking Dead as the graphic novels regularly top the sales charts, and since the series is creator-owned Kirkman likely sees an enormous piece of that. But it’s not really clear how much he sees in royalties from Image, how much he makes from AMC, and how much comes out of the seemingly relentless flood of merchandise.
In all honesty, it’s unlikely Moore will win his suit. He has to demonstrate both that he was legally an equal partner under contract, or that Kirkman made him sign a deceptive contract. Neither of these are easy to prove in court. Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see how this turns out.