Invincible was one of io9’s favorite animated series of 2021, and we weren’t the only ones who enjoyed it; Amazon Studios has already renewed the adult animated series for a second and third season. But with sweet success comes some saltiness, as an artist who worked on the original Robert Kirkman comic has filed suit, alleging he gave up his copyright under false pretenses and is now missing out on profits from the popular series.
As the Hollywood Reporter writes, William Crabtree is suing Kirkman, claiming that “he co-created Invincible (as its colorist for the first 50 issues) and [that] Kirkman in 2005 convinced him to surrender his ownership stake under the guise of making it easier to sell to studios, according to a lawsuit filed Sunday in California federal court.” You can read the full complaint on THR, which also notes that the lawyer representing Crabtree previously represented a different artist, Tony Moore, back in 2012 , who alleged “Kirkman tricked him out of his interest in the Walking Dead,” a case that was “amicably settled on undisclosed terms in less than two months.”
Crabtree claims an initial oral agreement between the two creators was replaced by an alleged “scheme by Kirkman and his agents to fraudulently induce him to assign his copyright interest over to Kirkman’s company … Kirkman approached him at the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con and presented him with a ‘Certificate of Authorship,’ which purported to characterize all of his contributions as a ‘work-for-hire.’ He said that he was in the final stages of licensing Invincible for television production and that having it represented by a single creator would increase its commercial viability … when Crabtree learned in 2020 that Amazon Studios was proceeding on a plan to launch a show, Kirkman informed him that he was not entitled to any monetary proceeds because he had no ownership interest in the series.”
Kirkman or his representatives had not responded to THR at the time of publication, so for now we only have one side of this story. Whatever the outcome of the suit may bring, Invincible the series—whose all-star voice cast includes J.K. Simmons and Steven Yuen as father-and-son superheroes, and Sandra Oh as the non-superhero wife/mother in the family—should be dropping more episodes on Amazon at some point in 2022.
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