Artist Tony Moore filed a claim against writer Robert Kirkman in federal court on Tuesday, looking to be declared "joint author" of The Walking Dead and other collaborations between the two, and for the commensurate share of the associated proceeds.
The complaint, filed in United States District Court six months after Moore's still-pending initial suit against Kirkman in Los Angeles Superior Court and viewable here, calls Kirkman a "proud liar and fraudster who freely admits that he has no qualm about misrepresenting material facts in order to consummate business transactions." Further, it states that Kirkman "devised a scheme to fraudulently induce Moore" to give up his copyright interests based on "false promises, false representations and material omissions."
According to Moore's attorney Devin McRae, this new filing is "just one small procedural step" that comes as a result of Kirkman's lawyers using the discrepancy between what the state courts and federal court can oversee to obstruct movement in the existing legal action. "Kirkman disputes [Moore's] co-authorship. He's trying to limit discovery in the state court action, on the basis that some issues are for the federal court," McRae explains. "Once Moore establishes fraud and rescinds the agreement [as laid out in the first filing], the issue is going to be whether he was a co-author of these works. And it's the federal court that has the power to decide that. So we still have to first go in the state court and prove the fraud, which we think we'll do. This is just something that is part and parcel of the whole thing. Nothing's really changed."
AMC's Walking Dead TV series is mentioned in the complaint as the source of Moore assigning his interest in the property over to Kirkman, claiming that Moore was told the television deal would "go away" if he did not.
Moore, who has requested a jury trial to settle the dispute, is also claiming that Kirkman and his company have "materially failed to perform their payment" under current obligations, and that the writer "never intended to pay Moore the proper royalties and never intended to provide accurate accountings."
Along with The Walking Dead, the projects under dispute are Battle Pope, a satirical early work from the two creators; Brit, like Walking Dead a property that debuted at Image Comics in 2003; and Dead Planet and My Name is Abraham, two "potential comic book series" that haven't seen publication. Moore illustrated the first six issues of The Walking Dead comic book, before leaving the series.
Newsarama has requested comment from Kirkman's representatives. In February, Kirkman's party called the initial lawsuit, "ridiculous," saying that Moore was "violating the same contract he initiated and approved," and that the artist "regularly receives" Walking Dead-related royalties. Kirkman countersued in March, according to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming that he overpaid Moore for his work.
Additional reporting by Vaneta Rogers.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!