Look, I TOLD everyone once the Marvel vs. Friedrich judgment was cast, we’d be seeing Marvel/Disney going after every creator that emerged in their legal department bullseye. Case in point: Marvel/Disney issued a CEASE & DESIST letter against ELAINE LEE & MIKE KALUTA for their creator-owned, Epic-published STARSTRUCK.
Elaine Lee wrote, this morning: “Look, I’ll say it now. Kaluta and I, just week before last, received a letter from a Marvel/Disney attorney, challenging our rights to Starstruck, a project that was briefly with Marvel/Epic, supposedly their creator-owned imprint, almost three decades ago. Since then, we’ve been published by Dark Horse and IDW. This has sent us rummaging through 30-year-old documents, looking for proof that we own what we own. We’ve found several letters that back up our claim that the rights were returned to us, and things seem to have quieted down, but we are still looking for more “just in case.” You don’t screw around with The Mouse.
I’m currently doing an interview for a new book on women in geeky professions. They asked me to give advice to young women starting out. My advice is do your own thing. Keep the rights to your work. If you sell your work, make sure you get Hollywood money, not comic book money.”
Got that? Marvel/Disney, attacking the creators of the only creator-ownership line they’d launched, post COMIX BOOK.
The Marvel/Disney legal machine is capable of ANYTHING in the name of “we own it ALL.”
Now, the odds are that this is a clerical error on Marvel/Disney’s part, and hopefully there will be an apology on the way. The Epic imprint offered a very attractive creator owned contract, which saw work such as The One, Groo The Wanderer and Marshal Law switch publishers with ease. Let’s hope those creators aren’t similarly targeted…
UPDATE: Elaine Lee writes in the comments below; Just to make sure that things don’t veer into the realm of “truthiness,” Michael Kaluta and I received a letter that challenged our ownership of Starstruck and used the words, “please stop all sales and other related activities.” Through our lawyer, we provided two letters from Marvel’s former publisher, Mike Hobson, that backed our ownership of Starstruck. Things seem to have calmed down now. The situation seems to have been resolved. (I’m overusing the word “seems,” so as not to jinx myself. Knock wood.) It was scary. At first, we weren’t sure we could find the 3-decades-old documents we needed. (From way back in the pre-digtal days, youngsters. We’re talking paper here. Dusty, old, yellow paper.) But there is no lawsuit. We think it may either have been about Disney’s teen movie of a couple of years back, also called Starstruck. They may have found us
while looking for people infringing on their property. Or they may have been simply trying to figure out what they still owned. But it was a frightening way to do it. So, this may have been an aberration, or other Epic creators may hear from them. Who knows? But creators may want to scare up that old paperwork. It can’t hurt and might save you several days of abject fear.