But there has been a small groundswell of opinion among certain creators that, while Marvel and DC are often rightfully criticised for the way they treat the creators of their most memorable icons, Valiant has been getting a pass.
Especially considering the new launch of Quantum And Woody, created by Priest and Mark Bright.
One major comics creator told me a few weeks ago;
I was told by someone who spoke to Priest recently that he and Bright just gave up on it because the lawsuit would be too long and expensive, but they totally feel they were screwed out of their creation. They just didn’t want to spend the next ten years going to court over it.
Which is admittedly hearsay. A little more directly, Kevin Maguire had spoken out about Trinity Angels, the comic he created for Valiant/Acclaim, with a similar story around the same time;
We Acclaim creators signed contracts before we started working on our projects that had a clause saying we could buy the rights to the material back for half the profits the material made in the previous 3 years. Several years after Acclaim went under, Priest and Bright tried to get the Q/W rights and were told that the contracts we signed were never submitted to a different division of Acclaim and were thus considered invalid. Someone else came in and bought up all the Valiant/Acclaim leaving us with nothing. I’ve been following what Priest/Bright were doing because I wanted the rights to Trinity Angels back. But the legal fees it would cost to get it back would just be too much for us. I’m pretty sure Priest/Bright are not pleased with the new Q/W, but I don’t know that for a fact. As I said, I know if they went in and re-vamped Trinity Angels, I would be furious. There are only three properties that sprung completely from my imagination-Strikeback, Trinity Angels, and Tanga. I consider them my children and would not abide anyone else giving voice to those characters.
And there has also been concern expressed over royalties being paid to creators of older work being reprinted, including work that was created under creator-participation terms.
But is any of it true?
Valiant representatives have stated that as part of the deal in which they purchased the rights to publish these books, they purchased all the rights, completely, in perpetuity.
What seems to be being alleged, is that those rights weren’t available to be sold. But here’s the thing. In an interview with Priest by Newsarama years ago, he stated;
The agreement was, basically, that the rights would reverent to me and Doc if Valiant didn’t publish the book for a certain period of time. Obviously, that period of time has come and gone, but I never took any action on it, and neither did Doc, because we were busy with different things.
Which means, before Acclaim went into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Priest and Bright didn’t exercise their options. And it seems, neither did Kevin Maguire. From his Modern Masters: Kevin Maguire book;
Apparently, there was something in the contract that says you can buy the copyright back from the company for a certain price based on sales or profits or something like that, and after a certain time it reverts. Just about a year or so ago I was told that there was stuff going on. A company had bought all the copyrights and it was legally murky. But I had a lot of fun with that series.
And then Acclaim went into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in which all contracts and agreements are nullified by law, including the reversion clauses which hadn’t been exercised. The rights and ownerships that could be sold, were sold, in auction. And picked up by the current Valiant publisher. That’s how the law works.
Quantum And Woody co-creator Mark Bright recently told me;
As far as I know Priest hasn’t spoken to anyone about anything concerning Quantum and Woody other than myself and that happened only within the last month or so… Our position with Valiant isn’t adversarial. The people at Valiant have been more than willing to talk about what is happening at the company and with Quantum and Woody and with Priest and me. What happens from here is yet to be seen, but everything thus far has been amicable.
And Kevin Maguire recently posted on Facebook after Phoenix Comic Con;
And had a pleasant chat with Valiant CEO Dinesh Shamdasani who gave me all the information I was looking for vis-a-vis Trinity Angels. I am now cool with them.
Current Valiant seems to be on good working terms with other classic Valiant and Acclaim creators including Kevin VanHook, Mark Moretti, Patrick Zircher, Bob Wiacek, Jimmy Palmiotti, Sal Velluto, Mike McKone, Joe Rubenstein, Don Perlin, Bob Hall and Clayton Crain.
And I’m told that even though they are not legally obliged to, Valiant are offering to pay royalties to creators on the publication of older work.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s to realise that every publisher can go bust, and to try and get something in your contract to prepare for that. And if there’s a reversion clause going spare, jump on it – and then use it.
But it’s also good to know Valiant are also behaving like decent human beings as well. And doing the right thing.