‘Walking Dead’ suit now in federal court

Tony Moore asserts he is co-author of comicbook, others

A suit against comicbook writer Robert Kirkman has spilled over to federal court, as former collaborator and artist Tony Moore is now seeking a judgment that he is joint author of “The Walking Dead” and four other works.

Moore filed suit against Kirkman in Los Angeles Superior Court last February, seeking royalties and accounting from “Dead” and other works. He claims that in 2005, Kirkman and his agents “devised a scheme to fraudulently induce” him to sign over his copyright interests to Kirkman’s limited liability company. He also claims that Kirkman and his company breached that assignment by failing to pay “proper royalties” and provide accurate accounting statements.

Kirkman filed a counterclaim, charging that Moore has violated a confidentiality provision of their agreement and that he actually overpaid the artist by more than $43,000. His claim seeks to recover the money, as well as attorney’s costs.

Moore’s latest claim, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, contends that because Kirkman disputes Moore’s co-authorship status, he needs a judicial determination that he is co-author of “Walking Dead” as well as the comicbook series “Battle Pope” and “Brit,” and the potential series “Dead Planet” and “My Name Is Abraham.” Such a determination is needed to determine damages, Moore’s suit says. He claims the original proofs of the first several issues of “The Walking Dead” list him and Kirkman as co-copyright owners but that Kirkman “surreptitiously removed” his name for the final print issues. Moore also claims that Kirkman pressed him to sign over his copyright interest in 2005 or a pending TV deal would go away. Moore’s suit says he signed over his interest because he did not want to be responsible for killing it. But the federal suit contends that, based on what has been revealed in discovery process of the state court claim, no deal actually was on the table that was contingent on him relinquishing copyright interest. “The Walking Dead” eventually landed at AMC, where it is among the cabler’s hits.

Kirkman’s attorney, Allen B. Grodsky of Grodsky & Olecki, said that Moore’s federal claim “lacks merit for a number of different reasons, including that it is barred by the statute of limitations.” He said that they plan to file a response soon.

Moore is represented by Devin McRae of Early Sullivan.