The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman Slams Marvel Over Unfair Contracts

Robert Kirkman has a hard time trusting Marvel after completing his work-for-hire stint at the publisher. In one new podcast interview between he and Todd MacFarlane, Kirkman said he's unable to trust the House of Ideas after shelving the first project he was hired for. On an episode of CBR's Dynamic Duos podcast, Kirkman revealed he was initially given a $5,000 budget to write and find the art team for a Sleepwalker-based mini-series.

Fast forward all these years and comic readers will know Kirkman's Sleepwalker series never saw the light of day, with the writer saying a Marvel executive called him and said, "Hey, so we shut the whole thing down, you're fired, I know you did a lot of work on issues 2 and 3, but we're not gonna pay you for that, because we're never putting it out."

After examining his contract, Kirkman says he realized there was a clause that the publisher put in that allowed them to fire artists at any time without cause. On the podcast, Kirkman called the experience "the most disappointing, most unstable representation of what working for Marvel was."

That's when he said he couldn't trust the publisher because of the scenario, despite going on to write other projects for Marvel. "Because I had had that situation with Epic, I was like, I can't trust these guys, they're not reliable, I can never really look at them as stable employment," the writer said.

It's not the first time creators have come forward speaking out against Marvel for its payment practices. One contentious topic that continues popping up is the publisher's payments after characters make their live-action debut within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In one recent case, Yelena Belova creators Devin Grayson and JG Jones say they were expecting a $25,000 payment once the character appeared in Black Widow but only got a $5,000 check to split between the two.

"It's like the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. You could win $1 million, but you won't," Grayson told THR last year. According to her, there was language in the contract that allowed Marvel to pay out $5,000 though the larger sum was more prominently featured. The report adds the lump sum is typically split between creators, so Grayson and Jones were expecting to split the $25,000 payment.

New episodes of The Walking Dead: Dead City premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.