Why You Need to Keep the Rights to Your Material

by Larry Brody

I was going to write an earnest article/essay/post on the dangers of “work-for-hire” agreements, but this one says it all:

Creators rights activists take note: The Great Thanos War is brewing

Marvel is going all cosmic in the movie world, and Thanos, a character created by Jim Starlin, is at the heart of it.

The evidence is unavoidable. First it was the Thanos cameo at the end of the Avengers—supposedly thrown in because director Joss Whedon was a fan of the character and a cosmic storyline is integral to keeping him on board for Avengers 2.

Now it’s the news that The Guardians of the Galaxy are getting a movie in 2014, a team which includes arch Thanos foe Adam Warlock and many other characters from the cosmic Marvel universe created and developed by Starlin in his Warlock and Infinity Gauntlet books. And Marvel has just announced a high profile Thanos 5-issue miniseries, Thanos: Son of Titan…

What’s so interesting about all this? Well, besides what sounds like an exciting movie storyline, it is an incontrovertible fact that Jim Starlin created Thanos, Gamora and many other elements of the Guardians/Infinity Gauntlet/Cosmic Cube in various Marvel comics… 

From Jim Starlin’s pre-Marvel portfolio!

So yep, Jim Starlin created Thanos. No two ways about it. And in theory he then signed a check with a voucher on it for work for hire. But Marvel hasn’t been able to produce any records from that period (mid ’70s) so proving that rests entirely on the goodwill of the company-friendly New York state courts.

Read it all

Thanos was the major continuing villain in my SILVER SURFER animated series back in the late ’90s. Wouldn’t it be great if Starlin got a piece of that action as well as the current Marvel success?

Should be an interesting situation battle.

About LB

Larry Brody has been profiled in such national magazines and websites as Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Starlog, People, Electronic Media, IndieSlate, TechTV, io9, and of course TV Guide. A legendary figure in the television writing and production world, with a career going back to the late ’60s, Brody has written and produced literally thousands of hours of network and syndicated television. Brody has also been active in the TV animation world, writing, creating, consulting, and/or supervising the cult favorite STAR TREK animated TV series, the SILVER SURFER, SPAWN, SUPERMAN, SPIDERMAN, and SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED animated series, and was showrunner of the French animated series, DIABOLIK, as well as part of the team that developed and wrote the live-action/cgi animation sci-fi series Ace Lightning for the BBC. Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys.