A New York court today ruled that Marvel Enterprises owes comic book icon Stan Lee “a 10 percent share of profits earned by Marvel since November 1998.” The ruling pertains to Marvel’s movie franchises — including X-Men and Spider-Man — many of which Lee originated as comic books in the 1960s. Given the blockbuster success of those franchises, the ruling could result in an award amounting in the tens of millions. (E!Online: “Stan Lee’s Spidey Score Settled” - 01/20/05)
The ruling is a long time coming. Lee began with Marvel in 1939, and served as writer, editor, art director, head writer and publisher for the company before effectively retiring from active duty and becoming chairman emeritus. He filed the lawsuit in November 2002, pointing out a clause in his contract that entitled him to 10 percent of TV, movie and merchandising deals, an amount he thought was significantly higher than the $1 million-per-year salary he currently receives. Marvel tried to find a loophole in the wording.
In other comic book news, the legendary Will Eisner died earlier this month at the age of 87 after heart surgery. (Washington Post: “Will Eisner Made Fighting Bigotry An Art Form” - 01/05/05) Writer Neil Gaiman offered a personal tribute to Eisner on his weblog.