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Parting Shot: The Time Marvel Tried to Take the Rights to Sean Murphy’s Convention Sketchbook

Artist Sean Murphy discusses the legal response from Marvel after he sold a few dozen of his Wolverine ABC sketchbooks at conventions. Murphy had previously expressed concern about the implications for creators after Marvel stipulated that Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich pay $17,000 for selling unauthorized Ghost Rider merchandise at conventions. Marvel Comics Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada subsequently told CBR that Marvel was “not looking to make any new policy announcements through this lawsuit,” and Publisher Dan Buckley added that the company “in no way want[s] to interfere with creators who are providing a positive Marvel experience for our fans,” and that “part of that positive interaction is that a fan can walk away with a signed memento or personalized sketch from an artist.”

But as Murphy’s account shows, the unofficial wink-and-nod acceptance from publishers does not actually protect artists legally, and all it really means is that for most creators who have friendly relationships with publishers it’ll be fine — you know, unless it’s not.

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