If there’s one thing that even the zombie apocalypse can’t put an end to, it’s legal trouble. Since it premiered in 2010, ‘The Walking Dead’ has been at the center of several lawsuits brought by everyone from original showrunner Frank Darabont to comics creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman. You could almost call it a family tradition, of sorts. And now, two seasons into its run, spinoff series ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ has truly joined the family.
While most of the lawsuits ‘The Walking Dead’ has dealt with over the years have been related to issues related to royalties and profit sharing, the one facing ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ is a bit different. This one is a copyright infringement suit. In the suit filed on Tuesday, comics writer Mel Smith has accused the show based on Robert Kirkman’s zombie comics of infringing on his own zombie comic, ‘Dead Ahead’.
‘Dead Ahead’ – which, like ‘The Walking Dead’, is published by Image Comics – is a three volume series that was published in annual installments between 2008 and 2010. As for what Smith believes was copied from his work? Well, the official synopsis of ‘Dead Ahead’ reads as follows:
“On a restless ocean, a group of weary survivors contemplate their grim fortune: What had started out as a fun little fishing trip soon turns into a nightmare of damnation, trapped on a floating prison. The continents have been hit by a plague that has turned humanity into living corpses – leaving our castaways at sea to fend for themselves! With provisions low, hope comes in the form of a luxury liner sailing into view on the horizon… All they needed to survive would be on board, but who among them has what it takes to find out what happened to its crew and passengers?”
If that sounds familiar, it might be because the second season of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ also included a storyline at sea, which saw the cast take refuge on a yacht. To be fair, there are only so many stories to tell in a zombie apocalypse scenario, and sooner or later unrelated projects are going to find themselves dealing with the same subject matter. That being said, the obvious similarities between the stories and the fact that both comics are published by Image (where Kirkman has been a partner since 2008), it’s not hard to see how Smith might come to the conclusion that a copyright infringement suit is merited.
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for updates as the lawsuit progresses.