Part of me wonders if Kickstarter had been around 20 years ago if Malibu, Acclaim, Extreme Studios, Kitchen Sink, Black Bull and AiT-Planet Lar wouldn’t still be around in some form or fashion.

Matt D. Wilson on the effect of the Fantagraphics Kickstarter on current publishers. One company he throws out there as maybe doing a Kickstarter is Bluewater but I don’t think as many people would pay $30 for a Barbara Walters bio comics as for The Love Bunglers. Just a guess.


  1. Yeah, I don’t see a company that pays its creators little if anything having as much Kickstarter success as one with a decades-long record of treating its talent fairly.

  2. Bluewater tried a Kickstarter. It failed miserably. Then they went to Indiegogo and raised over $12,000. I wrote about it all here:

    As for Ultraverse, if memory serves (and it probably doesn’t), those were all creator-participation characters, so I’m guessing that Disney/Marvel doesn’t want to mess with them because they’d have to share.

  3. If I’m remembering it right, the creators of the Ultraverse characters had some additional financial incentives (negotiated under Malibu) that Marvel was uncomfortable with at the time. So it was just easier to shelve the characters then deal with the legal entanglements. Or at least that was the word at the time. Maybe the current, more creator-friendly management might have better luck?

  4. A lot of that Ultraverse stuff is way too 90s Image influenced and would have to be reinvented wholesale if they were to bring it back, ala Liefeld’s Glory, Prophet, etc by different creators.

  5. That is an amazingly 90s cover image: huge condition sticker, printed optimistic/gouging price tag, dubious anatomy, a mishmash of forgotten characters that don’t belong together, all topped off with a Pixies song title. Just awesome.

  6. Don’t forget about the male characters having haircuts 10 years out of fashion.
    Why was that a part of all 90s superhero comics?

  7. We’ll know that Kickstarter had jumped the shark when DC and Marvel give it a shot. “Hey, our new 3D Super Event needs your help, fans!”

  8. Ah, a good question that brings up old stuff. Here’s a couple of things. I went to the Hudnall link above, and he’s wrong on at least one point. Marvel never bought Malibu for its coloring department. That was never true. Marvel bought Malibu for only one reason: to keep it away from DC which had been negotiating to buy the company since April/May 1994. (Marvel actively and repeatedly tried to shut down the coloring department post-acquisition and it was only saved through the intervention of Mark Gruenwald and the guy who ran the coloring department Mike Giles.)

    As far as I know, there are no creator contract issues with the Founders that would prevent the revival of the Ultraverse. I know that phantom issue gets tossed out there a lot, but both Tom Brevoort and Joe Quesada have stated that it’s not a creator contract issue that prevents Marvel from reviving it. And since I’m one of the people who has an Ultraverse contract and an interest in multiple characters, I would know. Also, Marvel owns the Ultraverse outright, so they don’t need anyone’s permission. (The Founders still keep in touch and we’ve all talked about it over the years – there’s nothing legal going on between the Founders and Marvel.)

    Johanna is correct that the Ultraverse contracts for the Founders do have participation %. However, the Founders do not have an ownership stake, do not share in any “profits” (however that may be defined), and have no control over the properties. (Just as if they had created a character for the DCU.) Character Interest Agreements for the Ultraverse simply state that writers and artists who created specific characters will receive a very small percentage of the money that comes in based on their media exploitation. The agreements were based on standard terms at DC at the time for creators who created a character for the DCU. And those terms are in perpetuity, so if for some reason there’s a Sludge movie, Steve Gerber’s estate receives a check. But, those percentages are not onerous and not out of line with what DC was offering at the time.

    Brevoort has stated in the past that the reason Marvel can’t discuss the Ultraverse properties is because there’s an NDA in place with certain parties.

    If you read the original press release where Scott Rosenberg left Marvel and announced the formation of Platinum Studios back in 1997, you’ll find this nugget: “Rosenberg also has an ongoing producer deal for all Malibu Comics properties.” http://goo.gl/v2WRc2

    So that NDA just might relate to that and probably has more to do with the reason why the Ultraverse properties have languished.

    But to get back to the question posed in Heidi’s post: Yes, if Kickstarter was around back then Malibu Comics would’ve definitely utilized it in some fashion.

  9. I have to totally agree with Tom on the reason for Marvel’s purchase of Malibu. I was in the meetings where this was kicked around and the bottom line was that the market share of Malibu, had it been added to the market share of DC, would have put Marvel into the Number Two position….at a point where the ONLY concern of the uptown owners was the stock prices. A real shame, since Dave Olbrich and I tried to do a crossover in the early Malibu Ultraverse days and were actually excited over the prospect of joining forces. Alas, it did not go that way….

  10. Interesting. Good to know but also very frustrating since it means they didnt want to do anything with Scott which means as long as he lives nothing’s going to happen. Unless Disney decides they REALLY want to do something with the Ultraverse. But considering how many properties Marvel has, that’s unlikely.

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