In the wake of accusations from Star Wars and Alien novelist Alan Dean Foster that Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and Fox had led to royalties from his work going unpaid, a collective of writers and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America teamed up to push for the corporation to honour longstanding royalty agreements. They’ve now made a significant step forward thanks to Boom Studios.
In a press release issued overnight, the Disney Must Pay Task Force announced that it has begun working with the comic book publisher to begin paying accurate royalties to creatives. You may be familiar with Boom’s many independent titles — Mouse Guard, Lumberjanes — but the company also publishes a host of licensed comic books. For the purposes of the Disney fight, the company is associated with the House of Mouse thanks to its reboot of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics line.
“Boom Studios strongly support all creators receiving any reporting and royalty payments they are contractually owed. When we have obligations, we honour them,” said Filip Sablik, Boom’s president of publishing and marketing, said in a statement provided via press release. “We are happy to work with both the Disney Task Force and our licensor Disney to resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.” The press release further adds that the Task Force “believes that Boom Studios were not told about the writers who were due royalties when Disney transferred media rights to them.”
Prior to Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox and its myriad properties in 2019, Fox licensed Dark Horse Comics to produce a comics line based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for over two decades, including series deemed as close to official continuations of the show as fans could get, written by show creatives including Joss Whedon. Shortly after its acquisition, Fox terminated the deal with Dark Horse, and the licence for Buffy went to Boom Studios, which rebooted the comic franchise the same year.
Foster, whose issue with royalties stemming from his work novelizing both Alien and Star Wars: A New Hope (the latter ghostwritten under George Lucas’ name) as well as the first novel in what would become the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, kicked off renewed calls for Disney to honour royalty agreements, has yet to provide a public update since confirming his issues with the studio had been resolved earlier this month. Disney itself has not yet made a public statement since Foster’s accusations came out in late 2020, when a Disney representative told Gizmodo that negotiations with the writer for his work on the Aliens novels were ongoing.
“Boom Studios are not at fault here, and the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is grateful that they have taken the lead with their cooperation,” Mary Robinette Kowal, president of the SFWA, added in the provided press release. “With their help, we’re able to speed up the process of locating writers who might have been affected by the rights transfer by Disney. I wish Disney itself was also willing to work with us.”