Marvel, Cockrum, Agree to Settlement
March 17, 2004
Marvel Comics and artist Dave Cockrum have reached an agreement on a contract that will allow Marvel to continue to fully own the many characters Cockrum created for the company, while compensating Cockrum for his years of service and the seminal characters he created. In an undisclosed agreement today, author Clifford Meth accepted a deal for Dave Cockrum that, combined with other industry events, will help get the Cockrum family back on its feet after months of financial burdens resulting from Cockrum's hospitalization.
Cockrum, who created such characters as Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, Mystique, and Thunderbird as part of the X-Men, has been at the Bronx, NY, Veteran's Administration Hospital since December 2003 with complications from pneumonia, diabetes and a possible stroke. He was initially placed on the critical list for more than a week, and currently resides in a rehabilitation unit at the facility.
Word of Cockrum's illness quickly spread throughout the comics community, resulting in a tremendous wave of support. Addressing the large expenses related to Cockrum's protracted illness, Meth organized a tribute book and benefit auction to help the Cockrums. The momentum generated by the comic community’s response to those projects helped spur the effort to settle with Marvel.
Meth worked with comics legend Neal Adams to author a settlement that was equitable to both Cockrum and Marvel. While the details of the settlement will remain confidential, they will allow the Cockrums to securely enjoy their retirement.
The Cockrums were elated with news of the settlement. “Dave is relieved and happy that Marvel has come forward with an offer to compensate him for past work that has benefited Marvel,” Neal Adams reported. “I can tell you that Dave's happiness is, in fact, my happiness.”
Jim Reeber, publisher at Aardwolf Publishing and a friend of the Cockrums, added, “When Dave first took ill, we were all very worried—not just about his health, but also about his future income. But Cliff was right on it. He organized The Uncanny Dave Cockrum Tribute , as well as the benefit auction, and then carried the problem to Marvel. I knew that if anybody could convince Marvel to help out, it was Clifford Meth.”
Paty Cockrum, Dave's wife and a former Marvel staffer, stated, “To me, Marvel was once Camelot—it had wonderful, brilliant promise. It fell down many times over the years, but this time it did something really nice… I think Cliff and Neal are the most wonderful people in the world for helping to move this forward. What they've done has really helped in Dave's recovery.”
Meth replied, “Dave is my friend. That's all this was about to me. I'm enormously grateful to Marvel for stepping up and doing the right thing, but that's been the story all along—everyone we contacted wanted to help. There were no exceptions.”
While the settlement with Marvel is helpful, assistance from the community is still necessary. Plans are still underway for the tribute book and benefit auction.
The response to Cockrum's illness spanned all generations in comics. Over four dozen creators volunteered to participate in the tribute book and auction, including Gene Colan, Will Eisner, Harlan Ellison, Frank Frazetta, Neil Gaiman, Joe Kubert, Jim Lee, Stan Lee, Alan Moore, Joe Quesada, John Romita, and Walt Simonson. The book will be published by Aardwolf Publishing, while the benefit auction will be held by Heritage Comics.
The entire episode has overwhelmed Cockrum. “I've been totally blown away by the response that so many people came out to help,” he said from his hospital bed. “It's been a rather amazing event. Cliff and Neal are really great friends and special people. I wasn't particularly aware of what was going on—Paty tells me that I almost died. But people in the industry pulling together to help out is very comforting, and very gratifying.” -- Jason Sacks, SILVER BULLETINS www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com