Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that Brooklyn-based animation artist Kelly Denato (above left), is suing the New York studio Animation Collective. Denato claims that they have profited from her design of Ellen’s Acres and have not paid her contractual share of the royalties based on an agreement she signed in 2002 when she developed the character.
According to Denato, she had an agreement to receive 25% of all revenues stemming from animated versions of the character and merchandising. Afterwards, when the show was sold to Cartoon Network and other outlets, Animation Collective “flat out said, ‘You shouldn’t have been given that contract–it was a mistake,’” and attempted to renegotiate a less favorable deal. In addition to Animation Collective, her suit also names Animation Collective’s chief executive, Larry Schwarz (above right, riding on top); Animation Collective affiliate Kanonen & Bestreichen, Inc.; and 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. It remains to be seen how this will play out in court, but Animation Collective’s poor reputation amongst artists and its shady history of how it treats employees lends credence to Denato’s suit.