Chris Wozniak Starts A GoFundMe Claiming DC Comics Is Suing Him

Chris Wozniak is a longstanding comic book creator, best known as an artist on comic books such as Excalibur, The Spectre, Justice League of America, Batman, Superman and Blue Beetle, but he is also the creator of his own works,  Barren Soil, a noir anthology series, and Bitter Midgets and the Marauders from Galaxy X. But lately, he has hit the headlines for suing DC Comics and Warner Bros. claiming that they stole one of his Batman comic book pitches and used to to make the recent The Batman movie. And unlike some lawsuits of this nature, it has been prepared professionally and in depth, with his attorney, R. Terry Parker of Rath, Young, & Pignatelli.

Chris Wozniak Starts A GoFundMe Claiming That DC Comics Is Suing Him

The claim is that Chris Wozniak pitched a story he called The Ultimate Riddle and later The Blind Man's Hat to DC Comics a number of times, first in 1990 to the late Archie Goodwin as an Elseworlds title, and then subsequently in different forms such as in 2002 to the Batman office at DC Comics. Wozniak further states that this kind of thing was common for creators to do in the nineties. He also claims that he sent a copy to Michael Uslan, producer of the Batman movie and TV franchise at DC/Warner Bros, after they met at New York Comic Con. He has also issued a number of YouTube videos to demonstrate what he sees as similarities. between his proposed comic and The Batman movie. "Four months after Plaintiff submitted the Copyrighted Work to Michael Uslan, Plaintiff noticed multiple articles in film industry websites and magazines claiming producers at Warner Brothers were pushing Director Christopher Nolan and screenwriter David Goyle to do a Batman where the Riddler was a serial killer" and "Plaintiff was stunned to see such a large portion of his story copied in the Defendant's Movie in some form or other, as if nothing of his was absent in Defendant's Movie." Here are a list of the claimed similarities that Chris Wozniak believed were copied from his comic book pitch;

45. Defendant copied Plaintiff's portrayal of Gotham City's government and police as  totally corrupt, unreliable, and a dangerous threat to Batman and Commissioner Gordon. Plaintiff's portrayal of Gotham City's government and police force as totally corrupt, unreliable, and a dangerous threat to Batman and Commissioner Gordon is an original expression of the idea of threats to Batman and Commissioner Gordon.
46. Another example of copying in Defendant's Movie is in the scene where John Turturro is being led out in cuffs by Commissioner Gordon and Turturro says that nothing will happen to him because all the cops in Gotham work for him, but Commissioner Gordon swings the doors open and there is a small faction of police officers waiting outside that are still loyal to him. This scene is copied from an original expression of the Copyrighted Work. In the Copyrighted Work, all the police are also corrupt, but in a scene where Batman is being overwhelmed, Barbara Gordon dispatches a small faction of police officers still loyal to Commissioner Gordon to help Batman.
47. Defendant copied Plaintiff's portrayal of Gotham City in the throes of civil unrest and riots and broke. Plaintiff's portrayal of Gotham City in the throes of civil unrest and riotsand broke is an original expression of Gotham City.
48. Another example of copying in Defendant's Movie is the scene where the District Attorney crashes his car into a funeral with a bomb strapped around his neck, an event staged by the Riddler, and all the protesters outside the funeral are holding signs with Riddler symbols and quotes on them. This scene is copied from an original expression of the Copyrighted Work.
49. Another example of copying in Defendant's Movie occurs in the scene where citizens of Gotham City are rioting and smash a window marked "Bank" and throw a Molotov cocktail inside. They run from the building which has a "Bank of Gotham" sign out front and the word "BROKE" is spray-painted across the building in giant letters. This scene is copied from an original expression of the Copyrighted Work. 50. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of Batman as vulnerable, physically weak, a little man doubting his dedication to crime fighting, and contemplating quitting his role as the Batman. Plaintiff's portrayal of Batman as vulnerable, physically weak, a little man doubting his dedication to crime fighting, and contemplating quitting his role as the Batman is an original expression of the idea of Batman.
51. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of the idea of Batman as more of a human detective and less of a superhero with uncanny physical prowess and working in tandem with Commissioner Gordon. Plaintiff's portrayal of Batman as more of a human detective and less of a superhero with uncanny physical prowess and working in tandem with Commissioner Gordon is an original expression of the idea of Batman.
52. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of the idea of Bruce Wayne thinking of abandoning Wayne Foundation. Plaintiff's portrayal of Bruce Wayne thinking of abandoning Wayne Foundation is an original expression of the idea of Bruce Wayne.
53. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of the idea of Batman as dope sick. Plaintiff's portrayal of Batman as dope sick is an original expression of the idea of Batman.
54. Another example of copying in Defendant's movie is a scene where Alfred is fire-bombed by the Riddler with a boobytrap and Batman finds out via a phone call but it is too late to stop it. This scene is copied from an original expression in the Copyrighted Work.
55. Another example of copying in Defendant's movie is a scene where the Riddler hides in the shadows while Alfred is attending a food tray before the Riddler strikes him from behind, rendering him unconscious, and, while Alfred is out and helpless, the Riddler strikes him over and over and over again (three times). This exact scene is given to the Mayor (the first  killing in the film) but in the film the Mayor is attending a drinks tray, not a food tray, and is even hit three times while he's down. 56. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of the idea of the Riddler as a loner and loser. Plaintiff's portrayal of the Riddler as a loner and loser is an original expression of the idea of the Riddler.
57. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of the idea of the Riddler as a serial killer. Plaintiff's portrayal of the Riddler as a lonely serial killer is an original expression of the idea of the Riddler.
58. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of the idea of the Riddler as not being ostentatious and theatrical. Plaintiff's portrayal of the Riddler as not being ostentatious and theatrical is an original expression of the idea of the Riddler
59. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of the idea of the Riddler as having been nurtured in a group home. Plaintiff's portrayal of the Riddler as having been nurtured in a group home is an original expression of the idea of the Riddler.
60. Defendant copied Plaintiff's expression of the idea of the Riddler as having been damaged by his experience in a group home. Plaintiff's portrayal of the Riddler as having been damaged by his experience in a group home is an original expression of the idea of the Riddler.
61. Defendant copied Plaintiff's creation of the scene of the Riddler allowing the police to capture him so that he may confront Batman. Plaintiff's creation of the scene of the Riddler allowing the police to capture him so that he may confront Batman face to face is an original creation.
62. Defendant copied Plaintiff's creation of a Riddler that kills by poisoning. Plaintiff's creation of a Riddler that kills by poisoning is an original expression of the idea of the Riddler.
63. Defendant copied Plaintiff's creation of the scene of the Riddler allowing the police to capture him so that he may tell Batman, face to face, that Riddle knows Batman is Bruce Wayne. Plaintiff's creation of the scene of the Riddler allowing the police to capture him so that he may tell Batman, face to face, that Riddle knows Batman is Bruce Wayne is an original creation.
64. Another example of copying in Defendant's Movie is in the scene where Batman is interrogating the Riddler in his holding cell, and the Riddler tells Batman that he is an integral part of the Riddler's plan. Batman doesn't understand and the Riddler gets angry, stating Batman is not as smart as he gave him credit for because he doesn't see the bigger picture. This scene is copied from an original expression of the Copyrighted Work.
65. Defendant copied Plaintiff's creation of the scene of the Riddler, from a holding cell, revealing that Riddle knows Batman is Bruce Wayne. Plaintiff's creation of the scene of the Riddler, from a holding cell, revealing that Riddle knows Batman is Bruce Wayne is an original creation.
66. Another example of copying in Defendant's movie is a scene in the holding cell where the Riddler explains to Batman and Commissioner Gordon that they are included in his clues, and the Riddler gets angry at Batman for not being as smart as he gave him credit for. This scene is copied from an original expression of the Copyrighted Work.
67. Defendant copied Plaintiff's creation of the Big Reveal whereby a series of answers to the riddles at each the mass killings cause by the Riddler, when combined into a cypher, reveal that Riddle knows Batman is Bruce Wayne. Plaintiff's creation of the Big Reveal whereby a series of answers to the riddles at each the mass killings cause by the Riddler, when combined into a cypher, reveal that Riddle knows Batman is Bruce Wayne is an original creation. 68. Defendant copied Plaintiff's creation of a scene of the Riddler operating his criminal scheme against Batman from a holding cell. Defendant copied Plaintiff's creation of a scene of the Riddler operating his criminal scheme against Batman from a holding cell is an original creation.
69. Defendant copied Plaintiff's creation of the Riddler and Batman operating in their own private hells. Plaintiff's creation of the Riddler and Batman operating in their own private hells is an original expression of the idea of the torment facing Batman.
70. Defendant copied Plaintiff's pivot to the plot where Riddler's ultimate plan is not to merely reveal the true identity of Batman but to also bring about Armageddon or total destruction of Gotham City in a Biblical manner. Plaintiff's pivot to the plot where Riddler's ultimate plan is not to merely reveal the true identity of Batman but to also bring about Armageddon or total destruction of Gotham City in a Biblical manner is an original creation.
71. Another example of copying in Defendant's Movie are the scenes when Commissioner Gordon assumes the Riddler's end plan was to expose Batman's identity, but Batman examines the clues more closely and realizing it isn't over, that there is a much bigger plan, to kill everyone, is already set in motion.
72. Defendant copied Plaintiff's ending where the Joker is revealed to be the unseen mastermind who has anonymously manipulated the Riddler to commit his crimes. Plaintiff's ending where the Joker is revealed to be the unseen mastermind who has anonymously manipulated the Riddler to commit his crimes is an original expression of the idea of the Riddler.

R. Terry Parker told The New York Post "There are so many original expressions from my client's story found in the defendant's movie that we believe this is [a] clear case of copyright infringement. The similarities are just too uncanny to be accidental".

Chris Wozniak first set up a fundraiser on Indiegogo, saying "So here I am, asking BATMAN FANS AROUND THE WORLD to stop Hollywood from steamrolling yet another Comic Creator. Certainly, none of the famous people who worked on the film had to make a public appeal on the internet just to get paid. I think it's safe to say the budget for a film of this magnitude is big enough to take care of everyone who contributes to it, especially when that contribution becomes the foundational Blueprint for the most successful BATMAN film of all time.  All the credit, accolades, financial rewards and career opportunities that come with a project of such immense worldwide success should be life changing. I got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. That is not JUSTICE. It would be nice if some of the more famous faces would shine a little light on this situation, because it would go a long way towards making this right. There's no disputing my plot pre-dates their screenplay, that the people who made this film were in possession of my plot, and that the Riddler's storyline in the film was directly derived from my plot."

As for the money he is raising "If the Filmmakers in this case decide to hide behind their lawyers and give the ludicrous excuse that they never saw my plot, I may not be able to do anything about it.
Historically, major Film Studios in this situation will have some billion dollar Law Firm kick the case down the road for twenty years in the hopes the little guy (me this time) gets hit by a bus. In other words, no matter how much money I raise, I could end up with nothing if I go chasing "everything I deserve" in court against people who have unlimited resources, so your donations will be going toward taking care of my family just as if I had been properly paid in the first place. The reality may be what BATMAN FANS give here on Indiegogo and on Patreon may be the only compensation I will ever see. If I really can't afford to litigate, or if appropriate Legal Representation doesn't come forward to offer their services, then I will have to live with whatever BATMAN FANS think I deserve for the Riddler story that was used in the 2022 film."

However both his Indiegogo fundraising site and his Patreon fundraising site under the name #Batmangate have now been removed, as well as his YouTube videos detailing the case.

But now he has launched a GoFundMe page with new claims, that DC Comics is now actually suing him, and has attracted donations from notable comic book figures, Image Comics Vice President Jim Valentino for $500, Graham Crackers comic chain co-owner Jamie Graham for $500, Slave Labor Graphics publisher Dan Vado for $100 and Brian Haberlin for $50. He states "Warner Bros. Attorneys are NOT disputing they used my story to make the film. Even they know I can prove that. So instead of providing fair credit and compensation, they're having DC COMICS SUE ME for writing an "unauthorized" Batman story. Yes, you read that right. To be clear, EVERYONE who worked for or freelanced at DC Comics in 1990 knows full well that established Freelancers were given FREE LICENSE to submit stories anytime they wanted. It's probably how 90% of DC Comics were made. And if DC Comics liked your story, they put it under contract. That was STANDARD COMPANY PRACTICE for decades…but my Batman story is the only one that was ever used without a contract in place, and Warner Bros. knows that's a huge problem. So as anyone would, I asked to be paid for my contributions; all I asked for was whatever the other "credited" writers received. No damages. No extras of any kind. But INSTEAD OF DOING WHAT'S RIGHT, Warner Bros. and DC Comics opted to fabricate a ridiculous lawsuit designed to bankrupt a single Dad with a ten-year-old daughter. They're even seeking legal fees which we estimate could be nearly half a million dollars. They're demanding that I back off. I will not."

That lawsuit is not accessible via PACER at the present time, unlike Chris Wozniak's suit against DC/Warners, but that is not necessarily conclusive. I will keep my eyes out.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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