There are so many abandoned classics out there, this got me thinking. Why doesn't Disney/Marvel or Warner/DC buy the rights? The trick is to get a good product at a good price, without endless legal battles. Here is how I'd do it.
step 1: get fans to suggest forgotten characters that are currently making zero profit.
step 2: hit the rights owners about the head with a heavy object until they grasp this point: THEIR IP IS CURRENTLY MAKING ZERO PROFIT. Repeat until the concept sinks in.
step 3: offer a fixed contract: Marvel/DC publishes a 100 page collection at standard royalty rates. If it sells it can be bought at a pre-arranged fee.
step 4: fans vote on the products they want, kickstarter style.
step 5: profit
This idea should appeal to the higher ups at Marvel/DC: all they care about is owning brands with growth potential. Step 4 guarantees minimum sales so nobody loses. Until step 4, this takes place in secret. The new products have their own occasional title, kind of "showcase" or "world's greatest comics" but this time that's not hyperbole.
Like I said, step 2 is the hard part. "IP ownership" and "reality" are generally non-overlapping magesteria. Rights holders need to understand: unless IP X has Alan Moore's name on it, Hollywood will NOT come offering you a million dollar price tag. better to make a dollar now than ten dollars never. I can only see two ways to persuade them:
1. Pick off the minority of sane rights holders
2. Personal friendships. Somebody at Warner or Disney should play golf with somebody at ForgottenHoldings Inc. and do some block deal.
How many forgotten gems are there? America is a big place, so I assume you must have a few? The best ones are probably the indie stuff that failed for reasons of distribution and finance, not quality. Outside the USA here are plenty of examples. Pretty much the entire IPC line is abandoned apart from 2000AD. IPC alone has fifty years of anthology titles, often ten or more per week. And of course there are newspaper strips. I presume that France is the same.
If we expand the concept from forgotten brands to brands to brands with currently limited reach, the sky is the limit. How many Americans have read Garth for example? Or James Bond newspaper strips? I wonder how Americans would take to Black Bob the Dandy Wonder Dog? Some of those strips were beautiful.
What think ye?