Ever since Marvel stopped putting out new Fantastic Four comics in 2015, there has been speculation that the decision was somehow related to a dispute with 20th Century Fox over film rights. According to a former writer for the series, that’s pretty much exactly why it happened.

Speaking with Newsarama, Jonathan Hickman (Avengers, Secret Wars) opened up about why the Fantastic Four comics ended in 2015 and confirmed that it was due to Marvel’s frustrations with Fox.

“I think it’s pretty common knowledge at this point that Marvel isn’t publishing Fantastic Four because of their disagreement with Fox,” he said. “While it bums me out, I completely understand because, well, it isn’t like they’re not acting out of cause. Fox needs to do a better job there.”

Hickman seems to be referencing the commercial and critical failure of the Fantastic Four reboot, which was one of the biggest flops of 2015. Essentially, Fox retains the rights in perpetuity as long as they keep making Fantastic Four movies and even though cancelling the comics and other merchandise probably aren’t enough to force Fox to hand over the rights, Marvel’s doing it anyway.

At the time of Fantastic Four’s cancellation, Marvel floated around the idea that the characters don’t really resonate with people like they once did and this is a sentiment that Hickman disagrees with.

“Family, future, and exploration are timeless, universal concepts. Sure, they can be nostalgic, but they don’t have to be,” he said. “That’s really the brilliance of a lot of the early Marvel characters, they were created by guys wrapping both arms around timeless themes.

“There are some exceptions to this, of course, but for the most part almost everything Marvel owns is highly malleable and easily exploitable.”

Marvel has not yet made any comment on Hickman’s claims.

While the Fantastic Four comic series may be MIA, Marvel is planning a partial comeback with Marvel 2-in-1, a new series featuring Thing and Human Torch.

(Via: Newsarama, IGN)