Bill Willingham puts his entire Fables comic book property into public domain

Originally published at: Bill Willingham puts his entire Fables comic book property into public domain | Boing Boing


Episode 8 Nbc GIF by America's Got Talent

Always good to see people practice what they preach.


Damn! OK, so now I need to go check if this will be the first graphic novel on Project Gutenburg.


That’s a well-executed and thoughtful middle finger to the MBAs who run DC. We will always know who created Fables, and I wish him well in his retirement.


Maybe. But not the comics already published by the DC. According to the press release

If I understand the law correctly (and be advised that copyright law is a mess; purposely vague and murky, and no two lawyers – not even those specializing in copyright and trademark law – agree on anything), you have the rights to make your Fables movies, and cartoons, and publish your Fables books, and manufacture your Fables toys, and do anything you want with your property, because it’s your property.

Mark Buckingham is free to do his version of Fables (and I dearly hope he does). Steve Leialoha is free to do his version of Fables (which I’d love to see). And so on. You don’t have to get my permission (but you might get my blessing, depending on your plans). You don’t have to get DC’s permission, or the permission of anyone else. You never signed the same agreements I did with DC Comics.

So, you can read (or make) new material made with Mr. Willingham’s idea.


Crap, you’re likely correct. That would be publishing. And even if the IP is in the public domain, the specific copies of the comic aren’t, so they are still under copyright? How would that practically work?

Could DC go after a creator saying that their self-made Fables webcomic looks like DC’s published comic, which has no copyright anymore? DC has the publishing rights, but that doesn’t mean they own the copyright. They can make copies to sell, but at this point I can do that with Shakespeare’s sonnets.

edit: typos and clarity


The characters themselves kind of already were (since they were drawn from popular folklore) but it’s great to see a creator pay it forward like that instead of trying to lock their version down.


I think we would see something like this when Mickey Mouse’s 1st encarnations enters the Public Domain:


Came here to post this in the good news thread (though it’s not unalloyed good news, he obviously has had a hard time and this is his way of turning this into something positive).


Isn’t there already a television series with a very similar premise?

I haven’t followed his comics career, but his illustrations are iconic among the early D&D editions:
Party ready to throw down:
This will always be my definition of ‘basilisk’:


My enthusiasm for the comics is a bit tempered by Willingham’s reactionary stances, though I used to be a huge fan after BB put me onto it. He was getting Breitbart bylines a ways back.

Though, I can’t find any actual charges of genuinely harming anyone beyond being disagreeable paleo-conservative, so maybe he’s just an onery cuss?


You have some links about that, as a cursory google doesn’t turn up anything problematic?


I found this, where he obliquely references being a conservative in a liberal landscape and that his politics does show up in his work, but in an organic, but not a didactic way? :thinking:

  • There was the time he tried to run a GenCon panel about Women and Comics, that had no women on the panel, until the public backlash and GenCon folks forced him to add some. Then when the panel ran, he seemed to conveniently focus on questions from white dudes in the audience, and interrupt the women panel members.
  • There are several places in the comics that seem cringey at best, racist at worst. Like the arab fables are all basically evil slavers, while the white european fables are the good guys, and even the “bad” western fables aren’t as bad as the arab ones.

Okay! Thank you!


I heard somethings about that too…

So the good thing is (assuming this pans out), if in the public domain, people can make and enjoy Fables content and it won’t directly enrich Willingham, nor will it need to have his direct involvement or blessing.


Huh, which editions are these? I was not aware!

1981 B/X books are where I first saw his illos.

1 Like

B/X books?

Moldvay Basic/Expert

1 Like