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Fables, one of DC's biggest new projects of the 21st century, may have just been released to the public domain

Fables creator Bill Willingham has just announced that he's releasing Fables into the public domain

Cropped cover of Fables comic
Image credit: DC Comics (Mark Buckingham)

Fables creator Bill Willingham has just dropped a bit of a bombshell.

In a self-penned press release, Willingham has announced that after years of dispute with DC Comics over the publication of his hit comic Fables, he is releasing Fables into the public domain. According to Willingham, "At one time the Fables properties were in good hands, and now, by virtue of attrition and employee replacement, the Fables properties have fallen into bad hands."

Now what is the cause of the confict that Willingham cites? Mostly that over the years, DC has been in ongoing violation of agreements made between Willingham and the company. Two specific issues he cites are the payment of royalties as well as disputes over media rights.

Though these issues, Willingham says, have been long-running, it has recently gotten more extreme. As Willingham shares, this has led him to act. "Since I can’t afford to sue DC, to force them to live up to the letter and the spirit of our long-time agreements; since even winning such a suit would take ridiculous amounts of money out of my pocket and years out of my life (I’m 67 years old, and don’t have the years to spare), I’ve decided to take a different approach, and fight them in a different arena, inspired by the principles of asymmetric warfare."

Now what exactly does this change mean? According to Willingham, he owns Fables, and through his understanding (though he does caveat that he is not a lawyer), he is releasing the rights to Fables into the public domain, leaving anyone the right "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."

As for Willingham and his relationship to Fables, it's a little more complicated. Due to his ongoing contracts with DC Comics, he can still only publish Fables comics through the publisher and is still restricted in media and licensing rights.

More on this story as it develops.

You can read the entirety of Willingham's statement on his website.

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