D.C. Comics insists that the source material for The Wolf Among Us is not in the public domain, as the creator calls them “thugs and crooks” and insists that it is. “DC reserves all rights and will take whatever action DC deems necessary or appropriate to protect intellectual property rights.”
Days after Fables author Bill Willingham – whose work Telltale adapted into The Wolf Among Us – announced that he had pushed the series into the public domain as a form of “asymmetrical warfare” against DC Comics, the publisher said the rights were still very much its own.
“The Fables comic books and graphic novels published by DC, as well as the stories, characters and elements contained therein, are the property of DC and are protected under the copyright laws of the United States and around the world in accordance with applicable laws and are not in the public domain,” according to a statement sent to IGN. “DC reserves all rights and will take whatever actions DC deems necessary or appropriate to protect its intellectual property rights.”
DC’s statement stands in stark contrast to two Substack posts Willingham has published in recent days. In the first, which included the original announcement that he had decided to offer the series to the public, he made several barbed comments about DC’s treatment of Fables, as well as some choice references to Telltale Games and its adaptation.
A subsequent post revealed more details, such as the negotiations, where Willingham claims that DC “reinterpreted [the] contracts to assume that they owned Fables outright”, which he claims was less a mistake than the publisher “trying to get away with something and then backing out after it didn’t work”.
Willingham reiterated in all his posts that he was ultimately the “sole owner and creator of the Fables comic book property”, while DC only had the rights to publish the comics and “to exploit the property in other ways, including film and television”. In a later post, he wrote that he did not care what DC would do in response, saying “what is done cannot be undone”.
It’s a bit of a confused, messy situation for sure. Ultimately, Willingham is still bound by his agreements with DC around Fables, so the chances of him doing anything new with the series are pretty slim. But as Willingham states in his second post on the matter, “I haven’t worked with DC in the more than two years since I submitted my last script for the new Fables series. I fired them all then, and I haven’t regretted it since. Why would I spend the rest of my years continuing to work with gangsters and con artists?”