Having won 14 Eisner Awards, crossed over with some of the company’s biggest characters, been the subject of two failed small screen adaptations and a feature film that never made it out of development hell, never mind its status as the inspiration behind cult classic video game The Wolf Among Us, it would be accurate to call Fables one of the most underrated gems in the DC Comics back catalogue.
Created by Bill Willingham, the property has never quite managed to puncture the mainstream in the same vein as many of the publisher’s other heavy hitters, but its bare bones concept of various characters from fairy tales, folklore, and mythology forming a clandestine community in New York City has proved to be a source of constant acclaim since it first landed over 20 years ago.
And yet, Willingham has become so frustrated with his ongoing battles against the powers-of-be that he’s pulled the ultimate power move against his corporate overlords by announcing that Fables is now part of the public domain. That means anybody anywhere can use any of its elements for whatever purpose they see fit, and there’s not a damn thing DC can do about it, as he revealed in a statement.
“As of now, 15 September 2023, the comic book property called Fables, including all related Fables spin-offs and characters, is now in the public domain. What was once wholly owned by Bill Willingham is now owned by everyone, for all time. It’s done, and as most experts will tell you, once done it cannot be undone. Take-backs are neither contemplated nor possible.”
The creator has also shared an open letter where he addresses his reasoning, opining that “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, I’ve decided to take a different approach, and fight them in a different arena, inspired by the principles of asymmetric warfare.”
If he wasn’t already a folk hero, then he sure as hell is now, with Willingham’s entire open letter available to read here.