When working for a multinational corporation, there’s always a risk of losing control over your work. In the end, you depend on the good faith of the other party involved because, unfortunately, the law isn’t equally applied to everyone. A gigantic company can afford to spend years in legal battles, while an ordinary person cannot. This means that in the face of any issues with a large multinational, most of the time, workers have only two options: remain silent or take actions outside the legal system. This is especially true in a litigious country like the United States.
That has been the case for Bill Willingham, the creator of the comic book series Fables. As the creator and writer of this series that began in 2002 and is still ongoing, he blended characters from fairy tales like Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf with the real New York, where they had to conceal their appearance and abilities from the rest of the world. This comic book series led to the creation of The Wolf Among Us, the popular video game by Telltale. Today, Willingham has made a public statement announcing that he is relinquishing the intellectual property rights of his work to the public domain.
The reason behind this decision is that DC Comics executives have been imposing increasingly abusive conditions on him, to the point where their relationship deteriorated so much that he saw no other way out. Unable to engage in a legal battle against the company, he has decided that, at the age of 67, it’s more worthwhile for Fables to be owned by everyone than to try to defeat a giant like DC Comics in the courts.
Willingham is thus denouncing the fact that DC’s current executives believe they can do whatever they want with the property without considering its authors. He uses The Wolf Among Us as an example, where not only have they not paid him royalties for the licensing of his work to Telltale Games, but they have also not consulted him on the changes and trauma introduced by the game in relation to the comics.
The Wolf Among Us 2: A Telltale Series is scheduled for release in 2024 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC, and Mac OS. Meanwhile, Willingham has stated that he has read the script that they tried to hide from him for two years and that even if he has put his work into the public domain, he will continue to fight to get the money they owe him. Something we can only applaud.