Bill Willingham, the creator of Fables, says DC didn’t properly pay the licensing fees associated with Telltale Game’s The Wolf Among Us, which was set in the series’ universe.
On his Substack, Willingham talked about recent discussions with DC and his publishing agreement with the company. He characterized the company as believing “[DC] had no obligation whatsoever to protect the integrity and value of the IP, either from themselves, or from third parties (Telltale Games, for instance) who want to radically alter the characters, settings, history and premises of the story (I’ve seen the script they tried to hide from me for a couple of years). Nor did they owe me any money for licensing the Fables rights to third parties, since such a license wasn’t anticipated in our original publishing agreement.”
He continued, “When they capitulated on some of the points in a later conference call, promising on the phone to pay me back monies owed for licensing Fables to Telltale Games, for example, in the execution of the new agreement, they reneged on their word and offered the promised amount instead as a ‘consulting fee,’ which avoided the precedent of admitting this was money owed, and included a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent me from saying anything but nice things about Telltale or the license.”
“One way or another, I intend to get my 50% of the money they’ve owed me for years for the Telltale Game and other things,” he added.
Willingham doesn’t accuse either the old or new Telltale Games of any explicit wrongdoing in the post. His ire is largely directed at DC. In response to his problems with DC and his struggle with the company over control of the property, Willingham has taken the unusual step of putting Fables into the public domain. However, he’s aware that this doesn’t negate his publishing agreement with DC. In theory, this means that anyone can create and even sell their own Fables stories.
“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,” he wrote.
In practice? It may be much more complicated than that, especially considering the legal muscle DC has at their disposal. So don’t start taking pre-orders for your hand-stitched Bigby Wolf cushion covers just yet.
As for The Wolf Among Us 2, it’s already been delayed out of 2023, but I doubt this’ll have a huge impact on its release. Well, unless someone starts writing their own The Wolf Among Us 3. Then you can expect the fur to fly.
The Fables universe has various characters from fairy tales and folklore living in New York City after their homeland was conquered by ‘The Adversary.” Penned by Willingham and primarily drawn by Mark Buckingham, Fables was published by DC as part of their Vertigo line.