Robot 6

Culture, characters, copyright and Creative Commons

Tuo the Alligator Man

The 30 Characters Challenge, which asked comic creators to come up with a new character every day last month, ended earlier this week, and if you head over to the site right now, you can see round-up posts by some of the artists who participated of all the characters they came up with in what was surely a very busy November.

One participant was Vito Delsante, writer of FCHS, who I spoke with about another character-in-progress last summer. Delsante created 35 new characters — or in a few cases revised older public domain characters — and now he’s releasing them into the public domain under a Creative Commons license.

Delsante said he was inspired by Mark Waid’s Harvey Awards keynote speech, in particular the part where Waid said “…culture is more important than copyright.”

“Waid argues many points about many different topics, but this…these bolded words above, hit me in a very soft spot (I’ll readily admit that I might be missing the point of his speech). He’s right,” Delsante wrote on his blog. “The idea of public domain adds to comics. But there are very few characters (as compared to copyrighted/franchise/creator owned characters) that are in the public domain. That changes today.”

Delsante isn’t asking for money or even the right to approve their usage; he only asks that he be credited with their creation when they’re used. Waid gives his approval in the comments section to Delsante’s post, while Sage LaTorra has already said he is going to use them in a role-playing game he’s designing. Although as Sean Kleefeld points out, it’s highly unlikely Spider-Man will be facing any of these characters anytime soon for a variety of reasons, it’s still an interesting move and I admire the spirit under which Delsante is doing it. Although I probably would have kept Tuo, the Alligator Man for myself.

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