Why Publishers Hate Public Domain: Two Loki Comics Out This Month

Loki has been a breakout character from Marvel’s Avengers movie (thanks to Tom Hiddleston’s dynamic performance), so it’s no surprise that Marvel launched a comic focused on him earlier this month, Loki: Agent of Asgard. (And note the title evokes Marvel’s other ongoing media property, the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).

Loki: Agent of Asgard cover

However, because they’re based in Norse mythology, Loki, his brother Thor, and their dad Odin (among other characters) are free for anyone to use. You can’t copy Marvel’s specific character design or anything they’ve added to the character, but the core elements are available… and Loki has a lot of recent audience awareness.

Loki: Ragnarok and Roll cover

Which may be why Boom! Studios just launched their own Loki comic, Loki: Ragnarok And Roll, billed as “a heavy metal twist on Norse mythology” by Eric Esquivel and Jerry Gaylord.

This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened in comics; there are multiple Hercules versions, for example. (And I welcome more examples in the comments.) I can imagine, though, that some people at Marvel/Disney — a company known for taking public domain works and trying to make them their own — don’t like the idea that another publisher is cashing in on “their” character. Yet why not? If there are different stories to tell and different approaches to take (clearly the case here), let’s have more versions!


3 Responses to “Why Publishers Hate Public Domain: Two Loki Comics Out This Month”

  1. Lynn Says:

    Fables and One Upon a Time would be an obvious reverse.

    ABC/Disney clearly lifted the whole premise, but changed enough/have enough lawyers that it’s okay.

    An indie comic writer doing that in reverse would have probably been C&D’ed out of existence.

  2. Johanna Says:

    You don’t think that Enchanted spurred Once Upon a Time as well? I guess I don’t see the evidence for a lift, given how obvious the concept of “fairy tale characters in today’s world” is. But yes, that’s a good example of a similar concept done by different companies simultaneously.

  3. Anthony Says:

    Disney’s also the company that’s all but squashed the idea of the public domain to begin with, via their lobbying of Congress to extend copyright lengths to protect Mickey Mouse. All at the expense of everything that should’ve long entered the public domain by now, such as (IMO) DC and Marvel’s Golden Age heroes.

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