Advance Review: Chip Zdarsky Takes On Creators’ Rights In `Public Domain’ #1

by Tom Smithyman


Who is responsible for the success of a franchise movie like The Batman or next week’s Thor: Love and Thunder? Is it the comic book creators from years past or the studios bankrolling them? Chip Zdarsky fights for creator rights in this interesting limited series, first published in his newsletter.


Leave it to a creative mind like Chip Zdarsky to not only create a comic book story about comic book creators getting shafted by their media conglomerate parent companies, but to do so in a way that makes people want to read it.

First seen in his Substack newsletter, Zdarsky brings Public Domain to print through a new limited series from Image Comics. The story focuses on an old-time comic book artist Syd Dallas and his two sons, Miles and Dave. Back in the day, Syd and his writing partner created Domain, who is now the central character in a massive comic book movie franchise, cleverly known as the Singular Cinematic Universe or SCU. Save for some traveling expenses, Syd makes nothing on the movies and is essentially ignored on the red carpet during the premiere. Such is the life of a comic book artist in the world of multi-billion-dollar movie franchises.

As both writer and artist, Zdarsky assumes all creative responsibilities for this three-part series. It’s clearly a labor of love, particularly as he assumes writing responsibilities for the main Batman series next month. As someone who has been around the block in the industry, Zdarsky clearly understands the pecking order. He also knows his own strengths and how he is able to rebel again the massive corporate juggernauts that control what we read and watch.

At the series’ core are big questions: Who really owns our heroes? Why do corporations’ rights trump those of creators? Why do we value actors over visual artists? The bigger question for Zdarsky is can he create a comic book series that answers those questions while still telling a larger story that people will want to read. If the first issue is any indication, he’s off to a good start.

Public Domain #1 will be available for purchase on June 29, 2022.

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