Creator: Chip Zdarsky
Release Date: June 29, 2022
Reviewer: Lukke Sweet
Public Domain #1 by Chip Zdarsky looks at the legacy of beloved characters and the impact they can have on creators. Domain, The World’s Greatest Hero, was co-created by writer Jerry Jasper and artist Syd Dallas. As Domain became more and more popular, Dallas was pushed into obscurity while Jasper took all the credit and fame that accompanied their creation. Meanwhile, Dallas is just excited to see their creation come to life, even if his family believes that he deserves more.
Public Domain #1 highlights an issue that must be deeply felt by many creators who have had works be adapted for the big screen. Oftentimes these creators have received pennies compared to the millions that the adaptations made. In addition to this, the characters seem to parallel the controversy surrounding Stan Lee and the artists he worked with, notably Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
Zdarsky approaches these topics through relatable characters and a compelling story full of humor. The characters push the story forward as readers truly get a sense of their perspectives and emotions, especially those of Syd Dallas and his adult son, Miles.
Miles struggles with his father’s creation, loving the man but hating what it has become and done to their family. He feels that his father should have gotten the fame respect and fame that his partner received, rather than being forced to struggle for his survival, even going so far as to assault the star of the new Domain movie. Syd, on the other hand, has come to terms with it, finding joy in his love for the artwork.
In addition to being the writer, Chip Zdarsky also did all of the art, coloring, and letters for Public Domain #1. Zdarsky’s linework emphasizes how character-driven this story is, the characters pop while the background is blurry or lightly detailed in almost every panel. The art gives the characters an added depth, helping to flesh them out and give them a life of their own.
Chip Zdarsky takes a deep dive into the content rights of creator-owned projects in a fresh and entertaining way. Public Domain #1 introduces a small cast of core characters to build the story around and sets up the rest of the series perfectly.