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    In terms of quantity, it is much more common for characters to be creator-owned (or company-licensed) than owned by their publisher. However, in comics two of the biggest publishers worldwide (DC and Marvel) traditionally own all their characters. This page is meant to help distinguish characters that are owned by the creator from those owned by the publisher in cases where it's not immediately obvious.

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    Notes on what characters are covered here:

    • characters owned by their comic creator, not another creator in the comic industry or a creator from another industry...those can be found under Company-Licensed (EXAMPLES: TMNT is a major example of a creator-owned franchise that after decades finally sold itself fully to a company; James Bond is an example of a character owned by his creator's estate but Fleming was not a comic creator and his estate was not Bond's creator; some individuals buy characters and then have them reappear in comics like the licensor of Joe Palooka)
    • if a creator who owns a comic character is usually not associated with the industry but has had some involvement publishing in it, specifically with their characters, their characters should be included here (EXAMPLES: Chuck Palahniuk wrote the comic book sequels to Fight Club; the majority of Elric's published comic appearances have been in comics adapting Moorcock's novels but Moorcock himself has written Elric comics and other comics like Michael Moorcock's Multiverse which uses characters from both Elric and his other books)
    • whether or not a property's characters are listed here instead of at another publisher only takes into account where original stories were published, virtually any character of minor significance will be published by multiple publishers but the vast majority of those other publishers will exclusively be dealing in reprints or translated reprints (EXAMPLE: Ashita no Joe was first published by Kodansha but has been reprinted by Shueisha)
    • most characters here are related to modern publishers that are known for owning their characters (DC/Marvel) as these publishers tend to create imprints and other methods to differentiate creator-owned material from their own like Icon Comics, Paradox Press, Epic, Vertigo, but under what imprint -if any- something is published is not a guarantee whether or not something is creator-owned and the indicia should be consulted (EXAMPLES: The Losers and Unknown Soldier use completely original material but in-name are reviving old DC franchises and are owned by DC Comics; House of Secrets on the other hand is also reviving an old DC franchise in name but is creator-owned; America's Best Comics was an imprint designed to look as if it was creator-owned content but DC Comics actually owned it all and stopped hiding this as much after Alan Moore left; sometimes the creator shares ownership with the publisher and those items are listed at the publisher such as DC's Fables, 100 Bullets and American Vampire)
    • many major American publishers do not own most of their published properties but this isn't related to creator-ownership but company-licensing, as such all characters credited to them should be ones they directly own (EXAMPLES: IDW Publishing heavily licenses material but co-owns Locke & Key with its creator; Boom! Studios heavily licenses material but owns Irredeemable/Incorruptible; Western Publishing owned many of its characters and licensed many more but their originals were eventually bought by Classic Media, LLC; Dynamite Entertainment relies heavily on licensing and public domain properties but in later years outright bought major franchises like Vampirella)
    • some American publishers build themselves on the idea creators own their own work and characters attached to them should be assumed to be creator-owned (EXAMPLES: the most prominent example is Image but many less well-known publishers fall under this like Eclipse; Dark Horse Comics relies mostly on licensing but outside of that generally focuses on creator-owned material like Hellboy or Sin City)
    • in major industries outside of the United States, the trend can be exactly reversed such as in the Japanese industry or some European industries where the assumption is virtually all properties are creator-owned with others being company-licensed and very few being owned by the publisher; other international industries are more like the American such as the United Kingdom where franchises can appear to be creator-owned due to heavy involvement by the creators throughout their publication history (2000 AD) but actually they are owned by the publisher
    • many creators who have had enough success in the industry and own significant franchises create a company who officially owns their properties, this is still considered creator-owned but sometimes these companies are also comic publishers themselves and so their characters if they still own any are listed under them (EXAMPLES: Top Cow Productions, Tezuka Productions, Mirage, Ishimori Production Inc., WildStorm Productions, Leed Publishing Co., Ltd., etc.)
    • some publishers where most characters are creator-owned have a handful of exceptions that the publisher owns (EXAMPLES: Spirou is owned by Dupuis after being bought from the creator; The Mask is owned by Dark Horse Comics but was created by Mike Richardson who is the publisher of Dark Horse)
    • creator-owned characters that have had original stories published at multiple publishers are included here to differentiate them from properties bought by another publisher (EXAMPLES: Groo, Usagi Yojimbo, Kick-Ass)

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