Thanks to the guys at Golden Age Comics UK, I recently discovered this neat Public Domain Digital Slider. How it works is you slide the arrow on the right to the year(s) in question, and it gives you a summation of copyright law for that time period (in another panel not captured in this screenshot)
Used in combo with this site, The Rutgers Copyright Renewal Reference, and this site: http://www.copyright.gov/ you begin to see that there may be more comics in public domain than you think. [ Thanks to Trey Causey for the suggestion of adding http://www.copyright.gov/ ]
A lot of comics don't show up on the Rutgers search site, and I think that might be cases where the characters are trademarked - but what about cases where the companies were unable to trademark the characters, as with comics based on celebrities? What is the public domain status of those comics? If I had to guess, I would say that while the comics might be in public domain, you would be unable to republish them without the expressed consent of the celebrities in question.
So, as an open question to readers today - does anyone know the public domain status of the old Bob Hope, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comics from the Silver Age? I know that in both cases movies and radio shows featuring these comics have fallen into public domain, so I'm inclined to say that the comics have as well.
So inclined, that today I offer up a couple of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin comics for today's Free Comics Monday!
[ Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis 35 ]
[ Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis 36 ]