Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fables - Bill Willingham

When I first heard about Fables I was immediately drawn to the concept.  The characters from folklore and fairy tales have been kicked out of their respective kingdom by a villain named "The Adversary", and have been forced to enter our human world.  The characters that are able to take human form are allowed to live in the middle of New York City in a large building called Fabletown, while the other non-human characters are forced to live outside the city at "The Farm".  Characters like Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Jack (down from the beanstalk), and even "Bigby" the big bad wolf (now able to take human form) all reside in the middle of New York, while the three little pigs, Brier Rabbit, and others must all stay hidden away in the country.  This separation causes problems between the two groups, as many of the farm fables feel segregated and left to rot away from outside contact.  Problems also arise in the city as Rose Red, sister of Snow White, is missing and presumed murdered.  Bigby the big bad wolf is on the murder case, and looking for answers.

The first hardcover edition of Fables covers two separate story lines.  The first is the story of Rose Red's murder, and Bigby's investigation.  While the plot was well written and interesting, I never really felt like I was reading about folklore characters.  Sure they were named Snow White, Jack, and The Big Bad Wolf, but they all looked human, acted human, and could have easily been humans for all I knew.  There were brief moments of fantasy, but they ended too soon and left me saying, "That's it??"  I enjoyed the story, but really wanted the fables to come alive more than they did.  Thankfully, there was a second story line that didn't disappoint.  This second story explores the mutiny at The Farm, and the ensuing conflict between city fables and country fables.  Here we get the full effect of what got me excited about the series in the first place.  Talking pigs, Red Riding Hood packing heat, the tortoise and the hare toting machine guns, and sleeping giants that awaken from hundred year slumbers.  You know...the good stuff!  Even though it takes a while for Fables to grasp it's true identity, once it does it is a great adventure that really delivers.

Even though Fables is focused on children's characters, this is definitely not a book for little kids.  There are several adult themes, some inappropriate language, and occasional violent images.  These themes are more obvious in the first story arc, and seem to simmer down as the second arc starts.  Seeing as this is a comic I also should mention the artwork.  Unfortunately of all the comics I have read lately, the artwork in Fables was among my least favorite.  The cover art is absolutely beautiful, but unfortunately it doesn't carry over to the inside.  Despite my personal taste I don't feel like it distracted or took away from an otherwise well done series.  If you enjoyed nursery rhymes and folk lore as a kid, then you might also enjoy the way they have matured and grown into adulthood with you.


  1. I was fortunate enough to find the first ten volumes of the reprints for cheap in a used book store. I really enjoyed the series up to that point, sort of a fairy-tale Harry Potter or Neverwhere.

  2. Wow nice find! I was introduced to it because I joined a comic book club and it was this month's selected reading. I am debating following the rest of the comics because the first book ended at a nice breaking point. When each trade is 25-35 bucks I have to chose wisely which ones to fully commit to.