Monday, August 13, 2007

Fables: Making the Big Bad Wolf into a Badass

Seeing as how Daniel over at Slowly Growing Bald did a review of Y: The Last Man, I figured it was time for me to showcase a few of my favorites. And I get to start with another Vertigo series, Fables.

This series, created by Bill Willingham, centers on the lives of fairytale characters who now live in an magically shielded area of New York City. The first storyline, Legends in Exile, introduced most of the main cast, including the two main protagonists: Bigby Wolf aka The Big Bad Wolf, now able to take human form and working as the sheriff; and Snow White, deputy mayor of Fabletown under the leadership of Old King Cole, which really means she runs the joint.

The plot of Legends of Exile is a classic murder mystery, where Bigby tries to find out who killed Snow's sister, Rose Red. Of course, the mystery is only a tool to propel the reader into the crazy world just on the outskirts of humanity. As the series progresses, you learn more about why these characters are hiding in New York. But don't assume they are the only ones. Just about any public-domain literary character can and does show up, and while they may not be the same as in the tales, their changes are organic and relatable, and some are quite surprising (like a certain amphibian royalty and his buddy, the azure trumpet player).

Willingham has become one of my favorite authors, and he seems especially skilled when it comes to magical stuff. Along with Fables, he previously wrote Elementals, a superhero comic that went to some very dark places considering when it was published. He has currently been working for DC Comics on such titles as Shadowpact and the upcoming House of Mystery.

The art ranges from really good to gorgeous. Many of the flashback stories have an old-timey, Middle Ages look to them, and the modern day settings are bright with with a darker edge, illustrating how these former children's tales have gotten somewhat dirty during their exile.

The Onion AV Club has a great interview with Willingham, where he talks about his inspirations and projects and such. Definitely check it out if you are a fan of the tales, and like mature (instead of so-called 'adult') twists to childhood faves.

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2 brain pickings:

  1. I've been a fan of the entire series. Pick all of the graphic novels up, you won't be dissapointed. It is a great take on fables and fairy tales and makes you appreciate just how nice a mundane life can be.

  2. Gorgeous review. I've been meaning to buy Fable for a while now and you've just kicked it up to the top spot. Guess I'm off to scare the very timid men at the comic book store again.


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