Monday, March 30, 2009

Comics You (Really) Should Read [Part 2]

Yesterday's post focused on the wonderful series of the Sandman. Today's post will examine Bill Willingham's Fables series.

Fables began in 2003. The comics, which are still in production, are produced by Vertigo, the same folks that brought us the Sandman. The series features prominent and puny fables from all over the world, including Prince Charming, Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Hansel & Gretel, King Cole, the Three Little Pigs, the Three Bears, and many, many others. The cast is enormous, and many characters are constantly in action.

The basic plot of Fables is simple. Each fable lives in a magical, faraway world, and each of these worlds are connected to other worlds. All was well in the worlds until one day the Adversary rose up, conquering and claiming worlds as his own. Many fables died under the oppression of the Adversary, but many others survived, fleeing to New York City. The refugee fables have lived in America for hundreds of years, their little town (Fabletown) constantly growing larger and larger, but always magically hidden from the mundane common folk. The fables are living their lives as normal as they can, but they still yearn to return to their Homelands.

Of course, not all things are perfect at Fabletown. There is a murder, that of Rose Red, Snow White's sister, in the series opener, and sheriff Bigby Wolf must get to the bottom of the caper.

The series has several smaller story arcs, but many are linked to the encompassing story, that of destroying the Adversary and returning home. Each story arc is unique, fun to read, and entertaining to look at. The shear magnitude of the story is worth the read.

For instance, we all grow up hearing various tales and legends. Everyone knows the story of Sleeping Beauty. She was magically awakened by the handsome Prince Charming and they got married and lived happily ever after. However, in the world Willingham has created, ever after wasn't too long. Charming, a Casanova-type, has been married and been unfaithful to Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and who knows who else. Each fable has their own back story, and these stories may not match up to your expectations.

The creativity and freedom Willingham has taken with the characters is beautiful. In fact, it is a hard choice to pick whether or not I like Fables or Sandman better. Both are wonderful, and I think my opinion would change depending on what comic was in my hands.

A comic would not be worth the read if the art wasn't appealing, and Fables has excelled in that department. In fact, there is a collectors hardcover issue containing all of the monthly comic covers for retail, available here.

I can highly and easily recommend Fables to anyone interested in mythology, folklore, or a general good story. Be warned, the comics contain some adult language and situations, so I wouldn't advise them to a young lad or lass, but for you fine, mature folks, I can say read on.


marky said...

Did you ever do your own comics? I tried a couple of times when I was young, they were really bad. Mostly they were made up of WW1 by-plane, dogfights. No story, just pure action! Oh, they were really, really, bad.

logankstewart said...

Marky, it must be something all young artists and comic fans do. Mine typically always invited sword fights, magic, or lightsabers, and were always horrible. I also liked to draw and make sound effects as I did so with my comics. Ah, to be a kid...

Okie said...

Great review. I'm looking forward to following the story arc as it develops even more. The first volume was great fun and from what I keep hearing, it just gets better. :)