Fables is a comic series written by Bill Willingham and drawn by various people, mostly Mark Buckingham and Lan Medina (pencillers) and Steve Leialoha (inker). Its premise: fairy tales are real, but happened in a number of different worlds (how they got into our stories isn't clear yet). Hundreds of years ago, those worlds were overrun by the Adversary, and the surviving Fables escaped into our world [*] and eventually set up two underground communities: for the human-appearing members, Fabletown in New York City; and for those who can't pass, the Farm upstate.
[*] There's a suggestion that they arrived in Europe specifically, which may be why all the characters are of European origin, but I can't sort this out either until the relationship of Fables to fables is clarified.
Generally speaking, there are two intertwined things at work in the first three volumes. First, there's the now-usual application of modern patterns of thought to the fairy tales themselves—Goldilocks continues to unhesitatingly break whatever rules and norms stand in the way of her desires, for instance, and Prince Charming is divorced from Snow White, Briar Rose, and Cinderella. Second, there are the tensions suggested by the premise, people having been forced into a world where their true natures must remain hidden.
Volume 1, Legends in Exile, is structured as a murder mystery, which is a handy way to introduce a bunch of characters and their tensions. In the second volume, Animal Farm, a revolution is brewing at the Farm. Most of the third volume, Storybook Love, is taken up by an arc of the same name, playing out repercussions of the first two volumes. (It also has two standalone stories, and a two-issue arc about how the Fables deal with a reporter who's discovered their existence.) Chad felt that these volumes were too ad hoc for his tastes. I can see how he got that impression, but to me the looseness feels more fun and energetic than sloppy; and I'm interested enough by the characters to keep reading, even if an ongoing plot didn't apparently start next volume.
I had wrongly gotten the impression that the art was really static in this series; I may have seen pages from Animal Farm, which is the volume that's the most boxes-in-regular-rows. The first and third depart from that, with things like panels laid over full-page bleeds, or pages shaped like shields that show Prince Charming taking a more active role (I particularly like these), or a sword fight across the bottom of several pages, to show that it's running parallel in time with events shown at the top of the pages. (Boo to Vertigo, by the way, for not preserving the even-odd arrangement of pages in the trade paperbacks. This is especially bad in part four of "Storybook Love," as pages 163 and 164 were obviously designed to face each other; but the pages tend to be united by color themes, which also get broken up in a sometimes-disruptive fashion.) There are also nice little touches like ornamented panel borders, and the location of the page numbers in parts two-four of "Storybook Love."
ETA: you can get the first issue in PDF format from Vertigo.
I had sufficient fun reading these that the next day I went to the library and got the next five volumes, and I fully expect to end up buying them all. I don't expect it will have the focus of Sandman, as it's not a fixed-length series, but if you like this kind of playing with stories, you might see if your own library has it.
#2 :: Kate wrote on April 8, 2007 at 8:26 AM:
#4 :: Kate wrote on April 8, 2007 at 5:04 PM:
#5 :: Jimmy wrote on April 13, 2007 at 7:28 AM:
#6 :: Kate wrote on April 13, 2007 at 7:31 AM:
Subscribe to comments on this post: RSS feed
Post a comment: