I have noticed that since school started, my posts have become much less informative. Well, that’s major stress (the campus staff pretty much agrees this is one of the worst start-of-semesters in memory). depression swing kicked off by major stress, and classwork. I’m getting my bibliography together for my term paper. Plus I’m re-reading Sharon Kay Penman’s Lionheart in preparation for reading The Kings Ransom. Hopefully I will get back to some more substantive topics soon.
But in the meantime…
You know the “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time” fad, the one where fairytale characters come and live in the “real world,” comes from?
It came from this:
There are certain trade-paperbacks of mine that I know that when I loan them out, I will never see them again. I given away several Fables trade paperbacks over the years.
The premise, now well-borrowed, is that characters from fairy tales exist in the “real world.” But with some big differences:
A. Willingham stated that any character in the public domain is fair game. Next to traditional European fairly tale characters like Snow White and Prince Charming (who is Snow, Sleeping Beauty *and* Cinderella’s ex husband), Mowgli, Sinbad, Prospero and a Kitsune are present among many, many others.
B. Sophistication of themes. Goldilocks is a corrupt Marxist revolutionary, Jack (the Jack of Jack and Jill, Jack Horner, Jack Frost, etc. ) becomes a Hollywood Mogul, Cinderella’s a spy and Fabletown itself has taken up the “Israel Model” of defending itself. But as well as the modern, Willingham touches on the ancient, most notably in “The Good Prince” storyline where the most unlikely of heroes, the fable with the greatest tragedy behind him, heals himself and others by becoming the purest of knights, the best of kings. Willingham has also played with metatext when the Fables met the “Literals,” beings who embody literary tropes and devices.
C. The variation of story. Soap opera and action being only a couple types of story in the books. Murder mysteries, political intrigue, war drama and, of course, fairy tales. In fact when I went back and thought about it, there is relatively little physical violence in the books. Or at least less than your traditional superhero comic. In fact, the great showdown against ‘The Adversary,” who had taken the Fablelands and forced them into the “Mundy world,” took place without a single punch being thrown, a single shot being fired (though there were battles elsewhere at the time). The Fables rely on strategy, tactics and using their magical gifts and curses in clever ways.
D. Most importantly, the characters feel very, very real.
(…Damnit, I can’t find scans of my favorite moments online. I’ll have to put some up tomorrow.)
In short, it’s just better.
The reason this is coming up now is Willingham has been writing Fables since 2002, and he announced this year that next year would be Fables last, ending with issue #150. It looks like Vertigo/DC is going to cancel the title rather than trying to make it go on without him. Some stories simply can’t be written by anyone else. (They did the same thing with Sandman when Gaiman wanted to move on, they just ended the title/series because there simply was no one else who could write it.)
Also, I saw an announcement that a company had made a Fables videogame.
So you get who Bigby Wolf is, right? 😉 As for how he is written, think Wolverine meets Humphrey Bogart. Times five. He’s more animal than Logan, more noir than Bogie.
As you can tell from the above, Willingham likes to combine similar legendary characters rather than have multiple Jacks and Big Bad Wolves running around. The crowning achievement is Frau Totenkinder who is almost every evil witch in European tales. A little old lady knitting in her rocking chair….who is just scary as hell.
I’ll post more tomorrow.