Fables Graphic Novels

Fables2You may be interested in fairy tales in an adult context, say, if you liked Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim for example. Or you might enjoy the fun concept of mixing literary or mythical characters with the real world, as Jasper Fforde does in the Thursday Next books.

If you like those things, I’d be willing to bet good money that you’ll love a particular set of comic books. They’re called Fables, and they are written by Bill Willingham and published under the Vertigo Imprint of DC Comics. Wikipedia gives a very good summary of what the stories are about:

The series deals with various characters from fairy tales and folklore – referring to themselves as “Fables” – who have been forced out of their Homelands by “The Adversary” who has conquered the realm. The Fables have traveled to our world and formed a clandestine community in New York City known as Fabletown. Fables who are unable to blend in with human society (such as monsters and anthropomorphic animals) live at “the Farm” in upstate New York.

Fables3Doesn’t that sound great? I only have a few of the issues, that a friend sent me, and right now I can’t afford the others. But I really enjoyed the ones I’ve read so far.  I absolutely love the little twists like the way Snow White divorced Prince Charming because of his philandering ways. (But those of us who love Into the Woods could have warned her, couldn’t we?) And it’s fun having the Big Bad Wolf be a reformed character who’s now on the side of the Good Guys.

Fables2What’s especially interesting is that Willingham is drawing in fabled characters not simply from fairy tale worlds based in European traditions. For example, there’s a fair bit of interaction at some points in the story with characters from Arabian fables. (Snow White goes as an emissary to them in one story arc, and Sinbad returns the favour in another.) Mowgli shows up, from the Jungle Book.

I do plan to acquire or read all of these comics eventually. I am all over mythology, and if someone can bring fairy tale characters realistically into this world too, I am avid for that. If this is your sort of interest as well, give the first collected issue, Legends in Exile (issues 1-5) a try. You may fall in love with this conception of the world just like I did.

    5 comments

    1. kiirstin says:

      You make me really want to pick this up again. I read Legends in Exile and really enjoyed it (I managed to get the library to buy it for me!) and I’ve been meaning to get to Animal Farm but I haven’t yet. I really should, you’ve got me thinking about it now.

      • Phyl says:

        I got uneasy reading the Wikipedia article when Billingham talked about his politics. But he did say he doesn’t bring those explicitly into the story, even though there’s a metaphor in the background, so I relaxed a bit.

        What I really want to get to is the connections with fables from other lands!

    2. Nicola O. says:

      Oh, those sound wonderful. Thanks for the pointer!

    3. Tonya says:

      Phyl, I saw the link to this blog comment at Twitter. Fables Graphic Novels sound great – very interesting. And I love the design of your blog. I’m wishing now I hadn’t left WordPress and have about given up on blogging.

    4. Stephanie says:

      I’ve never realluy read graphic novels, but there are a number of Manga I like a great deal.

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