Fables, by Bill Willingham
Rating: 4.5 of 5
A slightly more serious look at the whimsical. This drama series puts every character we grew up with together in a thrilling tale of making it in reality, outside the storybook. After all, who's to say what happens after happily ever after?
*Easy, smooth flowing writing style.
*Very deep characters and plot developement.
*Difficult to hop into without starting on a fresh story arc. Trade paperbacks offer a solution to this.
Welcome to Fabletown - where all your favourite children's book characters come to life. Or came to live, rather... after the Homelands were invaded by the bloody-handed Adversary - and forced into exile here in the mundane world. Here they remain, amidst us 'mundy' folk, and for centuries they have lived trying to keep us in the dark. In all that time, there has been quite a bit of drama caused by many of these near-immortal beings of imagination. Some of it from stir-craziness, some from personal histories, and sometimes from tensions with the rules and regulations that help separate them from human society. This introverted society has provided us with some truly amazing story telling by Bill Willingham.
The series in general is written in short, very well written arcs. Generally 4 or 5 issues to an arc, each one readable on its own. They kept the same fabulous art up to about issue #18, when they changed from Mark Buckingham to Linda Medley. Her style is much more cartoonish, but the writing style is still fantastic. Fortunately they only kept her on for an issue or two. After which, I started to notice that the artists change from one arc to the next. The writing quality, however, never waivers. And from what I can tell, Willingham is in this series for the long haul. Just over one-hundred issues so far, and Fables is still going strong.
A lot has happened since the series started, a lot of which I can't really reveal without giving away some MAJOR spoilers. What I can say confidently though, is that if you're thinking about hopping in with Fables, pick up a trade or the first issue in an arc first. The individual issues are fantastic, but the way each arc is written can make it difficult to follow a story without having read the earlier parts in that arc. Since the issues come out once a month, you'd looking at maybe a whole 4 or 5 months between stories. And while I reiterate that this is a fantastic series, starting mid-arc makes for quite a pain. So grab a paperback trade. Volumes One, Four, Six, Eight, and Twelve are some very good hopping-on points - number twelve especially if you're looking at something to go ahead and sink right into. If you're new to the series, nine through eleven sink especially deep into the larger plot of the series, and I wouldn't recommend them for brand new readers. For those of you reading the individual issues, that's basically everything between #52 and #75. Beyond that, everything is pretty much fair-game.
More recently, we just finished one of the best arcs evah! And the trade for it will be coming out very soon. As an additional bonus, this wednesday, a new story has been started featuring the beautiful art of Terry Moore. Right now is a great time to hop in with issue #107.
Thank you for taking time to read this month's review. I hope to see you guys back next month for more comic goodness!
One more thing I'd like to add to this review that didn't really fit in it anywhere.
If I could have one thing to say to Mr. Willingham, it would be this: Make sure your artists are consistent. On a couple occassions, there were these reeeeally weird inconsistencies with the way characters were drawn. Like the one single issue where Beast (of Beauty and the Beast) switched from being Caucasian to very clearly Mediterranean, even possibly African. It wasn't a sublte change in appearance. ¬¬ Or the one time that Pinnochio, who had always been portrayed as a bit of a skeezy stereotypical Italian back-street Guido... only miniturised - became for a single issue a light brown haired blue eyed round faced pile of d'aww.
Needless to say, it was odd. Thankfully Willingham was still writing for both those particular instances, but it still stuck out like a sore thumb. :P Still love the series, still can't wait to see what Bill has in store for us next!