Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fables - Fairy Tales in New York

Fables is a smart, sophisticated comic series starring a cast drawn widely from fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes and fantastic literature (as well as the literature of the fantastic). The stories play with old tropes, create new ones, and juxtapose characters very familiar and nearly forgotten (or perhaps misunderstood) in intriguing ways.

If you like comics, I'd say start Fables at the beginning, with the first volume.  Snow White, Prince Charming, Cinderella, Jack (of both Giant-Killing and Beanstalk fame) and the Big Bad Wolf (along with a cast of thousands of others) are living in Manhattan.  Prince Charming is a cad and a playboy (All those princesses who married Prince Charming?  It was always the same Prince Charming.) Jack gets into trouble, and Rose Red doesn't much enjoy living in her more famous sister's shadow.  The writing is sharp and knowledgeable about folklore both famous and obscure.  The art is lovely, detailed, and expressive.  The narrative in the first volume is fully self-contained, and reasonably representative of the story as a whole to date - if you like the first volume, you'll probably continue to enjoy it (and there are 17 or so sequel volumes and two spinoff series to date), but you can also stop at the end and have gotten a complete story.

If you're not such a comics fan but will sample graphic novels here and there, try 1001 Nights of Snowfall, a stand alone graphic novel in the series done in a variety of fully-painted formats, a set of stories within stories.

Credit notes: Fables is written by Bill Willingham. Mark Buckingham has drawn (I think from checking my shelves) most of the volumes since the first one. My apologies for not listing all the artists on the title! Comics, like albums and movies, have complicated credit lists.