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Fables

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Artwork from 'Fables' by Vertigo comics
Artwork from 'Fables' by Vertigo comics

Artwork from ‘Fables’ by Vertigo comics

Very late to the ‘Fables’ show…

I will admit that I am very late in jumping on the Fables bandwagon, especially since the first volume came out way back in 2002 and has currently won fourteen Eisner Awards, including best new series. It is safe to say that in the world of comics, Fables is a must read.

If you are like me and you have just started to delve into this huge world or have always been interested, but never had the chance to read this award winning series, come join me as a review volumes one and two of fables. The full introduction.

Fables is about all the fairy tale characters from your favourite well known fairy tales and your maybe not so well know fables, with a twist. The characters or fables, as they refer to themselves, have been kicked out of their homeland by ‘The Adversary’ who has conquered their realms. The Fables have travelled to our world to survive. The Fables who are human or can look human, live undercover in modern day New York, which they have nicknamed Fabletown. The Fables who are not human or cannot take human form, e.g. the three little pigs; live up on the state farm which is protected from prying mortal eyes by magic.

Volume one: Fables – Legends in Exile and Volume two: Fables – Animal Farm, introduces you to the world of Fables; Volume one is set in Fabletown and Volume two is set on the farm. Characters are constantly introduced, no matter how briefly they may appear in the comic, all have an important role to play. The main arch that seems to run throughout these volumes, and I am pretty sure will continue to run throughout the next upcoming volumes, is the Fables history of how they lost their realms and the plans for reclaiming it back from the villain, ‘The Adversary’.

I will not give away any of the details for these two volumes, expect to say these comics are a must read for any fantasy/fairy tale reader. You won’t be left disappointed and here is why…

The characters are amazingly realistic with real moral and ethical centres, thanks to Bill Willingham recognizable style. Bill is famous throughout the comic book world for illustrating and writing for various companies, including DC. Each character has to adapt to survive this new world, no more so than Bigby (aka the big bad wolf) who has turned his back on a life of crime (eating little pigs) and is now the detective for Fabletown, which is all run by Snow White. Snow is no longer a helpless princess either. Divorced from prince charming, who has remarried and remarried again, Snow is trying her hardest to keep Fabletown running, sadly not always succeeding.

The narrative is set out in the style of a murder mystery/crime novel. At the start you are given a puzzle to solve; how quickly you solve that puzzle is up to you; it makes for a real page turner. There is a lot hidden secrets in the background of the drawing themselves, but also in what the characters are saying or not saying. You really have to pay attention when reading this comic. Even on the second or third rereading you will notice little clues and tips that you didn’t see on your first or second read through. The answers to the mystery are there in plain sight, you just have to look.

The illustration, pencilled by Mark Buckingham and inked by Steve Leialoha is loose in style. Some panels are highly detailed where others are not. At times all the detail is about the character in that frame and the background is just a block of colour which works well for that moment in the narrative, i.e. you want to draw attention to the characters emotions, it does take a little getting used to as a reader. However, that said after a few pages the illustration stops becoming so jarring and flows with the narrative.

I may be only a few volumes in to this very large and expanding world of the Fables, but I am hooked. I have a long way to go before I catch up with current events happening in Fabletown but credit to all the people who produce this comic. What a cracker you have created. A must read.

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