Bill Willingham’s Fables tells the story of how the world’s beloved fairy tale characters were exiled to New York and how they came back home. Containing moments of almost any conceivable genre, but mainly dominated by a highly literate mode of comic fantasy, Fables is a series that I’d unhesitatingly recommend to anyone with an English degree.
The Great Fables Crossover
Besides the mainline Fables series, there was also the spin-off Jack of the Fables, the titular protagonist of which is every trickster or person named Jack in fairy tales. Jack of Fables was always a lot more postmodern than its progenitor, with the main character’s sidekick being the tubby middle-aged personification of the pathetic fallacy. As time went on Jack encountered more and more personifications of literary ideas, such as genres or censorship, and learned that he was half one himself. (I don’t understand how that works – I must’ve missed that issue.)
In this book, Jack teams up with the leadership of the New York fairy tale colony to defeat Kevin Thorne, the man who wrote the world and is planning to erase it before creating a new one.
Many commenters on Goodreads called it pretentious filler, but I thought it was pretty cool. Still, if you really hate postmodernism, you could always skip it without losing track of things on the Fables side.
Happily Ever After
In this penultimate volume we learn that Snow White and her sister and cursed to fight to the death. Apparently it’s a family thing, something to do with the conservation of magic. Things are tense, although to be perfectly honest thing book kinda blurs into the sequel in my head. Great art though.
Now this is how you write a satisfying conclusion to a beloved long-running series. Ever character named in the Fables, and there must be at least seventy of them, gets a fulfilling ending. It feels like the literary equivalent of weaving a beautiful basket out of a thousand messy ropes. (My feelings have always been complicated.) And coolness of coolness, the whole thing culminates in a glorious section where two pages fold out into a panel four pages wide.
The only way to go further than that is to create a pop-out comic book.
So I say to you, if you can handle comics at all, try out some Fables sometime. You’ll thank yourself for it.