I'm always surprised at how many fairy tale lovers haven't read - or "just don't get" - Bill Willingham's Fables.
Maybe you're slightly more interested now that the similar premise of ABC's Once Upon A Time has caught your attention (sometimes, despite itself) but I have to tell you: if any of the main ideas in OUAT appeal to you (eg bringing fairy tale characters to our world, updating and twisting together their stories in familiar yet completely different ways, fairy tale characters having very human - and grown-up - drama etc) then Fables will blow you away.
Basically, if you love fairy tales and haven't read Fables, you are missing out on one of the most interesting "revisionings" of our favorite tales to date (and Willingham is a fairy tale research nut, sliding in all sorts of references to lesser known tales, their histories, variations and A-Ts* which makes the series an extra joy to read).
In an attempt to help you get into a huge, and admittedly daunting, series I realized it would be really handy to have a reference to walk you through it (hence this page).
Here are some great links to break things down for you:
Fables Explained (aka "what the hell is Fables??" And why should I care? Really?)
A newbies overview, explaining the basics. Most of your questions will be answered here (including the "that just sounds ridiculous" ones).
How To Read (aka navigate) Fables, A Handy What-Next?! Guide
With well over one hundred issues, special editions, self-contained special issues, spin-offs and cross overs it's not only daunting getting started but confusing. This guide steps you through, letting you know when a good time is to read the special volumes in between the numbered issues.
Note: If you love Once Upon A Time I suggest you start with the Cinderella and Rapunzel stand-alones (Fables Are Forever, From Fabletown With Love and Fairest: Hidden Kingdom) then go back to dive into Fables Volume 1.
Bill Willingham on Fables vs Once Upon A Time (why they're not "at war", so fans shouldn't be either)
A call to "disarm" by creator Bill Willingham when fans got upset at OUAT getting a TV series on a similar premise. Note: ABC's show is more fantasy soap-drama, generally family friendly with happily-ever-afters proving rather elusive while Fables is hard-boiled, more adult and tends toward the noir (with good possibilities of happy endings, though not always).
Awesome Art Sampling from Fables & Fairest
2 Pinterest boards with lots of stunning Fables covers in particular. These are continually growing.
I think one of the reasons Fables has taken a while to find fans outside the comic book crowd is because it's, well, primarily in comic book form (I have some theories about how that could be fixed HERE). This is something you tend to either love or... really don't. Let me assure you, if you just can't get into comics that Fables is worth putting up with the format. Once you begin to get where these stories are coming from, the comic book aspect isn't going to bother you much, if at all. You might even end up liking comic books! (Apparently Fables is one of those series comic book geeks use to introduce their skeptical I-only-read-real-books friends to graphic novels.)
On the other hand, if you love comics (and, for some weird reason haven't picked up one of Vertigos, critically acclaimed and longest running series ever, yet) you'll be pleasantly surprised at the consistently high quality of artwork, inking, layout and balance of writing versus visuals. (There's a good reason the series has won so many Eisner awards.)
- a novel Peter & Max (one so far with more planned)
- a beautiful (and hard to find) art book of James Jean's Fables covers
- Telltale Games (who picked up the 2012 best game of the year award for The Walking Dead) released a Willingham approved Fables prequel game, The Wolf Among Us (Oct '13)
- there's a Fables Encyclopedia due for release near the end of 2013
- Deluxe Editions in hardback of the Fables issues (~10 issues per volume) are continually being released (these have additional art content, essays and behind-the-scenes writer/artist info)
Oh and yeah...
|Fan made Fables movie poster|
(currently in development at 1st script stage at time of writing, release date unknown)
One of the awesome things about getting into this universe is that
a) there's a lot to explore
b) there's more every month
but most especially...
c) it's all about fairy tales. :)