Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fables TV Ad for BBC America (An Old Post You Never Saw, Updated So It Makes Sense Now)

-- Look! It's an old draft that never got posted and is somehow relevant again! I've kept some of the old post, added updates and smeared the words around a bit to hopefully make a little more sense in regards to where we are with Fables today.--

People who don't read comic books wonder what the big deal is about Fables.

Fairy tale folk who don't read comic book are among them but there's good reason we should be keeping an eye on this graphic novel series by Bill Willingham: what if the fairy tale characters we know and love got chased out of their own land and ended up stranded in our modern day world, where nobody was allowed to discover their storybook backgrounds?

We now know that:
1) Fables is a HUGE hit. Continually critically acclaimed, winner of multiple awards and written and illustrated by heavy hitters in the writing and comic art world, they're currently into issue #131 (not including spin-off issues or specials so add maybe close to 100 issues on top of that) and have self-contained stories and spin-offs for different characters such as Jack and Cinderella and now there's a whole new series spin-off, Fairest, for the ladies of Fable town, which is proving just as popular.

2) Outside the comic geek community the idea of fairy tale characters stranded in our world has proved popular with ABCs TV series Once Upon A Time. The series has been accused called "Fables-light" for the similar premise, of which the public are eating up.

So why hasn't Fables (which is clearly excellent in its own field, as well as the premise and content proving popular in public viewing) made the move to TV or the movies yet? (Even though there have been numerous attempts to do so, none have resulted in anything except disappointment so far.)

One popular theory is that it's REALLY HARD to market comic books to non-comic book people. But I have to wonder: IS it really hard, or have people just not thought about the comic book property in the same way they do a show, book or movie, with regard to the marketing? With the rise in popularity (Update: and - FINALLY - in quality) of book trailers out there (Update: these have become almost standard now and people/companies are getting creative with production and presentation) it's about time someone thought to do something similar for Fables. (Update: this trailer is from October 2009.)

Take a look:

While I'm really glad this has helped garner interest in the general public, I do have to say I'm disappointed. (Really disappointed!) Apart from the stunning art stills, which are mostly from the covers, the quality is definitely on the low side. But why? I know people are probably still getting their feet wet with "how do you advertise a comic book (ie. a static art form /narrative combo) on a moving medium like TV?" issues but this could have been mind blowing (seriously mind-blowing!) if they'd presented it better.

Update: And I also have to wonder, if they'd gotten this ad "right" back in 2009 if Fables would have beaten Once Upon A Time to TV after all... Of course, we'll never know now but I do hope they figure out another marketing strategy to use in the lead up to the movie buzz, rather than just rely on what the production company produce and piggy-back off that. While I'm incredibly overjoyed to know that "thars-a-Fables-movie-a-comin'!" the Fables serial comics, graphic novels and spin-offs have their own well deserved merit and should be able to stand on their own two feet, er, spines. I worry that if they (DC & Willingham) can't figure out how to encourage people to enjoy the graphic novels in their original medium that a whole generation will "just-go-see-the-movie" and miss out on the richness of storytelling and fairy tale evolution happening on the Fables pages. Let's hope they figure out how to make the Fables movie an encouragement to go pick up the series instead.

Note: There are some more trailers on YouTube for the Fables series, and some tributes though none of them are official. This one HERE tries to transition people from Disney to Fables and show the difference. It's somewhat successful in concept but is lengthy and the text is difficult to read over the images (and using any sort of Disney property doesn't sit well with me here). You DO get to see some beautiful artwork from Fables though and get an idea of the twists the stories take, so if you're finally feeling interested in Fables and want more of an overview before buying, this should give you some idea of how the series develops and how the fairy tale characters play out their stories.

In the meantime, while we wait to see what happens with the movie and the marketing surrounding it, I'll keep up the Fables-watch and report anything I see happening.

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