Bill Willingham

Books: Fantasy | Comics

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel (2009)


Fables, Fairest, Jack of Fables, House of Mystery, A Flight of Angels


Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City (2004), Masked (2010), Happily Ever After (2011)

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel (2009) Bill Willingham and Steve Leialoha

peter_and_maxI love the Fables comics. I think they're one of the best story lines going, and if you haven't checked them out, you really need to.

Peter & Max is set in the Fables universe–both Fabletown and the Homelands. We follow Peter Piper–and his love, Bo Peep–from childhood in the Homelands through their escape to Fabletown and life on the Farm. In their past we see not only the coming of the Adversary but how families were destroyed in the chaos that followed.

We also get a look at life after the Adversary and his troops have taken over an area–the fear and the poverty and how those who remained behind were changed by their experiences–assuming they survived.

Although this is a novel, it is also full of art by Steve Leialoha: gorgeous black & white drawings of Peter and Max and Bo that fill the pages. They drawings aren't necessary to the story, but they are wonderful.

Although this book is set in the Fables universe, you should be able to read Peter & Max without any familiarity with the series. However, I'm not sure that I'd necessarily recommend it, because it gives away some of the surprises of the comics. Not all of them of course, but some of what I thought were the big surprises. What I'd recommend is checking out the stand-alone comic 1001 Nights of Snowfall, and if you like that, go back and read the series before reading Peter & Max.

You don't have to, but I think doing so would be more enjoyable.

Publisher: Vertigo

Rating: 9/10


Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City (2004) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers

Published by DAW

Masked (2010) edited by Lou Anders

Masked is a collection of superhero stories by a variety of writers, many of whom are well known comic writers.

The final story in the series was Bill Willingham‘s "A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)." I love Bill Willingham's Fables so I was looking forward to this story. It was another odd one, and it took me a bit to figure out what was going on.

All in all, it was a fun collection, and well worth checking out.

Publisher: Gallery Books

Rating: 8/10

Happily Ever After (2011) edited by John Klima

Happily Ever AfterNot sure how I missed this when I first came out, but this anthology is full of things I love: authors whose books I love, stories based on folk and fairy tales–lovely!

The only thing I didn't like, is I wish the anthology hadn't ended on such a dark and depressing story.

Mind you, the dark and depressing stories were good–very good–but these tales ran very true to the original stories, with a not insignificant amount of rape and incest and general horribleness. Just like the original tales.

But there's also a good amount of humor as well, and I just wished the collection had ended with one of the funnier stories.

The introduction was written by Bill Willingham, whose writing I adore, and whose introduction amused me. Here's the very start of it:

I have to confess I'm no good at writing a proper introduction, because, I'm in the storytelling business, which means I get to lie for a living, and I've become well practiced at it. But introductions are supposed to be true. After so many years, I despair if I have much unvarnished truth in me.

Please note, as previously mentioned, the stories have rape and incest and lots and lots of sex in addition to evil stepmothers and other such killers.

There were also a fair number of very dark and very depressing tales that were very good, but that I didn't enjoy at all.

Published by Night Shade Books

Rating: 8/10