Books: Graphic Novel | Fantasy | Fairy Tales

Legends in Exile (2002), Animal Farm (2003), Storybook Love (2004), March of the Wooden Soldiers (2003), The Mean Seasons (2005), Homelands (2005), Arabian Nights (and Days) (2006), Wolves (2006), Sons of Empire (2007), The Good Prince (2008), War and Pieces (2008), The Dark Ages (2009), The Great Fables Crossover (2010), Witches (2010), Rose Red (2011), Super Team (2011), Inherit the Wind (2012), Cubs in Toyland (2013), Snow White (2013), Camelot (2014), Happily Ever After (2015), Farewell (2015)

1001 Night of Snowfall (2006), Werewolves of the Heartland (2012)

Fairest | Jack of Fables | Cinderella

Legends in Exile (2002) Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha

Legends in ExileI'm reminded of what I said when I started reading Sandman–I wonder if comic books are wasted on me. I don't stop to look at the art work, I want to read the story and I want to know what happens RIGHT NOW.

I'm an impatient speed reader, what can I say?

So... This took me an hour to read. That's a problem. Of course Michael will read this, and I did reread Sandman. And on the second reading of Sandman I did stop and pay attention to the artwork. So maybe it's not that much of a problem.

Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile beings the story of the lives of folk and fairy tales as they attempt to live in the mundane world. Legends in Exile is a murder mystery of sorts. Snow White's sister, Rose Red has disappeared, and her apartment has been destroyed and is full of blood, so Sheriff Bigby Wolf--in human form--must discover what happened.

What I found most interesting--and only after I missed it--was that the clues to the mystery were in the artwork. But of course I briefly perused the pictures and missed everything. My own fault, though I doubt it'll slow me down next time. (Could though, you never can tell.)

But I really liked the characters and the stories, though from having listened to "Into the Woods" I was already aware that Prince Charming was a rather unsavory character, so that didn't come as much of a surprise.

And I really liked the pig. He didn't so much, but he kept appearing here and there, usually looking hung over, which amused me to no end. And I loved Baba Yaga's hut, even though it wasn't quite hut like, they did get the chicken legs right.

So, it was good, and I'm going to buy Volume II, although I'm not going to rush right out to do so immediately. Take that as you will.

Published by Vertigo

August 2005 | Rating: 7/10

Animal Farm (2003)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

Animal FarmFables who can't pass as human live on "The Farm", where they are hidden from the mundanes. Every year Snow White, the assistant mayor of Fabletown, visits "The Farm" to see how things are going. This year she takes her sister, Rose Red, partially as part of her community services after her escapades in Legends in Exile, and partially because Snow White wants to try and work things out with her sister. When Snow White and Rose Red arrive that "The Farm" they realize that all is not right, and that those fables who can't pass are plotting to return back to the homelands to fight the adversary who took over their homes and forced them into exile.

I enjoyed this story for many different reasons. I liked Rose Red much better than I did in Legends in Exile; I liked the way Snow White reacted to everything and her solutions to her problems; I liked that we got to see more of the fables; and I really liked Reynard the Fox.

Okay, Shere Kahn was cool too.

Again, I really enjoyed the story, and again I don't think I fully appreciated the artwork. However, I did go back through a second time, and caught things in the art that I'd missed the first time. I'm impressed with the story, and I like the fact that the first two volumes are self-contained (as we all know, I hate cliff-hangers and waiting to find out what happens) and although there remains the idea that the Fables will eventually need to face the Adversary and return to their lands, and although they may have taken another step towards that, the story within Animal Farm is complete, and I really like that.

Published by Vertigo

August 2005 | Rating: 8/10

Storybook Love (2004)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

Storybook LoveSo apparently I lied. I must pay at least some attention to the artwork in graphic novels, because I really hate the way that Bigby looks in the middle stories here. The way he looks as a wolf is great. I quite like it. But as a human? Ick. They made him look like an orc. I kept seeing at him and wondering what new character this guy was, because he didn't look a thing like Bigby had in previous stories. Which is rather strange, because I was fine with the way that characters like Bluebeard and Goldilocks were drawn.

Aside from that small issue, however, I enjoyed Fables: Storybook Love. I liked Briar Rose, although I'd wished she'd stood up a bit more to Prince Charming. But then I suppose that not everyone can be as strong as Snow White is in these stories.

The stories in the beginning and the end of the collection were interesting. I especially liked the last story, "Barleycorn Brides." It was a contained tale, yet gave information on the homelands and their attack and control by the adversary. And I liked the Lilliputians, and was glad they got a whole story after their brave actions in the earlier stories.

I couldn't decide if I missed Rose Red or not. It would be nice if she and Snow White worked things out, but I suppose that she needs some time to sort herself out.

A nice installment in the series, and I'm quite enjoying it, but I'm also wondering how much longer it will be before the fables start a campaign against the Adversary to retake the homelands. And I don't see that being resolved in one book.

Published by Vertigo

September 2005 | Rating: 7/10

March of the Wooden Soldiers (2004) Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

March of the Wooden SoldiersI'm reading this series slowly (or at least attempting to), because it's not completed, and Book Six is not scheduled to come out until January 2006.

I really like the Fables series, and March of the Wooden Soldiers is good, although not quite as good as previous volumes. It starts with Boy Blue relating to Snow White the fall of the last stronghold in the Homeland, and the escape of the last group of fables. He also tells Snow White how he met and lost the love of his life, Red Riding Hood. The tale is interesting, and also a set-up for the rest of the story. Out of the North comes a fable who has escaped the Homelands, and she throws the already tumultuous Fabletown into an uproar. In the meantime, Prince Charming continues his run for the mayor for Fabletown.

I particularly enjoyed the opening story: the escape of the last Fables from the Homeland. Robin Hood was very well done, and I also came across a fable with which I was not familiar, Lady Britomart. I'll have to look and see where I can find stories about her, although from a cursory search, she looks to be Celtic.

I quite liked is how he used Snow White's pregnancy to show the passing of time. In past books they've used the weather and the seasons, but Snow White's pregnancy made a far more obvious marker.

My primary complaint is, again, of the drawing of Bigby. I really dislike the way the current artist portrays him. I don't know quite what changed, but I can't stand the way his face is all mashed up, like there's something missing. In earlier volumes he had a kind of rugged handsomeness to him, however now I find him just plain creepy.

It also felt like this story was a little rushed. There was a lot going on that was quickly glossed over that I thought deserved a little more attention. Rose Red comes down from the Farm and we don't get even a small conversation with her sister. Considering their past and how they are trying to work things out, I found that frustrating. There were a couple of other similar instances, where characters appeared in earlier stories, but their relationships and stories were glossed over here. Not a huge problem, but like I said, slightly frustrating, especially when we are introducted to new characters who then play no part in the current story. (This excludes, obviously, the Fables who appear in Boy Blue's history.)

I (finally) noticed that the Fables heavily favor European (Eastern and Western) folk and fairy tales. I can't remember seeing any fables from African or Eastern folklore. Though I suppose there are more than enough characters in European folklore to populate Fabletown already.

Published by Vertigo

October 2005 | Rating: 7/10

The Mean Seasons (2005)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

Mean SeasonsFabletown has mostly recovered from the invasion of the wooden soldiers sent by the adversary, and so the mayoral election can now be held. Prince Charming has been making promises that things are going to be different if he wins–promises to the fables who live on The Farm, and promises to others of places in his administration.

The second story tells of one of Bigby's adventures during World War II. That story was interesting, and looking at the covers, I see that the story was published in October and November, a nice tribute to Veterans' Day and the end of WWII.

In the meantime, Show White finally goes into labor. My only comment about that situation is that either some major magic was involved, or the artist completely lost perspective. But that's all I'm saying.

I quite liked the trials and tribulations of Beauty and the Beast as they try and adjust. Not that we couldn't see it coming, but it was still well done.

There were some things that I found confusing, but I can't actually write about them without giving away major plot points, so I'll just have to suffer in silence.

And it's still the artist who mashes up Bigby's face. Ick. Plus he started doing it to Beast as well. I've gotten better at ignoring it, but it still bugs me.

I enjoyed the stories, but I don't think that overall they were as strong or as good as earlier tales. And now I have to wait patiently until Vol 6 comes out in January.

Published by Vertigo

October 2005 | Rating: 7/10

Homelands (2005) Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

HomelandsI broke one of my cardinal rules with Fables, which is don't get involved in an ongoing series. Of course, I didn't realize I was breaking my rules at the time, but I could have stopped earlier in the series, and waited. But I didn't. Because the story is too good, and I just had to keep reading.

Homelands is the sixth collection in the Fables series. Boy Blue has taken the witching cloak and vorpal sword and gone back to the Homelands, and an attempt to rescue Red, his girlfriend who was left in the Homelands, and Jack has taken a large sum of gold and jewels, and headed out west to make a new life for himself. However, we see nothing of Snow White or Bigby, and hear only of them in passing, as Show White cares for her children, and Bigby is who knows where.

I really liked Homelands. For me, everything seemed to come together. I especially liked Boy Blue, and how his character was developed. I'd already stumbled across the identity of the Adversary, so that wasn't a surprise, however, I found the explanation of how the Adversary came to power to be fascinating. A cautionary tale perhaps, but a well-told one.

The opening story about Jack? Marvelous. Did he make the right choice? Morally, no. But it was certainly a reasonable choice, and one that you couldn't really blame him for making, especially knowing that he's an amoral jerk looking out for himself. You can see his downfall coming, but you're not surprised that he misses it entirely.

I was somewhat disappointed not to see Snow White or Bibgy in this collection, but I have to admit that the Boy Blue thread more than made up for their absence. I just liked his story that much. Of course, I'm sure he'll disappear from the story for awhile, but I can deal with that--as long as they bring back Bigby.

I don't have a lot to say about the art work in Homelands. As I've said before, I barely notice much of it, because I'm concentrating on the story. Though, I did like the portrayal of Boy Blue in his story. He looks so very young and very pretty--almost feminine--it makes the ease with which he kills that much more shocking. And Boy Blue pulling the Vorpal Sword out of his cloak in Pax Imperium? That was prefect.

If you have any interest at all in fairy tales, then I highly recommend checking out Fables. The stories just keep on getting better.

Published by Vertigo

April 2006 | Rating: 9/10

Arabian Nights (and Days) (2006)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham

Arabian NightsVolume 7 of Fables struck me as somehow different from previous volumes. Although there is a complete story arc about the Sinbad and the Arabian Fables coming to Fabletown, that story seemed almost secondary to several different different threads that were dropped or mentioned in passing. It will be very interesting to see where these threads end up.

As for the rest of the story (or stories as the case may be), I'm still missing Bigby, and although we get a brief glimpse of Snow White, she's mostly busy being a mother. So the character I enjoyed the most in this collection was, again, Boy Blue. He's still languishing in prison after his return from the Homelands--despite the fact that he returned with the artifacts, the true Little Red Riding Hood, and some other items of interest. In this too Prince Charming--the current mayor of Fabletown, fails to cover himself in glory. You almost want to feel sorry for him, since he's having such a hard time of things--but he's such a jerk that you really can't.

I'm also confused by the brief Beauty story arc. What's UP with that?

And I'm not sure how I feel about the concluding story--the tale of Rodney and June. It's interesting, and very well done, but it felt abrupt, switching to two unknown characters and leaving all the current stories behind.

However, there were several things that I did very much like. Of course there is the Boy Blue story arc. He is turning out to be one of my favorite characters--especially with Bigby gone. And I like Mowgli. He doesn't have a prominent story arc, but I find him interesting.

And I like the way the Red Riding Hood arc is going; she's been drug from her home and dumped into an unfamiliar land, surrounded by people who don't trust her only become someone else impersonated her. I like how she is slowly coming to terms with her new life, and the people around her.

As far as the artwork, I love the side panels--they're just neat. But I still don't necessarily like the way some of the characters faces look. Snow White looks to old and haggard, Prince Charming looks less charming than expected, and sometimes Beast's face just looks weird.

So although the Arabian Fables story arc is interesting, as is the Boy Blue story arc, this book mostly felt like a set-up for later stories; stories that will continue for some time to come. If you haven't yet read any of the Fables, this probably isn't the place to start. The story is good, but previous stories are much strong, and most of the minor story arcs require a greater knowledge of past books than you can really get from the brief list of characters in the beginning--although those are very helpful when it's been several months since you last read about any of the characters. So if you're intersted in Fables, go back and start at the beginning. With graphic novels, it's easy enough to do.

Published by Vertigo

August 2006 | Rating: 6/10

Wolves (2006)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

WolvesIt actually took me awhile to realize that this was Volume 8, rather than another stand alone book. It should have been obvious–after all, it's been 6 months, so it's time for another collection, but everything I saw simply said Wolves and not Volume 8 of the Fables series. But it is Volume 8, and I'm happy, because I have definitely been waiting for this collection.

The book begins with Mowgli searching Russia for Bigby, who has been gone for quite awhile now. That story is interspersed with how Snow is coping with life on the Farm with her children, and how her children are learning to cope with and manage their powers.

As far as the story arc goes, the situation between Bigby and Snow is finally resolved. Although there is a lull in the fighting with the Adversary--at least in Fabletown--things are still simmering, and the respite from war will probably only be a brief one. (However, certain story lines lead one to believe that things with the Adversary will change one way or the other, and relatively soon.)

As far as the art work, I still don't like the smooshed up face Bigby, although it is better towards the end of the story. I also missed the decorations/designs/drawings along the sides of the pages. There weren't any stories in this collection with the edge drawings, and I found that I rather missed them.

If you haven't been reading Fables, this probably isn't the place to start. However, it is an excellent continuation of the series, and I can once again strongly recommend starting the series if you have not already.

Published by Vertigo

December 2006 | Rating: 7/10

Sons of Empire (2007)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Michael Allred, and Andrew Pepoy

Sons of EmpireIf you haven't been reading Bill Willingham's "Fables" then you have been missing out.

In Sons of Empires we spend more time with Pinocchio and Geppetto and learn how they plan to carry the war into the Mundane lands in order to strike back after Bigby's attack at the end of Wolves.

In addition, several new threads are started while others are finished. We finally get to see Snow White and Bigby happy and at peace with each other and their children. Of course there is only so much calm and peace you can have with six children who can both fly and shape shift at will.

We also revisit--however briefly--one of my favorite characters, Boy Blue. He's had nothing but bad luck for quite awhile now, so it's good to see him doing well. We also discover that one of his good friends may have more in his future than anyone could ever have imagined. I'll be very curious to see what happens there.

I very much enjoyed the stories in Sons of Empire. In addition to learning more about the ongoing war with the Adversary, we still have a few stories that stand on their own, such as the Christmas tales, why Hansel was exiled from Fabletown, and the Q&A at the end, where we learn the answers to several questions, such as as what is Frau Totenkinder knitting, and how does Bufkin keep getting his hands on the liquor (my favorite of the Q&A stories I think.)

I also liked the fact that for several of the stories, we returned to the panels along the edges that reflected the characters within. I particularly liked how they changed to sepia for the story set in the past (a very nice touch.)

As I said, if you haven't been reading Fables, then you have really been missing out. These are some wonderful stories, and for those like me, the graphic novels tend to break well. There is still plenty happening, nothing to horrible as to make six months seem like an eternity.

Published by Vertigo

June 2007 | Rating: 8/10

The Good Prince (2008)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Peopy

Good PrinceI've been reading Fables since 2005. And since then, I've pre-ordered the next in the series to get it the day it was released. Which tells you that this series is pretty fantastic.

For those who haven't been playing along from the start, after a terrible war, many Fables escaped to our world, and are now hiding out in various locations all over the world, including Fabletown and The Farm in New York.

For those who have been playing along at home, Flycatcher has remembered his past, and is wallowing in misery now that those memories have returned. Meanwhile, Prince Charming is in negotiations with Hansel, who is representing the Adversary, for the return of the heads of the wooden soldiers who attacked Fabletown in an earlier strike. And on The Farm, Snow White and Bigby have their hands full with the cubs.

My goal last night was to go to bed early, because I had to get up early. However, once I started reading The Good Prince I couldn't put it down and absolutely had to finish it. And at 228 pages it wasn't a quick read. But it was totally worth it.

So far, 1001 Nights of Snowfall (a stand alone story in the Fables Universe) has far and away been my favorite in the series. But The Good Prince is giving it a run for its money. Excluding a short interlude for the cubs sixth birthday, from start to end this is Flycatcher's story, and we get to see him change from the fool to the hero in a path that, although unexpected, is simply amazing to follow.

As with previous volumes, I was perpetually surprised by the turns the story took, and The GOod Prince is no exception to that rule. There were several times when I commented out loud while reading, which is always the sign of a good story.

As usual, it's hard to discuss Fables without giving everything away, so let's just say that if you were already following Fables, you've probably already read The Good Prince. And if you aren't already reading, then really, you need to run out right now and start at the beginning, because you're missing out on a really good thing.

Published by Vertigo

June 2008 | Rating: 9/10

War and Pieces (2008)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Hearichon, Andrew Peopy

War and PiecesSo there are added advantages to pre-ordering from Amazon. I got Fables Volume 11 today!

It's very very good.

As a matter of fact, I started to panic while I read it, fearing that this was going to be the end of the series.

It isn't. Whew.

The war for the Homelands is here! Years of planning are coming to fruition and the attack is on. Needless to say, I had a hard time putting War and Pieces down to go eat dinner.

There are basically three story arcs. In the first we see Fabletown and the Farm preparing for war, and Boy Blue deciding what to do. I didn't much care for this story. There was just something wrong with the way Boy Blue appeared and acted.

In the second story arc, we see Cinderella sent out on a mission.

I have to say, there's something deeply satisfying about seeing Cinderella kick butt.

The third and final story arc is the battle for the Homelands. The story arc is told by Boy Blue, who remains one of my favorite characters. Besides Boy Blue, it focuses on Bigby and Prince Charming, everyone involved in the plans to recover the Homeland.

Did I mention we get to spend lots of time with Boy Blue? Who I adore?

The only thing that was strange was that Fabletown spent so much time preparing for the war against he Adversary it hardly seemed right that the actual war could be concluded in a single volume.

As far as the artists, I didn't much care for the way the first story was drawn. The remainder of the book was drawn by the same artists as the previous umpty-ump books. And as usual I'd catch myself reading quickly, and then have to go back and check the art in the edge panels.

If you have not been reading Fables, do NOT start here. But you definitely want to go back to the beginning, start reading there, and work your way up to here. You won't regret it.

Published by Vertigo

November 2008 | Rating: 9/10

The Dark Ages (2009)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Peter Gross, Andrew Pepoy, Michael Allerd, David Hahn


Published by Vertigo

August 2009 | Rating: 9/10

The Great Fables Crossover (2010)  Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Mark Buckingham

Great.This was apparently my week to be disappointed in my reading choices.

I love Fables. I really do. I've avidly awaited every volume, especially as the War with the Adversary came to a head.

However, I never much cared for the Jack spin-off, and actually gave up on it, as Jack annoyed me to the point I didn't enjoy the story.

Jack has not improved with time. He is still a complete asshole, and I see how he is supposed to be funny, however, instead of amusing, he sets my teeth on edge.

I thought the parts with Snow and Bigby were interesting, but not strong enough to save the story from Jack, who I'd just like to kick in the teeth.


Additionally, the Fables portion of the story is pretty much put on hold. Which isn't a bad thing per se, since the series was quite heavy there for awhile, but I believe I would have preferred almost anything to spending more time with Jack.

The only good thing about this crossover story is that it's made me certain that I do not want to go back and read any more of the Jack stories.

Published by Vertigo

February 2010 | Rating: 6/10

Witches (2010)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, David Lapham, Jim Fern, Andrew Pepoy, Craig Hamilton

WitchesFabletown is a wreck, and as it is now inhabited by Mister Dark, it is completely inaccessible to the Fables, who have retreated to the Farm.

The main characters of the first half of the volume are Frau Totenkinder, who is being prompted to step down as the leader of the witches, and Bufkin the Flying monkey who is trapped in the Business Office with Baba Yaga and other pleasantries. The second half take a peek at King Flycatcher and how he is doing managing his kingdom.

Published by Vertigo

December 2010 | Rating: 8/10

Rose Red (2011)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Inaki Miranda, Andrew Pepoy, Dan Green

Rose RedLast we saw Rose Red she was slowly destroying herself after losing Boy Blue. Her lack of presence on The Farm means that things with Geppetto are spiraling out of control, while the Fables from Fabletown fight amongst themselves while trying to figure out how to fight Mister Dark, who has taken over Fabletown and destroying those who accidentally wander there.

Plus, Beauty is about ready to have her baby, and Bigby and Beast are having trouble controlling their tempers, so Bigby and Snow send the cubs off to spend time with his father, to keep them safe.

The main part of the story is about Rose Red, and her history and how she came to be the party/problem girl she's been. It also ties in the stories of Snow White & Rose Red with the Snow White and the Seven Dwarves tale. (Mind you, these seven dwarves [Why is dwarves not in the spell check? That's wrong.] are NOT nice and disneyfied.)

But the threat of Mister Dark is also continued, as Bellflower (Frau Totenkinder) searches for a way to defeat him (and uses her wiles to get Dunster to assist her).

First, although initially unsure about it, I decided I liked the way they tied together the pasts of Snow White and Rose Red. Though there remain mysteries, it did a good job of explaining how Rose Red became the person she was (especially at the start of this series), and I was delighted to see her finally pull herself together (even if it took a long lecture from her mother to do it).

If you have no been following along, I'm not sure this is the best place to jump into the series, as it concludes Rose's orgy of self-pity, and events come to a head with Mister Dark. But if you have been reading along–wonderful, as always.

Published by Vertigo

April 2011 | Rating: 8/10

Super Team (2011)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Eric Shanower, Terry Moore

Super TeamThat was… unexpected.

Published by Vertigo

December 2011 | Rating: 7/10

Inherit the Wind (2012)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Shawn McManus

Inherit the WindThe North Wind is dead! Long live the North Wind!

That's right, someone has to become the new North Wind, and the best candidates are the cubs.

Meanwhile, in the Land of Oz, Bufkin and several others are on the run from Roquat the Red. And now that Mister Dark is gone, the Fables are returning to the Farm, and–they hope–soon to Manhattan.

I love this series. I was worried when the Adversary was defeated that the series was going to end, or perhaps degrade. But it has remained enjoyable, and I have to admit that I all but tore through this volume to discover who would become the new North Wind.

But as with all volumes in the Fables series, there are plenty of side stories that wander to and fro, giving you glimpses into the many worlds of Fables.

As usual, the only bad thing is that I have to wait months and months for the next volume to be released.

Published by Vertigo

July 2012 | Rating: 8/10

Cubs in Toyland (2013)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Gene Ha

Cubs in ToylandI… oh.


There's death. We were forewarned, but that didn't mean I was expecting it.

Winter Wolf is off with Bigby, learning how to be the North Wind. Beauty and Beast are still with Flycatcher in Haven. The citizens of Fabletown are trying to recover Fabletown after the death of the Dark Man. But most of the story is focused on the cubs.

Specifically, upon Therese and Dare.

The final story/chapter is set in the future, with Ambrose relating another tale from the past of the Big Bad Wolf, and how he gained his fate.

It's rather difficult to summarize this volume without giving anything away, but I will tell you to keep an eye on the artwork (something I'm terrible at doing) because it gives you a hint as to what's going on, right from the start. Which I, of course, missed. :)

Could you start here if you haven't read anything else in the series?

No. Not really.

If you're interested in checking out the series, I'd recommend 1001 Nights of Snowfall, which is a complete stand alone that can give you a good idea of whether you'd like the series or not.

Published by Vertigo

January 2013 | Rating: 8/10

Snow White (2013) Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham

Snow WhiteYeah, someone really screwed up with the publication of Fairest In All the Land prior to Snow White. The big surprise was already dropped in Fairest, so I spent my time wondering when The Bad Thing was going to happen, rather than enjoying the story for what it was.

Which is too bad, because I really loved Snow White in this story. She's strong and doesn't give up for anything and I adore her for it.

But knowing what was going to happen, I just couldn't let myself get into the story, which is too bad.

I don't think I can rate this story on its own merits right now, so I won't.

Published by Vertigo

December 2013 | NR

Camelot (2014)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Russ Braun, Barry Kitson

CamelotI actually read this last month, but since it was on the day we caught the train, I forgot about it when I came back. It wasn't until I was trying to clear off the table I remembered I'd hadn't written about it.

Oh Rose Red. You try so hard, and you still get everything so very wrong.

Meanwhile, Bigby is still shattered into millions of pieces, and Snow is holed up with her kids (those that are left) trying to avoid her death and a war within Fabletown.

Aside from the HEAVY foreshadowing that we are not going to get a happily every after, we do get two threads I really liked. One was the North Wind coming into her powers, and the other was a brief glimpse into the afterlife. I really enjoyed the quick glimpse at one of my favorite characters.

I'm also almost dreading the coming conclusion, after all the preparation for horrible things.

Published by Vertigo

November 2014 | Rating: 8/10

Happily Ever After (2015)  Bill Willingham Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Andrew Pepoy

Happily Ever AfterThis is the penultimate Fables volume, and it's been sitting on my coffee table since May (release date) waiting to be read.

It's for the best that I put off reading it until the final volume also arrived, as it ends (of course) on multiple cliff-hangers.

But we also get brief vignettes–closing stories for many characters and what happens to them after the story is over. The closing story for this volume is actually quite amusing.

And the battle between Snow White and Rose Red is coming to a head–the fight that has been brewing since the start of the series.

Published by Vertigo

August 2015 | NR

Farewell (2015)  Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

FarewellThis one has only been sitting on my coffee table for a month, waiting for a day when I could read through the last two volumes in one sitting.

I think it'll take me awhile–and probably a re-read of the entire series–to decide how I feel about these last two volumes. A lot happens, and there are a lot of fast and unexpected deaths.

But we also get glimpses of the future, and how things turn out for the various characters (which we started to see in the previous volume).

I've enjoyed this series, that is for certain.

Published by Vertigo

August 2015 | NR

1001 Night of Snowfall (2006)  Bill Willingham

1001 Nights of SnowfallIf you haven't read Bill Willingham's Fables series, then you have really been missing out. Fables tells of the characters–Fables–who have escaped the lands of fairy tales after they were drive out by the adversary, and are now living in New York, hiding their true nature from the citizens around them. However, everything you need to know about the Fables before reading 1001 Nights of Snowfall is explained in the introduction.

If you have not read Fables before, 1001 Nights of Snowfall is set more than a hundred years before the events in the series, so you won't be missing anything by starting here, nor will it give away any of the continuing story in the series. However, it is an excellent introduction to Fabletown and its characters.

For those who are reading the series, this is a wonderful addition to the series. We finally learn the back stories of several characters, including the Frog Prince, Bigby, and King Cole. We've learned bits and pieces about some of the characters as the series has progressed, and have gotten hints about the pasts of others, but now we learn what really happened to these characters, and for many, what made them they way they are.

I also like the way that these stories affect how we think about the characters in the current time line--especially Bigby. Sometimes, knowing a characters past does change how I view that character in the current timeline. The Frog Prince is even more sympathetic of a character after learning his history; it makes him less pathetic, because you can see how he became what he is.

Regarding the stories, even more so than the series, the stories here are wonderful. There are tales within tales within tales, as Snow tells the stories of her past, and the stories of her friends. Each story in the collection is good, and all are hard to put down. (I was doing laundry while reading this, and had to complete the story I was reading before I could run downstairs to put in another load of clothes.) The more we learn, the more complex the characters become, and this collection is a chance for some of the characters who have played only tangential roles so far to have their stories told, and to be fleshed out further.

As far as the illustrations, I've said before I'm a terrible judge, as I don't really appreciate them. However, I have to admit that in some of the stories--particularly "Diaspora/A Witches Tale" the illustrations made the stories as strong as they are--I found it intriguing how the older tale was more vibrant than the tale surrounding it, which seemed washed out and pale. That was a lovely touch. Additionally, it was nice to see anatomically correct females--when we see the witches past, she grew up in a time when humans were barely civilized. Her dress--or lack thereof--is appropriate to the time, and the body drawn is appropriate to the budding teenager described.

But just to make it clear, this book is not for children. There is a good deal of sex and violence, some of which is explicit in the artwork. However, it should be fine for teens, who are perfectly aware of the mechanics of sex.

If you have not yet forayed into Fables, 1001 Nights of Snowfall is an excellent introduction to the characters and the series. If you are already reading Fables, this is a collection you do not want to miss.

Now I'm impatiently waiting for the next installment in the series.

Published by Vertigo

June 2009 | Rating: 9/10

Werewolves of the Heartland (2012)  Bill Willingham, Craig Hamilton, Jim Fern, Ray Snyder, Mark Farmer

Werewolves of the HeartlandI love Fables.

Werewolves of the Heartland is a Bigby Wolf stand-alone story. Bigby is out searching for a new home for Fables, now that New York (city and state) are no longer safe. They found records in Bluebeard's records, of him working with a town in Iowa called Story City, so that's Bibgy's next destination.

What he discovers is both a problem, and a direct link to his past.

First, I'm fond of Bibgy. So I really enjoyed learning more of his past–in this case, his actions in WWII. He went to Europe to fight for America in his own way.

Second, I really liked Bigby in this story. I love how his has been so developed as a character that there was never any worry about how he'd act when a nekkid woman crawled into his bed. That said, it was written in such a way that if you were not a Fables reader, you'd read that bit in a different way, and it would still be just as good.

And that goes for the rest of the story: if you have not read Fables, you could read this story without having read other Fables books, so like 1001 Night of Snowfall if you are interested in starting the Fables story, you can pick this up to see if you're interested.

This is NOT an appropriate comic for young people. Many of the main characters are werewolves. Who can't change forms while wearing clothes. So there are a LOT of people who are unconcerned about being nekkid. And since the werewolf form isn't a true wolf form but a hybrid, there are lots of lots of male dangly bits. Mind you, it's not sexy, but it would definitely cause conversations between adults and young people.

That said, this makes a point that needs made. Why is the male form so taboo when even "kid-safe" comics have women in costumes that display all the contours of their heaving bosoms?

I don't love this story as much as I love 1001 Nights of Snowfall, but I still really enjoyed it, and can recommend it to anyone looking to see if they're interested in the Fables series.

Published by Vertigo

November 2012 | Rating: 8.5/10