Fables is an American comic book series created and written by Bill Willingham, published by DC Comics' Vertigo. Although Willingham served as sole writer for its entirety, it featured various pencillers over the years, most notably Lan Medina, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leialoha. It was started in July 2002, and concluded in July 2015.
Cover page of Legends in Exile
|Genre||Contemporary fantasy, dark fantasy, urban fantasy|
|Publication date||July 2002 – July 2015|
|No. of issues||150|
|Main character(s)||Bigby Wolf, Snow White, Boy Blue, Rose Red|
|Created by||Bill Willingham|
|Written by||Bill Willingham|
|Penciller(s)||Lan Medina, Mark Buckingham
Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton
|Inker(s)||Andrew Pepoy, Steve Leialoha, Mark Buckingham, P. Craig Russell|
The series features various characters from fairy tales and folklore – referring to themselves as "Fables" – who formed a clandestine community centuries ago within New York City known as Fabletown, after their Homelands have been conquered by a mysterious and deadly enemy known as "The Adversary". It is set in modern-day and follows several of Fabletown's legal representatives, such as sheriff Bigby Wolf, mayor deputy Snow White, her sister Rose Red, Prince Charming, and Boy Blue, as they deal with troublesome Fables and try to solve conflicts in both Fabletown and "the Farm", a hidden town in upstate New York for Fables unable to blend in with human society. The series also deals with other matters, such as the main characters' personal lives, their attempts to hide the Fables' true nature from regular humans (or "Mundies"), and, later, the return of the Adversary.
It was a critical and commercial success, winning many Eisner Awards and receiving several Hugo Award nominations for Best Graphic Story. Its success led to several spin-offs and a 2013 canon prequel video game titled The Wolf Among Us.
A principal character is the Big Bad Wolf (calling himself "Bigby"), who has not only reformed, but gained the ability to take on a more human appearance, and serves as Fabletown's sheriff at the series' beginning. Many other casting characters have also been reformed in such a way to preserve their natural state from past "fable" descriptions.
Various artists have worked on the title. The covers were done by James Jean, who left the book after issue 81. João Ruas took over as cover artist after Jean left the series. The majority of the interior work has been done by Mark Buckingham, who reportedly would have been given the reins to the story if Willingham became unable to continue it. Other artists include: Bryan Talbot, Lan Medina, P. Craig Russell, Mike Allred, Craig Hamilton, and Linda Medley.
It was announced in November 2013 that the series would end with issue #150 in early 2015. The final issue of Fables was a larger than normal issue comprising most of the twenty-second Fables trade paperback. It was released in July 2015.
The main characters of Fables are public domain figures from folklore, mythology, and literature. Bill Willingham has said the only considerations in deciding whether he chooses to use a character are "is the character or story free for use?" and "do I want to use it?" Most of the characters seen are from European stories. The major exceptions are Arabian fables and American fables, from the fable world of Americana appearing in Jack of Fables, such as Paul Bunyan, Black Sambo (now known as Sam) and the Lone Ranger. Most of these characters appear primarily in the Jack of Fables spin-off.
- Legends in Exile (issues 1 to 5)
- Animal Farm (issues 6 to 10)
- A revolt occurs on the Farm, a place for non-human Fables.
- Bag 'O Bones (issue 11)
- A Two-Part Caper (issues 12 and 13)
- A mundane journalist finds out about the Fables and they have to decide how to react.
- Storybook Love (issues 14 to 17)
- Bluebeard hatches a plot to rid himself of Bigby and Snow by enchanting them, and the homicidal Goldilocks attempts to kill the pair. Prince Charming decides to run for Fabletown Mayor.
- Barleycorn Brides (issue 18)
- Bigby tells Flycatcher the story of a Smalltown tradition.
- March of the Wooden Soldiers (issues 19 to 21 and 23 to 27)
- Prince Charming runs for Mayor of Fabletown while the community deals with the apparent escape from the Homelands of Red Riding Hood. The Adversary sends his first troops into Fabletown to begin an assault.
- Cinderella Libertine (issue 22)
- Cinderella's apparently frivolous lifestyle is revealed to be a front.
- War Stories (issues 28 and 29)
- Bigby's adventures during World War II.
- The Long Year (issues 30 to 33)
- Snow gives birth and realizes she must relocate to the Farm. Bigby isn't allowed there and instead exiles himself. Snow encounters Bigby's estranged father, the North Wind. One of her children is revealed to be quite different than the others, so she sends him to find his father. This story arc is retitled "The Mean Seasons" in the Trade Paperback of the same name.
- Jack Be Nimble (issues 34 and 35)
- Homelands (issues 36 to 38 and 40 and 41)
- Boy Blue goes on a mission to the Homelands with the aim of assassinating the Adversary and learns the Adversary's identity.
- Meanwhile (issue 39)
- What has been going on in Fabletown during Blue's adventures.
- Arabian Nights (and Days) (issues 42 to 45)
- A delegation of Arabian Fables led by Sinbad visits Fabletown to discuss an alliance against the Adversary.
- The Ballad of Rodney and June (issues 46 and 47)
- A side story of the seemingly ill-fated love of Rodney and June, two members of the Adversary's forces.
- Wolves (issues 48 and 49)
- Mowgli searches for the missing Bigby and brings him a message from Fabletown.
- Happily Ever After (issue 50)
- Bigby returns, delivers a warning to the Adversary and marries Snow.
- Big and Small (issue 51)
- Cinderella continues her mission in the Cloud Kingdom, but must be turned into a mouse and enlist the aid of Smalltown's resident medic in order to treat a sick giant king.
- Sons of Empire (issues 52 to 55)
- The Adversary calls a conference of the Imperial elite to decide what to do about Fabletown. Pinocchio has to face up to his divided loyalties.
- Jiminy Christmas (issue 56)
- Santa Claus' existence as a Fable is addressed.
- Father and Son (issues 57 and 58)
- Bigby decides that the time has come to square things with his father, the North Wind. On a hunt, his children encounter Bigby's siblings, who have become more beasts than men.
- Burning Questions (issue 59)
- Readers were invited to participate in a contest by asking Willingham questions of unresolved events in the series. Here, they are answered in a series of one to four page short stories.
- The Good Prince (issues 60 to 63 and 65 to 69)
- Flycatcher, who has never fully accepted the death of his wife, must face up to his past.
- The Birthday Secret (issue 64)
- Preparation for war begins at the Farm and the birthday of Bigby's children.
- Kingdom Come (issue 70)
- Boy Blue and Rose Red discuss their relationship. Flycatcher's offer is brought to the Farm. Plans are made to begin the war.
- Skullduggery (issues 71 and 72)
- Cinderella repays her debt to Frau Totenkinder by going on a mission down South.
- War and Pieces (issues 73 to 75)
- Fabletown and the Empire go to war.
- Around the Town (issue 76)
- Fabletown's newest member is given a tour, much to the displeasure of some of the other residents.
- The Dark Ages (issues 77 to 81)
- A new era begins as the residents of Fabletown face the aftermath of the war. New challenges arise at home and in a distant land a dark power is awakened.
- Waiting for the Blues (issue 82)
- An epilogue to "The Dark Ages".
- The Great Fables Crossover (issues 83 to 85)
- Bigby and Beast get into a violent fight that demonstrates the influence of the dark powers present. Rose Red sinks deeper and deeper into depression. Stinky starts a religion foretelling Boy Blue's heroic return, which a returning Jack Horner takes advantage of before encountering his son, the new Jack Frost. In an interesting twist, the issues are more focused on Jack than on the other Fables. (Note: Includes Jack of Fables issues 33 to 35 and The Literals issues 1 to 3.)
- Boxing Days (issue 86)
- Mister Dark relates how he came to be trapped in a magical box by a group of imperial warlocks, and the rise of their leader Dunster Happ.
- Witches (issues 87 to 91)
- The leaders and witches of Fabletown discuss how to defeat Mister Dark. Meanwhile Bufkin finds himself trapped in the lost business office with Baba Yaga and many other monsters.
- Out to the Ball Game (issues 92 and 93)
- A story set in Haven, where the local baseball game leads to a murder.
- Rose Red (issues 94 to 98)
- The Farm is in chaos, as various factions vie for control. To restore order, Rose Red must face her greatest foe – herself.
- Dark City (issue 99)
- Mr. Dark uses his power to construct a new citadel in New York City.
- Single Combat (issue 100)
- The final confrontation between Frau Totenkinder and Mister Dark.
- The Ascent (issue 101)
- Super Team (issues 102 to 106)
- Ozma puts together a team of Fables to mimic the superheroics of comic books.
- Waking Beauty (issue 107)
- The fate of the defeated Empire's thorn-covered capital.
- Inherit the Wind (issues 108 to 111)
- The North Wind's successor is chosen among Snow and Bigby's Cubs. In Ev, Bufkin forms a resistance movement in order to overthrow the evil Nome King.
- "All in a Single Night" (issue 112)
- A Fables take on A Christmas Carol, focusing on Rose Red.
- In Those Days (issue 113)
- A collection of short, short Fables stories.
- Cubs in Toyland (issues 114 to 121)
- Snow and Bigby's cub Therese is taken to a bleak, mysterious land inhabited by discarded toys, inciting a series of soul-crushing events. This storyline has a backup feature that follows Bufkin's (mis)adventures in Oz.
- The Destiny Game (issues 122 and 123)
- A look at how fate works in the Fable universe. Bufkin and Lily's adventures continue in the story's backup feature.
- After (issue 124)
- Bufkin and Lily’s heroic adventures comes to its grand finale.
- Snow White (issues 125 to 129)
- A man from Snow White's past claims her as his legal wife.
- June Bug (issue 130)
- The daughter of Rodney and June, the Adversary wooden soldiers that became human, explores Castle Black.
- Camelot (issues 131 to 133 and 135 to 137)
- A new dark age calls for a new Round Table, with modern knights willing to take on a sacred quest to reassemble the shattered pieces of Fabletown.
- Deeper into the Woods (issue 134)
- Bigby Wolf wanders into a heaven resembling the woods he used to hunt in, where he meets a long-lost friend.
- Root and Branch (issue 138)
- Geppetto is up to his naughty tricks in a stand-alone story that fills in the gaps of an event that happened in Fabletown long ago.
- The Boys in the Band (issues 139 and 140)
- Peter Piper, Joe Shepherd, Puss in Boots and Briar Rose – the members of Boy Blue's band – set out on a quest to free one tiny Fable Homeland.
- Happily Ever After (issues 141 to 149)
- Good knight vs. bad knight. King Arthur vs. Morgan le Fay. Rose Red vs. Snow White. The two sisters are caught up in the roles Camelot has set for them, and now they’re ready for battle.
- Farewell (issue 150)
- Once Upon a Time... for the very last time.
The series proper is principally being collected in trade paperbacks. Deluxe edition hardcovers are also being produced. The spin-off graphic novel 1001 Nights of Snowfall and other works are available in both hardcover and softcover format.
|#||Title||ISBN||Release date||Collected material|
|1||Fables: Legends in Exile||ISBN 1-56389-942-6||April 25, 2003||Fables #1–5 and the new prose story "A Wolf in the Fold".|
|2||Fables: Animal Farm||ISBN 1-4012-0077-X||August 1, 2003||Fables #6–10|
|3||Fables: Storybook Love||ISBN 1-4012-0256-X||May 1, 2004||Fables #11–18|
|4||Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers||ISBN 1-4012-0222-5||November 30, 2004||Fables #19–21, 23–27, and The Last Castle one-shot|
|5||Fables: The Mean Seasons||ISBN 1-4012-0486-4||April 30, 2005||Fables #22, 28–33|
|6||Fables: Homelands||ISBN 1-4012-0500-3||January 27, 2006||Fables #34–41|
|7||Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days)||ISBN 1-4012-1000-7||July 5, 2006||Fables #42–47|
|8||Fables: Wolves||ISBN 1-4012-1001-5||December 20, 2006||Fables #48–51, maps of Fabletown and the Farm, script for #50|
|9||Fables: Sons of Empire||ISBN 1-4012-1316-2||June 13, 2007||Fables #52–59|
|10||Fables: The Good Prince||ISBN 1-4012-1686-2||June 4, 2008||Fables #60–69|
|11||Fables: War and Pieces||ISBN 1-4012-1913-6||November 19, 2008||Fables #70–75, sketches by Mark Buckingham|
|12||Fables: The Dark Ages||ISBN 1-4012-2316-8||August 11, 2009||Fables #76–82|
|13||Fables: The Great Fables Crossover||ISBN 1-4012-2572-1||February 9, 2010||Fables #83–85, Jack of Fables #33–35 and The Literals #1–3|
|14||Fables: Witches||ISBN 1-4012-2880-1||December 7, 2010||Fables #86–93|
|15||Fables: Rose Red||ISBN 1-4012-3000-8||April 11, 2011||Fables #94–100 and the new prose story "Pinocchio's Army".|
|16||Fables: Super Team||ISBN 1-4012-3306-6||December 14, 2011||Fables #101–107|
|17||Fables: Inherit the Wind||ISBN 1-4012-3516-6||July 10, 2012||Fables #108–113|
|18||Fables: Cubs in Toyland||ISBN 1-4012-3769-X||January 22, 2013||Fables #114–123|
|19||Fables: Snow White||ISBN 1-4012-4248-0||December 24, 2013||Fables #124–129 and the Oz backup stories from #114–123|
|20||Fables: Camelot||ISBN 1-4012-4516-1||September 2, 2014||Fables #130–140|
|21||Fables: Happily Ever After||ISBN 1-4012-5132-3||May 5, 2015||Fables #141–149|
|22||Fables: Farewell||ISBN 1-4012-5233-8||July 28, 2015 ||Fables #150, plus several extras: "Lucky 13: A Fables Afterword in Three Parts", "Bill's Comic Writing School Lesson 67.3: The Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome", "A Fables Gallery", and "Creator Biographies".|
|#||Title||ISBN||Release date||Collected material|
|1||Volume 1||ISBN 1-4012-2427-X||September 30, 2009||Fables #1–10|
|2||Volume 2||ISBN 1-4012-2879-8||November 17, 2010||Fables #11–18, The Last Castle and A Wolf in the Fold|
|3||Volume 3||ISBN 1-4012-3097-0||August 17, 2011||Fables #19–27|
|4||Volume 4||ISBN 1-4012-3390-2||December 14, 2011||Fables #28–33, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall|
|5||Volume 5||ISBN 1-4012-3496-8||May 30, 2012||Fables #34–45|
|6||Volume 6||ISBN 1-4012-3724-X||February 20, 2013||Fables #46–51 with maps of Fabletown and the Farm, script for #50|
|7||Volume 7||ISBN 1-4012-4040-2||September 10, 2013||Fables #52–59 and 64|
|8||Volume 8||ISBN 1-4012-4279-0||February 5, 2014||Fables #60–63, 65–69|
|9||Volume 9||ISBN 1-4012-5004-1||October 14, 2014||Fables #70–82|
|10||Volume 10||ISBN 1-4012-5521-3||May 19, 2015||Fables #83–85, The Literals #1–3, Jack of Fables #33–35 and Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland|
|11||Volume 11||ISBN 1-4012-5826-3||November 3, 2015||Fables #86–100 and the new prose story "Pinocchio's Army".|
|12||Volume 12||ISBN 1-4012-6138-8||May 24, 2016||Fables #101–113|
|13||Volume 13||ISBN 1-4012-6449-2||September 21, 2016||Fables #114–129|
|14||Volume 14||ISBN 1-4012-6856-0||April 18, 2017||Fables #130–140|
|15||Volume 15||ISBN 1-4012-7464-1||November 22, 2017||Fables #141-150|
Prequel to Fables written by Willingham. It was initially released in hardcover on October 18, 2006. Based on the One Thousand and One Nights, it tells a story from a time early in Fabletown's history when Snow White was sent as an emissary to the Arabian Fables. The Sultan's Vizier secretly presents Snow to Sultan as his next wife in order to delay his daughter Scheherazade from suffering the same fate. Snow must amuse the Sultan with a new story every night to prevent him from executing her at dawn, as he has done with all his former wives.
A spin-off mini-series announced at the Fables Panel at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con. Written by novelist and publisher Chris Roberson (another of Willingham and Sturges's fellow Clockwork Storybook alumni) with painted cover art by Chrissie Zullo, the miniseries was drawn by Shawn McManus, and (according to Comic Book Resources ' Timothy Callahan) "answers the question of what happened to Cinderella's fairy godmother." Writer Roberson says, "It's On Her Majesty's Secret Service meets Sex and the City." The concluding issue was released in April 2010.
- Cinderella: Fables Are Forever
A six-issue sequel to Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus's earlier Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love series, was released in mid-2011.
Fables: The Last CastleEdit
A prestige format one-shot in which Boy Blue retells to Snow White the tale of the last stand against the Adversary's forces in the Homelands.
Fables: Werewolves of the HeartlandEdit
Announced at the Fables Panel at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland is an original graphic novel written by Willingham with art by Craig Hamilton, and Jim Fern. It was released in hardcover in November 2012. In the story, Bigby Wolf embarks on a quest through the American Heartland to find a new location for Fabletown.
At the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International, Willingham announced his plan to start a series following the lives of some female Fables, including Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Cinderella. It debuted on March 7, 2012 with the first arc written by Willingham and art by Phil Jimenez. Subsequent arcs will be handed off to writers of Willingham's choosing.
Series focusing on Jack Horner. It debuted in July 2006 and follows Fables #35 ("Jack Be Nimble" part 2). It is co-written by Willingham and former Clockwork Storybook author Matthew Sturges. The series ended with its fiftieth issue in March 2011.
Three issue miniseries comprising one third of The Great Fables Crossover. It is co-written by Willingham and Sturges, and was published April 2009 through June 2009. All issues are included in the Fables: The Great Fables Crossover and in the Deluxe Edition: Volume 10
An illustrated novel centering on Peter Piper, his wife Bo Peep and his brother Max, who will later grow up to be the Pied Piper. Written by Willingham and illustrated by Steve Leialoha, it is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook editions. It includes a brief comic-book story that deals with Pete and Bo Peep's adventures after the events in the novel.
Fables: The Wolf Among UsEdit
At the 2014 New York Comic Con, Vertigo Comics announced that they would be adapting The Wolf Among Us into comic form, to be released digitally first in December 2014 and later as print comic. The story's been adapted for the comic by Matthew Sturges, who has previously written for the Fables series, and Dave Justus, staying otherwise true to the game's story but exploring some characters and back story in more depth. The comic is canon to the Fables universe.
"A Wolf in the Fold", featured in "Legends in Exile" trade paperback and in the "Deluxe Edition: Volume 2", tells the history of Bigby Wolf and Snow White and how they came to the mundane world. "Pinocchio's Army", featured in "Fables: Rose Red", focuses on Pinocchio and Geppetto during the events of the "Rose Red" story arc.
Everafter: From the Pages of FablesEdit
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|Title||Format||ISBN||Release date||Collected material|
|1001 Nights of Snowfall||Hardcover||ISBN 1-4012-0367-1||October 18, 2006||Original Graphic Novel|
|Softcover||ISBN 1-4012-0369-8||March 5, 2008|
|Fables: Covers by James Jean||Hardcover||ISBN 1-4012-1576-9||November 18, 2008||Covers from issues 1 to 75, and TP vol. 1 to 11|
|Peter & Max: A Fables Novel||Hardcover||ISBN 1-4012-1573-4||October 7, 2009||An original prose novel set in the Fables universe|
|Softcover||ISBN 1-4012-2537-3||December 28, 2010|
|Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love||Softcover||ISBN 1-4012-2750-3||August 10, 2010||Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love issues 1–6|
|Cinderella: Fables Are Forever||Softcover||ISBN 1-4012-3385-6||April 18, 2012||Cinderella: Fables Are Forever issues 1–6; Fables #51|
|Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland||Hardcover||ISBN 1-4012-2479-2||November 20, 2012||Original Graphic Novel|
|Everafter: From the Pages of Fables||Softcover||ISBN 1-401-26836-6||May 9, 2017||Everafter: From the Pages of Fables issues 1–6|
Awards and praiseEdit
As of 2012, Fables has won fourteen Eisner Awards.
- Best New Series in 2003
- Best Serialized Story in 2003, 2005 and 2006 ("Legends In Exile", "March of the Wooden Soldiers" and "Homelands")
- Best Anthology in 2007 (Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall)
- Best Short Story in 2007 ("A Frog’s Eye View," by Bill Willingham and James Jean, in Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall)
- Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team in 2007 (Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha)
- Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (Interior) in 2007 (Jill Thompson)
- Best Cover Artist in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 (James Jean)
While Fables only advertises winning fourteen Eisner Awards on their covers, the following Eisner awards have also been won by members of their staff for their work on Fables:
- Best Writer in 2009 (Bill Willingham)
- Best Lettering in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011 (Todd Klein)
"Fabletown and Beyond" is a comic convention, created by Willingham, to showcase and appreciate comic books that fall under the genre of mythic fiction. Willingham announced this new project during his panel at the 2012 San Diego Comic Convention, stating "We're going to have a nearly-all Fables dedicated con called 'Fabletown and Beyond' – it's Fables and books like Fables." Fables artist, Mark Buckingham, was the guest of honor for the first ever FablesCon on March 22–24, 2013 in Rochester, MN.
A television series based on Fables was put into development by NBC in 2005 for the 2006–2007 Television Season. The show received a script order and was developed by Craig Silverstein and Warner Bros. Television but was not developed any further than the scripting stage. NBC would later go on to produce Grimm, a police procedural set in a world where fairytales are real.
On December 8, 2008 it was announced that ABC had picked up the rights to develop a pilot of Fables for the 2009–2010 television season. Six Degrees creators and executive producers Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner were writing the script for the hourlong drama, again set up at Warner Bros. Television, while David Semel had come on board to direct. There has been no news since concerning a series based directly on Willingham's series and, in late 2010, he said "[t]he TV show that was prematurely announced is probably dead." Instead, ABC announced a new series called Once Upon a Time, which features fairy tale characters such as Snow White and Prince Charming who have been cursed to live in the real world by the Evil Queen without the memories of their former lives. The show's creators, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, stated that they "read a couple issues" of Fables but believe that while the two concepts are "in the same playground," they are "telling a different story."
In 2015, it was announced that Warner Bros. was developing a live action Fables film with David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford producing, Jeremy Slater and Jane Goldman writing and Nikolaj Arcel directing.
On February 17, 2011, Telltale Games announced The Wolf Among Us, an episodic graphic adventure game based upon Fables. With the first of its five episodes released on October 11, 2013 (and the final episode released on July 8, 2014), the game is canon with the comic book universe and is set as a prequel to the comic book. In July 2017 Telltale Games announced that a second season of The Wolf Among Us was in production to be released sometime in 2018.
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