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What Do You Mean ‘You Haven’t Read Fables’?

I think as comic book aficionados we can agree that there is a metaphysical list in existence that contains all of the “must read” books in the comic industry. These books clearly display why we love comics. Whilst some think we should protect this list, shielding our beloved characters from the insatiable appetites of mainstream media, I feel that we should share their glory upon all who wish to partake. Thus we begin our journey into the Adventures In Poor Taste must-read comic list.

We start with a book that came to my attention years after it had been well popularized. Fables began almost a decade ago in 2002. Written by Bill Willingham and penciled by Mark Buckingham, Fables presents a setting where the worlds of our favorite childhood stories exist in an interconnected multi-verse alongside our own. Through a tragic series of events a majority of those characters– Including Snow White, The Big Bad Wolf, and Little Boy Blue — were forced to flee their homelands and have found a safe haven in, of all places, New York City.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the story from either a friend or some other distinguished Internet site, yet you haven’t picked it up. If I could hazard a guess as to why, my money would be on it’s daunting library. At 15 trade paperbacks and counting, that is both a serious compromise of time and money. But I have to say, it is very much worth it. I mean, it wouldn’t have gotten to that many issues if this wasn’t at least a little bit true, right?

The main draw of this comic is the characters. Having so many at their disposal, the team of Willingham and Buckingham (labeled herein as “team ham”) have selected some of the most interesting of the storybook characters and taken the liberty to adhere multiple creative spins on each.

The Big bad Wolf as both a human and a hero? I can honestly say I did not see that coming.

The story goes places I never imagined when I first began reading. By the end of the third book I was buying somewhere between 1-3 a week so I could read more. It is one of the most enveloping tales I have ever read.

The art is astounding. Buckingham’s character designs and panel layout are some of the best I’ve witnessed. There is also an attention to detail that lets you feel that each page is true artwork, some of which doesn’t even occur in the panels. Sadly, Buckingham does not continuously do the pencils— most likely due to the amount of work that goes into his art— so on occasion you have push through some less gorgeous portrayals. I found those issues to be nothing more than a small speed bump since for the majority the story can pull you through even the worst art.

So my half-hearted description of this famously popular comic book has enticed you to maybe pick it up next time you stop by your nearest comic shop or online retailer? Good. My advice would be to save a bit and buy the first three volumes. I know that can be somewhat of a commitment but I feel that the first book doesn’t fully grab the reader. However, if by the end of book three you aren’t hooked on the interesting plot, the complicated characters and the gorgeous artwork, I would have to say maybe it isn’t for you. I doubt that will happen, though.


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