Comics For People Who Don’t Read Comics: Fables

Continuing in my attempt to show that not every comic book is a teenage-male power fantasy where every problem’s solved with angst and fistfighting, and every chick has a gigantic rack…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It begins with “Once upon a time,” yet we’re not in a mythical, faraway, pastoral land. We’re in the heart of New York City–our New York City–which makes it all the more unsettling. Fables, an ongoing series from Vertigo, starts off by peeling back the mythological curtain, Wizard of Oz-style: every single fable, every single story, from Pinocchio to Snow White, the Three Pigs to creepy Middle Eastern tales you’ve never heard–they’re all true. And not only are they all true–they walk among us unnoticed.

But Fables isn’t some goofy unicorns-and-rainbows treacle. It pinballs between murder mysteries, conspiracies, detective stories, political intrigue–Grimm’s Fairy Tales blended with James Ellroy. One of the series’ overarching plot threads was the role of the Adversary, a mysterious, evil figure who drove most of the Fables out of Europe. The more human-looking Fables, like Snow White–now a powerful woman, and ready to kill anybody who mentions that business with the dwarves–settle in New York City. Less-human Fables like the Three Little Pigs are restricted to a farm in upstate New York–and they aren’t exactly pleased. And the identity of the Adversary? You already know who he is–a well-known figure from literature–and while his identity would surprise you, it makes perfect sense in the context of Fables.
The canvas on which Fables creator can work is almost infinite; he’s already turning his gaze to other cultures’ fables for inspiration. Fables is well worth checking out; read the entire first issue by clicking here, and get the rest in collections off Amazon. Trust me…you’ll never read Pinocchio the same way again.

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