By Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, & Lan Medina
Genre: Graphic Novel
Reading Level: 9th grade
Interest Level: 9th-12th grade +
Awards: Best New Series in 2003, Best Serialized Story in 2003, 2005 and 2006
Teaser: Have you ever wondered what your favorite fairy tales would be like in real life? Well, what if they were walking down the street right next to you? Would you know?
Summary: In this graphic novel, our favorite fairy tale characters exist in real life. Their enemy, The Adversary, conquered their fabled lands and forced them to leave. They live in secret now. Their secret headquarters is called Fabletown and they all come together when someone murders Rose Red. In this deluxe issue, there are ten issues packed into one volume. They continue to investigate more mysterious happenings that they believe to be the work of The Adversary. The characteristics of the fairy tale characters makes the story slightly humorous without taking away from it’s grittiness. The characters in this graphic novel struggle with their pasts, their current situation with the Adversary, and the relationships with each other. Will they ever get back to the fabled lands? Or should they accept their new lots in life and stay in the modern world?
Information about the Author: According to the comic book database, “In the late 1970s to early 1980s [Bill Willingham] drew fantasy ink pictures for the Dungeons & Dragons Basic and Expert game rulebooks. He first gained attention for his 1980s comic book series Elementals published by Comico, which he both wrote and drew. However, for reasons unknown, the series had trouble maintaining an original schedule, and Willingham’s position in the industry remained spotty for many years. He contributed stories to Green Lantern and started his own independent, black-and-white comics series Coventry which lasted only 3 issues. In the late 1990s Willingham reestablished himself as a prolific writer. He produced the 13-issue Pantheon for Lone Star Press and wrote a pair of short novels about the modern adventures of the hero Beowulf, published by the writer’s collective, Clockwork Storybook, of which Willingham was a founding member. In the early 2000s he began writing extensively for DC Comics, including the limited series Proposition Player, a pair of limited series about the Greek witch Thessaly from The Sandman, and most notably the popular series Fables.
Critical Evaluation: One issue that I had with the series is that the introductions seem so obviously stated. This might have to do with my inexperience reading comics and graphic novels, but I was annoyed when the story began and I did not know who the characters were until they said something that was particular to their fairy tale. The artwork in this novel is beautiful. It takes some classic elements from superhero comics, but still has a unique color blend. The characters are not portrayed as perfect or all good. They are drawn in a metropolitan, edgy way that ties in classical elements from the culture the fairy tale is originally from.
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Booktalk Ideas: Choose a character and discuss in what ways the character is like the traditional character they are based on.
Challenge Issues: Violence, Death, Language
Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association
Why Did I Pick This: I picked this graphic novel because I think that teens should have a wide variety of literature to choose from. This series, in particular, blends the traditional with the non-traditional. Teens will be able to recognize the iconic fairy tale characters, but they will get to hear a new story about them that will change their outlook on fairy tales quite a bit!
Willingham, B. (2009). Fables: Deluxe Edition Book 1. New York City, NY: Vertigo.