Sunday, 25 January 2015

Legends Coming Out Of Exile

It's been a very long time coming, but its happening again, the powers of film are trying to bring the epic saga, Fables, to the big screen. But, it this a good idea?

Back in 2009 there were rumours and minor notes on Wikipedia about a TV series adaptations. This was before making TV series out of comic series was 'cool'. Seeing as 'Fables' is more fantasy than 'sci-fi', it seemed that networks were having difficulty making the show. At first it seemed like development issues, then script problems, then budget, as this would no doubt be an expensive show and a risk. The comic book series, which was created by Bill Willingham back in 2002, is a highly successful series AND one of Vertigo's longest running AND its muti-award winning and critically acclaimed. It seems like a winner all round. But, it's not sci-fi and that's what most non comic book reading folk think all comics are about.

I can understand the development hell as Fables may seem like it has a simple back story with the many many characters that appear but its a lot more complicated than that. Even before I read the comics (reading + buying 11 volumes in the space of a month) I read a little bit about the set up, without spoiling the story. Its brilliant.
 Legends in exile. Basically, all the fairytale characters from all folklore, fairytales, children's literature and even nursery rhymes, are exile, on the run from the Adversary who has taken over their Homelands. The Homelands resemble a versions of our own countries but on a massive scale. For example, characters from The Rus is the equivalent to Russia in our world. It's mostly characters from European tales that feature, although the Fables universe is forever expanding. More on that later. The 'Fables' as they call themselves have settled in New York City and have created their own 'Fabletown', complete with Sheriff, Bigby Wolf, otherwise known as The Big Bad Wolf and Mayor, King Cole but really the one who does all his work, his deputy, Snow White. That's is just a brief introductions to all the characters.

Can you see what I mean when I think making 'Fables' into a film just won't work?

When I was back in Uni, one of the projects we had to do was produce and pitch an idea for a TV show idea. We were advised to make an adaption of something and research which channel it would be best for and why, as well as producing any promotional material. I, of course, chose 'Fables' and it actually was a good pitch, grade to prove it. I still have some of the promo cards. I thought, due to the 'adult nature' of the comic, HBO would be a great fit for the show, especially as the company has a habbit for making TV shows that don't always follow trends.

Anyway, that was just a dream. Then after the rumours died down, the last one being that the entire cast were going to be unknowns from New Zealand, I just enjoyed the comics.

ABC then went and ruined everything by making 'Once Upon a Time', even though the two narratives, plot and characters are nothing alike, except sharing character names and they are influenced by fairytales. Remaking and redoing fairytales has become a lasting trend. Its dire in a way as all the studios are ruining classic Disney films but it also makes sense that the 'Fables' project is in development once more.

Just like the Marvel Universe, the Fables one is too vast to contain and pin all our hopes on 1 film. I now understand when all the comic book fans revolt at choices the studios make. I fear that Fables will either be ruined completely and put people off from ever reading the comics OR it just won't be enough to cram into one film, with the hopes of another, then a franchise. A TV series would be better and with Constantine, another Vertigo comic, making it to the small screen after the film (which I actually liked despite massive flaws) didn't quite set the box office alight, I still live in hope that the powers of film will turn around and say 'what are we doing?' and make a TV series instead.

I can hope right?

Bill Willingham announced last year that Fables would be coming to an end this year, in June I believe. Storylines in both the main comic and spin off 'Fairest' will be wrapped up and concluded. That would make it 13 years of Fables. Marvelous. The series was originally meant to end at 75 issues but due to its popularity and the fact there were more stories to tell, the series continued.

At the moment I am a bit behind in the issues, I'm now waiting for the paperbacks so I can continue. The series is set to end now at 150 issues.

 There are currently 20 volumes published,  as well as 3 spin off series; Jack of Fables which ran for 50 issues, 8 volumes published. Cinderella, had two mini series, 6 issues each named 'From Fabletown With Love' and 'Fables Are Forever'. Fairest was the latest spin-off, with 33 issues.

 As well as spin-offs, there have been 3 stand alone graphic novels; Werewolves of the Heartland (Bigby goes looking for another Fablestown to settle in) and Fairest of Them All (Rose Red confronts death). Early on, there was a graphic novel with loads of shorts stories, told in the style of the Arabian Nights stories, 1001 Nights of Snowfall. There has also been a stand alone novel, Peter & Max, a tale of two brothers, Peter Piper and Max Piper, otherwise known as the Pied Piper of Hamlin. I loved that novel, wished there were more.

Along with the all the stories, there is also a story game, The Wolf Among Us, where you get to be Bigby and police the fables of the town while also trying to solve a bizarre series of events.

So you can see what I mean when I say there is far more than a couple of trade paperbacks. As you also probably tell, I'm very invested in this series, it's actually what got me into comics, having only previously read a couple of random graphic novels, including Watchmen.

For more news about the film, click here.

To have a closer, longer look at the amazing artwork of the comics, click here for James Jean.

To read more about the characters and story arcs, click here

I think I might make a Pinterest board of my ideal cast, just for the visuals. I actually made a list before, years ago. Not sure if I agree with it now.

If you know and love Fables, what do you think? If you have no idea what I've been talking about, I hope I've convinced you to discover Fables for yourselves.


  1. I watched a couple of episodes of Once upon a time and it was terrible. Reckon a fables film will need to give itself some distance, wait for all the "fairytale" remakes to die down, before it starts x

  2. It was terrible, but I have to say season 2 got better but it felt like Lost (creators of both) but with fairytale characters. I bet the film will be a brand new story but I don't think that's a good idea either. I want to see the cast though! x