3 April 2011
15. Fables Vol. 14: Witches by Bill Willingham
Until recently, the only graphic novel I had read was Watchmen but one of the teachers at the school I work at is a huge graphic novel enthusiast. We've been working together on building a graphic novel section in the library and along the way I have read a fair few graphic novels. Said teacher recommended Fables to me last year as something he thought I would enjoy, he was proved right and fourteen volumes later here we are.
The basic premise of Fables is that a war in the 'Homelands' with 'The Adversary' has meant that fairytale character are forced to live in New York. Human looking fairytales live in 'Fabletown' in New York and characters such as animals who cannot blend in live at The Farm upstate. Fabletown is run by King Cole, with Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf) and Snow White as his deputies. Various well known characters crop up throughout the series and Bill Willingham plays with what we think of them; such as Prince Charming who crops up in various fairytales as the romantic hero and is portrayed as a lothario who has divorced Snow White and Sleeping Beauty (both introduced to him by their shared fairy godmother) and is currently married to Cinderella. There are various references to all sorts of literature and it's fun to see the way various folklore is played with.
The first ten or so volumes deal with the war in the Homelands alongside various other plots woven in and around it. By volume fourteen we are dealing with a new enemy, Mr. Dark, who is actually quite legitimately frightening as a characters and the Fables have no idea how to deal with him. The various witches of folklore (including Ozma and Frau Totenkinder - who is the various witches of folklore such as the witch from Hansel and Gretel) also are key and the winged monkey Bufkin manages to show the value of reading when he has his own heroic moment.
To say too much about the plot of Vol. 14 would give away too much so I'm sticking with a general review of the Fables series. It's definitely worth a look for keen readers who haven't tried the graphic novel genre before. It has bits of violence in it but on the whole it's not really your stereotypical (if there is such a thing) graphic novel and anyone who has been put off by graphic violence or superheroes should not tar Fables with the same brush. Well worth a look if you're looking for something exciting, quirky and new to read - but start at the beginning!