A Tour of Fabletown

Patterns and Plots in Bill Willingham’s Fables


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About the Book

In 2002, Vertigo/DC Comics published the first issue of Bill Willingham’s Fables. The series imagined the lives of fairy tale figures—Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella and the ubiquitous Prince Charming, among many others—as they made new lives for themselves in modern-day New York City, having fled their storied homeworlds following an invasion. After 150 issues and many awards, Fables concluded its run in July 2015.
This study, the first about the sprawling, complex series, discusses such topics as Fables’ status as a contemporary adaptation of folk and fairy tales; its use of conventional genres like sword-and-sorcery, crime and romance; its portrayal of social and political relationships; and its self-referential moments. Providing a detailed introduction to the themes and ideas in the series, the author explores how Fables portrays redemption, the function of community, and how our hopes and fears influence our ideal of “happily ever after.”

About the Author(s)

Neta Gordon is an associate professor in the department of English Language and Literature at Brock University in St Catharines, Ontario.

Bibliographic Details

Neta Gordon
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9985-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2401-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Preface 1

Introduction: In Praise of Muddlecock: The Thematization of Reading in Fables 7

1—Plots: Adaptation, Genre and Allegory 19

Fairy Tales and Adaptation 19

Plot Collisions and the Control of Narrative 28

Quests 38

Prince Charming versus Prince Brandish: An Allegorical Reading 47

2—The Social World 58

Posthuman Interrogations 58

Fathers and Sons 68

Snow White’s Complex Femininity 77

The Shaming of Rose Red 86

3—Politics: History, Power and Leadership 96

Bigby as America 96

Styles of Leadership: Geppetto, Flycatcher and Rose Red 106

Fables and Fantasy: Geography, History, Economy 115

Race: East versus West, Pure versus Mongrel 124

4—Magic, Metaphysics and Metafiction 133

Magic and Power in the Age of Anxiety 133

Magic versus Technology, Religion and Language 142

Fate, Fortune, and Freedom 151

Metafiction and Absorption (the Rise of Ambrose Wolf) 159

5—­Spin-Offs 170

Peter & Max 170

Jack of Fables 172

Cinderella Graphic Novels 174

Fairest 176

The Unwritten Crossover 179

The Wolf Among Us 180

Works Cited 185

Index 193