Fables is the Goodread’s I Read Comic Books book of the month selection with the theme being a fairy tale/folk tale/mythology adaptation. Kathleen read the entire series and loved it, and I had read a spin-off series about Jack of Fables and disliked the character but not the book, so I was pleased to get the push I needed to start the series myself.
Fractured fairy tales seem to be a dime a dozen nowadays, with it often being a literary trope, but this first volume gets it just right. Set in New York City, famous fairy tale characters have been banished from their kingdoms centuries ago by a mysterious Adversary and forced to move into the “Mundy” (mundane) world. Most of them live in a luxury high rise apartment with a divorced Snow White as their deputy mayor and The Big Bad Wolf aka Bigby as their sheriff. The main plot centers as a murder mystery when Rose Red, Snow’s estranged sister, is discovered to be missing and her apartment is drenched in blood. Bigby is tasked to solve the crime.
I enjoyed the crime thriller feature of the story (always a preferred genre of mine) mixed in with humor, adult themes, and the obvious fantasy aspect of it. I loved how Prince Charming was a Lothario who bedded any female, while Beauty and the Beast were a long-suffering couple with marital issues. Jack (Jack the Giant Killer, Little Jack Horner, Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack and Jill, Jack Be Nimble, Jack Frost, and Jack O’Lantern) was a scheming cad, Rose Red was a party girl, and Bluebeard a slimy playboy. Snow White and Bigby definitely had chemistry, and you know a relationship between the two is sure to develop in the future. The world-building was excellent, and this story is strong enough to be standalone, yet, most readers will be clamoring for more adventures with this unique cast. Part of the pleasure is figuring out who some of the characters are and reconciling how they are portrayed now with what you remember about them from their original fairytales.
The illustration style was attractive, although I wasn’t a fan of the cover or the opening pages to each chapter. I personally liked it more realistic, as shown by the pictures I attached. There were some fun splash pages, with me liking the office that Snow was in, for it showed artifacts from their fairyland-era. Plus, for visual clues any time the past was referred to, an ornate frame would be drawn around the panels which were a nice nod to the fantasy origin of this narrative and often were purple-hued. Because of the quarantine, I had to read this volume online through Hoopla so it was hard for me to really examine the illustrations like I would with a physical book.
This first volume is a delightful, but very mature, look at postmodern reimaged fairytales. I very well might continue with the series, but I will wait until I can read physical copies again, for a graphic novel’s appeal lies in the art, and I wish to savor all the intricacies that are drawn into the series.