Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fables: 10001 Nights of Snowfall, by Bill Willingham et. al.

Dark, dark, dark. This was another one of my graphic novel experiments. My honey scoffs whenever I say the words "graphic novel" which I have to admit, really is a way to say "comic books for grown-ups." He prefers to read technical manuals, which I call "comic books for nerds." This graphic novel was definitely R-rated. I guess I should have expected it, but it still took me by surprise. The book was so imaginative and the illustrations are so beautiful, that as long as you are prepared for the subject matter it's worth the read.

Here's the set-up: story-book characters have been chased from their homeland by a mysterious and gruesome enemy called "The Adversary." He and his ogres either can't or won't follow the Fables through a portal into our world that deposits them into New York City. Snow White is sent as an ambassador to a powerful caliph in story-book Arabia to form an alliance against the Adversary. Instead of conducting political negotiations, he marries her that night with the intent to kill her in the morning. Rather than beg for her life, she tells him a story. And another, and another. Soon it's morning and he agrees to let her live for one more day... and more stories.

Each of Snow White's stories are illustrated by a different artist, and the work is amazing. There is quite a range, but the writing (by Bill Willingham, who apparently is a legend) is what really grabbed me. He had an inventive take on the stories we all grew up on, but it made me wonder if anyone reads the Brothers Grimm and fairytales for their own sake anymore. Shrek 1, 2, and 3 strip-mined every story children might know and movies like "Stardust" and "Brothers Grimm" play in those worlds but don't follow the rules. Willingham took it even further. Not only are there the dark elements from the original stories, but then there's the really dark elements from Willingham's post-modern deconstruction of the stories and his 21st-century take on evil.

The imagination in these stories is amazing, and if you enjoy art at all you'll be drawn into the illustrations. I don't think I'll read the rest of the series though. If you have (or will), let me know--I want to know how it ends!


Nathan Garrett said...

I really liked Stardust -- it was a veryy strange film, but very fun.