Friday, December 16, 2011

Dreaming Disney – Fables

Despite the fact I really like childish things, I am an adult.  No really, don’t let the Mickey Mouse watch, the Toy Story t-shirt and the Disneyland hat fool you!  And I really do like gritty stories, where a character might actually die or make choices that do not match my own.  Some of my favorite worlds are grey, like the Christopher Nolan Batman universe.  And let’s be our typical honest and admit that Disney’s worlds are often black and white not Grey.  The good guy is good, the bad guy is bad, and everyone gets happily ever after as long as they do not fall off a cliff.  But sometimes I am not in the mood for that formula.
A little while ago two friends introduced me to a comic book called Fables.  I thought it would be lame.  These friends and I often do not have similar tastes, they are not Disney guys.  But what they sold me on was that one of the main characters was Snow White, a Snow White living in our world.  Gentlemen you have my attention, but I should warn you it won’t last for long!  Instead of being turned off I fell in love with a fantastically crafted story that is filled with familiar characters that I know and love. 
The basic story is that a group of fairy tale characters, or Fables, have fled their homelands in the face of an adversary who conquered their homes.  The Fables live in two places in our world.  First, the human looking Fables live in a small and secretive New York neighborhood.  The non-human looking Fables live at The Farm, a secluded and magically protected area used for hiding three little pigs, dragons and other Fables that cannot fit into our world.  The comic book follows the Fables as they struggle to overthrow the unknown adversary and regain access to their homelands. 
Any Disney fan is going to love this story because the characters are so familiar, but with a twist.  As we enter the story, Snow White is the deputy mayor of Fabletown and is the power behind the throne of Mayor King Cole.  She is a major character in this world as we follow her romance with the Big Bad Wolf, she is divorced from Prince Charming who has also been wed to Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  Yes, divorced from Prince Charming something we would never find in a Disney tale.  Charming himself is a con man and rascal who treats women badly but shows his heroic stripes during the war for the homelands.  Cinderella and Mowgli serve as spies for Sheriff Bigby Wolf, serving as his eyes around the globe to ensure good Fable behavior.  We find Pinocchio as a frustrated boy locked in eternal youth with adult sized desires.  And both Belle and the Beast rise in importance to key roles within the Fable government.
I really do love this title, and it’s because I am a Disney fanboy.  First, I get to see beloved characters in a different light.  I have to admit I love the concept of Cinderella as a super spy as highlighted in Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love.  Second, I get to learn more about these characters.  I had no idea that in traditional tales Snow White had a sister named Rose Red.  Anytime a character is introduced for the first time I generally scurry off to Google so I can learn the references that author Bill Willingham is using.  Finally, its characters I am familiar with but in adult story lines.  War is a major theme, and the harshness of war is evident throughout the series.  Characters do die, and when they do it is often forever.  Ever after in Fables is not always happy.  And some of the characters such as Jack Horner, highlighted in his own Jack of Fables title, are crass and often unlikeable. 
Even if you are not a comic book fan, I recommend checking out Fables.  Much like Once Upon a Time it offers a new take on our beloved characters.  And the writing for this series if fantastic, and that’s coming from a doubter.  Trust me, once you are introduced to the Big Bad Wolf you’ll have a hard time putting this title down. 

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