Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Fables 149, originally released February 18th, 2015.
Patrick: We tend to look at foreshadowing as somewhat virtuosic — especially in serialized stories. The foreshadowing itself is kind of like a promise to the readers, and the payoff is the storyteller keeping that promise. That’s immensely rewarding, because it sorta proves that the creators were as invested in the ending of the story as the readers. But why does that really matter so much to us? In fact, isn’t it more impressive if ideas are creatively recalled from earlier in the story? Like, what’s the real virtue in planting a seed you’re only going to pay off later when anything could be a seed? Fables 149, takes this “everything is a seed” approach, asking questions about what is planned, why it was planned, and whether it matters. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 148, originally released January 21st, 2015.
Once upon a time…
Drew: Where would you say your story begins? Your first memory? Your birth? Your conception? Your parents’ first date? Their births? It’s easy enough to trace that back ad infinitum, as the circumstances that allowed you to become the person you are were set in motion at the very dawn of time. The same could be said of when your story ends. Is it your death? The death of the last person who knew you? Perhaps your mere existence influences events until the very end of time. Obviously, the scope of an individual story tends to be a bit narrower — infinite context is rarely necessary or informative — but what about the scope of all stories? The folklore origins of Fables have always given the characters a certain vintage of origin, and the modern-day setting gives them a certain end-date, but issue 148 finds important context stretching further in both directions, effectively widening the scope of the series to the narrative arc of the entire universe.Continue reading →
We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a decades-spanning ongoing or a short-run miniseries, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. Indeed, we’re so enamored of serialization that we decided to split our favorite series list into two installments. Here’s part 1 our top 14 series of 2014 (check back here for part 2 tomorrow). Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 146, originally released November 19th, 2014.
Drew: I love thinking about art. I know that sentiment sometimes seems sterile to folks who prefer to “feel” art, but I’ve really never seen the two as mutually exclusive. Indeed, I think deep thought about why a work of art invokes the feelings that it does makes for a much more rewarding experience, not only for our understanding of the art and ourselves, but for our own emotional satisfaction. For me, analysis doesn’t distance me from the art, it immerses me in it, allowing for countless stories within our favorite works of art. Surprisingly, the biggest resistance I get to this approach is in music, where most people — including musicians — seem to dismiss analysis as a sterilized intellectual endeavor. I personally think this is the result of incomplete familiarity with the tools and techniques of music theory. Even trained musicians tend to think of “theory” as referring to harmonic analysis almost exclusively, which is effectively like saying literary analysis is just the cataloging of assonance. One tool is not enough to effectively analyze any work of art, and flattens all art to existing in a single dimension. Then again, certain works of art lend themselves particularly well to focusing on one — the orchestration of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, for instance — yielding a rich narrative about the work, even if it isn’t the only narrative. I’d argue that Fables has this kind of relationship with allusions — one that is particularly pronounced in issue 146.Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 145, originally released October 15th, 2014.
The term ‘archetype’ is often misunderstood as meaning a certain definite mythological image or motif…On the contrary, [it is] an inherited tendency of the human mind to form representations of mythological motifs — representations that vary a great deal without losing their basic pattern…
Drew: I’ve spent a lot of time on this site maligning the over-reliance on tropes in comics, but I think I have a clear understanding of why they’re used — sure, we may have seen the loose-canon cop or bumbling working class husband a few too many times, but they’re only used because they’re effective springboards for drama (or comedy, as the case may be). However, I haven’t put very much thought into where the tropes actually come from. The Worf Effect gets its name from Star Trek: The Next Genneration, but it was already a well-established trope by that point — at least as old as Greek myths (where Ares often has his ass handed to him). Again, this makes sense given how effective these tropes can be — an interesting premise/situation/character is bound to be repeated as long as it can bear new narrative fruit. But what if the first attempt at a given premise isn’t particularly successful?As a series built on these very archetypes, Fables has always had an unusual relationship with tropes, which gives issue 145 a unique perspective on that very question. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 144, originally released September 17th, 2014.
Han: How we doin’?
Luke: Same as always.
Han: That bad, huh?
Return of the Jedi
Drew: If I had to point to a line that hooked me on Star Wars, it would be this line from Return of the Jedi. Maybe I should back up. I had somehow made it to age 9 without ever seeing a Star Wars movie when my 3rd grade teacher perplexingly allowed us to watch the first half-hour of Jedi in class. Knowing nothing about the movies, I was thoroughly enjoying my introduction to the Star Wars universe when the above exchange blew my mind straight out of my eyeballs. There are other adventures like this one? I honestly don’t think I could have been as hard up for the other movies if I had seen them in order. I suppose that’s my way of saying beginning a story at the end can be a rewarding, if unorthodox approach. It’s a particularly intimidating prospect in a world as steeped in its own mythology as Fables, but I’ll be damned if issue 144 doesn’t give me that same “I’ve got to go back and read them all” feeling. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 141, originally released June 18th, 2014.
Drew: Long before I ever read a page of Fables, I remember thinking that populating a story with only folktale characters would be incredibly limiting. I had dismissed it as a total gimmick, doomed to occupy a very closed-off little world. Turns out, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. Indeed, the massive world-building that Bill Willingham seems to toss off in every single issue has quickly become my favorite aspect of the series. Every detail can support its own myth, creating a nested, telescoping world that seems virtually infinite. Those myths-within-myths can lend even the more mundane “putting the pieces in place” issues a great deal of action — though with Willingham crafting the dialogue, even the talking heads sequences in this issue are thrilling. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 140, originally released May 14th, 2014.
Patrick: As Bill Willingham nears the end of his fairy-tale epic, it appears the writer has endings on the brain. By the time it wraps up early next year, the series will have been in print for over a dozen years and spawned numerous spin-offs, original graphic novels and video games. It’s an enormous, multi-platform franchise that needs a compelling conclusion. The problem, and one that Willingham articulates exceptionally well in the two-issue Boys in the Band story arc, is that modern audiences might not know what we want from endings anymore. A happy ending? A mind-blowing twist? A meaningful loss? After over a decade, any real resolution feels cheap, even dishonest. Time will tell how exactly Willingham pulls it off, but he uses this issue to identify all the pitfalls he’s prepared to avoid. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fables 138, originally released February 19th, 2014.
Drew: I know this cements me as a twenty-something white-boy nerd, but I love it when stories get meta. Fiction is full of characters and situations we can relate to, but few themes are as unifying as the love of storytelling itself. Fables has long been a celebration of the power of storytelling — the way it inspires us, challenges us, and teaches us — but in the wrong hands, that power can be dangerous. After all, what is a lie if not a story? It would be easy to ignore the dark side of fiction, but Fables 138 boldly turns away from Rose Red’s Camelot to detail the deceit Geppetto has hidden behind as he works in secret to rebuild his empire.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Fables 136, originally released December 31st, 2013.
Patrick: I worked as a Residence Hall Director the year after I graduated from college. For me, the worst part of doing this job in a professional capacity was having to artificially take on a role that did suit me. I always believe that a Res Life staffer is only as good as they are authentic — college students have incredible bullshit detectors. A few weeks a month, I’d be in possession of the Duty Phone, which meant that I was going to have to act as back-up to campus security and bust parties at a moments’ notice. I used to hate it, and I’d stress out about my time with that damn phone all month. But as soon as the phone was in my hands, I took the duty seriously. It was the role I had to play at that time. As Rose Red’s new Camelot starts to take shape, the subject of roles comes up and makes everyone suitably uncomfortable. Continue reading →