Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review 2012 #9 - Bill Willingham's 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham
Published by: Vertigo
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 144 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
(different edition than one reviewed)

The adversary has run the Fables out of their homelands. Snow White is one of the refugees. She has helped establish a colony on the island of Manhattan as a safe haven. Hoping to form a unified front, Snow is sent to negotiate with the Arabian Fables. Yet the appearance of a women as envoy offends the Fables she has been sent to treaty with. She is able to save her life by acting as Scheherazade, and filling the nights with stories of the Homelands the Fables hope to one day return to.

Snow dwells much on her own shadowed past, from Snow's earliest days in her marriage with Prince Charming, and what really happened to those dwarves, her fleeing with her sister Rose and how their kindness brought back a diabolical witch, who would eventually become one of their greatest allies, Frau Totenkinder. Snow's eventual husband, Bigby, The Big Bad Wolf, also makes a few appearances. From foxes using guerrilla tactics and pies to thwart the enemy, to how the happiness of the Frog Prince was forever shattered by the Adversary, Snow beguiles away the nights and saves her life for one more day. Eventually she returns home, alive, but still without a true alliance, that will take a few hundred years more to get right.

For years people have been telling me to read the series of Fables comics by Bill Willingham. Me, being a contrarian, kind of ignored this, despite the fact that their essence of retelling and twisting of old fairy tales is right up my ally. I finally broke down and have since been devouring them at a most prodigious rate. They are very hit or miss for me. The overall worldbuilding I find fascinating, as I do the conceit of storybook characters living amongst us. Most of my gripes revolve around the art and sometimes the narrative not quite coming together right.

Also there is all this backstory, this history that exists, what with the character being basically immortal, that we have yet to see. That's where this volume comes in. Not only does it start to flesh out the world and show the connections or first meetings of many of the characters, it helps explain so much of what has been going on in the comics. This history was always there for the writers, but until now we where ignorant of it. The fact that Frau Totenkinder is really the witch with a certain house made of candy, whose hunger for children had more to do with her magic and her desire to appear young, then in thinking that children where delicious snacks. Also, the first seeds of Snow White and Prince charming falling out of love are all here.

But the story that really made this collection work for me was that of Ambrose, The Frog Prince. He has always been a melancholy little character as a janitor, known by the nickname Flycatcher. Back in the homelands he had his happily ever after, even if he still had a nervous disposition to occasionally revert to amphibian form... which leads to a tragic turn of events when the Adversary arrives... poor Flycatcher.

Yet what drew me to this volume more than anything else is the art. Instead of having the regular mundane drawings reminiscent of Prince Valiant, or the like, they had many artists and let them have free reign. The emotion and depth to which theses works of art, because they are works of art, add to and enhance the story makes me want to beg Willingham to do this for every issue. James Jean's work, whose covers have always stood out, looked amazing complimenting Flaycatcher's tale. Tara McPherson and Esao Andrews also deserve special shout outs as well, even if Tara's drawings of people with heart shaped holes in them freak me out a little! Going from this back to the normal run of the mill issues is like the biggest let down in the world. You see the heights to which they are able to reach, only to have them go back to the same old same old... sigh, it breaks my heart.


I'll have to buy this graphic novel as soon as I can. I think that this volume isn't available in Italian anymore, so I'll have to order it online. The art looks stunning!
I remember learning about it years ago, but then I couldn't find it anywhere (I didn't shop online at the time) and, in the end, I entirely forgot about it.

I'm still looking for a good copy myself! I really want a hardcover, but they only sell that paperbacks now. I lucked out recently and found the out of print book, The Complete Fables Covers by Jean James, and was over the moon. So gorgeous!

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home