I just finished reading Volume One of Fables, Legends in Exile. The only comic series that has ever really grabbed me and made me spend way too much money is The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. While I still don’t think Fables is quite on par with Sandman it has come closer than anything else I’ve read thus far. (To be fair I haven’t read too many other comic books or graphic novels…suggestion are always welcome.)
This may not be entirely fair but I’m having trouble thinking of Fables without comparing it to other comics and books. For instance, I can see how Fables and Sandman would appeal to the same audience, however I feel Sandman delves into bigger (or maybe just more intense) themes at the same time as being an entertaining story. In addition, if you’ve ever read anything by Gregory Maguire (if you haven’t you should. Look up Wicked first…yes like the musical, but at the same time nothing at all like the musical) then it’s easy to think of Fables as the comic book version of his books. I’d argue however that having a twist on classic fables and stories is the end of the comparison between the two. Gregory Maguire’s stories deal with the realities that tend to be ignored within the fantasy world. Fables takes the characters from the fantasy world and plants them in the middle of our own reality.
If I haven’t made it clear (trust me I know I haven’t) I really did enjoy Fables. Every child hears about Snow White or Prince Charming or the Big Bad Wolf and relates to the characters, but then we grow up and are trained to believe that these stories are all fantasies, made up and never going to play out in real life. Real life tends to support this training and so we move on. Dreaming about Prince Charming is replaced with reminiscing about the time we believed he existed. Fables pulls these characters along with us into the grown up world and makes them relatable again. Sometimes in surprising ways. Prince Charming has lost his charm, but the Big Bad Wolf is pretty attractive and, let’s be real, that ‘s closer to what real life is anyway.