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Books 151-152: Fables: Legends in Exile and Fables: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham

Book 151: Fables: Legends in Exile.
Author: Bill Willingham 2003.
Genre: Graphic Novel. Re-told Fairy Tales. Myth and Legend. Murder Mystery.
Other Details: Trade paperback. 128 pages.

The premise for this series is that following the conquest of their Homelands by the mysterious Adversary, various characters of fairy tales, nursery rhymes and folklore were forced to relocate to our world. Here they have created a community within New York City named Fabletown where they seek to live quietly alongside the mundane population. The community is led by King Cole though the real leader is his right-hand woman Snow White. When her sister Rose Red is reported missing with a strong indication that she has met with foul play, Snow and Sheriff Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf now able to take human form) set out to solve the mystery.

I became aware of this series of graphic novels via temporaryworlds's reviews and was pleased to discover that my local library service had a good number of the series in their collection. The first volume introduces Fabletown and a number of key characters. It contains Issues 1-5 of the original comic and also includes as origin story of how Bigby first met Snow (A Wolf in the Fold).

There is a great deal of wicked humour in the stories, such as Prince Charming being an utter cad and Jack of Beanstalk fame an artful con artist. Snow and the Big Bad Wolf quickly became my favourite characters with a prickly relationship underpinned by a grudging respect for each other. Interestingly both NBC and ABC networks considered developing Fables as TV series and recently went on to create the police procedural Grimm and Once Upon a Time, which uses the concept of exiled fairy tale characters though it is much more Disneyesque and very different in tone to this gritty comic series.

Book 152: Fables: Animal Farm.
Author: Bill Willingham, 2003.
Genre: Graphic Novel. Re-told Fairy Tales. Myth and Legend
Other Details: Trade paperback. 128 pages.

Since they were driven from their homelands the human Fables have lived in the city while the non-human Fables were forced to live on the Farm, a vast property in upstate New York where they are safe from the prying eyes of the mundane world. Yet after hundreds of years the inhabitants of the Farm are seething with ideas of revolution against the human Fables. When Snow White visits to check that things are running smoothly she stumbles across this plot and soon finds herself in grave danger.

A strong second volume for this series and given the theme of a revolution at 'animal farm' there were obvious resonances with Orwell's novel of the same name. I found my sympathies quite divided given the non-human Fables situation. It was much more violent than the first collection with some quite shocking developments.
Tags: animals, fantasy, graphic novel, mystery, myth and legend, urban fantasy
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