This month's release of the new Fables video game The Wolf Among Us by Telltale Games is getting an enthusiastic endorsement from the comic book's creator, Bill Willingham.
"It's a wonderful game," Willingham said. "It's a terrific game. I could not be more pleased with this as a Fables tie-in."
The Wolf Among Us, which comes from the makers of last year's hit video game The Walking Dead, puts players in the role of the Fables character Bigby Wolf, one of the most beloved characters in the award-winning Vertigo comic book series.
"The story takes place before the very first issue of Fables," Willingham explained. "It's in continuity. Fables does presume that the story told by the game here did happen."
Bigby was once infamously known as The Big Bad Wolf, but in the game, he lives in our world and is now sheriff of Fabletown, a hidden community in New York City that is home to exiles from the land of fairy tales. Game makers have promised appearances by almost unlimited characters from the comic, including teasers showing Snow White and Bufkin the Flying Monkey, and everything is in canon with the comic.
Telltale is releasing The Wolf Among Us in five chapters, each with a cliffhanger ending that leads into the next one. The first chapter, titled "Faith," is out now on Xbox 360 and PC, with a Tuesday release on PlayStation 3 and Mac. "I am so pleased that this is a storytelling game," said Willingham. "I mean, there are game aspects of it, but it's up to you to follow the story through, and it has a definite story, a very specific story.
"Yes, I got to play [the first chapter], and I know the cliffhanger ending, which I will not blurt out," he said with a laugh.
Newsarama talked to Willingham about the game as he was promoting his new comic series Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure, which was announced during New York Comic Con.
The writer said the video game makers have utilized him as a consultant, to make sure the game fits with Fables continuity.
"I was involved," the writer said. "I did not set the story, in the sense of, I'm not one of the writers, but I did 'troubleshoot' it.
"Basically, I was brought on as some kind of consultant/co-producer/something-or-other, to make sure the story stayed on track — and on track meaning true to the specific characters and not in violation of anything we're doing with Fables. So the purpose of my help is to say, you know, Bigby wouldn't do that or say it in that way. Or reminding the writers that Bigby can't drive. Or he can't visit The Farm. Those types of things. Continuity cop types of stuff."
Fables, which is Vertigo's longest running and most successful current comic book series, has also spin-off comics series, as well as several best-selling graphic novels. Willingham, who is also a prose novelist, even released a Fables tie-in novel, Peter & Max.
But The Wolf Among Us is the first time Fables has been successfully translated to any type of animated story, although there have been other attempts at a live action version. Warner Bros. tried (but failed) to develop a Fables film with the Jim Henson Company in 2004, then fans were disappointed again in 2008, when ABC had scripted a pilot for a Fables TV show that went nowhere.
"[The Wolf Among Us video game is] unlike the first two attempts at a pilot for a Fables TV show that people have produced," Willingham said. "In those cases, there were loads of things I could have done, loads of notes I could have given them — you know, you missed this here, you violated this here, etcetera, etcetera. But luckily neither of those two pilots were produced because they bore only a passing resemblance to Fables. I asked myself with those two pilots, 'Did these guys even read the book?
"Unlike them, the writing team at Telltale Games really know the stuff," the writer said. "They knew the stuff backwards and forward. So even though I'm going to take the money for helping to keep them on the right track, I feel like I'm stealing most of that, just because I've had very little to do in the sense of correcting them, in the sense of, you know, 'you can't do that' and reminding them of things in the series. They know it. They know the material backwards and forwards."
In June, Warner Entertainment announced that Fables is also currently being developed as a film by Harry Potter franchise producers David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford of Heyday Films. Heyman, while promoting the film Gravity, has confirmed that the first draft of the script is currently being written.
"If the movie plans come as close to the material as this," Willingham said, "and as faithful to it as this, then I will be as happy as can be."
The first chapter of The Wolf Among Us, titled "Faith," was released last week on PC and Xbox. The game also premieres Tuesday on the PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3 in North America (with a European PlayStation release expected soon). Each chapter costs $4.99, and console players will have the option to purchase a subscription to all five chapters at a discounted price. The game is rated M for Mature.