Fables #150's "Happily Ever After" might have sounded like the name of the franchise's swan song, but in actually it was a portent for what's to come.
Beginning in September, Everafter: From the Pages of Fables gives a fresh new approach to the magical universe while utilizing familiar and beloved characters. Set a few years after the end of Fables #150 — the conclusion to Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham's acclaimed series — Everafter will tell the story of what happens now that the "mundane" world is aware of magic. At the center of the series will be a covert ops team whose mission is to save the newly magic world from itself. Long-time fans will be happy to know that characters like Conner Wolf, Peter Piper, Bo Peep and Hansel will be central characters, as well as some new characters.
Fables: The Wolf Among Us co-writers Matt Justus and Dave Sturges are re-uniting with one of that series' artists, Travis Moore, for this next chapter in the Fables franchise.
Newsarama talked to the trio of Fables creators to find out more about this covert ops team, how Willingham feels about the whole thing, and what readers might learn about a post-Fables #150 world.
Newsarama: Dave and Matt, how did this opportunity come about?
Matt Sturges: Dave and I basically pestered everyone into letting us do it. I think that's fair. Am I saying this right, Dave?
Dave Justus: Yeah, it was fairly early on when we were doing Wolf Among Us that Bill Willingham called us and said, you know, I like what you guys are doing, and obviously Fables is coming to a close, but I'm open to hearing ideas that you guys might have if you feel like maybe it shouldn't come to a close.
So we obviously were surprised and honored by that. And when the idea of Everafter popped into our head, we took it to Bill and said this is what we think we might want to do. And he was gracious enough to say all right, let's go for it.
Sturges: But there was also a little of us saying, you know Bill, if there was ever another Fables series, we could probably make some room in our schedules for that.
Justus: And of course, all of us loved what Travis was doing on Wolf Among Us. So I think there was very little question if we got away with doing some new Fables, we would want to pull him in on it immediately.
Bill was very supportive of the idea of Travis getting work. It was just maybe rough to steal him away from what Bill wanted to do and instead put him on a Fables book again.
Nrama: And Travis, you've worked with Bill before, right? Before Wolf Among Us?
Travis Moore: Yeah, one of the earliest things I did for DC was Justice Society of America, when it was being written by Bill. And that was the start of this whole thing for me.
Sturges: Yeah, join the club.
Justus: Everyone here owes their careers to Bill in some way.
Nrama: Let's talk about the idea of Everafter. How would you describe the stories you're telling in this? Where does it fit into Fables continuity?
Justus: When we were doing Wolf Among Us, we realized that, within the world of Fables, you can tell almost any style of story you want. We had concocted various origin stories in that title in different styles. And we were working on the Victorian horror story of Bloody Mary's origin. We realized we can do any style of story under the sun.
So we started thinking, well, what style of stories would be something that we could get fired up about and something that readers might get fired up about?
And the one we kept coming back to was a spy thriller. We wanted to do something with a lot of action.
One of the points that I kept bringing up early on was Losers, the Vertigo book. There was just so much action to it that it felt like you were watching a movie on the page. And I was like, if we can do something like that, where there's that kinetic feel of motion and action, with the corridors of power and agents enacting all these missions.
Nrama: So does this take place in the future of the Fables series, after #150?
Sturges: It does. It basically explores the question, what happens to the world after the end of Fables #150? What happens after it's revealed that magic exists to the wider world and human beings and mundane animals start to become fables?
We started to think about, what would that mean? What would happen if, suddenly, magic was everywhere?
We realized that would be a very fascinating and dangerous place.
Nrama: So where does the spy thriller come in?
Sturges: Well, who would protect such a world? Who would keep that world from burning to ashes? I think someone somewhere said with great power comes great responsibility. I don't know who. But this is a bunch of power without necessarily any responsibility.
It made us think about the Cold War and the proliferation of nuclear arms. And the uncertainty that goes along with living in a brave new world.
And so we envision the idea of these Shadow Players and the one who would keep the world from destroying itself.
And that gave us such a great point of view to explore this whole world — not just the mundane world, but the worlds that are connected to it — and do it in a way that was really different from what Bill had done in Fables. If we tried to just do more of what Bill was doing, what's the point of doing that? Bill already did it and did it better than we would have.
But this is something that we felt like we could do. So this is what we did.
Nrama: How long after the end of Fables #150 do we pick up the story?
Sturges: It begins several years after the end of Fables #150, so enough time has passed to where it's not all brand new, but the world is still in upheaval and nobody really knows what's going to happen.
Nrama: Does this include any of the characters that people would recognize from the Fables universe?
Moore: Definitely. We're going to be seeing recognizable characters, but I think one of the really exciting things about this title is that we're going to be pushing a lot of the characters who were secondary in the original series up to the forefront.
So we're going to be getting to know characters like Peter Piper and Bo Peep and Hansel and Conner Wolf much better than we did in the original series.
Peter and Bo, they were the main characters of the Peter and Max novel that Bill wrote, but in respect to the comics, they didn't get a lot of screen time. So we'll get to really explore their story and relationship moving forward.
Conner, for example, was a boy through the whole Fables series. And now we'll get to see him transitioning into a young adult, and what kind of responsibility that brings with it.
And then Hansel got some screen time in Fables, but in a very adversarial position, whereas in this series, we're going to get to see what happens when he's someone that these people have to work with.
So yeah, I think it's kind of exciting that we'll get to explore these characters, plus other familiar characters. And then, of course, there will be new characters.
Nrama: Will people be afraid of Fables characters? Afraid of magic?
Justus: There's some of that. But it's a world where magic exists and is known to exist by the populace. Like any kind of superpower, it's something that can be used for good or for ill. So, you know, you could have someone who is using magical abilities to provide aid to impoverished communities, but you can also have someone who's using their genie lamp to become a dictator.
So it's a thing where people are afraid of the unknown, because magic can be unpredictable.
The instances where that unpredictability tips over into misuse, that's when our team of Shadow Players is there.
Moore: At the same time, imagine how cool it would be to find out that Santa Claus is actually real. You know? And Snow White is someone that you can go get her autograph. In a way, it would almost make celebrities out of them.
Sturges: There are as many reactions as there are people.
And this situation gives Travis some really cool stuff to draw. There's a scene in the first issue where there's a family of elves who are tourists visiting DC. So you get to see all these worlds are colliding with one another, which is the kind of thing I really love to do.
Nrama: Is this planned as an ongoing thing? Or do you have a finite story in mind?
Justus: We have the ability to shift the spotlight. So as we open up, we have our team of Shadow Players, including Peter and Bo and Hansel as these long-established agents. And Conner Wolf is on-boarding at this point, so he gets to be our point-of-view character for this initial story arc.
But beyond that, there are so many other characters that we get to meet and that we get to maybe do a single issue about, or a couple of issues spotlight. So somebody that you've only seen maybe filing stuff in the background will have this amazing story.
Right now, Matt and I are writing one of those one-shots, and I hope when it comes out, people will be interested in it, because I think it's a way to show a completely different perspective, and to fill in the gap between Fables #150 and Everafter #1 by spotlighting a minor character and giving us their perspective.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans?
Sturges: This is a very dynamic, very visual book. There's so much going on. Travis has done a magnificent job showing us action and figures practically popping off the page. Every issue is a feast of imagery. We wanted to make this book as dynamic and high-energy as we could. And working with Travis really lets us do that in a lot of cool ways.
We're really excited about the way the book looks. It doesn't look like Fables. It doesn't really look like anything else Vertigo is putting out. So if nothing else, visually, it's going to stand out from the crowd.