Early next year, fans of Vertigo's Fables series will get more of the stories they love as writer Bill Willingham spins off a second comic titled Fairest.
And artist Phil Jimenez will be helping him kick the new comic off, along with the incomparable Adam Hughes on covers.
Announced on Saturday during the Fables panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, the new series will focus on stories about popular character Cinderella, as well as other "fair" ladies from Fabletown like Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.
While Willingham and artist Mark Buckingham will continue to create the main Fables title, various writers and artists will contribute to the stories contained in Fairest. But the first story arc of Fairest will be written by Willingham with art by Phil Jimenez.
In the first of a three-part interview about the Fables universe and what Willingham is working on, Newsarama talked with the writer to find out more about Fairest.
Newsarama: Bill, is this a case of you having so many stories to tell about these characters that you needed more room to do it?
Bill Willingham: That as part of it. Definitely in the main Fables book, and I hope it's not commonly referred to as the "main" Fables book because both will be important, but in the Fables book named Fables, we have to pay so much attention to the larger story that we were losing out on some of the more intimate, personal stories focusing on specific characters.
Fairest just seemed like the right way to go for two reasons. The completely cynical marketing reason, because if you look at the titles Fairest and Fables, both are going to be racked side by side, and I thought that was a good consideration. But also the idea that in fairy tales, the "fairest in all the land" was such a ubiquitous occurrence that it's so fun playing with the idea of what happens when there's a whole community where the fairest in all the land exist in the dozens and they're all living side by side. So that's one aspect of that.
And this is to single out characters who haven't gotten a lot of time in the spotlight, and see what they're up to.
The other option was to make Fables twice monthly, which would have killed poor Mark, and this seems a terrific way to do it instead.One other consideration is that there are other terrific writers out there who want to play in the world of Fables. Although I'm going to be very, very selective about who gets into this particular sandbox, there are some writers who could really use a stage on which to strut their wares, and I think this will be a good platform for them.
Nrama: I know fans have really enjoyed the two Cinderella mini-series we've seen. That had to be encouraging to the folks at Vertigo, right? That this franchise can support these shorter stories that spotlight the "fairest" of the Fables characters.
Willingham: Yes, the two Cinderella stories that were practically back-to-back to each other were really the test for whether this sort of series that would focus on different characters' adventures could fly.
The Cinderella mini-series will be ongoing, but from now on she'll be folded into the Fairest series title.
Nrama: There might be a storyline within Fairest that would be about Cinderella? And maybe Chris Roberson might write one?
Willingham: Yes. We've already got Chris and Shawn McManus, who work so well together, doing what is essentially the third Cinderella mini-series, but will now be a five- to six-issue arc in Fairest.
The first story will be one I'm writing. After this month's Fables #107, the Terry Moore illustrated issue, deals with Sleeping Beauty, whom we've not seen for awhile. That issue leaves her fate on a bit of a cliffhanger.
Issue #1 of Fairest picks up the moment -- almost like the next panel -- after that issue of Fables leaves off. So we settle Sleeping Beauty's story in there.And then after that, we do a Rapunzel story written by Lauren Beukes, who is this wonderful South African writer who just won the Clarke Award for her second novel, Zoo City, and is up for the John Campbell Award for the same novel. She's just a star on the threshold of taking off, and we managed to rope her in before she was too famous for the likes of us.
She's doing a Rapunzel arc, which also includes, oddly enough, the origin of how the Witching Well got into the Fables business office from far-away Japan. So it's just a terrific story.
And then we have the third arc, which is already in progress as well. It's about a character we cannot tell you about, and a situation we cannot tell you about, and it's hopefully going to be pretty excited.
Nrama: Who's doing the art?
Willingham: It's going to rotate to a certain extent. Anytime Chris wants to write Cinderella, we'll keep the team together, with Shawn on art.
For the opening arc, we have Phil Jimenez coming over to the Fables family. He has started on the first issue, and it's just incredible. It's gorgeous.
My suspicion is, and don't hold me to this, but if Phil thinks he's going to do just six issues and then get away, we have the shackles and the official adoption papers already waiting. I don't think we're going to let him get away from Fables for too long or too far, because he's turning in some exemplary work.
Nrama: Phil seems like someone who doesn't work on things unless he's a fan. So is he a fan of the Fables series already?
Willingham: He surprised me because yes, he apparently has been a fan of Fables for some time and has been wanting to do something outside the superhero genre for a long time. So we were more than happy to accommodate him.
On the second arc, with Lauren Beukes, we have Inaki Miranda coming back. He illustrated that one-issue discussion between Mr. Dark and Mr. North previous to Issue #100 and just got a terrific fan reaction. So we decided we needed to bring him back as quickly as possible. And we will show some of his first work on Fairest, which shows Rapunzel being overwhelmed by modern Japan for the first time, and it's just a terrific two-page spread that I think will wow the readers pretty considerably.
Nrama: These writers that you're bringing in -- are they coordinating with you? You had some of these back-stories in your head, didn't you?
Willingham: I did. And there is a coordination in a gatekeeper fashion. This is a DC house organ. Anyone who writes Fables, by the nature of the beast, has to impress me with their stories.
However, for example, in the third arc, which I can't tell you anything about, the writer, who is new to comics but came out of the Hollywood screenwriting field, had an idea for the particular character who is being featured that was so, like... no character could fit this idea better. I was so impressed with his approach to find the very best story that could only work with one character. And we went with it.
So that was a case of another writer telling me what it should be about more than me telling him.
But yeah, I'm going to be continuity cop. I'm going to keep a tight rein on whether this character or that character would do that. Or maybe whether we had already shown something in perhaps her past that would complicate this. That type of thing. To keep everything in Fairest in continuity canon, official Fables history. We'll work pretty hard to make sure it stays that way.
Check back the week after Comic-Con for more of our discussion with Bill Willingham about what's coming up in Fables, and what he's doing outside of comics.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!