As fans of the Vertigo comic series Fables know, the mundy world is filled with mystical creatures of all types. From Cinderella to The Tin Man to Jack Frost, any story's fictional characters have the potential for life within the Fables universe.
So it should be no surprise that November's original graphic novel from Bill Willingham, Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland, brings creatures from horror into the fold. In the OGN, a whole town of werewolves are discovered by Bigby Wolf, one of the more beloved Fables characters, as he travels across the "Heartland" of the United States.
The 144-page graphic novel, due in comic stores Nov. 14th and bookstores on Nov. 20th, features art by Jim Fern (Jack of Fables), Craig Hamilton (Fables, Absolute Sandman), Ray Snyder (52), and Mark Farmer (Animal Man), with a cover by Daniel Dos Santos (Peter and Max).
This isn't the first time the Eisner Award-winning Fables comic has burst outside its own pages into other media. Besides its spin-off comic series like Jack of Fables, Fairest and Cinderella, Willingham has also penned a Fables-based prose novel, Peter and Max, as well as the acclaimed OGN 1001 Nights of Snowfall.
In the first installment of a two-part interview with Willingham, we talked to the writer about Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland and the blonde woman on the cover, but we also found out that fans might hear about other Fables OGNs soon.
Newsarama: Bill, what adventures will we see in Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland? I know you've told me before that this is about Bigby Wolf, but can you describe what we'll see in the story?
Bill Willingham: The nice thing about talking about Werewolves of the Heartland is that all sorts of stuff is given away by the combination of the title and the cover painting. So I can actually talk a lot about the premise.
Bigby is on his own, on the road, and he ends up in the "Heartland," in this case in Iowa, in a little town just north of Ames called Story City. And he finds it is smack full of werewolves, which is a mystery that he feels he needs to solve, being the lord-god-boss of all wolves.
And, as you can probably tell by the cover, at least at first they don't get along very well. We had Bigby in human but slightly feral form fighting off an entire pack of pesky werewolves.
Nrama: The cover also shows a woman.
Willingham: Yes, he has some young, lovely blonde in his arms, who's very definitely not Snow White. So that's one of the interesting mysteries, I hope, that long-time Fables readers will want to come to this book and find out. Bigby has at least one instance of, you know, whenever he and Snow are on the outs, he goes and finds himself a girlfriend to try and forget with. And so far, that hasn't come back to bite him. But perhaps here.... I'm not saying that's what's going on, but it's one possible solution to that mystery posed by the cover.
So yeah, it's Bigby, god of all wolves, finding a town full of werewolves and hilarity ensues. It practically writes itself.
Nrama: And this takes place recently in Fables continuity, right?
Willingham: This takes place, as any adamant Fables readers will recall, during the time when King Cole sends Bigby off on a special mission to find a potential new location for a new Fabletown should Mr. Dark succeed in destroying both Fabletown and the Farm, and even Haven, where they were on their run at the time. So this takes place during that quest of his.
Nrama: We've seen you round out the Fables universe quite a bit, with new concepts being introduced in various publications. Is this story more of a side story involving Bigby, or is it also building out the universe as you create characters and new concepts important to the Fables world?
Willingham: I don't really consider that there are such things as side stories. Certainly, there's a part of the Fables cast that's more beloved by readers right now than others. But every time we've gone off on a tangent, it's proven to not be that much of a tangent after all.The best example of that is Boy Blue, who was kind of a minor character until we sent him to the homelands on this quest, and then he became one of the most beloved characters in Fables. So much so that, evil people that Mark and I are, we say, "Oh, he's beloved? Let's let him die tragically and really put our readers through the ringer."
So I don't think there are side storylines.
With that said, this one is a bit of a tangent, in the sense that it's something that happens, basically, only to Bigby. It's a one-person show, in this case. From the regular Fables cast, we follow Bigby and no one else.
But, without giving away the ending, the repercussions of what happens in that town will ripple in the lives of Bigby, his wife, his family, and therefore Fabletown, to a greater extent, throughout the rest of the series.
No one gets out of this story entirely clean. It's not a case of, you can go home and say, well, that happened, but you don't need to know anything about it.
Nrama: As you mentioned earlier, you have more than one artist working on it. But is it all one story?
Willingham: It's all one story. The principle artists are Jim Fern, who's doing the layouts, and then Craig Hamilton did primarily the finishes and inking. And one of the reasons for doing the story was to give Craig Hamilton a really nice showcase for his wonderful talents. But there were some delays, as there often are on a big project, but for Craig and Jim, to a certain extent, we needed to bring in some help with some other artists who were able to stylistically keep it pretty much looking the same throughout.
But it is one story. It's one 136-page story in a 144-page graphic novel. Just one single story from beginning to end.
Nrama: Just like you've had fun with the fairy tale characters, is your take on werewolves a little bit different from what we think of as werewolves?
Willingham: Oh dear, I hope so. I suppose, just like with any universally known monster — just like every single writer who does their own take on "this is what vampires are" and, perhaps more importantly, "this is what vampires aren't" — I feel the same way about werewolves. And that's been done too. Different writers have done different legends about werewolves and how they become such.You will find right away in this book that there's a very specific way these kind of werewolves came about, and it's not one that can be easily adapted into anyone else's take on the critters.
Nrama: Is there a possibility that we'll see other graphic novels set in the Fables universe?
Willingham: I would say yes, that's possible. I would also say, maybe you'll want to revisit that question after the New York Comic Con and the Fables panel.
Check back with Newsarama for the second part of our interview with Willingham, when we talk about the Fables and Fairest series, as well as whether there may be more prose novels coming from the writer.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!