Fables #127

It's a good thing DC is releasing a Fables Encyclopedia soon, because Bill Willingham seems to have a new announcement about the Fables universe every few weeks.

The latest Fables announcement? Willingham told Newsarama that the fan-favorite character Cinderella (who has starred in more than one of her own mini-series) will still get a spotlight story in Fairest, despite the departure of her former caretaker, writer Chris Roberson.

Marc Andreyko is the new Cinderella writer, who will be working with artist Shawn McManus when the character returns in the pages of Fairest later this year.

In June, fans will also get their hands on the first ever Fables Encyclopedia, a deluxe hardcover coming out from Vertigo that will tell the stories behind the characters in the Fables mythos. Written by pop culture scholar Jess Nevins, the book will also include anecdotes from Willingham and regular series artist Mark Buckingham.

That encyclopedia is going to be especially handy for fans in 2013, because Fables seems to be touching a little bit of everything this year.

This fall, Fables characters will spill over into another comic's universe, the Vertigo comic The Unwritten. According to Willingham, the Fables/Unwritten mash-up will apparently affect the Fables characters too, as he said the universes will "collide" later this year.

Willingham is also releasing a collection of short stories that tie into the Fables spin-off comic Fairest. Titled Fairest: In All the Land, the hardcover book by Willingham will be in the style of the now beloved Fables tie-in book 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

Fables has even spawned its own comic book convention, "Fabletown and Beyond," which takes place next weekend in Rochester, Minn. The convention will spotlight creators and books in the "mythic fiction" genre, like Bone, Mouse Guard and Unwritten.

Fables #127, pg. 1

In the second part of our interview with Willingham (our first part focused on Fairest and Fairest: In All The Land), we found out more about the Unwritten crossover, the Fables Encyclopedia and what comes next in the Fables comic.

Newsarama: Bill, in Fables, you have an event coming up that mixes the universe with the Vertigo title The Unwritten. Have you revealed anything about those stories uniting?

Bill Willingham: Not much has been revealed, and I would not say that these two stories are going to "unite" so much as collide. And collide in a big, damaging way, perhaps for both fictional universes, perhaps more to one.

The problem is, we've crafted — and when I say "we," lots of folks have had a hand in, but it's really Mike Carey and Peter Gross that have done the lion's share of just coming up with a wonderful story — but we've crafted a story that is so tight and so wonderful that there's almost no part of it that we can speak about without giving away some of the fun stuff coming up.

So yeah, we're forced to speak in generic terms, which is, yes, the cast of Fables meets the cast of The Unwritten, and terrible things happen.

But hopefully they find a way to get out of it by the end.

Fables #127, pg. 2

That seems an unsatisfying answer, and yet, that's what you're getting.

Nrama: Since that's all we're getting, let's talk about what's coming up in Fables. Those of us who are fans of Snow and Bigby are really getting beaten up. Or at least those characters are in the last couple storylines.

Willingham: They have not had a pleasant few months recently.

Nrama: They had a decent Christmas in 2011, if I remember right.

Willingham: Didn't they? Yeah, they had a nice Christmas. But that was, like, enjoy this while you can. That should have been a banner in their house. "Enjoy This While You Can, Because the Grim Stuff is Coming."

Nrama: Snow is in the middle of a storyline where she's threatened by Prince Brandish, and things don't look good coming up. I guess we could have predicted that Bigby would battle Brandish, which solicitations seem to indicate, although Snow said she could defend herself. Does she have to rise to the occasion as well?

Willingham: Well, Snow rising to the occasion is, probably without spoiling anything, an essential part of this story arc. The story arc is not named "Bigby rescues Snow." It's "Snow White." And although some kind of confrontation between Bigby and Brandish seems inevitable, I can't say that that is going to be a definitive.... you know what? I'll just go ahead and spoil that part. If there is a confrontation between Bigby and Brandish, that does not decide and define what's going on here.

Nrama: Snow White's character feels like the anchor of the series while so many other characters around her are evolving, with Rose Red and Ambrose being prime examples of characters who have gone through changes. Does this story arc see an evolution for Snow White? Or do we just see a strength emerge that she's always had within her?

Willingham: I don't know that it's a strength she's always had. We did see that her and Rose Red were willful children, so maybe it was in there. Certainly, potential strength that's been in there.

Fables #127, pg. 3

But does she evolve? I don't know. Evolve is one of those things that implies change, but change for the better. Improving. I don't know that she improves. That's not for me to say.

Does this leave her changed? You bet. What happens here is certainly going to impact the rest of her life.

Nrama: Can you tease anything that's coming up in 2013 in Fables?

Willingham: Yes! I think we can do a couple of judicious teases here.

There's going to be one issue between "Snow White" and the next big story arc called "June Bug," and it's coming out in June. So we cleverly set it up that way. And it's all about... remember the seldom seen daughter of Rodney and June who will be about eight years old, give or take, by the time this happens? She has a little adventure when she starts exploring the new Fabletown, the old "Castle Dark," and finds out that there are things within the castle that some of the grown-ups may not be aware of.

And this sets up the next Cinderella arc over in Fables, but I'm not going to tell you in what way.

So we have June Bug, a little girl on an adventure in shadowy, dark, castley places.

And then we have the next major story arc. The working title — and probably the actual title — is "Camelot." And it's not about "Camelot" of old, although it harkens back to it. It's "Camelot" of new, and the restoration of the Round Table. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Nrama: You mentioned the Cinderella story arc. Is that the next storyline after Sean E. Williams' arc?

Willingham: After Sean, I believe it's our Cinderella story arc. Don't hold me to that 100 percent. One of the nice things about Fairest is that we have several different things in progress at any given time. So the evil plan is that there will never be a late issue. We'll see if that works out, because anytime anyone in the comics industry promises there will never be a late issue, I think the Gods of Hubris gather together to slap down those notions.

Fables #127, pg. 4

But that said, yes, we have several arcs in progress at any given time, and I'm fairly certain that the Cinderella one is the next one, following Sean's.

Nrama: Who's writing that? Has it been announced?

Willingham: It has not been announced. Would you like to make a little news here?

Nrama: I would.

Willingham: Marc Andreyko of Manhunter fame is going to be writing the new Cinderella, and Shawn McManus is coming back to draw the new Cinderella.

Nrama: How did you guys come up with that?

Willingham: He pitched the idea at the last San Diego show, at the end of the San Diego party thing I throw every year. He just walked up in his typical drunken swagger and said, "Here's an idea that would only work with the Cinderella character." And I said, "You're right, that's an idea that would only work with the Cinderella character. Write it!"

Nrama: Is that how you got the next few years of Fairest? At the party?

Willingham: Most of our plans are hatched in drunken bar situations, yes.

Nrama: Then finally, what can you tell us about the Fables Encyclopedia that was just announced. I know we've joked before about how you keep track of all the lands and kingdoms and characters in the Fables universe. Is that coming out of your notes? Or is someone keeping track of it? Or how did that come about?

Willingham: Well, certainly, my notes are playing a part. Within the Encyclopedia, there are going to be my acerbic comments here and there. However, Jess Nevins, who is a librarian and pop culture historian, is the one writing the Encyclopedia, and his knowledge about this kind of stuff is vast. And his ability to ferret out the stuff that he doesn't know to find what there is is even greater than his body of knowledge. So he's writing the bulk of it.

Fables #127, pg. 5

I'm weighing in here and there with little bits from my notes, and little snarky opinions about various characters.

Nrama: Was it his idea then, to do something like this? Or has this been brewing for awhile?

Willingham: Yeah. We've been part of the same Clockwork Storybook group for awhile. It probably grew out of conversations. He did an unauthorized League of Extraordinary Gentlemen companion published by MonkeyBrain books with is Chris Roberson and Allison Baker's outfit.

That's probably what started the kernel of the idea. It was like, well, if he can do this for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, he can certainly do something like that for Fables.

And there had been some chatter within the Fables readership for some years about, you know, "it would be nice to know where each of these characters come from." That sort of thing. And it would be nice.

And yes, part of it is just a project to help me keep track. But you know, the readers keeping track as well.

Nrama: And it will also have the actual myth from which your characters are pulled, right?

Willingham: Yeah. Obviously, the major characters will have longer entries, just like in any encyclopedia, the more historically significant characters of history do. But in each case, we are going to find out, if we can, these characters come from.

Fables #130

Fables #129

Fables #128

We've introduced a few in Fables that are just totally made up, so we'll reveal that. It's like, "these characters have no providence; they're just made up by the yahoos that are doing Fables." But he ones that do come from fairy tale, folklore, legend and history, we're spilling all the beans.

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