SDCC '08 - The 'Fables' Panel & Announcements

The Fables panel at San Diego Comic-Con took place in front of a crowd so packed into the room that audience members were asked to scoot in as close as possible so the room could be at capacity.

Comic-Con International Executive Director Gary Sassaman interrupted the panel as it was about to begin to give Bill Willingham the 2008 Inkpot Award for Achievement in Comic Arts. "Wow, what a great trophy!" Willingham said after booming cheers from the audience.

Panelists included:

Todd Klein, letterer of Fables

Steve Leialoha, Fables inker and Peter and Max artist

Chris Roberson, novelist and author of the new Cinderella mini-series

Matt Sturges, Jack of Fables co-writer and writer of House of Mystery and Blue Beetle

Mark Buckingham, Fables artist

Bill Willingham, Fables writer and Jack of Fables co-writer

James Jean, cover artist for Fables

There were several announcements for upcoming Fables events and spin-offs, as well as a few things that the creators themselves wanted to share, including:

- Similar to the successful Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall book, there will be a new story by Willingham called Fables: Peter and Max. The graphic novel will be illustrated by Steve Leoloha. It will answer what happened to Peter Piper of Pickled Pepper fame and his older brother Max, who grew up to become the Pied Piper. The book will be out in about a year.

- A new Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love series will be written by novelist Chris Robeson. "It's spies, sex, and shoes," he said. The six-issue mini-series will answer what happened to Cinderella's fairy godmother, and "also the burning question, who runs the shoe store when she's away?" Robeson said. "You laugh now, but it will be important," Willingham said.

- Jack of Fables and Fables will cross over early next year for a three-issue mini-series called The Literals. The two ongoing series will interact during that time. The artist has yet to be named.

- Matt Sturges announced that he is now exclusive at DC Comics. "We own him now. All you Marvel recruiters in the audience, you might as well slither off and give your seat to a real Fables fan," Willingham said.

- In March, TwoMorrows will publish a 120-page Modern Masters series books on Buckingham art. There will be a brand new cover with Fables characters, and it will feature works in progress and designs for characters. "I'll get to show you a lot of the behind-the-scenes process," Buckingham said.

- The Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean book that will be published in December will feature all the Jean-designed covers from 75 issues of Fables plus the collection covers. "It's going to be awesome," Jean said.

- Pantheon, the black and white superhero story that Willingham wrote for Lone Star Press before working with Vertigo, is being collected.

Last year, people who didn't make it into the panel were told to wear a T-shirt that said, "I got screwed over at last year's Fables panel." Several people did wear them. Buckingham gave each of them a gift of limited prints.

After giving away some prizes, the panel was opened up to questions:

- Where does Bill get the ideas for the capers? "I have no secret background. I did guard and transport nukes in the army, so they gave me secret clearance. But that doesn't mean you get to know secrets. It just means you don't get to tell anybody anything," Willingham said. But his mother was part of the Manhattan Project, so she had to keep secrets. "She was a clandestine, secret something-or-other in the second World War. I think that's where it comes from."

- Robison was asked where he gets his ideas. "I've been preparing for a life of crime that I haven't started."

- Is the rumor true that Fables is ending? Willingham: "There is no end in sight for Fables."

- Is there going to be some American Tall Tale stuff coming in? Willingham: Jack of Fables visited some tall tales. There have been some that have been completely forgotten about. Sturges: Excised completely from existence. Little Lindsey Lariat who ate her coat Man of Fruit. Capt scurvy the toothless pirate. "The list goes on and on and they're all lovingly rendered by Russ Braun”

Willingham - “There's a rumor they're coming to visit.”

- Which character from Fables are you?

Willingham: Old King Cole

Jean: "Little Boy Blue, 'cause we both play the trumpet."

Buckingham: Flycather.

Sturges: Gary, the pathetic fallacy.

Robeson: Bufkin the flying drunk monkey.

Leialoha: Bufkin.

Klein: Pinocchio.

- Any chance for Willingham to pencil an issue? Willingham: "Do we have an artist locked in for Fables #1000 yet? Can I have that slot, if I start now? I may make that. I've gotten glacially slow at my penciling."

- Did the three blind mice every get some? Buckingham: "Are we talking with other mice? Or each other? ... I guess at some point they made it to Smalltown and found other mice."

- Is there any chance that urban legends from horror will be incorporated? Willingham: Jean just finished a cover of Something Coming Out of the Box. "Possibly when we get to that issue, your question will be answered."

- Was it originally planned to reach a wide audience, including women? Willingham: "When I start series, who the audience is doesn't play into it." Klein: "I think the iconic nature of the characters lends itself to a wider audience."

- Will there ever be a Fables movie? Willingham: "There's always something underway along those routes. One of the reasons DC chose to do Fables is because they thought it could make a good movie. If you ever want to enter a fantasy land that doesn't exist, enter Hollywood." Then he added, "don't hold your breath."

- Will there ever be a Snow or Bigby T-shirt available? Willingham: "All we're required to do is entertain you. We're not required to clothe you." He said he'd love to have T-shirts, but the people who work on the stories don't "hatch those schemes."

- Any evil stepsisters or stepmothers? Sturges: "We don't have any on tap right now, but that doesn't mean we won't have some." Robeson: "No comment." Willingham: "I'm pretty sure there's a floor where they dumped all the evil stepmothers."

- What's the next burning question issue? Willingham: "I'm still divided on whether it was too gimmicky or a real nice thing. The first one didn't come until well after #50, so if there's ever going to be another one, it will be after #100."

- What's Klein's favorite letter and why? Klein: "My favorite letter is S."

- Who's the character to watch this year? Willingham: "It's always going to be Babe [the Blue Ox]."

- Shouldn't superheroes be in the Americana fables? Willingham: "You lost your question. Next question."

- Does the rule of near-immortality apply in the Homelands? Willingham: "Yes, sometimes."

- Will Jean ever do another interior story? Willingham offered to give him his trophy if he would. "He has a standing offer to do an interior any time he wants," Willingham said. "Maybe one day I will have made enough covers that you can paste them all together and make an issue," Jean said.

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