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    The Best Comics of 2015 – Part 3 of 5 – DC Comics

    –UPDATE: YOU CAN VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ONCE PER DAY NOW THROUGH 1/14/16!–

    Happy New Year from your friends at TFAW! Now that we’re in 2016, we want to stop and remember the great books that were released last year. What follows is the third in a series of five Best Comics of 2015 pieces we’ll be posting through January 6. Missed the earlier installments? Check out Part 1 and Part 2. Starting January 7, you’ll have the opportunity to weigh in and help us crown the Best Comic of 2015!

    It all started with DC Comics. Superman. Batman. Green Lantern. The Flash. These are the heroes we’ve grown up with, and the ones who epitomize what it means to be a hero. DC was dogged by critics and fans this year, but the following comics demonstrate that the publisher still puts out great books month after month.

    The Best of DC Comics (in no particular order):

    Batgirl
    By: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, Babs Tarr

    I’ve got to start by giving due recognition to Gail Simone. She’s an all-star writer who made me fall in love with Barbara Gordon and her work in the New 52 was solidly in the top of the class. When I first heard that DC brought on a new creative team for Batgirl, I was upset. Really upset. That being said, I cannot recommend the Fletcher/Stewart/Tarr Batgirl series enough.

    Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher’s take on Barbara Gordon is a revelation. She’s more complicated than most of the other heroes in the DCU. She’s confident, yet vulnerable. She’s a college student, a romantic, a caring friend, a superhero. This series could serve as a great character study in college classes across the country.

    Babs Tarr’s art perfectly matches the tone of the writing, and suits Barbara’s character. It’s fresh, fun, and cute (in the best way). The redesigned Batgirl suit is modern, functional, and steps a thousand feet away from hyper-sexualized female costumes we’ve seen time and time again. Tarr has a great eye for human form and visual perspective. Her consistent attention to detail in each and every panel shows how much love she has for the book and the medium. She’s a superstar, and I’m looking forward to following her work in the coming decades. [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

    Sandman Overture
    By: Neil Gaiman, J. H. Williams III, Dave Stewart

    Sandman is back! Neil Gaiman has returned to one of his most beloved creations with Sandman Overture. One of the most anticipated books of the last several years came to its jaw-dropping conclusion in 2015 and is now collected into a hardcover that can join the Sandman collection on your shelf. We finally learn the story leading up to the events of Sandman #1 and how Morpheus came to be in the situation we found him in all those years ago.

    Revisiting a classic story is often risky. Comparisons to the original are inevitable and it would be so easy to fall short. Fear not! This is Sandman in every way you could want. Gaiman is able to pick up and dust off his characters as if it hasn’t been over 10 years since we last saw them. Reading Sandman Overture feels like going on a strange, new adventure and visiting with old friends at the same time.

    Sandman has always been blessed with amazing artists, but J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart will blow you away! With chameleon-like ability, Williams’ style can drastically change depending on the needs of a particular scene. His pages are full of hyper-detailed, realistic panels to psychedelic landscapes (and everything in between) all set in the most unique page layouts we’ve seen all year. [Jeff B. at Portland TFAW]

    Omega Men comics at TFAW.com Omega Men
    By: Tom King, Barby Bagenda, Toby Cypress, José Marzán, Jr.

    When DC announced that Omega Men would end with the sixth issue, fans cried out for more. Even though the series had comparatively low sales numbers, DC decided to publish the rest of the 12-issue run. That was great news for fans and new readers alike, because you don’t have to be well-versed in DCU lore to read this series. It’s driven by a compelling story with characters I wasn’t fully aware of when I started reading it.

    Starting off with a death of a well-known character is definitely a way to get attention, and it doesn’t happen all that often. After breaking the neck of White Lantern Kyle Rayner, the Omega Men pose an immediate threat to the Lantern Corps. The reader is instantly drawn into the series and we find ourselves trying to figure out where this series is going next. A really great series. [Martin M. at Milwaukie TFAW]

    Fables comics at TFAW.com

    Fables
    By: Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha

    Fables has the impossible task of living up to the stories that inspired these characters…and it does so in spades. Bill Willingham never pulled a punch in thirteen years of writing this series. Every character was filled with pathos and gravity. These were weighted characters in a fantastical setting and as a reader you couldn’t help but feel every victory, every death, every defeat. Every character had a journey, and a role within the story, and some of these played out over thirteen glorious years.

    While Willingham’s words were powerful, they were truly brought to life by his partner in crime — Mark Buckingham. He renders every emotion exquisitely. Most of the big name artists and books go for the big splash page, or action sequence and ignore the details. Not Bucky. His strength is in the real character work in each panel. Every character has their own unique expressions and the reader can’t help but feel what the characters are being put through. The rest of the creative team also made Fables truly great — Klein’s beautiful lettering, Leialoha’s inks, etc. Fables is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. No other series can compete with Fables‘ brilliant thirteen year run. Comics in 2016 is going to be a much darker place without new issues of Fables on the shelves. [Dustin K. at Universal TFAW]

    Justice League comics at TFAW.com Justice League
    By: Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Jason Fabok, Francis Mapul

    This is what superhero comics are about, and one of the biggest advantages of a shared universe. Massive threats to the entire DCU, heroes coming together to face seemingly impossible odds, epic throwdowns.

    Geoff Johns’ Justice League has been a thrill ride from day one, and this year’s Injustice League and Darkseid War have built on several years of strong storytelling. This is one of DC’s flagship titles, and they’ve put a lot of effort into pairing Johns with artists like Ivan Reis and Jason Fabok to produce one of the best books on the shelves every single month. These guys are all at the top of their game–just crack open an issue and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
    [Josh C. at TFAW.com]

    Honorable Mentions:

    Stay tuned to the TFAW Blog in the coming days as we’ll be posting two more Best Comics of 2015 lists. At the end, YOU will decide which one will be crowned as the Best Comic of 2015!

    –UPDATE: YOU CAN VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE ONCE PER DAY NOW THROUGH 1/14/16!–

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    Mike Carey & Peter Gross Chat About Unwritten Fables & More

    Unwritten FablesThe Unwritten, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, debuted in 2009 and follows Tom Taylor, who was his father Wilson Taylor’s inspiration for a series of hugely successful Tommy Taylor children’s fantasy novels — much like the Harry Potter series. When we first meet Tom, his cold, distant father has long since disappeared, leaving Tom jaded and disillusioned, scraping together an existence signing his father’s books on the convention circuit.

    When a woman named Lizzie Hexam shows up and questions whether he’s the real son of Wilson Taylor, Tom’s world explodes, with half his “fans” believing he’s a fraud, and the other half believing he’s the living incarnation of the Tommy Taylor character come to save the world. Framed for multiple murders and on the run, joined by Lizzie and journalist Richie Savoy, Tom is suddenly thrust into a world where stories literally come to life, and he’s pursued by a mysterious cabal who wants to control what people read — and believe — at any cost.

    Unwritten explores the sheer power of stories — and of readers’ beliefs — making it an intense, engrossing read. To make things even more interesting, Unwritten is traveling to the world of Fables, another Vertigo superstar, starting with Unwritten #50 this June. Plus, September marks the arrival of the original hardcover graphic novel, Unwritten: Tommy Taylor & The Ship That Sank Twice, the graphic novel “adaptation” of the first Tommy Taylor book!

    We chatted with Fables writer Bill Willingham last month, and now we’ve had the opportunity to interview Unwritten co-creators Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Read below for a fascinating look into the past, future, and present of Unwritten, as well as a four-page peek into Unwritten #48, available now!

    TFAW: Unwritten is such a multi-layered, surprising series. How did it come together, and how much did you have planned out when it debuted?

    Unwritten #50Mike Carey: Thank you! Well the gestation process was really a very strange one. After we wound up on Lucifer, Peter and I really wanted to do another book together, and we pitched a whole lot of ideas to Shelly Bond, our editor, but for one reason or another none of them made it through the triage process. And then after a while we stopped pitching because other stuff intervened. Peter went off and did American Jesus, I did Crossing Midnight and my Marvel stuff.

    And then we met up again at San Diego Comic-Con in (I think) 2009, and Vertigo editor Pornsak Pichetshote was there too. We got a dialogue going, and we carried it on after we all went home from the Con. But basically Peter had one idea and I had another, and we weren’t sure which one we wanted to develop. “Put them together,” Pornsak suggested, “and see what happens.” We did, and what happened was The Unwritten.

    Peter Gross: My idea was about a kid whose father wrote a famous book using the kid as the main character, and then disappeared afterwards, leaving the kid with the awful fallout of being famous and abandoned. Mike’s idea was about a guy who is given a magic horn that if you blow it, the world changes. When we started merging them together, we basically had the opening scene of The Unwritten!

    And from there we planned out what we wanted the book to be about, and came up with the ending and the main stepping stones along the way. As we’ve developed and executed it more, those beats have altered and some characters have been added, made more important, or even determined their own paths, but the ending has remained (in our heads) essentially the same as what we planned at the start.

    Unwritten #49TFAW: What was it that most interested you about the character of Tom Taylor?

    MC: I guess for me it’s that I like heroes who start off completely clueless and out of their depth and have to grow into the role. Nothing turns me off quicker than a James Bond-like protagonist who’s always got exactly the skill set he needs to survive. Tom, when we first meet him, seems to have no skill set at all — but he does have the “literary GPS” that his dad drummed into him, and that turns out to be relevant. Apart from that he’s a babe in the woods. But gradually he pulls it together and manages to survive, against all the odds.

    PG: I think for me it was the challenge of dealing with the reluctant hero. That’s actually the sort of character I oftentimes find frustrating and unsatisfying. And I think at times, to be honest, Tom can be frustrating, especially because he’s a character caught up in a lot of big story ideas — within the pages of the series, and within our intent. So Tom’s challenge is to find his humanity in all that.

    TFAW: What do you think is the biggest change Tom Taylor has undergone during this series — besides learning to believe in magic doorknobs and such?

    MC: He becomes someone who’s capable of compassion. The Tom of the early issues is really all about himself — very selfish, quite self-pitying, more than a little obnoxious. Then when Cosi and Leon Chadron die right in front of him in issue #8, he starts to realize what responsibility is. Which is why, when Lizzie starts to fall apart, he responds in the way he does. He’s prepared to risk himself to help her, not because of the whole romantic/sexual thing between them, which hasn’t happened yet, but because he feels responsible for what his father has done to her on his account.

    Unwritten #48PG: Not only is Tom a reluctant hero, but he’s also a very reserved one. He was terribly hurt as a kid, and there wasn’t anyone in his life to open up to about it. So he’s very reserved and doesn’t reveal himself. But I think more and more, we find out the reasons for that, and he’s able to open up more. But it’s a long slow process for him. And I think it’s all very tied up in the role his father has tried to design for him. But on one level, Tom’s story will always be about becoming more human.

    TFAW: One of the main themes of Unwritten is the power of words, and of readers’ beliefs. They can influence reality, and literally change one into a different person! How do you see this relating to “real life”?

    MC: Peter and I talk about this side of the story all the time, and I think we both see it as the single most important thing we’re saying. And weirdly, it’s Pullman who gets to voice it most clearly, in the very next issue. We don’t actually live in the real world, although we generally think we do. We live in ideas and situations that we build for ourselves — stories about the world, overlapping, sometimes contradicting, but empowering in the sense that the stories allow us to function. They provide meaning, and without meaning we’re just deterministic ping pong balls. We react, blindly, to external circumstances.

    So yes, I think it’s true that we live in a narrative of our lives. And therefore the construction of that narrative becomes very, very important. People will constantly offer you stories that you can choose to buy into. Big government is killing you. Immigrants are swamping our country and destroying our values. Jews are evil, or Muslims or Communists or gays are evil. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Jesus will save your soul. These propositions furnish your world. You effectively choose to live in the world where they’re true. And obviously there’s a much wider set of propositions that’s just about you. The story of your life becomes your life.

    Unwritten #48 Page 1PG: I think, more and more, as we worked on this book we’ve learned of other examples of how our lives are based on narrative — both biologically, and culturally. But the underlying principle of that is that narrative is always a lie we tell ourselves. At their core, all stories are lies, and all storytellers are liars. Not sure where to go with that, but I guess we’ll find out by the end of The Unwritten!

    TFAW: Peter, there’s a big focus on the power of words, but you also have the challenge of presenting this visually to the reader–what are the easiest and most difficult parts of illustrating Unwritten?

    PG: The most challenging is trying to find ways to illustrate “books” in comics and still have it feel like a book. The opening scene of the series is an example of that. Mike wrote the whole Tommy Taylor [interlude] as prose, and we were going to have it just as text, but I was worried it might turn off some readers. So I did it as a mixture of text and visuals that became our way of doing a book. A similar thing happens with finding ways to show web pages, TV, and other more modern ways that information gets delivered in the digital age.

    The easiest part is . . . actually, none of it is easy — but the funnest part is when we divert to other story styles and I get to bring in wildly different artists to do “finishes” over my layouts to give the chapters a distinct and separate look.

    TFAW: In the current story arc, we finally get some answers about Pauly Bruckner. Is this going to be the finale of this character?

    Unwritten #48 Page 2PG: No! Pauly is a character who was not planned from the start, and he’s the character who has most demanded more scenes and a greater role in the story. He’s our wildcard factor, and we never quite know where he’s going with things.

    MC: Absolutely! Pauly is along for the duration, and still has a very important part to play. Every book needs a sweary rabbit!

    TFAW: Pauly has become such a compelling character — absolutely repugnant, totally self centered. He literally thinks everything is about him. Does he represent something to you guys? Is he a stand-in for something?

    MC: If Tom is the clueless hero, Pauly is the villain hero — our Richard the Third. Like you say, he’s a monster, but he works really well as a viewpoint character. We did the monster as Everyman in Lucifer — and there’s a sense in which Pauly is like Gaudium in Lucifer, except that at rock bottom he’s a tragic figure. He tortures himself by assuming that every place he finds himself is unbearable. Willowbank Wood, when you think about it, would have been heaven for some people, but for Pauly it’s Hell. And now we meet Pauly in Hell and we think, you know, maybe this is how it’s always going to be for you. You make your own weather.

    PG: Pauly is Mike, if Mike was American and not a polite British fellow! 🙂

    MC: I’m gonna take that as a joke.

    Unwritten #48 Page 3PG: Well there was a smiley face and all . . .

    TFAW: Richie has had such a character arc — a journalist who glommed onto Tom, then became a vampire, then rejected Tom to go live his own story. What’s next for him?

    MC: The next time we see Richie, those two aspects of his character — journalist and vampire — are both going to be crucial. He’s in a very extreme situation, trying to avert a catastrophe or at least slow it down. But he’s got to go against type in some ways, and do some things that don’t sit right with him. Because he does have a conscience, even though he tries to hide it. I tend to see Richie as an idealist who’s pretending to be a cynic.

    TFAW: Lizzie is another character who has undergone a huge shift — from a troubled orphan girl to a brainwashed Dickens character, programmed to help and love Tom — and that’s before she died! Can she and Tom ever have a relationship as equals?

    PG: Both Lizzie and Richie exist partially because they have to. Tom’s father has created pathways of story that Tom’s life slips into to build on the power of the Tommy Taylor stories. Tommy Taylor, boy wizard, had his companions Peter and Sue, so Tom Taylor attracts his own companions, Richie and Lizzie, to fulfill those roles. So the challenge for them, just like it is for Tom, is to hold on to their humanity and not get swept up into the greater currents that Wilson Taylor has set into motion.

    TFAW: What can you tell us about Unwritten Fables, the next arc?

    MC: It’s a stage in Tom’s odyssey in which he finally comes face to face with some unwelcome truths about the fictional characters he’s been meeting, and maybe to some extent about his own nature — and the backdrop in which he makes these discoveries is the Fables Homelands. Sort of. But with a very scary twist. Because the Fables side of this equation is a crisis that we had every reason to think was over and done with, and it comes live again in a really alarming way. I think there are big narrative payoffs for readers of both series.

    TFAW: An UnwrittenFables event seems like a perfect fit — both center on the power of stories and belief. How did the idea germinate?

    Unwritten #48 Page 4PG: Bill Willingham was a big supporter of The Unwritten from the start, and kept saying he wanted to do a crossover or something shared. But as close as the two books are in concept, they each take a different approach to the subject of stories and characters from stories. Ours is that the stories happen, and then characters might appear because of the stories. Bill’s is that the characters were real, and the stories came from their actions.

    Those are two pretty opposed ideas, and it wasn’t until we got to a point in our story that those ideas sort of demanded attention, that doing a shared arc with Fables finally became a possibility. The nice thing is that this isn’t just a throwaway event designed to boost sales — it’s an essential story tipping point for us. If we couldn’t do this story with the Fables characters, we’d still have to do the story somehow.

    MC: Although it wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun. Using the Fables cast has been pretty much pure pleasure.

    TFAW: What is your favorite thing about Fables?

    MC: I love the feeling you get from Fables that nobody is safe and anything can happen. It’s like the fairy tales and folk tales that are part of its source material — it portrays a world where the worst outcome can always come to pass, and where life and happiness are precarious. That’s part of what makes it such an exciting read.

    Unwritten #51And of course I love the vivid, evolving characters — my all-time favorites being the Thirteenth Floor witches.

    PG: I like the powerful simplicity of what Bill brought together. I think it was Fables that led the way with all the fairy tale-based movies and TV shows out there now. And I love that after 125 or so issues, it’s still compelling and readable. It’s one of the few comics that continue to catch my jaded interest and that I make sure to keep up on.

    TFAW: Bill Willingham mentioned that he begged to write parts of the story, because, I quote, “I’ll never get a chance to handle certain characters in this way again. One hopes.” Care to shed a little light on that?

    MC: We go to some very dark places with this story, and we see some harrowing things. More than that, I think, we get to see good people making bad choices because all the good choices are gone. If we do it right, parts of it will hurt.

    PG: Bill and Bucky had a lot of input into the story, and there were some things they talked about that they had wanted to do with Fables until the stories went off in another direction. Because of the nature of fiction in The Unwritten, we are able to go in some of those other directions.

    TFAW: What else are you reading right now?

    MC: The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. Very, very clever stuff. Too clever for its own good, sometimes, but man it’s a great read.

    Unwritten HC Tommy Taylor & The Ship That Sank TwicePG: I haven’t been able to read anything in a while because I draw most every minute of the day. But I’ve been slowly listening to audiobooks of Game of Thrones!

    TFAW: What else do you have coming up that you’re excited about?

    MC: I’ve got a novel coming out in January of 2014 that I’m very proud of. It’s sort of a retelling of the myth of Pandora in a post-apocalyptic future. And my superhero series, Suicide Risk, is debuting over at BOOM! Studios.

    Oh, and I just got the green light to go to script on a movie version of one of my own novels, which is really exciting.

    PG: I’m excited about our graphic novel adaptation of Wilson Taylor’s famous first novel, Tommy Taylor and the Ship that Sank Twice, coming out in the fall of 2013!

    MC: Yeah, and that . . . 🙂

    Our sincere thanks to Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Vertigo Comics for an excellent interview. Pre-order Unwritten #50 and Unwritten: Tommy Taylor & The Ship That Sank Twice and save 20%!

    PRE-ORDER UNWRITTEN #50 AND SAVE 20%

    BROWSE ALL VERTIGO COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

    Are you a fan of Unwritten or Fables? Post your comments below!

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    Bill Willingham Fables Signing + Stumptown Comics Fest Kickoff Party 4/26

    Bill Willingham Fables Signing

    Looking for cool stuff to do next weekend? We’ve got two amazing events April 26 at the Portland TFAW, and we wanted to make sure you know all about them. It’s going to be an unforgettable night leading into Stumptown Comics Fest, the Northwest’s largest creator-focused comic convention!

    First, from 5 to 7 p.m., we’re excited to host a signing for multiple Eisner Award-winning writer Bill Willingham, creator of Vertigo’s immensely popular Fables series and a special guest brought to us by Stumptown Comics Fest. We’ve stocked up on Fables comics and graphic novels, so come pick some up and get them signed! Plus, enjoy free food and beer — we’re firing up the grill at 5 p.m. for hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie options.

    Stumptown Comics Fest Kickoff Party

    Then, at 7 p.m. we’re segueing into the Stumptown Comics Fest Kickoff Party! This is the official start of Stumptown Comics Fest, taking place April 27 and 28 at the Oregon Convention Center. Meet guests of the Fest, mingle with Portland’s comics community, and enjoy exciting entertainment:

    • Free food and beer (for those 21+)! Come enjoy burgers, dogs, and more.
    • Music by Jeff “Switch” Sorenson (Dangerous Kids) & Bobby Roberts (Welcome to That Whole Thing).
    • Video games from Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade.
    • Prizes from Portland Retro Gaming Expo, Dark Horse, OryCon, Ground Kontrol, Wonder Northwest, and more!
    • A greenscreen to pose in front of to commemorate the event, with background art supplied by Stumptown guests like Erika Moen, Sina Grace, Jon McNaught, and more!

    You thought we were done? We’re just getting started! You can also visit Things From Another World at Stumptown Comics Fest at Booth #F01 April 27 and 28. Come say hi, and save 20% on all graphic novels! We’ve got a lot of the newest and most popular books for this special convention, so stop by!

    RSVP FOR OUR BILL WILLINGHAM SIGNING ON FACEBOOK
    RSVP FOR OUR STUMPTOWN COMICS FEST KICKOFF PARTY
    RSVP FOR OUR STUMPTOWN COMIC FEST BOOTH

    Are you planning on going to Stumptown? What are you looking forward to? Post your comments below!

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    Bill Willingham Chats About What’s Next for Fables & Teaming up With The Unwritten

    Bill Willingham FablesSince its debut in 2002, Fables has attracted hundreds of thousands of fans — as well as 14 (and counting!) Eisner Awards. Created by writer Bill Willingham and artist Mark Buckingham, Fables asked the question, what if our classic fairytale characters were real — and lived in New York? Since then, Fables has become darker, richer, and more engrossing, bringing readers to colorful new worlds, delighting them with enthralling storylines and characters, and breaking their hearts with shocking twists and turns that most comics wouldn’t dare attempt. Think of the original Grimm Fairy Tales, before Mickey Mouse got his hands on them.

    In anticipation of our Bill Willingham Fables signing 4/26, we sat down for an interview the writer, fresh off his successful FablesCon event, of which Things From Another World was a proud sponsor. We chatted with him about the latest story arc, Cubs in Toyland, the current one, Snow White, and upcoming Fables crossover with Unwritten, beginning with issue #50. SPOILER ALERT! While we’ve tried to avoid specific details, we do discuss recent events and their impact on certain characters.

    New to Fables? Check out our discussion of (SPOILER ALERT!) Fables Volumes 1-11. Live in the Portland, Oregon area? Make sure to RSVP for our Bill Willingham Fables Signing on Facebook, or see him at Stumptown Comics Fest April 27 and 28.

    TFAW.com: For readers who haven’t picked up the book yet, what do you think is the most important thing to know about Fables?

    Bill Willingham: I think the most important thing to know about Fables is that it’s a fun book of romance, action-adventure, drama — and everything else. Anything that we can think to put in it!

    Fables Comics and Graphic NovelsTFAW.com: The thing that most surprises me about Fables, especially with Mark Buckingham’s sweet, pretty art, is how many dark and out-and-out horrific moments there are in the book. Do you ever surprise people who expected a Disney-fied story, but instead got a more authentic, Grimm Fairy Tales-style experience?

    BW: I think we do, I think we surprise some of our readers. Surprising the new readers is always a good idea; surprising the longtime readers is the best thing. If you’ve got a longtime reader who’s used to what you’re doing, if you can still take them by surprise, that’s a good thing. Certainly, going grim and dark is one way to do it.

    I think Buckingham is one of those guys — he looks so sweet and he talks so nice, and he seems like such a gentle soul, that it is a surprise to everyone to when they learn, as I have, what a dark and sinister heart he has. I am certain right now that if he’s not actually drawing, which he should be, of course, because we’re perpetually behind on things, he’s probably foreclosing on some poor widow’s mortgage or something. I think he just goes out to do evil for the sake of it from time to time. Just for sport.

    TFAW.com: I was definitely shocked by the end of the last story arc, Cubs in Toyland, with Therese and Dare. It got so much darker than I expected. With a storyline like that, with a beloved child in danger, usually someone swoops in at the end and everything is happy and jolly, and pretty much the exact opposite happened here. What kind of reaction have you gotten?

    BW: Well, we’ve gotten exactly that kind of reaction, which is, that it was not at all what readers were expecting. We’ve built it a couple of times where we were dropping the hope that some kind of last-second magical fate could come at the last moment; we did that with Boy Blue and his deteriorating sickness, and we did it with Dare, in the sense of him trying all of these things to get out of the fate he kind of knew was hanging over his head.

    Fables Comics and Graphic NovelsI mean, he knew what was supposed to happen, and eventually figured out what his part was to play in it, and then like so many, he starts bargaining: “You know, I’m prepared to make a sacrifice, certainly, but, is it necessary in this case? Is there some other clever thing I’m supposed to think of, or figure out, in order to make it all come out right and happy in the end?”

    And the answer is, sometimes, no matter how clever you are, or inventive you are, or how good your intentions are, the bad choice is just the only one available. And if anything was the theme of that story, I suppose that was it. And that, more than anything else, Mark and I had a tough time pulling the trigger on that final moment. Right up to the point where we did it, if you’ll forgive the terrible and probably inappropriate pun, we were asking ourselves, “Dare we do it? Can we instead try to pull a rabbit out of the hat and save him at the last moment?” And we could’ve — I mean it’s our book, we can do what we want, of course, but we wanted to get the best story out of it.

    TFAW.com: In the current story arc, Snow White, you’ve got Prince Brandish [previously known in Fables as Werian Holt, a cohort of the evil Mister Dark], Snow White’s childhood love, revealing himself and claiming his bride. Where has he been, pre-Mister Dark?

    BW: Well we will see some of the “Where has he been,” so if you don’t mind I won’t answer that. How he gets involved with Mister Dark is some interesting back story that we want to reveal.

    TFAW.com: Why is he popping up now? Snow White has been a prominent member of Fabletown, and it seems like he should have been able to find her before now.

    BW: You’d think so, and “Why now” is, this is the opportunity, this is moment he has to control. You know, there are a lot of creepy ex-boyfriends out there. And they always do seem to show up when you’re at low ebb, when the chips are really down and you wonder, “How can this get worse?” For Snow, it’s “My husband is off, and I’m all alone, and we’ve got kids missing, and there seems to be a very slim chance that we’ll find them.” And just when it seems like things couldn’t get worse, at that moment the creepy ex-boyfriend shows up.

    Fables Comics and Graphic NovelsI think half of our readership can relate to that, although it’s written in a pretty fantastical way. It’s the bad penny from your past. And the other half, our male readership, at least probably knows someone — hopefully they don’t relate to the story by being the creepy ex-boyfriend. All of our Fables readers are too nice and wonderful for that. But it is, in this kind of fantasy setting, a story that everyone can understand, some with happier memories than others.

    TFAW.com: So is Prince Brandish evil, or is he just old-fashioned? It seems like he thinks he’s obeying the letter of the Fables’ law, and indeed, with the research the others have done, that’s what they’ve discovered.

    BW: That’s a philosophical question — I’m not going to hand the readers the answer on a silver platter, but that’s what you wrestle with. King David, who is one of the more celebrated personages of the Bible, had 900 wives, and still sent a beloved general out to get slaughtered so he could get that extra one. Now was he evil, or was he just the product of his time, too? Back when slavery was allowed, I’ll bet there were a lot of slave owners who were considered not evil, but just part of their times. By today’s standards, they absolutely would be considered evil people. Figure it out for yourselves, I think.

    TFAW.com: One thing I’ve really enjoyed about Fables is how a lot of the female characters, who have been more passive in their own stories, are now cast as the heroines. You’ve got Snow White, who became the deputy mayor, you’ve got Cinderella, who’s a spy, you have Rapunzel running all over the world. So one of the shocking moments of this storyline is how helpless Snow White seems, and how no one can defend her. Is that the patriarchal order of their original world coming to a head here?

    Fables Comics and Graphic NovelsBW: The story is certainly about the old way of doing things, and we’ve included in that deal the old way of doing fairytales, which is usually — with one or two rare exceptions — if it’s a female character, the story is about the things that happen to her. She doesn’t do a lot on her own; all kinds of things happen to her, until eventually she is rescued. Often with the male characters, you also get the wily trickster who is able to outwit sorcerers and witches and kings. You don’t have a lot of wily trickster female characters in the old tales.

    So in that sense, yes, it’s like Snow White, against her will, finds herself as the star in one of those old tales. The difference of course is, is she going to accept that status quo? Is she going to accept being someone locked away in a tower who has to be rescued? And in answer to that question, I would say, maybe you should check out the final issue in this story arc!

    TFAW.com: Mirroring this, and speaking of wily tricksters, there’s another arranged marriage in the works between the Blue Fairy and Geppetto. However, it seems like it’s being played for laughs. What made you decide to go there?

    BW: In a way that I could never do justice, it’s almost my Groucho Marx story. In all of those wonderful movies, you have the upset dowager, who is aghast at the hijinx of the Marx brothers, until Groucho somehow manages to flatter her and woo her and turn her completely around for awhile, in such a surprising way that she’s completely off balance. To a certain extent, it’s my take on that. Also, in more of a serious context, if Geppetto doesn’t pull off this trickery, someone’s life is on the line — possibly his!

    Mrs. SpratTFAW.com: Another intriguing character is Leigh, or the former Mrs. Sprat. She was a background character, a nurse who was possibly torturing Boy Blue, then she partnered up with Mister Dark, and went through her own extreme makeover, eventually developing feelings for Werian Holt, now Prince Brandish. Now she’s a discontent in the background again. Do you have bigger plans for her?

    BW: Yes.

    TFAW.com: Could you tell us any of them?

    BW: Oh, you want a more elaborate answer? Yes, in the wake of the Snow White arc, and during the next big arc that follows, which is called Camelot, we see her put her plan into motion. Basically, she and Brandish had teamed up to hatch their schemes. It was implied that they may have been coordinating schemes, and we see now that they are. But their separate schemes can be put into motion: Brandish is doing his now, and she will have her chance in the next arc. There are some definite things going on with her, that she will . . . well, we’ll just leave it at that.

    TFAW.com: Do you have more immediate plans for the cubs? We know that Therese ages to an adult in Toyland and comes back. Can she really come back to the family now? Also, Winter is off in training to become the new North Wind. Will there be a continued focus on that?

    BW: Yes, we’ll continue looking in on the cubs. If you’ll notice, we’re sort of doing a one-on, one-off kind of thing, where a story focuses on the cubs, and then we go back to the original adult cast. Right now we are definitely looking at the original adult cast. Camelot will sort of be a mix of the two. While Therese showed up at the end of Cubs in Toyland, we’ll see what happens in Camelot, right after that scene.

    TFAW.com: So another upcoming Fables event is the Unwritten crossover, beginning in Unwritten #50. How involved are you in that?

    BW: Pretty involved, to the extent of, let’s say Mike Carey, and Peter Gross, and Mark Buckingham, and I all decided to go on this road trip together, but Mike is the one driving the car, in the sense that — I know he and Peter work on the story together — but he produced the script. With his evil concoction, the Unwritten group came up with a delightfully sinister storyline that involves their characters interacting with the Fables characters. For Mark and I, our contribution was mostly, “Oh dear, you seemed so nice, but we will never turn our backs on you guys again!” It was really just wonderfully wicked.

    Unwritten FablesBut we are playing a little bit. There are certain scenes, particularly in the first issue, that I begged Mike to let me step in and write, because I’ll never get a chance to handle certain characters in this way again. One hopes. So Mark and I will do a little bit in each issue. It’s not an out-and-out crossover because you won’t see the storyline reflected, at least not immediately, in the Fables storyline. It takes place entirely within Unwritten. But when it all shakes loose, there will be ripples that lap up against our shores, if I can be forgiven a really terrible metaphor there.

    TFAW.com: It sounds like a match made in heaven, because one of the primary themes of Unwritten is the power of words, but also the power of readers, and of readers’ beliefs. And that’s certainly been reflected in Fables — for example, when Snow White was shot in the head, she couldn’t die, because too many people believed in her. How do you see that reflected in real life, and with comics?

    BW: In comics and in the fantasy and science-fiction genres, it’s reflected a lot, and there’s a term for it called consensus reality, which is the power of the belief creates the reality. To a certain extent, in real life, you can find situations of consensus reality. Let’s look at economics, for example. Economics is an entirely fabricated thing. Money is made up, it has no real meaning or worth, other than what we assign to it. But the fact is that the willingness of so many people to assign value to these pieces of paper, of course makes it real. Makes it real and wealthy, and makes it something that people will put their lives on the line for to try and rob, or that people will dedicate their lives to make more of, or that people will feel miserable because they don’t have enough of.

    To a certain extent, we assign power to things, and because we all kind of agree, it becomes real. With politics, it’s the same thing. No military commander has the physical ability to force hundreds of thousands of men to rush into harm’s way. But somehow he says, “Go,” and they go, because there is this consensus that the power and authority reside in him.

    Unwritten #50So yeah, we play consensus reality all the time. Art is valuable because we say it is, this location is better than that because we agree it is. All of our lives are shaped that way. So we kind of formalize it in these books and say, “Yes, there is an actual cause-and-effect physical relationship going on.”

    TFAW.com: You’ve been writing Fables for more than 10 years now. Do you have an end point planned? How much longer can you guarantee that we get to read it?

    BW: Mark is in the process of buying an island right now, so I’ve been informed that I’m not allowed to stop until he has it all taken care of. No, I don’t really have a serious answer to that. Yes, I have one or more possible endpoints. How much longer is dependent largely upon the readers. If they want more, I’d be silly not to do it.

    Fables is not just a single story idea, it’s more of a setting or storytelling engine out of which almost any sort of story can flow. So in that sense, there’s always going to be new ideas and new things we will want to do with it, if we can. I think the “If we can” part of it is entirely up to forces outside of ourselves. If the readers keep wanting it, obviously we’re going to be interested in producing the stories, and hope DC will continue to be interested in publishing them.

    TFAW.com: Looking back, is there anything you would change?

    BW: Oh, god yes! Hundreds and hundreds of things. In almost every situation, I can look back at a story and say, “What if a character did this instead of that, what story might spin out of that?” I’m not sure I would, but there are certainly lots of things I would want to change, going back. I don’t think there’s a writer in the world who doesn’t play those kind of “What if” questions with his own work.

    TFAW.com: Going forward, what else are you excited about?

    Fairest in All the LandBW: I am excited that after FablesCon, I get to go back to being a writer. That took almost a year — not entirely off — but it truncated my ability to write for about a year to do this. And it was worth doing. But my perfect life would be one of the almost total recluse, where every once in a while I poke my head out of the ground, to see if people are in fact still reading, but could otherwise disappear into my writing and write. So I’m looking forward to about a year of that. Hopefully that will translate into all sorts of new and wonderful projects like the Fairest in All the Land original graphic novel, which is what I’m working on now.

    TFAW.com: Can you tell us about that?

    BW: It’s sort of in the same vein as 1,001 Nights of Snowfall. It’s a series of stories tied together thematically by the Magic Mirror, who finally gets fed up with being asked who’s the fairest in all the land, and gives the answers he’s been waiting to give, rather than the ones the questioners are usually expecting. It’ll be out this fall.

    TFAW.com: Is Mark Buckingham the artist?

    BW: Mark will be doing one of them. It will be multiple stories written by me, each drawn by a different, wonderful artist. Every time I do a project like this, I get to check off a few of the artists I’ve always wanted to work with. We’ve got a few coming up here that I’m rather excited about.

    TFAW.com: Well, thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate this.

    BW: Thank you — we’ll be seeing each other in not too many days!

    Our thanks to Vertigo Comics and Bill Willingham for the delightful interview — hope he’s ready for quite the party at the Portland TFAW 4/26! Make sure to browse our collection of Fables, Cinderella and Fairest comics and graphic novels, and pre-order the conclusion to the Snow White arc, Fables #128, and Unwritten #50. Plus, come back and pre-order Fairest in All the Land, featuring fantastic artists like Adam Hughes, Chrissie Zullo, Mark Chiarello, Karl Kerschl, Gene Ha, Chris Sprouse, Renae De Liz, Phil Noto, and more.

    BROWSE ALL FABLES COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

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    Are you a fan of Fables? What do you think of the current story arc? Post your comments below!

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    July Product Review Contest Winners Announced

    Boy, did we get a lot of great product reviews last month! As part of our monthly Product Review Contest, we’ve picked people who submitted product reviews and are awarding $25 gift certificates to the people who posted them.

    Matthew from Macon, GA is the first of this month’s winners. Here’s one of his reviews for our $3.00 Grab Bag Graphic Novels:

    You can not go wrong when ordering this. I always get a grab bag with my other purchases they’re affordable and fun–you can get some very good books this way. I just wish there was a DC graphic novel grab bag!

    Leonardo from Doral, FL also wrote a few reviews last month. His review of the Fables Vol. 17 TPB was succinct, but it piqued our interest in the book:

    Once the North Wind is dead, which cub will be his heir? And Bufkin is the leader of something, he doesn’t know what. Amazing TPB.

    Megan from Idaho wrote a review of the New 52 Batman, Incorporated #1. While her review isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, it that doesn’t make her review any less useful to a potential reader:

    After hearing so much about Batman, Inc., I was excited to read this first issue. But honestly, I was disappointed. The art is great (no complaint there!) but the story is just so… weird. It’s like someone mixed Batman and Robin with Alice in Wonderland. Bottom line: if you liked all the pre-New 52 issues, you’ll probably like this one too. But if you’re looking for a classic Batman story, check out a different series.

    And with all the craziness leading up to and during SDCC last month, we were delayed in our choices for June’s Product Review Contest Winners. These three folks wrote outstanding reviews during June.

    Matthew from Portland, OR typed some words on a screen and they magically appeared on our website for the Batman: The Court of Owls HC:

    A good anthology book is hard to find these days but Dark Horse Presents never fails to deliver. I’m usually more into story than art, but the art was mind-blowing. I’m looking forward to the Night of Owls conclusion.

    Paul from Australia put a lot of thought into his review of the Ghost Rider Danny Ketch: Addict TPB:

    Danny Ketch: Addict tells the tale of just how Danny came to be in the service of the rogue angel Zadkiel. It also kicks off the premise that there are many Ghost Riders all over the world. I enjoyed this TPB, it’s not overly long, but it tells a pretty good story and makes a very nice addition to the Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider Heaven’s on Fire storyline. Recommended if you’re a fan of the Ghost Rider and want to know why Danny Ketch is sapping the power of the other Spirits of Vengenance.

    Once you see Khalifa’s review of Meanwhile Pick Any Path 3856 Story Possibilities, you’ll know why we picked his review. Here’s what he had to say:

    A great experiment of using comics as a medium for the Choose Your Own Adventure genre. The book makes use of tabs on the side of each page to lead the reader to the next page. The story is fun and simple, suitable to anyone as young twelve but the humor kept my twenty-six year old self entertained until the end. The story involves a young boy who works as a lab assistant for a day and his adventures with each device he finds in the lab. The reader’s choices can be as simple as choosing an ice cream flavor to choosing whether or not to operate a doomsday device. One of the main themes of the story is time travel so expect to go in circles and create paradoxes. Overall, Meanwhile is a fun read for children and adults alike and my only complaint is that there isn’t any more books like it.

    Thanks so much to everyone who’s written reviews in the past couple months and throughout the years. You are good people. 🙂

    So submit your reviews and help your fellow collectors, and us, sort out the “HOT” from the “NOT”! Who knows, you may be one of next month’s winners.

    HOW TO SUBMIT A PRODUCT REVIEW:
    It’s simple! Just visit any product page and look for this:

    Click on it and our product review form will appear in a popup. Just fill out the pertinent information and submit your review, and you’re done! We’ll take a look at your review and get it up on the product page soon thereafter!

    There’s also a really easy way for you to call up everything you’ve ever ordered from us and review it. Simply log in to your account and go into the Order History Section. Next to each item, you’ll see a “Review it!” link.

    Questions? Comments? Let us know below!

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    Comic Book Reviews: Fairest, Amazing Spider-Man, Flashpoint

    Watch Video Reviews of This Week’s Comics!

    Hope you’re ready for another great edition of our weekly comic book reviews. This week we review Fairest #1, Amazing Spider-Man #681, the Flashpoint TPB, and the POP! V for Vendetta Vinyl Figure.

    Check out the video, below. SPOILER ALERT! We try not to go into too much detail in our reviews, but there are some spoilers about Flashpoint in this video!

    DC Comics Flashpoint

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    Bill Willingham’s Fables Spinoff Fairest Begins in March

    Bill Willingham begins new ongoing Fables series in March.This March, New York Times best-selling, award-winning creator Bill Willingham presents Fairest, a new series starring the female characters from his Fables series. Balancing horror, humor and adventure, Fairest explores the secret histories of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, Snow White, Rose Red, and many more.

    The first 6-issue arc follows the misadventures of Briar Rose after she is stolen away by the goblin army in Fables #107. Fan-favorite artist Phil Jimenez (Wonder Woman, The Invisibles) returns to Vertigo to pencil the opening storyline. Award-winning cover artist Adam Hughes (Wonder Woman, Batgirl) provides covers, starting with a wraparound cover on issue #1.

    ORDER FAIREST #1 TODAY

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    Comic Book Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man #654.1, Jennifer Blood #1 & more

    Reviews of This Week’s New Releases!

    We’ve got some pretty good comics this week, folks. This week, TFAW reviews Silver Surfer #1, Brightest Day #20, Jennifer Blood #1, Marvel Girl #1, Amazing Spider-Man #654.1, DC Universe Online Legends #2 and Fables #102

    CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S ARRIVALS

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    Thanks to our YouTube subscribers for suggesting Silver Surfer and Marvel Girl! Are you psyched for these issues? What would you like us to review next week? Post your comments below!

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    Comic Book Reviews: Fantastic Four #587, Infestation, X-Men

    New Reviews of This Week’s Releases!

    There were some pretty significant events this week, so we chose fewer titles so we could go in depth–let us know what you think! This week, we review Fantastic Four #587 (don’t worry, we don’t spoil who dies), IDW Infestation #1, X-Men #7, Fables #101, New York Five #1, and Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command #1.

    Fantastic Four #587

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    We love viewer recommendations, so let us have ’em! Post what you want us to review below, and we’ll give you a shout-out. Yay, YouTube/blog fame!

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    Comic Book Reviews: Let Me In, Fables #100, Starborn & more!

    New Reviews of This Week’s Releases!

    We’ve got some pretty good comics this week, folks. And with Elisabeth MIA, it fell on me to go it alone! This week, TFAW reviews Let Me In: Crossroads #1 (of 4), What If? Wolverine, Dark Tower Gunslinger: Little Sisters of Eluria #1, Fables #100, and Starborn #1.

    CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S ARRIVALS

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    Are you psyched for these issues? What would you like us to review next week? Post your comments below!

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    WNR: Ex Machina, Buffy Riley One-Shot, Farscape, Brightest Day

    New Reviews of This Week’s Releases!

    We’ve got another great batch of Wednesday New Releases, including a long-awaited finale, a Buffyverse one-shot, and one of the coolest collectibles we’ve seen in a long time! Pull up a chair while TFAW reviews Ex Machina #50, New Avengers #3, Amazing Spider-Man #640 (“One Moment in Time”), Brightest Day #8, Chew #13, Farscape Ongoing #10, Shadowland: Power Man #1, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Riley One-Shot, Fables #97, Atlas #4, Supergirl #55, and The Umbrella Academy Pocket Watch and Statue Set.

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer Riley One-Shot

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    SDCC ’10: Vertigo Comics Panel

    Coverage From San Diego Comic-Con 2010

    Some of Vertigo’s hottest talent talk about their current and upcoming projects. Chris Roberson talks about I, Zombie, Scott Snyder dishes on American Vampire, and Joshua Dysart discusses the end of Unknown Soldier. Jeff Lemire talks about Sweet Tooth, Matt Kindt tells us about Revolver, Fabio Moon asks us what we remember from Daytripper, Shelly Bond announces an exciting turn for Hellblazer‘s John Constantine, and Bill Willingham talks about a very special Fables #100.

    Vertigo logo

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