comics,  fairytales

Thoughts on Fables: Volume 01 from a Comic Newbie

I’ve always been pretty wary of comics.  I never really got into them when I was younger and might have been a little less obsessive about making sure that my comic reading was just so.  I have a thing about series and making sure that I read things in the “right” order.  It was a source of much discussion when Boyfriend and I first got together whether we should embark on the Star Wars films in the order they were released or so the story was in chronological order (we went with the story being in chronological order).  The world of comics always intimidated me because I was gravely concerned about ‘getting it wrong’, especially with long-running series where there are all kinds of story arcs and spin-offs and whatnot.  
I’ve been eyeing up Fables for a while.  I’ve read a couple of graphic novels this year (also a first for me) and I’ve really enjoyed them.  The next logical step seemed comics and Fables was a series I’d seen mentioned all over a whole range of blogs.  I put it on my wishlist, thinking that one day I’d give it a try and then the great and lovely Bex sent it to me for my birthday.  I’m so glad she did.  
The premise is pretty awesome.  A whole host of fairytale and nursery rhyme characters have been chased out of their world by the Adversary and are settled in modern day New York.  The community is led by Old King Cole, with Snow White acting as his deputy.  Bigby Wolf (of Red Riding Hood fame) heads up the security/crime division.  In this first volume that bundles together the first five issues, Snow White’s sister, Red Rose, is missing and presumed dead and Bigby Wolf is tasked with finding out what happened.  Folklore meets detective fiction – what’s not to like?
As my first comic experience, it was a superb one.  There are a couple of artists adding gorgeous illustrations to Bill Willingham’s words and the effect is quite something.  Separating each issue is a double spread illustration that has a completely different look to those that bring Willingham’s characters to life.  I think what surprised me was the more…adult content.  There’s sex, a smidgen of violence and some swearing.  I thought it would feel awkward and it didn’t.  The text and the illustrations fit together perfectly and I was able to get into the story.
I’ve read that this is sometimes billed as a comedy.  There is some humour and I did find it entertaining reading but I definitely wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as a comedy.  I don’t know what I would describe it as but not a comedy.  I actually cared about the mystery so it works on that level.  It’s tongue in cheek about its fantasy elements so it fits neatly into that genre too without being too twee about it.  In short: if you like fairytales and you want to play ‘spot the reference’ while getting to enjoy a good old-fashioned murder mystery, Fables is for you.
I’m still a little bit worried about not quite getting the order right but I have a guide on a good reading order saved to my phone and I think I’m safe to just keep reading until Volume 06 so I’ll definitely be carrying on with Fables.  It’s a lot of fun and it’s top notch escapism so if you’ve been considering comics but haven’t had a clue where to start (like me), this is as good a place as any.