The latest member of the Fables family came into the world last Wednesday, as Fairest #1 by Bill Willingham, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning, Andrew Dalhouse and Todd Klein. The book promises to explore “the secret histories of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, Snow White, Rose Red and others.” The first story arc picks up where Fables #107 left off, as it focuses on Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty after she is stolen away by the goblin army.
So what do people think of this latest spinoff of the popular and long-running Fables franchise? Here’s a round-up of a few reviews …
Alex Zalben, MTV Geek: “By gobsmacking, of course, I’m referring to the plot of the issue: a thief we haven’t seen in a good long while picks up a jar we may have forgotten about, and sets in search of a lady or two who have been trapped by goblins. Much smacking of said gobs ensues… Though mostly by one of the most bad-ass wooden puppets you might ever hope to meet. And all of this involves characters or ideas that have been seeded throughout Fables the past few years, but one of the beauties of the book (beyond, you know, Sleeping Beauty) is that Willingham provides easy entry for even the newest reader.”
Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “There’s no denying this is a Fables spinoff. One has to be familiar with a fair bit of continuity from the mother title to figure out where the characters are in this story and what their deal is (especially Oakheart). I haven’t read Fables in a while, but fortunately, what I remember from before I stopped following the book was enough to pick up on the appropriate and required references here. Of course, not everyone will be privy to the same backstory from Fables. Of course, one could argue DC expects only Fables readers to pick up Fairest, but limiting one’s expected readership to an audience within an established audience seems like it would be setting the bar far too low. Willingham’s script really could’ve used more exposition.”
We don’t cover a lot of store signings, but this seems like kind of a big deal for a couple of reasons. Bill Willingham and Adam Hughes are kicking off the hotly anticipated Fairest series with a launch party/signing at The Source Comics and Games in Falcon Heights, Minnesota (a suburb of Saint Paul) on Wednesday, March 7.
Coming at a time when many readers are looking for comics that feature great female characters, Fairest focuses on the fairy tale women of Bill Willingham’s Fables. Willingham is writing the book; Hughes provides the covers.
Adam Hughes has revealed his cover for the third issue of Fairest, Vertigo’s upcoming Fables spinoff series that will spotlight such female characters as Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Snow White and Rose Red. While the six-issue initial arc, by Fables creator Bill Willingham and artists Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning, centers on Briar Rose, Hughes puts Lumi, the Snow Queen (previously seen in the background of his cover for Fairest #1) front and center.
Check out the full image below. Fairest debuts from Vertigo in March; the third issue arrives in May.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, I’d start with Image’s new anthology Thought Bubble Anthology #1 (Image, $2.99). That Becky Cloonan cover is great, and seeing that the book holds new shorts from Andy Diggle, Duncan Fegredo and others is enticing. Next up would be a DC three-pack: Swamp Thing #4 (DC, $2.99), Animal Man #4 (DC, $2.99), Action Comics #4 (DC, $3.99). DC really wins this week when it comes to my wallet, and these three books are becoming the key titles in the New 52.
If I had $30, I’d try out Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson’s Defenders #1 (Marvel, $3.99). While I was nonplussed by their previous collaboration in Uncanny X-Men, I remain high on other segments of their work and hope this one lives up to that potential. Next up would be X-Club #1 (Marvel, $2.99), based solely on this eclectic line-up. The X-Club was one of the few parts of the previously mentioned Fraction run on Uncanny X-Men I enjoyed, and I hope this mini makes them a more viable part of the universe long-term. Next up I’d get iZombie #20 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) for the ongoing adventures of Roberson and Allred and Irredeemable #32. I’m really enjoying what Diego Barreto brings to the book, and Mark Waid continues to deliver.
If I could splurge, I’d get IDW’s collection of Mike Grell’s Shaman’s Tears maxi-series. This was one of the early Image titles, and gave me my first glimpse of Grell’s work and the potential for Image outside the original 7. As the series went on I ended up going back to track down Grell’s earlier work, but Shaman’s Tears holds a special place and I’m anxious to relive it without dusting off my longboxes.
Comics | ICv2′s latest report on the comics market shows a mixed picture for monthly comics and graphic novels. While DC’s New 52 reboot has helped push comics sales, the graphic-novel versions of those comics won’t be out for months — and Amazon is gobbling up a larger and larger share of graphic novel sales, especially at the high end. And this is interesting: “Digital sales are growing as a percentage of the market, but apparently not at the expense of print sales. Retailers interviewed by ICv2 do not feel they’re losing sales to digital competition on DC’s day and date titles.” That seems to be more anecdote than data, but you would think retailers would be the first to notice a drop in sales. The report also includes lists of the top 10 properties in various categories. [ICv2]
Bill Willingham’s Fables original graphic novel Werewolves of the Heartland, originally set to debut this fall, has been officially postponed until Sept. 5, 2012, Vertigo revealed this morning. No reason was given for the delay.
Announced in 2009 at Comic-Con International, the graphic novel follows Bigby Wolf as he searches the Midwest for a new location for Fabletown: “In his wanderings, Bigby stumbles across a small town named Story City, that, amazingly enough, seems to be populated by werewolves. Who are they and where did they come from? They aren’t Fables, but they sure aren’t normal mundys. They seem to already know and revere Bigby, but at the same time they’ve captured and caged him – but why? Unravelling the many mysteries of Story City may cost Bigby more than his life.”
The 160-page book features interior art by Jim Fern, Craig Hamilton and Ray Snyder, and a cover by Daniel Dos Santos.
Fables #108 arrived in stores last week. The spinoff anthology Fairest premieres in early 2012.
Three down, one to go … here’s a list of the major comics-related announcements made at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday:
• A number of new projects were announced or promoted at Image’s Creator-Owned Comics panel, not the least of which is the return of Brian K. Vaughan to comic books. Vaughan will write a book called Saga, which is co-created and drawn by Fiona Staples. Vaughan told CBR that the book is “an epic drama chronicling the life and times of one young family fighting to survive a never-ending war. 100 percent creator-owned. Ongoing. Monthly. Fiona and I are banking issues now.”
• Image also announced that Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is collaborating with Charlie Adlard on a new series of graphic novels called Album. The books will be released roughly 18 months apart, 60 pages long, with different themes each year, with the first being Passenger. It’s co-published with Delcourt in France and will be available simultaneously in English and France.
• Jonathan Hickman and Nicky Pitarra will team up for The Manhattan Projects at Image. Hickman is also doing a book called Secret with artist Ryan Godenheim.
If you read Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham’s work on Fables, you know the real star of the show isn’t Bigby or Boy Blue or even Flycatcher — it’s the little winged monkey Bufkin. Buckingham captures his majesty in the above print, which has a very small print run for a very small hero.
Only 25 were created, and five of them will be given away to the winners of the Hero Initiative‘s “Meet Willingham and Bucky on the yacht” auctions. Five fans will get to chat with the duo about Fables, get the print and ask one question that the creators will answer with “no hokum, no equivocation, no bush-beating and no balderdash.”
Another five will be given away at the Fables panel at the San Diego Comic-Con to the folks who ask the five best questions. How the remaining 15 will be distributed has yet to be determined, according to the Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin.
Apparently so, according to the just-released Thursday panel schedule for Comic-Con International:
5:00-6:00 First Comics: The First of the Great Independents Is Back with a Fury!— Legendary ’80s independent publishing powerhouse First Comics is returning when the world needs it most, not unlike the promised return of King Arthur. And the assembled Round Table of extraordinary comics creators are here to tell you how they will once again be rocking your world with comics entertainment from the cutting edge. Panelists include Ken F. Levin (Wanted, The Boys, First Comics co-founder and director), Joe Staton and Nick Cuti (E-Man), Bill Willingham (Fables), Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition), Brian Mullens (founder of DaQRi; QR director), Alex Wald (art director then and again), Susannah Carson (A Truth Universally Acknowledged; First Comics YA editor), and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (The Tarquin Engine, The Last Sane Cowboy). Moderated by Larry Young (The Black Diamond; First Comics director of production). Room 23ABC
First Comics was an independent comics company that published titles like Dreadstar, E-Man, Jon Sable, Badger, Nexus, Grimjack , American Flagg! and other titles back in the 1980s. It’s an interesting mix of folks on the panel, including several names that were associated with First back in the 1980s.
Retailing | More than 1 million customers visited participating stores on Free Comic Book Day, according to a survey conducted by Diamond Comic Distributors. More than 2.4 million of the record 2.7 million comics ordered by retailers were handed out. What’s more, nearly 54 percent of stores saw higher profits than usual for a Saturday, while more than 37 percent reported higher profits than on a typical Wednesday. [ICv2.com]
Awards | Bob Haney and Del Connell will receive the 2011 Bill Finger Award for Achievement in Comic Book Writing, established in honor of the late writer, considered the “unsung hero” of Batman. Haney, who passed away, in 2004, is best remembered as co-creator of the Doom Patrol and Metamorpho and for his work on DC titles like The Brave and the Bold, Teen Titans and Aquaman. Connell, who began his career at Disney Studios working on such animated projects as Alice in Wonderland and The Three Caballeros, became a prolific writer and, eventually, editor-in-chief at Western Publishing. He also wrote the Mickey Mouse comic strips for more than 20 years. Connell, 94, will accept his award July 22 during the Eisner Awards ceremony at Comic-Con International. [Comic-Con]
Passings | Writer, editor and historian Bill Blackbeard, widely credited with saving the American comic strip from the ash heap of history, passed away on March 10 at a nursing home in Watsonville, Calif. He was 84. A lifelong collector of comic strips, Blackbeard founded the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art in 1968, filling the garage and basement with thousands of bound volumes of old newspapers let go by libraries when they converted their archives to microfilm. His collection grew by the 1990s to 350,000 Sunday strips and 2.5 million dailies, which eventually made their way to Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Blackbeard wrote, edited or contributed to more than 200 books on cartoons and comic strips, including The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, 100 Years of Comic Strips and Fantagraphics’ Krazy & Ignatz series.
Numerous obituaries and reminisces have appeared since yesterday, most notably from R.C. Harvey, Tom Spurgeon, Jeet Heer, Dylan Williams, ICv2.com, and Dan Nadel, who collected a handful of tributes. [The Comics Journal]
Finalists have been announced for the 2011 Hugo Awards, which recognize the best in science fiction and fantasy.
Presented annually since 1955 by the World Science Fiction Society, the Hugo is among science fiction’s most prestigious awards. This year’s winner will be presented Aug. 20 in Reno, Nevada, during Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention.
The nominees for best graphic story are:
• Fables, Vol. 14: Witches, written by Bill Willingham; illustrated by Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Jim Fern, Craig Hamilton and David Lapham (Vertigo)
• Girl Genius, Vol. 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
• Grandville Mon Amour, by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
• Schlock Mercenary: Massively Parallel, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler; colors by Howard Tayler and Travis Walton (Hypernode)
• The Unwritten, Vol. 2: Inside Man, written by Mike Carey; illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)
This is the third year for the graphic story category. Girl Genius won the award the two previous years.
The full list of nominees can be found on the Renovation website.
“Where in the world is Gene Ha?”
That’s what comic fans like me have been wondering the past year. Sure he’s been popping up as a cover artist on some big DC titles and rounding out the last issues of The Authority: Lost Year, but in terms of real, sink-your-teeth into it comics work it’s been a drought. But thankfully, Gene Ha has popped up to explain what’s going on.
In a blog post on his website, Ha explains that the his major creator-owned project Back Roads with Bill Willingham at IDW (announced back in 2009) has fallen apart due to the writer stopping to turn in scripts — just after Ha turned in the complete first issue – pencils, inks and colors. With the full story of Back Roads estimated to be 132 pages and no new script pages in a year, Ha’s pretty much said the project is dead.
Getting back into the swing of things, Ha has worked on those previously mentioned covers for DC, and he also did a Mouse Guard story with writer Lowell Francis. He’s also working on shorts for House of Mystery and the IDW Rocketeer miniseries. The most enticing bit of news is something else.
“I’ll be doing a few issues of an iconic DC character this summer, DC should announce details soon,” Ha revealed. “And finally, after all that, I’ve been working on something with James Robinson.”
Look for more on Gene Has’ website, but before you go — tell us your favorite Gene Ha work and what iconic character you’d like to see him work on!
Retailing | Rich Johnston confirms that Diamond Comic Distributors is developing a digital comics service that, in the words of a company representative, “will be entirely focused on driving sales of digital comic-related content through brick and mortar comic book specialty retailers.” No details were made available, but an official announcement is expected “in the near future.” In the meantime, Johnston gathers initial reactions from several retailers. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Amit Desai, who has worked at Warner Bros. since 2004, has been named as DC Entertainment’s senior vice president, franchise management: “In his new role, Desai will develop and implement the individual franchise plans for Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, MAD Magazine, Vertigo titles, and other DC properties. This will include driving wider cross-promotional support across all Time Warner divisions.” [press release]
Publishing | Alex Segura, former publicity manager at DC Comics, has been hired by Archie Comics as executive director of publicity and marketing. [press release]
Vertigo has released some details on the big 100th anniversary issue of their long-running Fables series. Those of you who read previous issues know that one of the Fables characters has challenged the evil Mister Dark to a duel, and it sounds like that duel will make up the bulk (62 pages, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha and Andrew Pepoy) of the $10 issue. But it will also include:
• A 10-page prose story written by Buckingham and drawn by Willingham. Although Willingham is known primarily as a writer nowadays, he used to both write and draw his creation, The Elementals. Plus he worked for TSR as an artist before that, drawing the covers to Dungeons & Dragons books and modules.
• A set of do-it-yourself Fables puppet theater illustrated by Buckingham
• A three-page story written by Willingham with art by Cinderlla artist Chrissie Zullo
• A three-page story written by Willingham with art by Joao Ruas
• A two-page Fables board game, illustrated by Buckingham, with game rules by Willingham
• Four celebrity “Burning Questions” stories, all written by Willingham, featuring questions from actors who are also Fables fans, with art by Adam Hughes, J.H. Williams III and Dave Johnson.
The 100-page square-bound book arrives in shops Dec. 8.