October 21, 2013 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

staff_picks andy_staff_picksANDY’S PICK :: FABLES ENCYCLOPEDIA:¬†There are few in fandom as detail oriented and obsessed as the living legend Jess Nevins. ¬†He is the man who annotated every single panel from every volume of Alan Moore’s detail oriented work with League of Extraordinary Gentleman Companion (highly recommended!). ¬†(Why is that car in the back ground on page 4 panel 2? ¬†Whose car is it and what about the license plate?) ¬†Once Nevins embarks on a project he never sleeps until all is explained. Now Vertigo and Bill Willingham have unleashed the very hard working and very focused Mr. Nevins on the expansive Fables Universe. ¬†Fables Encyclopedia is just brimming with fun facts and anecdotes about this popular long running VERTIGO series. ¬†Trust me, if there is minutiae to mined, Mr. Nevins is our man. ¬†This coffee table book features illustrations from cover artists James Jean, ¬†Joao Ruas, Adam Hughes, as well as contributions by the regular series art team of Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha. ¬†Enjoy!!!



September 14, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Staff Picks

FABLES ¬†#121: The final chapter of ‚ÄúCubs in Toyland”.¬†This is the climax of one of the best FABLES story arcs in recent years. ¬†Fabulously produced by the regular team of¬†Bill Willingham, ¬†Mark Buckingham, and Steve Leioloha. Cubs in Toyland has been so¬†emotionally¬†difficult to read, I ¬†almost dread what is in store in this final issue. ¬†It is a truly harrowing tale for any parent or for any child who has had responsibility dumped on them far too soon. ¬†I know I will never be able to watch¬†Rudolph or Toy Story in the same light ever again. Brilliant and painful–¬†a must read.



August 13, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Where Do I Start?

Welcome to the very first installment of Where Do I Start?.¬†There are a lot of great, long-running comic book series that didn’t start out so great–good enough to catch on, but not enough to catch fire. ¬†Off the top of my head,¬†Hellboy, Hellblazer,¬†Love & Rockets and yes, even (gasp!)¬†Sandman are good examples of series which needed to produce a few story arcs before it really reached their potential. ¬†We¬†could¬†spend all day arguing about each individual series I mentioned, but space is limited, so let’s just concede that I am always right and move on (See, wasn’t that easy??)
To me the ultimate example of this¬†slow-start-to-a-great-series¬†phenomenon is Bill Willingham’s Fables. ¬†A lot of folks tried the first few issues of¬†Fables¬†10 years ago and were a bit disappointed by the Vertigo-proclaimed¬†heir apparent to¬†Sandman. ¬†But a lot more folks got hooked and continued to read it to this very day. ¬†Currently the series is celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary with 118 issues published collected into 16 trades. ¬†There have been two spin-off series,¬†Jack of Fables and now Fairest, plus a stand alone short story collection¬†1001 Nights of Snowfall¬†and even a prose novel¬†Peter and Max.
After all of that material, I still get excited every single month to read Fables.  I would like you to enjoy this series that tells the on-going saga of the famous characters from Legend and Fairy-tale (Snow White, The Big Bad Wolf,  The North Wind, Pinocchio, Ozma and countless others) existing in our Mundane (Mundy) world. The problem for hesitant readers has been the first two story lines collected in Legends in Exile and Animal Farm.  These two stories told in the cliche ridden forms of a murder mystery and a Spy thriller do not work as well as one might hope.
So, I am suggesting you set aside your strong completest sense (all of us comic readers have it) and pick up the Third Fables trade Storybook Love.¬†¬†It was these issues that hooked me for life and I believe it will do the the same to you. ¬†The storytelling, art and characterization are confident. ¬†The story literally jumps off the page. ¬†the world of Willingham’s creation becomes fully formed and believable. ¬†From that point on, he was off to the races with no end in sight.
So do yourself a favor, break with tradition and read the third trade¬†Storybook Love first. ¬†You will continue to read on and on and I am confident that Fables will become one of your monthly must-reads. Remember: you can always go back and read the first two once you’ve gotten involved.
Note: Although i really enjoy the current storyline, I do not recommend Fairest as an optimal starting point for new readers. The tone of this first story is humorous and a bit self-reverential–much like the wise-guy first person narration in Jack of Fables. ¬†This conceit works well for the story Willingham is telling within Fairest’s pages, but I do not think this tone works well as a proper introduction to a series like¬†Fables that successfully tells many different tales in many different ways.
Try¬†Storybook Love— it is really enjoyable and you will be chomping on the bit for more.