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Humanities 2016, 5(2), 32; doi:10.3390/h5020032

We All Live in Fabletown: Bill Willingham’s Fables—A Fairy-Tale Epic for the 21st Century

Department of English, Texas A&M University, MS 4227 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, USA
Academic Editor: Claudia Schwabe
Received: 1 March 2016 / Revised: 30 April 2016 / Accepted: 9 May 2016 / Published: 19 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fairy Tale and its Uses in Contemporary New Media and Popular Culture)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [270 KB, uploaded 19 May 2016]

Abstract

Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series and its spin-offs have spanned fourteen years and reinforce that fairy-tale characters are culturally meaningful, adaptable, subversive, and pervasive. Willingham uses fairy-tale pastiche and syncreticism based on the ethos of comic book crossovers in his redeployment of previous approaches to fairy-tale characters. Fables characters are richer for every perspective that Willingham deploys, from the Brothers Grimm to Disneyesque aesthetics and more erotic, violent, and horrific incarnations. Willingham’s approach to these fairy-tale narratives is synthetic, idiosyncratic, and libertarian. This tension between Willingham’s subordination of fairy-tale characters to his overarching libertarian ideological narrative and the traditional folkloric identities drives the storytelling momentum of the Fables universe. Willingham’s portrayal of Bigby (the Big Bad Wolf turned private eye), Snow White (“Fairest of Them All”, Director of Operations of Fabletown, and avenger against pedophilic dwarves), Rose Red (Snow’s divergent, wild, and jealous sister), and Jack (narcissistic trickster) challenges contemporary assumptions about gender, heroism, narrative genres, and the very conception of a fairy tale. Emerging from negotiations with tradition and innovation are fairy-tale characters who defy constraints of folk and storybook narrative, mythology, and metafiction. View Full-Text
Keywords: folklore; fables; Fables; Bill Willingham; Jack of Fables; comic books; graphic novel; fairy tale; Grimm folklore; fables; Fables; Bill Willingham; Jack of Fables; comic books; graphic novel; fairy tale; Grimm
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Harris, J.M. We All Live in Fabletown: Bill Willingham’s Fables—A Fairy-Tale Epic for the 21st Century. Humanities 2016, 5, 32.

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