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Bill Willingham – Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile

September 30, 2008

119. Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham; Illustrated by Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, and Craig Hamilton (2002)
Fables, Volume 1

Length: 128 pages

Genre: Graphic Novel; Fantasy/Mystery

Started: 28 September 2008
Finished: 29 September 2008

Snow White and the Wolf
solving her sister’s murder.
Fairy tales, grown-up!

Summary: When their homeland was taken over by The Adversary, fairy tale inhabitants fled to New York, where they’ve been living inconspicuously amongst the “mundanes”. This first volume in the series focuses around two main characters – Snow White, the second-in-command of Fabletown, and Bigby Wolf, its de facto sheriff – as they try to figure out what happened to Rose Red, Snow’s half sister… who has gone missing, and whose apartment was found covered in blood. Volume 1 is a collection of the first five issues of the comic.

Review: This is only my third attempt at reading a graphic novel, after Michael Chabon Presents… The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, which I didn’t care for, and The Man Who Grew Young by Daniel Quinn, which I like more for the fact that it’s Quinn’s than the fact that it’s a graphic novel. So, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but since I’ve got several friends who are in a very nerdly kind of love with Fables, I figured I should check them out. And, happy to say, I was pleasantly surprised! The graphic novel aspects of it were good – I followed the layout and the story well, the panel art was detailed and rich (you can see some samples at Amazon), and the cover illustrations by James Jean are phenomenally lovely (you can see more of his work here). What I was really surprised by, however, was the story. The mystery aspect of it was nothing out of the ordinary (a lot of the time is spent introducing characters and world-building), but I wasn’t expecting it to be so funny, both in the sense of overt jokes and in the more subtle way that it poked fun at fairy tale characters and conventions. Similarly, I wasn’t expect there to actual multi-dimensional characters that I cared about. Shoot, there go all of my prejudices about comic book geeks! I’ll be reading the next one in the series, for sure. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This one isn’t for the wee-uns – there’s a fair bit of violence, language, and sex to go around – but for those of us who have grown up on fairy tales, it’s a fun and highly enjoyable new take on some old favorites.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Avid Book Reader, A Chain of Letters, SomeReads, That’s the Book!, Book Zombie, Henwen Online Comics Review
Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2008 4:00 am

    Glad you enjoyed it so much!
    I haven’t gotten around to it myself, but I hear that Fables really starts to pick up with the second volume.

  2. September 30, 2008 6:34 am

    Oh cool, cool, cool!!! I’ve got to read this now!

  3. September 30, 2008 6:58 am

    The Fables series only gets better as it goes along!

  4. September 30, 2008 2:34 pm

    chainletters – thanks to you for providing part of the kick in the pants I needed to finally pick it up and read it!

    Ladytink – Definitely; I finally understand what all the hubbub’s about.

    Memory – Good to hear, since I’ve already got Vol. 2 on reserve at the library! :)

  5. September 30, 2008 3:28 pm

    I love this series. I’m glad you enjoyed the first book, and I hope you enjoy the rest of them just as much!

  6. October 1, 2008 7:52 pm

    I’ve never attempted a graphic novel.

    One of these days, and when I do I’ll make sure it’s one like this, that comes with a good recommendation.

  7. October 1, 2008 8:16 pm

    Nymeth – I’m sure I will… now I just need to wait for whoever’s got the next one checked out from the library to get it back so I can have it!

    Shana – One of the things that appeals to me about graphic novels is how painless they are… for the most part they’re short, with less text per page than a regular novel, so they don’t take long, and if they’re not for you, you haven’t wasted that much time finding that out.

  8. October 4, 2008 10:42 pm

    I was a little worried about this comic too, being a huge fairy tale fan I was afraid it would be a bit too corny – but it’s terrific!

    Thanks for taking a look at my review, I’ve added a link to yours :)

  9. October 6, 2008 11:37 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed it and will echo the comments that it just keeps getting better.

  10. August 25, 2009 3:45 pm


    Here’s my review:

    would be happy to link to yours!


  1. Saturday Review of Books: October 4, 2008 at Semicolon
  2. Bill Willingham - Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love « Fyrefly’s Book Blog
  3. Bill Willingham - Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall « Fyrefly’s Book Blog
  4. Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham | Books of Mee
  5. Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham | Iris on Books
  6. Review: Fables #1 Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham : Bart's Bookshelf

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