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Bill Willingham – Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love

October 21, 2008

130. Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love by Bill Wilingham, Bryan Talbot, Lan Medina, Mark Buckingham, Linda Medley, Steve Leialoha, and Craig Hamilton (2004)
Fables, Volume 3

Read my Review of:
Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
Vol. 2: Animal Farm

Length: 190 pages

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Started: 19 October 2008, sometime after midnight
Finished: 19 October 2008, slightly before 2 a.m.

Snow White and Bigby
can’t keep hiding from their hearts
with Goldy on loose.

Summary: Volume 3 of Fables deviates from the format set up in the first two volumes, each of which contained a single multi-issue story arc. Storybook Love, instead, contains two shorter arcs that build on the general plot line of the series, as well two “stand-alone” issues. First is “Bag of Bones” – a one-off based on American folklore, set at the time of the Civil War, and starring Jack, the Devil, and Death. Then comes the first of the more traditional arcs – comprised of issues “A Sharp Operation” and “Dirty Business”, it’s a noir piece starring Sleeping Beauty, and involving the Fables fighting to protect their privacy from an overeager journalist. Next up comes the four-part “Storybook Love”, in which the the fugitive Goldilocks and Bluebeard concoct a plan to rid themselves of the meddling influence of Snow White and Bigby Wolf, who have finally started admitting their feelings for each other. Finally, the second one-off, “Barlycorn Brides”, is a telling of how the Lilliputians that escaped from the Adversary found enough females to start a second generation of SmallTown.

Review: The multi-arcs-per-volume format has some clear benefits: more variety of stories without additional world-building, development of some non-central characters, and stories that don’t feel the relentless need to move the overarching mythos forwards. On the other hand, the overarching mythos is what I’m most interested in, and as a result, this volume wound up feeling a little hit-or-miss for me. The one-offs were entertaining, and it was cool to see some “non-traditional” graphics styling, but since they’re inconsequential to the overall story, they unavoidably feel somewhat like filler.

If not for the cigarrette, would you be able to tell these are the same character?

If not for the cigarette, would you be able to tell these are the same character? (image quality is crappy because these were taken with my laptop camera; images are copyrighted by their creators, of course)

The two larger arcs were much more absorbing – featuring characters we know and care about, and stories that will clearly have an impact further down the road. I also figured out in this volume that it really does make a difference who’s doing the pencilling… even though I never thought I’d care that much about the artwork, halfway through this volume, Bigby Wolf goes from looking like a gritty, chiseled, gruff strong-and-silent type, and starts looking like a Neanderthal who’s had a brick dropped on his head. I think the intent was to make him look more wolf-ish, since he actually does transform fully in “Storybook Love”, but at least for me, it’s really not working. 4 out of 5.

Recommendation: Fans of the first two might be put slightly off-balance by the change of format, but it’s still a highly enjoyable read, and perfectly capable of satisfying my need for a Fables fix.

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

Other Reviews: Book Zombie, Things Mean a Lot, Rhinoa’s Ramblings, Everyday Reads
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2008 3:19 pm

    I didn’t notice that about the art, but you’re right, I much prefer the first image!

  2. October 24, 2008 4:08 pm

    Great review! The change in Bigby was a bit distracting (I kept comparing his facial features to Marv from Sin City) but it was also nice to see the different ways he could be portrayed.

  3. October 25, 2008 8:45 am

    Nymeth – I only noticed it because there were a few panels where I legitimately could not tell who he was supposed to be until I’d studied it for a while. I’ve gotten used to it by now.

    Joanne – I haven’t read (or seen) Sin City, so I’ll take your word for it.


  1. Storybook Love « A Chain of Letters

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