Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

Summary from Goodreads:

When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown's sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf (Bigby Wolf), to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

It's nice to see a graphic novel that is perhaps the first of it's kind, if I'm not mistaken. A fairy tale retelling in the form of a graphic novel. Next to superheroes, the idea of fairy tale characters living among us, is one among the many fantastical thoughts, that tickle my fancy. 

Fables is actually a string of graphic novels, which has around 18 or 19 volumes to date, and numbers to a hundred or so issues, total. And Vol 1: Legends in Exile, acts as a prologue of sorts. It starts by introducing us to the world of Fable Town by answering the following questions:

1. How it came to be - Fairy tale and folklore characters (who call themselves "Fables") have been forced out of their Homeland when "The Adversary" conquered their neck of the woods. Thus the Fables, then relocated to Upper West Side, Manhattan and set up a community called Fable Town, and another one in upstate New York called "The Farm" for those who are unable to blend in with the humans (like the three little pigs, the giants, monsters etc.)

2. How/Who runs it: Fabletown exists just as any other human town. It has restaurants and shops, a hospital and a government that is somewhat democratic. It is run by Old King Cole as the mayor; Snow White as the deputy mayor;  and Bigby (The Big Bad Wolf) as the sheriff.  They mainly enforce rules that can be generalized as living with the mundanes/humans with the least possible detection of their true nature as fables.

 It is also important to note that a story arc exists per volume, And in this case, it is the murder mystery of Rose Red whose apartment was found in shambles with blood spilled everywhere.  And in the 5 issues of Vol 1, Bigby investigates this mystery in such an unorthodox manner, (unfortunately, of course, for the string of fable suspects that happens to be on his list) that it will keep you wanting to read more and guessing what the old wolf is trying to achieve with this seemingly messed up method of investigation of his. And we meet a couple of other familiar characters as well, like Jack (Jack and the Beanstalk), Boy Blue, Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella etc. All of which were exactly how we remembered them to be, in our old story books but then again, not quite. 

And I think it is also important to mention that while a different story arc exists per volume (Rose Red's murder mystery in the case of Vol 1, as mentioned above) there is an overarching story line that exists in all issues of Fables. And that is the reclamation of their Homelands and the defeat of  the usurper, "The Adversary".

This is definitely not a fairy tale retelling of the Disney, squeaky clean kind. It is wonderfully dark, and grisly, and bloody, and properly grim. And it's delightful how Bill Willingham reinvented these characters, gave them new personas and new lives and crafted a whole new world for them all to exists. We all know what happened to them in the old fairy tales but what about after all the Happily Ever Afters and all The Ends? I get it, why Fables still continues on, after a hundred issues. It's because it's addicting and entertaining. It's like popcorn, you just keep eating and eating, and when you look at your bucket, whadya know? The whole bucketful is already gone. Time to grab another. Hee.

Lastly, I would like to give a special Thank You! to Rhin of Perfect Nostalgia for making sure I get to experience the awesomeness of Fables Graphic Novels.  :D

Fables Vol 1 is a Winner of the Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story (2003)


  1. You're very welcome, Tin! I'm sooooo glad you're enjoying it. Fables is definitely one of the best retellings out there. hihi! I hope you enjoy the rest of the volumes.

    1. I agree! I just got off March of the Wooden Soldiers. It was one horrific and messy battle. I did not expect the Red Riding Hood twist though, which was awesome. I am also excited for Momma Snow. Hihi. :D


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