Danny Graydon has posted up a good, long interview with Bill Wilingham, in which they discuss the much-acclaimed Fables (surely one of the most consistently interesting works coming from a mainstream publisher right now?), how the series has developed, where it is now and where it is going as it (remarkably) approaches its tenth year and there’s even an exclusive nugget of information about the forthcoming original graphic novel Werewolves of the Heartland. Danny tells us that an abridged version of the interview will be in Comic Heroes soon, but if you want the full-fat, non-diet, 6000 word chat with Bill then head over to his site:
(cover art by James Jean for the upcoming third volume of the Deluxe Fables)
“DG: It’s astounding to think that Fables is closing in on its tenth anniversary – did you ever think it would go this far?
BILL WILLINGHAM: At the beginning, I was in this pattern of coming up with ideas for Vertigo comics that they would agree to do and which would get a pleasant amount of critical attention and no sales. Even though I thought Fables was a stronger idea than most, I expected it to follow that pattern. If we got a full 12 issues out of it, I would have counted that as a masterstroke of success! So yes, the long-term success of Fables has come as a bit of a surprise – and continues to. I am not the most trusting fellow: I keep expecting the entire readership to wake up in time and collectively realise that we have been making these stories of talking ducks and moo-cows and exclaim “ what were they thinking?”…!
DG: Instead of twelve issues, you are now pushing 160 with the core series and the Jack of Fables and Cindarella spin-off titles. Fables seems like the natural successor to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series – would you agree?
BW: I like to put the caveat when those comparisons are made, in the sense that Sandman was certainly its own thing. I wouldn’t try to recreate it in tone or in substance with a series of my own. If Fables seems to be the anchor upon which Vertigo is moored at any given time these days, then sure!
DG: A hallmark of Fables is the incredibly intricate plotting – how much of it did you have worked out in advance?
BW: At the beginning, I think I had a couple of years worked out. You generate three or four story arcs in the proposal and you’ve got the first two years right there. When I began to see that it had legs and that the investment of care and planning might actually pay off, I think at any given time [Fables artist] Mark Buckingham – who is integral to long-term planning- and I have the next year’s worth planned, in that we know what every issue is going to be and probably the two years beyond that in broad strokes and lots more that we hope the book survives long enough to be able to do someday.”