When “Fables” creator Bill Willingham launched the spinoff series “Fairest,” one of the first characters he assured fans would make an appearance in the Vertigo title was Fabletown’s infamous spy and agent provocateur, Cinderella.
Having already starred in two miniseries by writer Chris Roberson and artist Shawn McManus, Cinderella’s third solo storyline debuts this week in the pages of “Fairest,” albeit with a semi-different creative team as McManus pairs up with writer Marc Andreyko.
Best known to DC fans as the creator of Kate Spencer in “Manhunter,” Andreyko recently returned to the publisher as the new writer on “Batwoman,” replacing J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman after the two left the series. And now, with the latest installment of Cinderella’s spy adventures set to kick off, Andreyko spoke with CBR about his “Fairest” story, how he goes about picking what comics he writes — even the controversial ones — and his big dreams for a small Fable.
CBR News: We know from “Manhunter” and “Batwoman” that you’re no stranger to writing action heroines, but out of all the Fables you could have picked, what interested you in Cinderella?
Marc Andreyko: Well, I’ve been friends with Bill Willingham for a number of years — we’re in the same writer’s group — and I’ve been a fan of his since he did those “Dungeons And Dragons” illustration ads back in the ’80s. Loving what he’s done with “Fables,” I’ve just adored the book from the inception. A few years back, we got around to talking and I was like, “Well, if you ever need other writers to come on in let me know, I would love to throw my hat in the ring.” Then, when “Fairest” started, they wanted to do a third Cinderella book because the first two that Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus had done did well, and I just said I would love to. I love the character, I think she’s fun; although she is a kick-ass woman, there are a lot of difference between her and Kate Spencer / Manhunter and Kate Kane / Batwoman, the same way there are differences between Bruce Willis, Matt Damon and Mel Gibson as action heroes.
Is she the Bruce Willis of the group?
[Laughs] She’s actually more the Daniel Craig of the group! What’s really super fascinating about her is she is this super spy, with all the darkness and the flip-flopping of James Bond. James Bond uses sex as a device to get what he needs, and so does Cinderella. She’s got all the edges that a male spy would have, but she jut happens to be a woman. She is truly, for lack of a more graceful term, a kick-ass woman; there’s not a lot of regret or mopey-ness about her. She does what she does and she loves what she does — if you don’t like it that’s your problem, not hers, and that’s an attitude that I think a lot of us can do better to have. It’s certainly freeing! [Laughs]
Since we’re talking about how she’s the Daniel Craig of the bunch —
With a little bit of Roger Moore!
— were there any specific Bond movies or spy thrillers you were influenced by for this story?
No, I’ve seen all those movies and know them well enough that they’re on the stew of my creative brain, but I didn’t watch anything in preparation for this. I did go back and read the existing Cinderella stuff and “Fables” and tried to figure out what would be a good story, something that would be fresh and new in this corner of “Fables” Universe.
Tonally, is your story in line with what Chris Roberson and Shawn McManus had established in Cinderella’s previous minis? Is it a trilogy of sorts?
It’s a trilogy in a sense that it’s the same character in three different stories. My storyline does harken back to things we’ve seen in previous runs, but this storyline is called “Of Men And Mice” and it actually ties into what’s going on in the main “Fables” title. You don’t need to read both to get them — its not like it’s a crossover — but it’s echoing a lot of what’s happening in the main book. We get to see some of Cinderella’s origin and how that ties into the events and the big bad of this arc.
It was recently announced that “Fables” is drawing to a close, and “Fairest” will go along with it. When you came onboard to write your Cinderella story, was this something that you knew about?
Nope, I had no idea. I found out about it reading about it online. Bill has got a good poker face! [Laughs]
How does it feel to get a chance to write in this world at least once before it all comes to a close?
Oh, it’s a huge privilege and a huge thrill! When someone creates a world that is so rich and so fully realized as Bill and Mark Buckingham have with “Fables,” just being asked to dip my foot in that water is a huge honor. In addition to those guys being two really good friends of mine, they are also two creators whose work just leaves me in awe. I always feel like I’m playing dress-up in my dad’s clothes, playing grown-up, when I get these calls.
And don’t let me forget Shawn McManus — I’ve been a fan of Shawn’s work since the earliest work of his I can remember, the Pogo tribute issue of Alan Moore’s “Swamp Thing.” To be working with him now, the twelve year old me is just screaming in joy. This artwork of Shawn’s I really do think is the work of his career. Every time I get page, my jaw hits the floor; every single panel is a work of art — not that his work has ever been anything less than great, but this is just amazing. I take no credit for it. I think he must be taking multivitamins, it’s stunning work! And then having Adam Hughes do covers? What’s not to like?
The story covers a little of Cinderella’s origins, and you have teased something about the inclusion of a Blue Fable. What more can you tell us?
Well, this is not a spoiler because it was revealed in the solicitations, but there’s an assassination attempt on Snow White and also an attack on Cinderella. They both tie-in, they both come form the same place, so Snow sends Cinderella on a mission to find out who’s behind this and what the source of it is. That leads her to all sorts of different locations, both Mundy and some Fable world locations we haven’t seen in a while. Along the way, and this has been the most pleasant surprise of it, I’ve been using Hickory Dickory the Mouse. I keep telling Bill I want to do a Dickory one-shot because he is just so much fun to write. His first line is probably one of the favorite things I’ve ever written.
You’re going to leave us hanging with that?
Oh, yes! [Laughs] You have to read it in context; it’s like explaining why a joke is funny. It’s an old cliche, but these characters are so rich they really write themselves. I’m constantly surprised by where they take me. If you had told me writing a little white mouse would be one of my favorite things ever, I would have laughed, but I definitely would love to do a Dickory one-shot or miniseries because he’s awesome. [Laughs]
In the other two miniseries, we’ve seen Cindy face off with Russian Fairytales and Oz — is there a specific folklore tradition, fairytale or region of the world you’re pulling from for the Fables populating this tale?
The engine of the story, and I really can’t be too specific — I don’t like to be vague, its kind of like pulling a string on a sweater. If I tell you one thing, I’ll have a whole ball of yarn! One of the Fables we’re seeing, the aforementioned Blue Fable, is one we have not yet seen. We may have seen other Fables from the Fable’s folklore, but we have not seen this one yet — and I’m being gender neutral, and species neutral, as well! But there are lots of tethers; there are tethers to non-English folklore Fables, there are tethers to Cinderella’s back story, there are tethers to what’s going on in the main arc with what’s going on in Fabletown. It’s kind of a multilevel story, where there’s not really one answer to that question; there’s different levels going on in it.
Besides “Fairest,” you’re also working on “Batwoman.” As a writer, how do you go about choosing or saying yes to what projects are brought your way? What is it that brings you to a specific series, especially in light of things like “Batwoman,” where there’s obviously going to be a lot scrutiny and public attention being paid to it?
It depends, project by project — sometimes it’s the creators I’m working with, sometimes it’s the editors I get to be working with, sometimes it’s the characters, sometimes it’s a combination of all of those things. I’ve been working long enough that I try to only write stuff I’d pay money for myself. In order for me write something I don’t care about, you probably couldn’t afford me, because life is too short to write things you don’t care. If you’re expecting people to spend time and money on your work, it’s got to be something you really stand behind and believe in. So it’s a matter of finding the right project.
I did a “Dark Shadows: Year One” miniseries for Dynamite because I love those characters, I grew up watching “Dark Shadows” as a little kid coming home and watching the reruns. Writing “Batwoman,” I loved what Greg [Rucka] and Haden [Blackman] and J.H. [Williams III] did with the character, and to be able to go into that world was a real privilege. Same with “Fairest” — it’s great characters, great creative teams, great support staff with editorial and a lot of fun.
The Internet can be the source of a lot of strife, but it also can be nice to hear that people seem to like me for the time being, and are willing to spend their hard-earned dollars on my work. It’s completely appreciated, and nothing makes me happier than making someone else happy with something I had a hand in. I’m a pretty lucky guy, I have a pretty good job!
“Fairest” issue #21 hits shelves December 4.