“Fables” and “Fairest” creator Bill Willingham makes his third appearance on CBR TV’s floating studio at Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss his hit Vertigo franchise, revisit the “Buffy”/”Angel IDW/Dark Horse controversy, lay down the odds on the return of “Elementals” and expound upon the value of friendship in the comic book industry.
On writing his defense of “Once Upon A Time” editorial: “If you see foul, cry foul, and if there is none, speak up about that as well. A lot of folks were actually standing up, I guess, in panel sessions with the ‘Once Upon A Time’ people and saying, ‘Admit you stole this from “Fables,”‘ and this kind of stuff, which I thought was a little much, a little bit rude, and, for another thing, it’s probably not true. You can’t look into the heart and mind of someone and find out what inspired them.”
On celebrating ten years of “Fables”: “As I admit to only my true friends, and now to everyone, I’m still wondering if this comic has legs. If it’s gonna make it. In so many ways, I can be arrogant. In wondering what makes good comics, I am as humble as the next ten guys, and I don’t want to get over that… Maybe that fear, that you have to win your readership not once, but every single issue, drives whatever motor I have to try to write the best stories possible.”
On expanding the “Fables” universe with “Fairest”: “The driving factor is, rather than running out of ideas, each story we do spawns many more ideas than we can get to — not all of them being good. But expanding ‘Fables’ to ‘Fairest’ — we did ‘Jack of Fables’ for fifty issues, kind of ran the gamut on that. ‘Fairest’ is now the other companion series to ‘Fables.’ It’s just a mechanism to take all of these ideas which are increasing exponentially, and saying, ‘Here are the best of the best that it would actually pain us not to get to.'”
On the possibility of returning to “Elementals” in the future: “‘Elementals’ will never be seen again because it was published by Comico and in the break-up of Comico… I sold the rights to the new owner to get something out of the self-destruction of that company. The new owner turned out to be beyond the ability to reason with in so far as, he will not release the rights, he will not publish the book, he will not do anything with it. Some pretty big names with pretty big wallets have found him from time — he drops out of sight for years at a time — found him and offered him vast amounts of real money to get those rights… This guy is not able to be dealt with. That version of ‘Elementals’ is gone.”
On the current wave of creator-owned comics: “We have the technology, the capacity to do [creator-owned comics]. With digital comics and other things, the ability for the big companies to be gate keepers, to say, ‘This can be published and this can’t be published,’ and then to a certain extent Diamond [Distributors] was going down the same road…. They were gate keepers. Now, those gates have come crashing down.”