Bill Willingham Goes Meta with Goldilocks in "Fairest" Finale

With only three more issues remaining of Bill Willingham's multiple Eisner Award-winning opus "Fables," the creator closed the curtains on the series' spinoff this week with the release of "Fairest" #33.

Illustrated by rising talent Meghan Hetrick and featuring a special horizontal format cover by fan-favorite illustrator Adam Hughes, the standalone issue essentially serves as a prequel for the New York Times best-selling original graphic novel, "Fairest in All the Land," which was released in November 2013.

In the story, Goldilocks -- described by Willingham in the introduction to the series finale as one of "Fables'" more delightful villains -- embarks on an epic, world/time-bending journey of self discovery only to be left to the wolves. Or so she thinks.

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CBR News connected with Willingham to discuss the final issue and learned why he enjoys writing Goldilocks so much. Willingham also teased a possible return to "Fables," but only after an extended break (or an intervention by Kathy Bates), one or possibly two more creator-owned titles from Image Comics and a possible digital first series, too.

While the future holds many possibilities for the writer, one thing is abundantly clear. Willingham loves his Fables, and while Goldilocks may not be the fairest in all of the land, she has a whole of fun doing what she does. And Willingham loves her for it.

CBR News: I follow you on Twitter and saw you "picked up a bottle of Dom Perignon for the official New Year toast, to see what the fuss is about." What is the final verdict?

Bill Willingham: It's wonderful. Oddly enough, it's not quite as dry as I would have thought. Only because my idea of perfect champagne is so dry that mummies could drink it. But other than that, it was terrific. I don't know if I need Dom Perignon in my life often but for one time, it was great.

You also tweeted that your New Year's resolution was to be more prolific than last year. With "Fables" and "Fairest" coming to an end, what will you be doing so prolifically?

The strict mechanics of the resolution was that I would write at least something every day. So far, I have kept it but just barely yesterday. Specifically, I will have a couple of new comic series, another novel in the pipeline and I am trying my hand at a screenplay that my agent can't get anyone in Hollywood to take a whack at so I am trying it. And before I die, and hopefully that doesn't have to be taken care of this year, I want to write a stage play.

I was going to ask you this question later but since you mentioned death and dying, you went a little meta for this final issue of "Fairest." Like Goldilocks, would you like to have the power to be impossible to kill? Seems like a sad existence...

In a stricter sense, Fables are impossible to hurt. And I don't think I would like the feeling of an axe in my head. But if someone was going to do it, and God knows, there are plenty of people mad at me from time to time, I would prefer the lights went out pretty quickly. [Laughs] I would not want to be around for it. That would not be my wish, if I could.

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In the intro to "Fairest" #33, you call Goldilocks one of the more delightful villains in "Fables." What makes her so delightful?

I love delving into the overblown rhetoric of the true socialist crusader. It is almost as fun as the tortured language in academia and literary criticism right now. I love her politics, to which I, of course, do not subscribe. And she's also so earnest in such a cynical, manipulative, terrorizing way. She is a challenge but I enjoy writing her. Or was. I guess I should speak in the past tense.

Do you agree with her claim that if you are the fairest, like Snow, Rose Red, Cinderella and Beauty, you get the mostest?

I suppose I could make it true in "Fables" and "Fairest" because I am the one making those decisions. [Laughs] In real life, I think that there is a perception, and I think it is a frustrated perception from those on the outside looking in, which is, "I am not better off because she has this and this and this and this." You hear it quite often. In this case, Goldilocks is talking about physical beauty but there are people that say, "If I had his wealth I would be happy" or "If I only had a private island, of course I would be happy." And in every case, you have this goal of just this one thing needs to be reached in order to be satisfied. And of course, that never happens. I don't think that we're built that way and I don't think that we survived as a species fighting saber-toothed cats being content and saying, "Now I have enough. Now I am okay." The truth is that happiness or contentment is only temporary, if ever, and we're built to struggle for the next thing. And always will be. And that's as much prophesying as I have done in a while.

There is a great line in "Fairest" #33 that a guest character from one of the cloud kingdoms says to Goldilocks: "Everything comes to an end and nothing does -- a book may end but the story therein goes on and on inside the mind of its reader, which is where the story exists in the first place." You're talking about "Fables" here, right? And does ending "Fairest" and "Fables" weigh heavy on you?

I don't know about weighing heavy but I alternate days between it's time to end "Fables" and what the hell was I thinking. Why am I doing this? If anything is a direct message to the reader, it's that line. The story can go on as much as possible since at least half of the work of doing the story is in the readers' hands anyway.

If you had a change of heart, do you think you could write another 150 issues of "Fables?"

I suspect so. I don't know that I could swear that I have 150 good issues of "Fables" in my head. Under duress, if I was captured by Kathy Bates' character from "Misery" and she forced me to keep writing the series, I suppose I could do it. Especially with the threat of my ankles getting sledgehammered if I didn't. But on most of my rational days, I think it is time to move on and bring "Fables" to a close.

Is there a chance that you would ever come back to this universe?

I'm not entirely certain that I could answer that question in any positive way only because the moment I said that it's possible, [Vertigo Executive Editor] Shelly Bond would automatically know about it and start making plans. It's a little premature but if there is a "yes" answer to the question, it would be more likely after we take a break. Maybe after a couple of years, we'll see if something has refreshed in that time.

Earlier you mentioned that we might see some new comic book projects coming in 2015. Anything that you can tease right now?

Yes, one or possibly two new things with Image. And one possible foray into digital first comics. None of which have a specific title yet.

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By digital first, do you mean DC Entertainment's Digital Firsts?

I don't know yet. I'm just starting to look into those who do digital comics. And of course, as soon as I started looking into it, the comiXology-Amazon deal had just happened changing the landscape, so the well informed answer is that I have no idea.

Of course, the very first Vertigo Digital First is an adaptation of the "Fables: The Wolf Among Us" video game by Matt Sturges and Dave Justus. They are doing a marvelous job. It's so cool to read this story based on the game. And being a comic, the story has to be a little more complex. It's really delightful.

"Fairest" #33 by Bill Willingham and Meghan Hetrick is on sale now.

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