CCI: Vertigo Voices "Fables" Panel

Bill Willingham and the "Fables" gang showed up on Saturday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego in a giving mood. Not only did they hand out prizes to the audience of Vertigo fans, but they rewarded the crowd with several new "Fables"-related announcements as well.

Willingham was joined on the dais by series artist Mark Buckingham, "Jack of Fables" co-writer Matt Sturges, artist Steve Leialoha, writer Chris Roberson, and letterer Todd Klein. Cover artist James Jean joined them, albeit a little late.

Before the panel could begin, Willingham was stopped as he was given, on stage, an Inkpot Award. Willingham said, "I had everything scripted out and now I don't know what to say," after graciously accepting the trophy, which he promptly set atop the podium.

The panel began with a series of announcements:

Matt Sturges declared that he just signed a two-year exclusive contract with DC.

Mark Buckingham announced that TwoMorrows Publishing would be devoting an upcoming edition of Modern Masters to him. The book will have a new cover featuring "Fables" characters, and Buckingham said, "I get to show you a lot of behind the scenes stuff and what goes on in the creation of ["Fables"]."

Chris Roberson, novelist, announced that he'd be contributed to the "Fables" universe with a miniseries entitled, "Cinderella, from Fabletown, with Love." As Roberson described it, "It's spies, sex, and shoes." Shawn McManus will be drawing the series, and, among other things, it will answer the question of what happened to Cinderella's fairy godmother.

Willingham also announced a "Fables" novel, which he has written, called "Peter and Max," to be illustrated by Steve Leialoha. It deals with the question of whatever happened to Peter Piper and his brother Max? Willingham stated that Max grew up to be the Pied Piper, and the book will be out "in about a year," he said.

Sturges also announced an upcoming "Fables"/"Jack of Fables" crossover, coming early next year. The crossover will run between both books and a new three-issue miniseries called "The Littles."

After these announcements, the literal gift giving began. First, Willingham called upon anyone who was wearing an "I got screwed at last year's 'Fables' panel" t-shirt. Nearly a dozen fans stood up sporting just such a t-shirt, in reference to the prize shortages last year, and all of them received a special signed print from Mark Buckingham.

In addition, everyone in the audience received a special "Fables" one-sheet written by Willingham and illustrated by Buckingham. When it came time to give out a very special prize to the audience--a "Fables" statue--the rules became more stringent. The person to win this prize had to have a particular item in their possession. First, the audience was asked for a measuring cup. No one had one. Then a bottle of Tabasco sauce. One fan actually had a bottle in his bag, and he was awarded the statue after disbelief from the panel. They couldn't believe anyone brought Tabasco sauce to the convention.

Willingham then opened the floor to questions from the audience.

Where do the ideas for your capers come from? Willingham said, "My mom, during the second world war, was a member of the Manhattan project. Some of that secret, clandestine goodness was passed along," he speculated. Willingham turned to Roberson, and asked him where his caper ideas come from. Roberson replied, "I've spent a lot of time preparing for a life of crime."

Is "Fables" ending? Willingham emphatically denied it, saying that it would only end if he died or if Buckingham wanted to do something else. But he said things will change after issue #75: "The prequel's over, now we start the real series."

In response to a question about new tall tales, Sturges said a few more obscure--or completely forgotten tall tales--will appear in upcoming issues of "Jack of Fables": "Man of Fruit" and "Captain Scurvy the Toothless Pirate" were two mentioned in particular.

Will Willingham be drawing any upcoming issues of "Fables" himself? "If I were to start now..." Willingham trailed off. Then he joked, "Shelly, do we have an artist locked in for Fables #1000 yet?" He talked about how slow he'd become as an artist, and said, "If I decided to draw, I'd have to give up writing."

Will there be a "Fables" movie? Willingham said there's "always something underway," but that he didn't understand how the movie business works. "If you ever want to enter a fantasyland that doesn't exist," said Willingham, "go to Hollywood."

Any "Fables" t-shirts? Willingham deadpanned, "all we're required to do it entertain you. We're not required to clothe you. We work on the stories and that's other folks that will hatch the mad schemes for that."

What about all the evil stepsisters? Where are they? "There's probably some kind of Darwinian evil Fight Club for evil stepsisters," said Willingham.

Will we see the favor that Cinderalla owes Frau Totenkinder? Willingham said an upcoming two-parter will answer that question.

Who's the character to watch this year? Willingham said, "It's always going to be Babe." He went on to joke, "Babe's actually got a corner office and is making deals."

Will James Jean illustrate interiors? Willingham said, "James Jean has a standing offer to do an interior story whenever he wants," although Jean seemed reluctant to answer the question himself.

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