This weekend, it's Fabletown and Beyond

Following events like last year's ImageCon and MorrisonCon, Fabletown and Beyond is the most recent comic convention devoted to serving a specific segment of readers: in this case, fans of what Fables creator Bill Willingham describes as "Mythic Fiction." Fabletown and Beyond takes place this weekend in Willingham's community of Rochester, Minnesota, and celebrates comics that include and update "fairytales, folklore, myth, legend, talking animals, and characters from literature."

The festivities begin at 3 p.m. Friday and run practically non-stop until 6 p.m. Sunday. Programming is scheduled to go late into the evening on Friday and Saturday with the convention's bar (an even more important element of this convention than most) staying open until 2 a.m.

The convention will take place in two locations, connected by skyways to allow attendees protection from the Minnesota weather. The dealers' area, Artist Alley Boulevard, and programming rooms will be located in in the Mayo Civic Center, with the opening ceremony and other special events held in the Kahler Grand Hotel. The hotel is also the location of the Elizabethan bar (re-named the Kill Shakespeare Bar for the weekend) that will be taken over for the exclusive use of the convention.

Featured guests include Mark Buckingham (Fables), Chris Roberson and Allison Baker (Memorial, Monkeybrain Comics), Steve Leialoha (Fables), Kurt Busiek (Arrowsmith, The Wizards Tale), Mike Cary (The Unwritten), Peter Gross (Lucifer, Books of Magic), Adam Hughes (Fairest), Van Jensen (Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer), Mike Oeming (Mice Templar), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Matt Sturges (Jack of Fables), and more than a dozen other editors and creators.

• Of course there will be traditional panels as part of the programming. Kurt Busiek (who came up with the term "Mythic Fiction") will lead a discussion about the genre on Friday, and panels the other two days will cover topics like world-building, obscure legends and the ethics of storytelling, as well as series-specific panels for comics like The UnwrittenPinocchio: Vampire Slayer and, naturally, Fables. There will also be a panel devoted entirely to letting artists gripe about writers.

• In addition to the panels, the show will host book readings, creator-on-creator interviews, portfolio reviews with Vertigo editor Shelly Bond, and a Friday-night trivia contest in the bar (start picking your four- to six-person teams now).

But in case that's not enough time in close proximity to creators and editors, the show is also hosting informal meet-and-greets, not only at the bar, but -- at least on Saturday night -- by the pool as well. Fabletown and Beyond promises to offer a unique, innovative and intimate convention experience.

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