This week sees the publication of "Fables #150," the final chapter in the critically acclaimed, award winning Vertigo series. Creator Bill Willingham shares his thoughts on the end of his 13-year storytelling odyssey, and what he hopes to accomplish with the final installment.
How do you feel now that FABLES is coming to an end?
BILL WILLINGHAM: Well, it’s weird. Like anything else, it’s done in stages.
Has it come to end when the last issue is out? Because when that finally happens, I will have not been working on FABLES for almost two, two-and-and-a-half months or so. I mean, it came to an end when the decision was made to wrap it up. It came to an end when my part was done, but I’m still seeing wonderful pages of art for stories come in. It was very incremental. And I think, in one sense, I would have liked to have done that sudden plunge off the cliff all at once. No chance on changing my mind.
It was very much that falling off the cliff, but before that you’re sliding down some kind of slippery slope and so there’s many chances where you can almost kind of turn around and recover. And maybe that was a bit more anxiety-laden than the sudden version. But, yeah it happened in increments. I don’t know that it ever built up to the point where this was the moment where it was like, “Okay, that’s it. It’s over.”
What is it like to have your creations turned into things like the FABLES: THE WOLF AMONG US video game and digital-first comic series of the same name?
BILL: It’s pretty cool. When we started the discussions on doing a comic adaptation of the game adaptation of the comic—which seemed a little bit odd—when that started, and I was flirting with the idea of do I really have time to do this myself, I would have probably done a much stricter, just straight adaptation using their lines of dialog and using only those scenes that occur in the game.
I don’t know that it would have occurred to me as it has to Matt [Sturges] and Dave Justus to expand on all of that. To do a little background on those things that occur in the game that lend themselves to, well here’s the backstory of this and here’s the backstory of that. So I’m delighted by it. For a couple of reasons: one, just like when the game came out—even though I had some advanced knowledge of it, sort of kind of knew where the story was going—it was nice and exciting to see and to be able to play the game and to be surprised by it. Because I’m just about the least surprised by any issue of FABLES person there probably is. That was nice, and now the comic adaptation of THE WOLF AMONG US is doing the same thing. They are doing a very wonderful, very fresh and faithful adaptation of the game, but still supplying new material. It comes as a pleasant surprise to me
In terms of FABLES and all the ancillary series, what’s been the most memorable moment for you over the last 13 years?
There was a gradual moment when it sort of dawned on me over a period of time that this series might actually have legs. That it might have found enough of a readership to keep going. And then it’s continuing to find new readers. I think that’s memorable in the sense that I don’t quite trust it. Even now that we’re wrapping it up, I’m still hoping that FABLES is going to catch on someday...So, yeah just that realization.
Before FABLES, I did quite a few things for Vertigo that would get some nice attention, but very uninspiring sales. So to see that we might have a successful book on our hands—was kind of nice. I wish I could pin that down to a moment, but it’s still dawning on me.
With all the storylines merging at the end of FABLES, what’s been the most challenging part of writing that kind of culmination?
Well the practical challenge was don’t forget anything important. And now every tiny, tiny little potential plot thread has not been neatly tied up. We’ve alluded to certain things but we couldn’t possibly take care of every single question any reader might have.
That said, I hope we got all the big stuff. That all the big stuff, the important stuff is resolved in some way. Maybe not resolved in the way the readers hoped and expected, but at least resolved.
The less-practical and perhaps more important version of that is in each case where we’re tying up plotlines and storylines, there was a lot of pressure to say to myself, is this important enough for this character? Am I serving this character well enough by saying this is what happens to them? And multiply that times however many ridiculous number of characters we’ve had—that was a pretty big consideration.
Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.