This year's "Fables" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego was brimming with enough colorful characters to fill several storybooks, as Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leiahoia, Matt Sturges ("Jack of Fables" co-writer), Sean E. Williams (whose connection to "Fables" would be revealed later), Chris Roberson ("Cinderella" miniseries writer), Todd Klein, Adam Hughes, Inaki Miranda, editor Shelly Bond, Phil Jimenez and celebrity "Fables" reader Phil LaMarr were all on hand to discuss the DC/Vertigo series.
The panel started by showing artwork for the upcoming issues of "Fables": Issue #107 will be drawn by Terry Moore, and readers will learn what happened with Sleeping Beauty in the Imperial City. "Fables" #108 starts the next big arc, titled "Inherit the Wind," which Bill says asks the question, "Who is going to be the new North Wind?" Meanwhile, Bufkin is back in Oz, and has decided to free the land from its evil emperor.
This was followed by a shocking announcement: Vertigo will not be doing anymore Cinderella miniseries…and yet, there's something new coming up!
Next up was an Adam Hughes drawing of Rose Red, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, leading into the first big announcement of the night: a new Fables Universe ongoing -- "Fairest" -- with covers by Hughes. Willingham says that it follows "the adventures of every single 'Fables' character that can be interpreted as 'fairest in the land.'"
Phil Jimenez will provide art for the first issue, which continues the Sleeping Beauty story from "Fables" #107. Willingham revealed that the end of that issue will be an "evil cliffhanger," and for the resolution you'll have to buy "Fairest" #1. The first double-page spread in the book was showcased, which Phil described as "the imperial city after it was burned down," apparently a spoiler he was not quite supposed to reveal yet. But that's why there won't be any more Cinderella minis; the character will be folded into "Fairest," and the audience's relief was palpable.
The second "Fairest" arc will be written by Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novelist Lauren Beukes and features Rapunzel in Tokyo. Inaki Miranda will provide art. The third arc will be written by Sean Williams, who would not comment on the story. After protesting, he was finally goaded into saying that "It involves a new set of Fables…" and was promptly gagged with duct tape.
Next up was a bit of bad news from Willingham: The long-gestating "Werewolves of the Heartland" graphic novel has been delayed once again. To make up for it, the "Fables" team will offer another Christmas issue. Willingham told the audience, "It might involve Rose Red being interviewed by three spirit-type characters on the night before Christmas."
Some more good news: "'Fables' will be a computer game by Telltale Games," Willingham said. The first episode will be out next year and "might have to do with one of our more wolfish characters." The Telltale Games booth at Comic-Con has more info; they have copies of the promo card for the new game, which will be "in canon, it will be officially Fables history. And hopefully we won't mess that up."
At that point, Willingham opened up the microphones for audience questions. The first was about how "Fables" has, so far, stayed away from Greco-Roman myths. "Are we going to be seeing the Apple of Discord at all?"
Before answering, Willingham first offered a clarification: The title of the new book is not "The Fairest," just "Fairest"; alphabetically, it will be placed right next to "Fables." He went on to say that there are no current plans for the apple, but since "Fairest" is an ongoing series, there's always a chance.
Next, a fan asked, "When will we see the Blue Fairy again?" Willingham said they can't spill details, "but we know when we're going to answer that question!"
Mark Buckingham chimed in that there will be a "special issue coming up very early in 2013," during the 20th anniversary of Vertigo, "and that will be a very special subject to bring up at that point." It will be issue #125, and Willingham told the audience that they will be doing something special for every Fables book out at the time.
Another curious fan asked whether any character changed from the original plan of the series. Buckingham's favorite character was Flycatcher, and he begged for him to not die during the "March of the Wooden Soldiers" arc. He saw beyond the jokes that there was something "really interesting about that character." His belief led to the "1001 Nights of Snowfall" story and "The Good Prince" arc.
According to Willingham, "The Fables property has traveled around Hollywood…leaving bastard children" (referring to all of the "Fables"-esque TV series, two of which are on network schedules for this fall), but there is "nothing to report" on a possible TV series.
Now that the "Jack of Fables" series has wrapped, Matt Sturges will write a "Babe the Blue Ox" one-shot with Bill Willingham.
A fan named Aprotim Sanyal won Boy Blue's horn by answering a particularly thorny trivia question about the dead hero. All the "Fables" creators present signed the carrying case, which reads "B. Blue, reward if found."
In response to a question about pirates and creatures of the sea, Willingham mentioned that "Sinbad is coming back" and will show up in the second or third issue of "Fairest." In response to whether the mythical Kraken will appear, Sturges said he might use the Kraken in his "Fairest" story.
Willingham closed out the panel with a heartfelt thanks to the fans. "In all seriousness, the Fables stories are only told halfway when they're in our hands…the readers provide half the story, at least." To sum up his feelings, he stole the old Fritos slogan, "Read all the 'Fables' you want, and we will make more."
Buckingham reminded panel-goers that the letters page has returned to "Fables," "so please, do send us a letter and tell us what you think about it. Any questions you have, we love answering them."