Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fables, vol. 7 - Arabian Nights (and Days)

I just finished the seventh volume of Bill Willingham's Fables series, Arabian Nights (and Days). For the uninitiated, the Fables series chronicles the plight of a group of fairy tale, fable, folklore, and nursery rhyme characters from many a varied cultural tradition (although the European tales take center stage). In this installment several Arabian characters--Sinbad, first and foremost--visit the Fabletown complex in New York City to discuss an alliance against the Adversary that's slowly taking over Fable homelands. Alliance building is a tricky business, and as the blurb on the back cover asserts, the Arabian Fables are concealing Weapons of Magical Destruction!

As silly as it might sound in blurb form, this series is one of my favorites for several reasons, two of which are:

-Its ability to wonderfully and cleverly reimagine classic folk and fairy tale characters in extremely unique ways. Willingham pays homage to classic tales from the Grimms, Charles Perrault, et al, and simultaneously reinvents them for a contemporary audience. For more on this, read my Master's thesis, "More Than 'Interesting Dead Things': The Reanimation of the Oral Tradition Through Narrative Subversion and Visual Narrative Performance." It's all about this concurrent truth to tradition and reinvention.

-The whole series is a witty and biting critique of current race relations and political endeavors. Willingham makes reference to Jewish diaspora, contemporary race relations in America, and now, obviously, America's relationship with middle eastern nations and weapons of mass destruction.

It's just all so extremely well done--veiled inside a web of intertextuality and fun. Breathtaking. Just freakin' awesome.

If you haven't yet started reading the Fables series...get on it. You're missing out otherwise.

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