Comic book series created by Bill Willingham, Fables is like if Once Upon a Time was dark, edgy and really high quality. It was one of Vertigo’s biggest success and, even if the main series has ended now, there’s still new material coming out regularly.
What is Fables?
The series is about people from fairy tales and folklore who really exist in magical realms but they were forced out of their worlds by The Adversary and now live in exile in ours. They’re calling themselves Fables and, those who are looking like humans live in New York City, in a community known as Fabletown. The others who live at “the Farm” in upstate New York.
One of the main characters is the reformed Big Bad Wolf – also known as Bigby – who is now Fabletown’s sheriff. He works with Snow White who is a member of Fabletown’s government and Old King Cole is the mayor.
At the beginning, Fables told different kinds of stories, from a murder mystery to a caper story. As The Adversary resurfaced, the war began to take over everything.
How to read the main Fables series?
The Best is probably to star with the main series. Fables: A Wolf Among Us is technically a prequel, but it’s better to know the characters before reading it. We’ll talk about it later.
- Fables: Legends in Exile – Collects Issues #1-5.
- Animal Farm – Collects Issues #6-10.
- Storybook Love – Collects Issues #11-18.
- March of the Wooden Soldiers – Collects Issues #19-21 and #23-27.
- The Mean Seasons – Collects Issues #22, #28-33.
- Homelands – Collects Issues #34-41.
The beginning of Jack of Fables
This is where the first spin-off begins. Jack of Fables is about the solo adventures of Jack… He is a divisive character, but if you like him, there are 50 issues to read. He left Fabletown in issues 34-35 of the main series. You can start to read Jack of Fables at that point, but it’s not an obligation.
HS : 1001 Nights of Snowfall
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall is a prequel and you can read it when you want, but definitely before the volume 9: Sons of Empire (Issues 52-59).
- Arabian Nights (and Days) – Collects Issues #42-47.
- Wolves – Collects Issues #48-51.
- Sons of Empire – Collects Issues #52-59.
- The Good Prince – Collects Issues #60-69.
- War and Pieces – Collects Issues #70-75.
- The Dark Ages – Collects Issues #76-82.
The Great Fables Crossover
The name of the 13th volume tells all. It’s crossover time in the Fables World. I’m not really a fan of this event (I don’t like Jack), but it contains some interesting things. You’ll find in The Great Fables Crossover : Fables: Issues 83-85; Jack of Fables: Issues 33-35; The Literals: Issues 1-3.
Naturally, it’s better to be up to date with Jack of Fables. So, there are 6 TPBs to read. That said, it’s not an obligation. You can still understand the story without that.
- Witches – Collects Issues #86-93.
- Rose Red – Collects Issues #94-100.
- Super Team – Collects Issues #101-107.
Werewolves of the Heartland
Presented as an original graphic novel written by Willingham, Werewolves of the Heartland must be read between Volume 15 and Volume 16. The story follows Bigby in a solo adventure. Still, it’s kind of optional.
- Inherit the Wind – Collects Issues #108-113.
- Cubs in Toyland – Collects Issues #114-123.
- Snow White – Collects Issues #124-129.
- Camelot – Collects Issues #131-140.
- Happily Ever After – Collects Issues #141-149.
- Farewell – Collects Issues #150 + extras.
How to read Jack of Fables?
Jack of Fables is pretty easy to follow. You just need to know when to read The Great Fables Crossover.
- The (Nearly) Great Escape – Collects Issues #1-5.
- Jack of Hearts – Collects Issues #6-11.
- The Bad Prince – Collects Issues #12-16.
- Americana – Collects Issues #17-21.
- Turning Pages– Collects Issues #22-27.
- The Big Book of War – Collects Issues #28-32.
- Insert The Great Fables Crossover here.
- The New Adventures of Jack and Jack – Collects Issues #36-40.
- The Fulminate Blade – Collects Issues #41-45.
- The End – Collects Issues #46-50.
How to read the Cinderella miniseries?
Limited series written by Chris Roberson, the two Cinderella miniseries follow the Cinderella performing secret missions on behalf of Fabletown and investigating on the Farm. It’s like Fairest before Fairest in a way.
- From Fabletown with Love — You can read it after Volume 11: War and Pieces.
- Cinderella: Fables are Forever — To avoid possible spoilers, read it after Volume 15: Rose Red.
How to read Fairest?
Well, things get a little more complicated here. Fairest is an anthology spin-off of sort. The stories can be read independently, but the best is to start after Volume 16: Super Team.
- Wide Awake – Collects Issues #1-7 — this story directly follows Volume 16: Super Team.
- Hidden Kingdom – Collects Issues #8-14 — it’s a prequel to Legends in Exile, the first story arc.
- The Return of the Maharaja – Collects Issues #15-20.
- Fairest In All the Land — Another Cinderella story. This time someone is killing the women of Fabletown and she has only seven days to discover the identity of the murderer. Must be read after Fables Volume 19 to avoid spoilers.
- Of Men and Mice – Collects Issues #21-26 — This story takes place after the Camelot Storyline in Volume 20.
- The Clamour for Glamour – Collects Issues #27-33.
How to read The Wolf Among Us?
This prequel of Fables is based on the video game of the same name. Despite that, it’s canon. The story starts before Fables and, in a way, can be read without any knowledge of the main series. That said, in order to really understand everything, it’s better to read it after a few volumes.
- Fables the Wolf Among Us: Volume 1 – Collects issues #1-8.
- Fables the Wolf Among Us: Volume 2 – Collects issues #9-16.
How to read Peter and Max: A Fables Novel?
As the title suggests it, Peter and Max: A Fables Novel is not a comic book but an illustrated novel written by Willingham and illustrated by Steve Leialoha centering on Peter Piper, his wife Bo Peep and his brother Max, who will later grow up to be the Pied Piper. It’s an original story and you can read it pretty much when you want.
How to read Everafter?
Everafter is the last spin-off and it’s basically the sequel. The story starts after Fables #150. It’s pretty easy to integrate in the chronology.
- Everafter:The Pandora Protocol — An elite network of agents—Fable and Mundy alike—travel the globe to battle the magical threats that have arisen across the newly enchanted Earth.
- Everafter: The Unsentimental Education – Peter Piper. Bo Peep. Connor Wolf. As members of the elite network of agents known as the Shadow Players, these three legendary Fables share a single purpose: to protect the newly merged magical and mundane worlds from all threats. But what happens when the greatest threat of all comes from within?
Need more Fables in your life ?
- The Unwritten Fables — A crossover event between Mike Carey’s The Unwritten and Fables. It’s a What If? story. It’s better to read it after Volume 16: Super Team.
- Fables Encyclopedia — A 250-page guide to the Fables characters, from their literary origins to the comics.
- A tour of fabletown : patterns and plots in Bill Willingham’s Fables by Neta Gordon — a study of the wonderful and complex world of Fables.