Frequent Questions about Characters and Origins

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Frequent Questions about Characters and Origins

Postby Cindy McShane » Wed Jan 31, 2007 4:06 pm

Last updated: Jan 31st, 2007

Who can be a Fable?
Bill Willingham wrote:Once again, the rules for who can be a Fable and who can't be are as follows:

1) They have to be in the public domain.
2) I have to want to use them.
3) And the new rule -- Now that Matt is writing Jack with me, it can also be someone he wants to use.

That's it. Those are the only hard and fast rules. But now come the guidelines:

1) I tend to shy away from hard mythology, but sometimes that line isn't entirely clear. For example: Weyland the Smith was originally a myth character but sort of strayed into the folklore camp, so he became usable -- mainly because I liked the character.

2) I tend to stay away from characters that have recently been staked out in other funnybooks. For example: the characters that appear in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are all free to be used, but why would I want to compete with the wonderful way they are currently being used in that series? So, in my mind, they are off-limits for now.

3) Characters like Sherlock Holmes obviously qualify, but he's been done to death. The world doesn't really need yet another interpretation of Holmes just yet.

4) I tend not to use characters for Fables that I am also using in other stories. For example: The raven, from The Raven, would indeed qualify, but since he's already appearing my next novel (From St. Martin's Press, but don't look for it soon) I've removed him from consideration for Fables.

What about Person X?
First off, characters under copyright are off limits (see Rule 1). The answer will be no. Mourn and accept it.

Otherwise, feel free to ask about a specific person. Sometimes Bill, Bucky, Matt or Tony (or another board member) will point out where that person has appeared in a background shot. (Like Bucky told me where to find the Cheshire cat - Bucky is terrific). Otherwise, you may or may not get an answer.

Was the Great Lion referring to Aslan?
In the first story arc, Mayor Cole is making his Rembrance Day speech and references a Great Lion and his kingdom. This has stirred much controversy both over who the lion is and the comments in the speech. After a while, Bill did speak thusly:
Bill Willingham wrote:Narnia is my favorite fantasy series, bar none. Better (for me at least) than the remarkable Lord of the Rings and any other contender you might like to trot out. Problem is, Narnia isn’t in the public domain, so we couldn’t use it in Fables. So who is the lion mentioned in that one panel and what kingdom is depicted? I can’t say it’s Aslan and I can’t say it’s Narnia. But that doesn’t stop any of you from looking at the first lines of this paragraph and coming to your own conclusion.

But, but what about the speech??
The exact line that caused so much controversy was "Then the kingdom of the great lion fell, and again we did nothing, because we always found the old lion to be a bit too pompous and holier-than-thou. "

While various board members pointed out that this implied criticism was in fact self-criticism (Feel free to read the thread, one of the more interesting ones despite the Ann Rice lapse.), Bill added these comments:
Bill Willingham wrote:Here’s how that portion of King Cole’s comments might have gone, if we had a bit more room and a tendency to be a bit more obvious:

“Then they invaded the Kingdom of the Great Lion, but we still didn’t join together to resist the Adversary’s armies. We had plenty of excuses for our cowardice and short-sightedness, such as, ‘Well, that Lion was always too holier-than-thou for our tastes.’ But of course that was merely a manufactured excuse for our unconscionable failure to act. Boy were we dummies.”

Get it now? Cole was chastising himself and the other Fables for their failure to act in a timely manner and he was also chastising himself and other Fables for coming up with such feeble justifications and rationalizations such as the holier-than-thou comment.

Cole was saying if effect, no we didn’t really consider the Great Lion holier than thou, but we needed something to justify our criminal inaction and that was what we came up with.

Then who is that lion that keeps showing up on the Farm?
That would be King Noble.

Who is King Noble, anyway?
King Noble is from the Roman de Reynart , which happened to star our favourite fox. The Roman de Reynart is a 40,000-line collection of comic, sometimes bawdy, verse narratives from twelfth- and thirteenth-century France in which the characters are animals that behave like humans. . The central character and hero is Reynard the Fox, a devilish trickster.

The traditional English translation (from Flemish) was done by William Caxton in 1481. You can read a version from H.A. Gruerer's Legends of the Middle Ages. Also has a PDF of scanned pages from the Percy Society Version of Caxton's book.

Was Peter Pan supposed to be the Adversary?
Bill had considered it at one point, but because Peter Pan was under copyright in Great Britain, the idea was discarded before Issue 1.

Who is Feathertop and what story is he from?
Feathertop is from a short story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

From what story is Frau feeding the woman her wicked daughters baked in a pie?
It's a combination of the good daughter/evil daughter stories like Mother Holle and the stories of people being baked into pies and being eaten or almost eaten, and not any one story in particular.

Who is Mr. Sunflower?
He is frequently called "The Mean Little Sunflower Kid". According to Mark Buckingham, Mr. Sunflower is from an old nursery rhyme where he is constantly bothered by bees. The exact details are currently unknown, but we have hopes of more Mr. Sunflower showing up in either a backup story in the future.

Who is the guy with the bandaid on his forehead?
That is a background character that Mark Buckingham populated the pages based on his friend, comic artist D'Israeli. He's referred to as "The Dapper Fable".

What Fable is the Fat Yellow Bird from?
The Fat Yellow Bird is a Mark Buckingham original.
"Sometimes I like to make my own sound effects. Is that so wrong?" --Jaime Reyes via Matt Sturges
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