Conventions: FablesCon aka Fabletown and Beyond

A lover of fairytales, folklore, mythology, etc I found it rather interesting that I didn’t pick up this series sooner. In fact if you head on over to the Entertainment link in the upper right hand corner and on the drop down menu click on Literary you’ll see that the Fables series is one of the book series that I highly recommend reading.

For anyone that really enjoys fairytales and nursery rhymes and are open minded to the seeing them in a new light would really pick up this series. Taking many of the beloved fairytale characters and re-imaging them while staying true to their roots (roots as in the original Grimm stories and those from Hans Christian Anderson, etc… none of the Disnified versions).

A very strong example of this is the story of Snow White, while everyone knows of the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves the tale of Snow White and Rose Red. Bill Willingham masterfully combines the two “Snow Whites” and created a full and colorful backstory that not only is unique, colorful, and truthful.

The Fables world eventually expanded into Jack of Fables, The Literals and the Great Fables Crossover, the Cinderella mini-series which includes: From Fabletown with Love and Fables are Forever and most recently Fairest.

Some other standalone pieces included the Fables anthology: 1001 Nights of Snowfall which acted as a kind of precursor to that of One Thousand and One Nights.

There was also a novel that was released: Peter & Max. Bill Willingham created such a thorough and well developed world full of characters that one can’t help but want to learn more about any and all of them. In fact when news came out of a Peter & Max novel that can be separate from the Fables universe but also tie into it, you can bet that most of the Fables fan jumped to get the novel from the nearest bookstore. Peter & Max follows the two brothers of the Piper family as they walk through two different paths and become enemies.
Peter Piper from the Mother Goose nursery rhyme of the same name:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

And then there is older brother Max Piper who is most known for being the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

In the novel, Peter Piper was known as the more talented of the two Piper brothers when it came to the flute and Max Piper was under the belief that by being the elder of the brothers he deserved any and all heirlooms by default. As it was their father chose to pass the family heirloom of a flute to young Peter Piper in the belief that the flute belonged with the most talented musician which in their father’s eyes was Peter… and thus this begins the sibling rivalry of incredible proportions.

With such an indepth universe for the playing, Bill Willingham decided to tackle the most difficult and create a Fabletown related convention dubbed: FablesCon. In fact when Bill Willingham first tweeted about FablesCon’s twitter, most of his followers starting jumping up and down in anticipation. I know I was.

In late June of 2012 there was a Newsarama article that was recently released that gave more information about FablesCon, most importantly what to expect at this FablesCon:

Newsarama: Bill, Fables has been around for about a decade now, what made you decide to finally get a convention going?

Bill Willingham: A couple of things: One being the Sandman fans put together one that they called “The Fiddler’s Grave” that came off very well. It wasn’t an anti-convention, but in the sense of a sort of convention where it’s a little more relaxed; a little more devoted to getting a lot more intimate in the non-gaudy way of conversation between the guests and the attendees without the constant formality of having a table between you, or a panel room as your only avenue to connect with these guys. And apparently it was quite successful. So that was part of it.

The Fables forum board that was going well for quite a few years tried to get up a similar thing for Fables, but the problem with the forums is that they have a lot of good ideas and no leader emerged to say “we need to narrow some of these good ideas down,” like picking a place and etc.

So the ideas dwindled because no one really would step up and take command with it. So I tried to stay out of it because it was their thing, but the idea just stayed with me for a while. When the 10th anniversary started coming up, I thought, well, that was an occasion worth marking. You know how every single cop spends his entire career, whether it’s a good cop or bad cop, planning the perfect crime. “If I had only done this, instead of this… if I’d ever kill my boss, this is how I’d do it.” You know, stuff they use for mental exercise. Well, every comic person who goes to these conventions keeps a mental exercise, “You know the perfect convention would do this instead of that,” or “This is what this convention does that I love.” That kind of thing. They start forming this type of convention in their mind, and I thought I’d take a shot at it.

Now let me just say that any person that willingly that does a convention is clinically insane because it is so much work! The conventions that run wonderfully the people think they must be easy because they run so smoothly. If they could see behind the scenes what some of us get to see, like just how many fires are being put out constantly, no one should willingly want to do this to themselves. Here at HeroesCon, Sheldon has been doing this for 30 years and I can’t believe he’s still sane.

I remember 10 or 12 years ago somebody asking Sheldon at what point of doing this convention did it start making any money, going from in the red to black, and he said well if it ever happens, I’ll let you know. I mean you do this for love, you don’t do this for greed. It’s a passion. So I’m not sure why in my old age I’ve decided to do something silly. That said, I think I think the convention is worth doing.

It’s not just a Fables-centric convention, although that is a big part of it, but it’s books like that. It’s the books that I like reading now, which are talking animals, Shakespearean characters, all those mice with swords, things that Jill Thompson is doing with Beasts of Burden. The things that have their own little corner that Kurt Busiek has dubbed “mythic fiction” which I think if you need to pick a name, that’s a good name. So we have a guest list that will reflect that.

Don’t get me wrong about superhero writers. I write superheroes. I got nothing against them or superhero artists, but this is just focusing on this corner for once. The other thing we’re going to do is the kind of programming that used to be at comic shows, and is becoming rarer and rarer as the various TV companies and the big publishers have learned the utility of having big panels that are basically sales pitches for their whatever. We love those. They’re great, but it uses all the programming time and San Diego very seldom has programming about stuff; about an idea to be discussed anymore. Which I miss, so we’re doing that. All our programming is going to be about ideas or interviews with an interesting writer or artist, or maybe two interesting people interviewing each other.

At the same time running concurrent with that, we have purchased the rights to re-open an old medieval bar for the convention that will be staffed, not really around the clock, but open early/close late where our stars are going to be there on a schedule. So if you want to interact with so-so in a relaxed intimate setting where there isn’t a table or microphone and podium between you, you can have that as well. We will serve food and beverages and we might even get a real butler and serving staff because that might be fun.

Tee hee hee, I don’t usually dress up for conventions of any kind, but dammit… this is really really tempting. So I am going to make an attempt of it… Probably as Winter. Well rather Winter’s vision of herself in the future as the North Wind.

Yup, I think becoming the “future” North Wind would be lots of fun, granted there are times where I would emulate Lumi the Snow Queen. But having an all white or shades of white costume kind of bores me… and playing an “evil” version of sweet little innocent Winter appeals to me more.

Then again, we’ll see what happens.