Louis Falcetti writes for Bleeding Cool.
The Fables Forum is always a weird, wild time, as ringmaster (or leader?) Bill Willingham zings his extended team members, editor, fans and sometimes other panels. Like many panels, it's an opportunity to talk about upcoming projects, but unlike other panels where that is really all the audience gets, for Fables fans it's an opportunity to win cool swag, and hear the creators themselves talk about their personal feelings and memories of the book (which is celebrating it's 10 year anniversary this year).
The panel was made up of Bill Willingham, penciler Mark Buckingham, South African novelist Lauren Beukes (who is going to be penning the next arc in the newest title in the Fables family, Fairest), inker Steve Leialoha, editor Shelly Bond, as well as inker (on Fairest) Andy Lanning, letterer Todd Klein, colorist Lee Loughridge as well as new to comics writer Sean Williams, and artist Andrew Pepoy. Missing was Adam Hughes, Fairest cover artist.
One of the hallmarks of the Fables Forum is the gift giving, on the part of the creative team in sincere thanks for the legions of dedicated fans who've stayed with the book for going on a decade. Normally, the sweetest swag is held in reserve for people who have the right object with them. This object, whether it be a particular issue or something as random as a picture of Elvis (phones don't count) or drum sticks (musical instrument, not chicken), is asked for and whoever can produce it first receives the prize. This year however, due to time constraints Willingham declared that prizes would be given away in a more Hunger Games like fashion and he seemed to express delight at the notion of the fans violently attacking each other, for the newer, quicker prize delivery system was the classic "just throw them into the audience" method. Unfortunately, no one attacked anyone and while precious few received the truly precious, everyone in attendance received a limited Mark Buckingham print, highlighting some of the bigger moments from book's now expansive past.
Some of the big announcements of the panel were Bill Willingham declaring that this would be his last San Diego Comic Con for the foreseeable future. He cited the enormous time commitment it takes to attend San Diego and that he often has to not do other shows because of it. He wants more of a Fables presence at other conventions specifically East Coast shows. He also mentioned being given a 90 minute panel at the next Emerald City show.
Also FablesCon was officially talked about, the actual title of the event being Fabletown And Beyond because as Willingham said the show would be about "fables and books like Fables, in this corner of the talking animals, talking toys, characters from literature corner of the vast comic book marketplace." Originally planned as having 10 guests, at the most recent count it has already reached 30. Mark Buckingham will be the guest of honor and the show will be held in Rochester, Minnesota. The facilities that have been chosen have been chosen specifically for the expansive indoor space, an underground city built for the wealthy visitors of the Mayo Clinic. This space will enable convention goers to remain indoors in the bitter Minnesota March. March 22-24, 2013 is the dates and interested fans can visit fablescon.com for more information.
The main body of the panel was a trip down memory lane with the panelists as a slideshow displayed the panelists favorite page or moment from the run of the book. Most picked different Buckingham pages, though Willingham chose a James Jean cover and Shelly Bond illustrated her own favorite Fables moment, the moment when Willingham pitched her the title, even drawing the phone on to the old pic of Willingham (who admitted that Bond had purposely hid her chosen slide from him until that moment).
Also revealed was the secret origin of Fairest. Willingham said that Adam Hughes had been getting tons of requests for Fables sketches and Hughes' wife encouraged him to read the books so that he'd have a better understanding of the characters. Coming to like the books so much, Hughes approached Willingham asking if he could be the Fables cover artist. Willingham said no, citing that they had a cover artist they were happy with, but if he was serious, they'd start a new book specifically for Adam to do the covers on.
It's a shame that there won't be a Fables presence at San Diego anymore, since the team really knows how to run a panel. Mixed in with previews are personal stories, funny, natural moments and of course tons of gifts for the attendees. However San Diego's loss is the rest of the country's win, so pay attention to your regional shows and catch the Fables crew as they spend their 11th year spreading the word on their fantasy, epic masterpiece.