04 April 2008

It May Sound Harsh

The first Jack of Fables collection, The (Nearly) Great Escape (script by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges; art by Tony Akins and Andrew Pepoy) offers a--well, let's say rare picture of the most beloved Oz characters.

At some point I'll praise Willingham's Fables comics in more detail, but for now I'll just report that this volume is based on the premise that a bunch of characters from fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and fantasy literature are being held captive in a prison camp surrounded by tigers. (Don't you hate when that happens?)

The title character, Jack--as in Horner, Beanstalk, being nimble, etc.--masterminds a mass escape. And among the characters who make a dash for the fence are Dorothy, her three famous companions from Oz, and her little dog, too.

Dorothy is pictured as a teenager in cowboy boots, jeans, tight stomach-baring top, and hairband. Such a depiction is only to be expected in the Fables comics, since they're published by the adult division of DC and they show other human fairy-tale characters dressed (or undressed) like pretty young things of today. Plus, we've seen similar Dorothys in many other recent comics.

As this Dorothy and her friends climb the fence, a tiger roars up. Toto starts to snap and bark at it, just as he barks at the Cowardly Lion when they first meet.

And the tiger eats Toto. We see this in some detail. It's like a National Geographic special for a couple of panels.

Then Dorothy tells her other friends, "It may sound harsh, but I'm kind of relieved. That's the first time that flea-bitten mongrel's quit yapping in a hundred years!"

A couple of pages later, other characters explain, "killed Fables often get magically replaced by new versions of the same Fable." That should reassure us about Toto's ultimate fate, but the same panels offer another look at his half-eaten hindquarters.

Did I mention that the Fables comics are written for adults?


Jay said...

Well, if that's the way it is, I'm very glad it's a rare version. (I hope it stays rare.)

- Jared Davis, who looks forward to the GOOD Oz comics coming later this year.

Anonymous said...

I've loved the Fables comics, but I've steered away from the Jack comics. Although Fables does, at times, portray gore explicitly, it's not nearly as pervasive as in the Jack comics.


P.S. Great blog!

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for the comments. I should say that I enjoyed this first Jack of Fables volume, as I’m enjoying the main Fables collections, despite the iconoclastic picture of characters from Oz.