Borders at Christmas

On Christmas eve, Borders in The Curve came up with the best display that I’ve seen so far… check this out:
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Live mannequins, and they are, you guessed it – reading! Wow.


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This is my review of Fables: Legends in Exile (Book 1), a trade paperback collection of the comics series Fables (first 5 issues) published by DC Comic’s Vertigo line. In fact, this is my first review of anything, so if it sucks, well, let me know….

Fables is created and written by Bill Willingham, and drawn by Lan Medina.

Brief

I’m always on the lookout for interesting comics trades or graphic novels, and this particular series caught my eye as I was browsing in my usual haunt one day. Funny I hadn’t noticed this before, but Fables is supposedly a highly acclaimed comics series with accolades from all over the industry. And it’s from Vertigo to boot – I have lots of Vertigo stuff and I don’t remember seeing Fables in their catalogue, which they print at the back of every trade. Evidently the list isn’t complete.

But after the terribly disappointing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2, I didn’t mind something completely off my radar this time. As of time of writing, there are 4 Fables collections on the shelf. As I always try to start from the beginning, I picked up Book 1.

Background

The story is set in modern day New York. Fables are fairytale characters from stories that we’ve all heard in our younger days. Characters like Snow White, Bluebeard, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk live alongside humans in our world. These Fables escaped from their Homeland to our world after their respective universes were plundered and conquered by the Adversary. Apparently the Adversary had no interest in our world. The book didn’t say why, but it’s probably the pollution and noisy MTVs.

There are two broad categories of Fables; Fables with human guises live in New York and mingle with every day human beings (which the Fables call ‘mundanes’). Snow White, her sister Rose Red, Prince Charming, Jack and others belong to this category. Fables who do not have human guises, but have ‘glamours’ to conceal their true form and appear human-like also dwell in the city. Other Fables who do not have the means for glamour spells stay in the Farm, which is located far away from the city in a remote countryside, where mundanes are not likely to discover them.

The story starts with Jack reporting to Fabletown’s Sheriff, Bigby Wolf (from the big bad wolf who blew the pigs’ houses down fame) that Rose Red’s apartment had been violently ransacked, with blood splashed all over the scene and Rose Red herself missing. With Snow White, Fabletown’s deputy mayor, Wolf begins the hunt for the perpetrator and the missing, and presumably dead, Fable.

Many familiar fairytale characters make their appearance here, including Snow White’s ex-husband Prince Charming, Fabletown’s mayor King Cole, Pinochio, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. It’s interesting to see them in the context of the modern world; some have it easy, some hard. A good jog for your memory too, wondering from which fairytale each character came from.

Impressions

The art here is lovely. The pencils by Medina are sharp and nice with vibrant colours, conveying the sort of fairytale feeling to the book. The plot moves along quickly, with nary a dull moment, and you’re kept guessing at every turn, just as an interesting whodunnit would. However, I do get the feeling that the storyline is rushed, and the motive for the crime a little thin. It could have been better with more possible suspects and red herrings thrown in. Nevertheless you’re still shown a good sample of the characters that inhabit Fabletown.

Conclusion

I like the whole premise of this series. It casts a very different light on the characters that we know and love from childhood fairytales. This collection’s whodunnit storyline may not be as richly detailed as you’d expect from a detective novel, but I believe it’s the medium’s limitation – there’s only so much you can cram into 5 issues of comics. It’s still very engaging and fun to read, and you really want to know what happened to Rose Red. The sharp pencils does not disappoint.

I’m looking forward to reading the second book (which will concentrate on politics within the Fables staying in the Farm, titled Animal Farm).

Recommended.

Note: Like any book from Vertigo, this isn’t children’s fare. Four-letter words are used, and you won’t want to give this to your favourite niece below a suitable age.


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rambling…

Is it just me, or is the back of a black Honda City look like Darth Vader’s helmet?
I still have something to say about Sally Yeh. Just a little longer.


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Something about Sally Yeh… wait for it. 🙂


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8 Dec 2005, London – Just hours after a 2-1 loss to Benfica in the final Group D game which effectively ended Manchester United interest in the Champions League, the board of directors announced that Sir Alex Ferguson will be let go and replaced with a new manager whose skills not normally associated with top-flight football. Direstraits, a 29-year old native from Malaysia has been appointed coach of the Manchester club with immediate effect.
Malcolm Glazer, the investment tycoon who recently seized ownership of the club, is showing his obvious aptitude in the business of football by bringing in the untested Direstraits. The Malaysian worked as an IT consultant with a closet passion for football management, as evidenced by the Championship Manager 4 posters hanging in his suburban house in Subang Jaya. Glazer was impressed by the impassioned plea for changes made by Direstraits via email seconds after the final whistle of the Benfica game was gone, and immediately gave him the much coveted position in football.
“I can’t effing believe it!”, raged Sir Alex during the press conference from which the announcement was made. “So relying on Alan Smith for midfield duties was a mistake. So not recognizing the fact that Giggs and Scholes are a spent force was a mistake. But to be replaced by a buffoon who did, what… computers?… for a living? It’s total bollocks!” Direstraits, sitting next to Sir Alex and looking cool in a Manchester United jersey worn backwards (accidentally, it is believed), looked unaffected at the outburst.
Sir Bobby Charlton, member of the club’s board of directors, said, “There’s no disputing the effect Sir Alex has brought onto the club since his arrival from Aberdeen. I mean, look at that chap! He has a bigger trophy cabinet than mine, and his on-the-pitch skills are shite compared to mine! No doubt Sir Alex has been a loyal servant to the club for many years, but the time has come for a change of guard. I mean, look at Alan Smith!”
The appalling display at Portugal saw Manchester United pummet from second place to finish last in the group, ruling out the football powerhouse from even playing in the UEFA Cup. The club has previously set a record of 9 consecutive seasons of qualification to the knockout stages of the competition. This is a major financial loss for the Manchester outfit, as Champions League knockout stages guarantee clubs millions in revenue generated from gate receipts and other goodies.
Glazer is excited at the prospect of the new managerial experiment. “Mr Direstraits may not have actual top flight football experience, but his virtual hours at the football management simulator is second to none. His enthusiasm is unbounded, and I think that will translate to results on the pitch.”
However experts say there is no correlation between the real life football and the virtual. “The emotion involved in managing a real life game is missing in simulators. You don’t feel the effects of referees making silly mistakes during do-or-die matches, or rival managers making snide remarks about your player formation and your dress sense,” says Dr George Rest, chief sports psychiatrist at the University of Reading. “However, it will be interesting to see how a manager used to an environment devoid of personal affectations will fare in this league.”
Direstraits wasted no time outlining his plans to address the club’s immediate concerns. “Since we now have to content ourselves with chasing Chelsea, we must see to it that we pick ourselves up. Morale will be down, of course, but thankfully we will hear less of it since Roy Keane’s departure. And it’s a good thing too. Sometimes, the best way to improve morale is to fire all the unhappy people. If he was still here bitching about, I’d have given him his marching orders, me. And let’s do something about Alan Smith…”
When asked about his personnel plans for the club in the short-term future, Straits was adamant the change will be as shocking as his appointment. “I will bring in the best people to rebuild the legacy that is Manchester United. All we need is to reboot and reload the season, and money to buy people like Fandi Ahmad, Bambang Suprianto and Ronaldinho. You may not have heard of them, but they are quality players.” Direstraits seemed shocked that at the prospect that the 26 year old Brazillian may not consider a move from Barcelona to Old Trafford. “I have a strategy too complicated to explain, but rest assured, I will sell everyone if I have to to lure him over. Nothing a good Malaysian meal can’t fix!”
Fans stopped for comments in the streets of London are still, at press time, too shocked to make any coherent sense.
– BBBCNews


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