by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Comics”

Why Am I Frightened Right Now?

Posted 8 December 2008 in by Catriona

The short answer is because apparently the ABC Network in the U. S. has committed to making a pilot of a possible TV series based on Bill Willingham’s comic series Fables.

(The long answer involves a huntsman spider that disappeared under my sofa two days ago and now I don’t know where it is and it might be planning on running over my face while I’m sleeping and I don’t care if I never know whether it does or not, what if I wake up in the middle of the night and it’s right there next to me on my pillow and . . . but that’s not important right now.)

I’m a massive fan of Fables, though I came to it rather late (only two years ago, in fact, after I was given the first three trades for my birthday, devoured them, and then frantically ran around Brisbane trying to find someone who stocked the next four trades, so I could buy them before the eighth trade came out that December. Shortly after that, I segued smoothly into buying each monthly issue, because I could no longer bring myself to wait six months for the next trade, and Fables is still the only comic book that I buy monthly).

Without giving away significant plot points, Fables centres on the immortal characters from (to begin with) European folk and fairy tales, driven from their disparate homelands by an unknown and unnamed Adversary, and living (for the past several hundred years) in a secretive enclave in the centre of New York City. It’s tightly plotted but a loose enough concept that almost any character can pop up if necessary. Most of the recognisable characters do pop up, but some characters are more prominent than others—most notably, in the early issues, Snow White, the deputy Mayor, and Bigby Wolf (the Big Bad Wolf), Fabletown’s sheriff.

That concept may intrigue you and it may make you roll your eyes.

It intrigued me—and I love every minute of it.

So part of me is potentially very excited about this.

But most of me is terrified that it will be rubbish.

I know nothing about the two writers, Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner, whose primary credits are shows called Six Degrees (based on the idea of “six degrees of connectivity”), which ran for only thirteen episodes; Life is Wild, which also ran for only thirteen episodes (and was, as though attempting to trigger one of my particular dislikes, based on the British programme Wild at Heart, which had Stephen Tompkinson in it, ran on the ABC here recently, and looked rather silly); and What About Brian, which was a mid-season replacement (five episodes) and then had its second and final season scaled back from the proposed twenty-two episodes to nineteen.

So thus far their success in getting a season picked up for a full run hasn’t been great, but then American television is highly competitive.

They also have a feature film to their name, but it’s Elektra, which I haven’t seen but also haven’t heard great things about—and I’m not the only one, judging from its 9% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

(If it helps, for comparative purposes, Battlefield Earth has a rating of 3%).

So, yep: part of me is terrified.

Oh, I’ll watch it, when it eventually hits screens. But I’ll be worried.

It’s so hard for a decent programme to be picked up: I’m still waiting with bated breath to find out if the fabulous comic-book adaptation The Middleman will be back for a second season.

The process is a little easier if the programme has the good fortune to be made for one of the major cable stations—and even then, Deadwood was cancelled before its final season.

So the fact that this writing team’s previous outings haven’t lasted isn’t necessarily an indictment of their work.

But this something I really want to work—so I’m a little frightened and a little excited right now.

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