So, I am the consummate comic book nerd. I have been avidly reading since I was 11, and I can say with great confidence that the comic book medium has as much, or even greater, potential for telling really, really good stories as any other medium. This includes every use for story that you can think of. The upsides are moral learning, life-myth building, and indoctrination of certain truths, can all be had through the medium of comic book, and often to great effect. The downsides are the medium can pander, play into stereotypes, dumb-down great ideas, and promote the myth of redemptive violence like comics invented it. Well, all that to say, it is rare that a comic really, truly reaches out of the book and grabs me on an artistic, narrative, guttural, emotional, AND spiritual level. The last book of note that did this for me amazingly well was a comic called Fables.
Fables is a comic about Fables. It concerns storybook folk in real life situations and was written by a chap named Bill Willingham. And if I could boil down everything I would want to share with someone regarding faith, life, death, hope, and a better world, it would be in the Fables story called “The Good Prince.” It really made an impact on me. So perhaps you can imagine my utter glee when I found out in 2006 that NBC was going to make Fables into a TV show!!! Well, it didn’t last long. NBC had the script with NBC writer Craig Silverstein in production, but it fell by the wayside. No problem, though!
ABC picked up the rights to Fables and got Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner to write the script. It went nowhere either. And I was pretty glad that the rights to the series reverted back to the creators. That was, until I found out that both of those networks (NBC and ABC) waited until just after the rights passed back to the creators to announce that they were both producing shows based on Storybooks.
Probably a coincidence, right? Until you actually look at the plots.
Fables: A bunch of storybook folk exiled from their own lands into a modern town and no one knows they are fables.
Once Upon a Time: A bunch of storybook folk exiled from their own lands into a modern town and no one knows they are fables.
1st story arc of Fables: A reformed Big Bad Wolf solving the murder of Snow White’s sister, Rose Red, a red-clad party chick, meanwhile trying to navigate in a world where the Fables are all around us but no-one knows.
Grimm: A tough policeman he’s from a legacy of paranormal cops trying to protect regular people from the Fables that are all around us but no-one knows. In the pilot episode, the policeman is paired with a reformed Big Bad Wolf to solve the murders of red-clad young women.
Bill Willingham appears to like his relationship with the studios, likely with en eye to working with them in the future, and so like any good PR guy, he has distanced himself from the controversy. But I don’t buy it for one single second. You bastards could have done something amazing. Could have told the beautiful, moving, spiritual stories I was waiting to see come from a TV show worthy of Buffy or Firefly. But rather than pay royalties to a man that deserves every penny, you stole his ideas, nearly whole cloth (but just different enough to defend them in case of litigation) and both produced this nonsensical crap within one year of each other. I’ll call you cheap whores and I’ll do it again, in the tradition of Ezekiel. You aren’t even trying to hide it. You lust after your lovers whose… you know what? Nevermind. I have spilt enough virtual ink on this. Just know that I have not and will not ever watch a single damn episode of those shows when I can go back and read their superior source material. My protest, such as it is.
[Edit: Added relevant links, FYI]