(Disclosure – This blog post originally appeared on my blog Books And Lesser Evils as a book review. But as this is a graphic novel, I thought to add it here to my comic book blog as well.)
Snow White travels far from the land of Fables to meet the Sultan of the faraway Kingdom and elicit his aid in battling the Adversary that has plagued her small community of outcasts. Unbeknownst to her, she is used by the Sultan’s most high Wazir and sent before him in place of the Wazir’s own daughter. She is sent at night, bejeweled and dressed seductively, into the Sultan’s bedchamber. She begins to plead for her people when the Sultan explains to her that she is tricked. For the Sultan only entertains women in his chamber for one thing and in the morning, they are killed.
Every night, the Sultan takes a young woman from his kingdom and after that night, they are killed so that they may never betray him with another as his wife had done.
Snow White listens to the Sultans’ sad tale of betrayal and pain when the morning comes delays her fate by saying, “Not just yet, O King of the Age,” Snow said. And it’s here that she summoned all her wit and subtlety, artifice and subterfuge, for she had no intention to lie with the Sultan that night, or die with the coming dawn. “It’s not fit that you’ve entertained me with a tale of your past, but received no gift in return. It’s not so late. The bright moon rises to take up the work of the flickering oil lamps, and I have my own small tale of revenge and its terrible lessons. Would you like to hear it?”
And that is how, every night, for years to come, Snow White kept her death sentence at bay, with tales and fables of her kind and land.
1001 Nights of Snowfall is a retelling of the 1001 Arabian Nights saga of Scheherazade and how she kept herself alive by telling stories to the Sultan Shahryār. It is Snow White, yes that Snow White, who finds herself in the same predicament and uses the same solution to save herself. The Fables that follow are new and old, much more like the original telling than what has been sanitized for us when we were children.
This graphic novel sets up the ongoing comic book series Fables from Vertigo that has established and incredible cult following. Willingham pays incredible and proper respect to the tales he is borrowing from and does not look to enhance them by overdone cleavage and sex and blood. But instead has the audacity to actually elevate them by the process known as story. Yes, he tells a damn good story. Backed up with good artwork he writes not for the pre-pubescent teen crowd but for an older clientale that would remember that this is what comics once were. Tales, morality tales perhaps, but tales all the same.
For that, Fables is worth the price of admission.