Saturday, October 31, 2009

Peter & Max -- Bill Willingham

Bill Willingham is best known for the Fables series of graphic novels, and this novel is set in the world of the Fables. I'll probably screw this up, but there's the deal. The Fables now live here on earth, but they're originally from many other planets, forced to leave their homes by "The Adversary." Apparently their stories have "leaked" into our world, too, so we know a lot about the Fables, but in garbled form. The Fables have their own enclave in New York City, as well as a bunch of land in upstate New York. They live separate from us, and we're not aware that they're around.

I haven't read all the graphic novels about the Fables, but I've enjoyed the ones I've read. So I thought I'd give this novel a try. It's the story of the Piper brothers, Peter and Max. You've heard of them if you've read nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and a lot of the fun of this book is the way Willingham weaves the things we're familiar with into an unfamiliar story.

Max is the evil brother. He's been visited our planet once before and wreaked havoc. Now he's back, and it's up to Peter to stop him. Peter doesn't mingle with the other Fables much. He lives quietly on the Farm with his wife, Bo Peep. Now, however, he has to venture back into the world. Most of the book, however, is taken up with the backstory of how Bo and Peter got together, how Max went bad, and what happened to them then. It's an entertaining story, and a surprisingly dark one, too. It was a lot of fun to read.

There's a sort of a happy ending, but after that there's a short story in graphic form that tells "The Price of a Happy Ending." The story's drawings are by Steve Leialoha, who also provides the novel's illustrations. You get a lot for your money here, and I recommend it highly if you're looking for something out of the ordinary.

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