A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just So You See it Coming: Fables TV Show

Many news outlets are reporting that popular Vertigo/DC Comics series Fables is coming to television soon. This is important to teachers for several reasons, so let me break it down for you:
Fables is a wonderfully written and mature title that deals with popular and obscure figures from various fairy tale mythoi, mostly European, but not exclusively so. My wife and I are big fans. We have at least 6 of the trades. Along with Strangers in Paradise, it is one of the few comics titles to capture my wife's attention, and many of my female students seem intrigued by it.

Basically there's the non-magic world of our everyday existence, and then there are the Fables, as they are called, the fairy tale folk of old who have been ran out of their homelands and forced to live in our world. But, they're not all on the same side all the time. There are plenty of self-serving characters that stay true to their roots, but the "special sauce" of the series is how these traits get revisioned in ways that represent the character accurately but with intriguing twists.

As a teacher you probably know that students' knowledge of core fairy tale stories (note I don't say "core fairy tale texts" because that gets a little messy) has trailed off dramatically, especially if you've been doing this for a while. There was a time when we could expect students to have a base understanding of certain tales or fables or parables. Then Disney came along. Then He-Man. Then Mutant Ninja Turtles, and then the Internet, and soon it seemed like making a fairy tale reference left us with as many blank stares from students as if we'd just mentioned the Hindenburg or Mary Wilkins Freeman (inside joke, there).

If Fables is a hit on TV, you can expect teachers everywhere to clamor over it, sing its praises, and start to dust off or recreate their fairy tale units or at the least their fairy tale repertoire of references. And that will be just great.

But, Fables, wonderful as it is, well, it really, really, makes its characters real "people," with real people desires and urges and flaws and appetites. It wouldn't surprise me if TV schmucks turned Fables into "Desperate House Wives with Cinderella, Snow White and Rose Red." So, heads up.

That being said, I have encouraged students to make use of the excellent material that Fables the comic offers, but some folks will need to use it in excerpt due to nudity and sexual situations (or bestiality in the case of the manipulative and kinky Goldilocks, who is sleeping with Boo, or Baby Bear). And it is definitely a series that I recommend to folks. The quality of the story-telling and the creativity with and respect for the core material is striking.
So, get excited! Read these books! Integrate them into your classrooms as you feel you can. And keep your fingers crossed that, if it makes it to the airwaves, the Fables television show will be as good as the comic, and for all the right reasons.

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