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Bill Willingham and sticking to the comics

posted by YeetYeetYeet on - Viewed by 523 users

From what I've read, it seems that the biggest reason a Fables TV or movie series hasn't been made is because Bill Willingham doesn't feel like it sticks to the comics close enough. In my opinion, that's ridiculous.

There's hardly any live action comic adaptions out there that don't change the story somewhat. Even Watchmen changed the story ending, even though the rest of the movie is almost a page by page adaption of the graphic novel.

Even if the TV series was on something like HBO, which allowed the nudity, gore, strong language, etc that the graphic novels have, they have to change certain story things. A comic is a comic and a show is a show and a movie is a movie. You can't tell one the same way you would tell another.

Just curious if anyone else feels the same way. Fables would make for a great television series, and it seems to me that there isn't any actual good reason for why there isn't one yet.

15 Comments
  • I agree with Willingham, if a show ever happens I want it to stick as close to the comics as possible.

    And theres actually more story to this than just "He wanted it to stick to the comics as close as possible"

    It really came down to that the studios and companies that were interested in making it a show wanted to dumb to down to a PG and barely PG-13 level of rating. Infact, 2 shows that were/are on TV started because of Fables and Bill Willingham, those being Once Upon a Time by ABC and the other being Grimm from NBC. Long story short, both ABC and NBC originally had plans for a Fables TV show, but it would be way less mature and Willingham didnt like this, because they werent able to get the rights to Fables they both went out to make similar shows, Grimm being NBC, which is much farther away in terms of similarities from Fables, but Once Upon a Time had way more drama over it with Fables due to it being very similar to Fables. Basically Once Upon a Time became a thing after Willingham declined the Fables TV show from ABC, but the drama was after Once Upon a Time was released, the creators of Once Upon a Time claimed to have never heard of Fables before.

    Anyway, got side tracked, but basically both these shows are essentially the type of maturity and themes we would expect if a Fables TV show was made from them, and as someone who has watched all of Grimm and 3 Seasons of Once Upon a Time, Im glad Fables wasnt made by them knowing what type of quality the show would have turned out to be, and it wouldnt have fit with the themes and maturity Fables deals with it at all. (However Grimm was a rather great show, but like I said, it is way different from Fables, but its roots are from the original concept of a Fables TV show)

    • Damn, the more you know. I really don't like OUAT, it's just too poorly written/done for me, although I haven't watched much of it to be honest. And Grimm, I can kinda see how the main character resembles Bigby a little bit, I should maybe check it out sometime possibly, don't know.

      Man, really wish they would make it a show then, I didn't know there had been a whole movement about it. What if Supernatural's creators went for Fables?

    • Yeah I've heard of the whole Once Upon A Time/Grimm thing but my point still stands that if Willingham expects any adaption to stick to the comics exactly he's never going to get it, and that's a shame to all the Fables fans who want to see a live action iteration of the universe.

      Wanting it to stick to its more mature roots is one thing, and one that is really doable. You might not get the language or nudity but plenty of television networks can give it a PG-13 adaption easily. But wanting a page by page adaption, which is what Willingham seems to want in my opinion, is another thing completely and one that's not anywhere as doable. Like I said a comic is a comic and a show is a show, you can't tell one the way you tell another.

      • Well like I said, in the end it isnt so much page for page, he wants it to keep the overall story like it was in the comics how it was told, and keep it mature. What the main problem with these 2 shows was that they didnt want it to be mature which would then make the story different which he didnt like, and he also didnt like the themes being changed.

        On a brighter note, apparently a Fables movie is in development, although details have been very few.

      • I've read quite a few of Willingham's interviews previously (until his run with Fables ended), and this is the first time I'm hearing he wanted page-by-page adaptation. Do you have a link where it says he said that (just curious to know)?

        And I'm with Poogers on this one. I don't think it's really worth getting a Fables series/films if the Studios dumb down the mature content in its adaptation. Regardless of how one feels about the mature content (I personally don't have any problem with it, though it's not like I'm crazy for it either), it is a part (though not whole), of Fables' identity, just like how gore and nudity is a part of GoT's identity.

        By my guess (but with no certainty), probably another reason (why the Fables series didn't pan out) is that they wanted to change the storyline radically, or just basically alter the character relationships established in the comics (for example, maybe studio wanted Bigby to end up with Cindy instead of Snow, or maybe the studio wanted to establish a story where Fables secrets was exposed [which was what I believe almost happened in TWAU season 1, which it thankfully did not]) - that is basically butchering the source material, and I think Willingham has every right to say "No" if that is what studios were planning (in fact, it just comes to show that he cares about his work, instead of some authors who basically are satisfied with what they're paid for leasing their IP and don't care how the adaptation turns out).

        I'd actually like them to adapt as close to the comics as possible. Of course, some elements like the budget (especially if it is a TV series) or running time (issue for a movie) may sometimes force them to make some changes, but other than that, they should really try their best to be faithful to the source material.

        I think if they want to adapt Fables as a TV series, how HBO and the producers (Weiss and Benioff) approached Game of Thrones is the way to go. They were pretty faithful for the most part to the general storyline of the books and characters relationships (until they ran out of the source material, with G.R.R. Martin's slow book releases), and were only forced in some instances to make changes (like for instance, I heard they had to merge 2~3 new characters into one new character because the GoT cast was already far too big). Many people state, the show is as faithful as possible, with the resources that the studio has.

        In contrast, I'd hate for a company like AMC to adapt Fables, with how they're treating The Walking Dead. I actually haven't read the comics myself, but I have several mates who do, and they absolutely despise the TV show, telling me it's not really faithful to the comics. And I do feel for them (despite not reading the comics), because I know that's what I'd probably be feeling if same thing was done to Fables.

        With movies, it's a whole different beast (from TV series), so I'm not sure how to really respond (I actually think Fables works best as mature TV series rather than a movie, but that's just me).

        • I don't remember the exact interview but I just remember Willingham saying that so many people have come to him with offers to turn Fables into a show and he turns them away because he doesn't feel like they're faithful enough to the source material.

          As someone who is a big fan of comics in general, I understand that things that work in comics don't necessarily work in live action and you have to change things. Theres a difference between butchering the source material and doing your own thing. The Walking Dead, in my opinion, is doing their own thing. They still respect ultimately what the comics are about, and that's humanity. The DCEU is a butchering of the source material, as they don't respect anything the characters stand for in the comics.

          I just feel like that if people don't accept the idea of a Fables TV show that goes a bit different route than the comics, then we might never get a live action iteration of it

          • I don't remember the exact interview but I just remember Willingham saying that so many people have come to him with offers to turn Fables into a show and he turns them away because he doesn't feel like they're faithful enough to the source material.

            No offense in any way, but that's completely different from the situation where "Willingham wants a page-by-page adaptation" (which you seem to be referring to) .

            The situation could also have been, they (studios) either wanted to really dumb down (like Poogers pointed out) the source material or they wanted to butcher the adaptation that Willingham had to just say "No."

            I just think you're making a too big leap with the assumption, when we don't know anything for certain (only ones who know would be Willingham and the Studios).

            I understand that things that work in comics don't necessarily work in live action and you have to change things.

            Well, Game of Thrones (yeah, I know, it's not a comic, but that's kinda irrelevant, because it's still adaptation) changed some things (as I've explained in my previous comment), but it's praised as one of the best/most faithful adaptations out there (at least until the point where Martin's source material runs out) because they only changed things that they had no choice due to their resources (again, I've explained this in my previous comment), whereas The Walking Dead has been heavily criticized (and I remember in one interview TWD producers promising it's gonna be a really faithful adaptation of TWD, but somewhere down the line, I guess they abandoned that approach, with the change of producers etc).

            And I don't agree to the whole "doing their own thing" approach. If that was acceptable when making adaptations, then pretty much all failed adaptations (Whether its comics/novel/video games) would have studios using "we did our own thing" as an excuse to escape responsibility (surprisingly enough, some of them do this). Even if an adaptation was successful commercially, it is highly likely it will be panned by many of the source material fans (such is the case with Paul W.S. Anderson's Resident Evil movies, and The Walking Dead tv series as I've seen).

            With DCEU, I watched pretty much every one of them except Wonder Woman (just didn't have time, probably catch it on Bluray), and there were two issues I had (that I remember most) - one was them turning Batman into a killer in BvS (come to think of it, I have this issue with pretty much every Batman film since Batman 89 - in every Bat-film they have Batman either murder, or man slaughter the villain. Only media that got Batman completely right [in terms of no-kill moral code] was Kevin Conroy's Animated series and Rocksteady's Arkham games). Another issue I had was their design of Jared Leto's Joker in the Suicide Squad (complete change from classic purple suit, with weird tattoos - but other than that visual look, they did get the Joker's character right in that film [too bad they heavily edited the film that we don't get to see Leto's full performance).

            But anyway, back to the topic (since we seem to be straying off).

            With adaptations, if I know the source material well (i.e. I've read it, played it etc), then it's pure and simple - it's either faithful or it isn't. To me, while an adaptation can have a different story if it is set in a different timeline (such is the case with TWAU season 1, with its premise that it's a direct prequel to the comics but still it is faithful to the core themes/rules set by the comics), or if it just deals with completely different characters.

            However, if they are using the exact same characters in the same timeline, then they really should remain faithful to the source material.

            I just feel like that if people don't accept the idea of a Fables TV show that goes a bit different route than the comics, then we might never get a live action iteration of it

            Well, I don't know about you, but I would have no problem with that. For me (and probably the same case with several others), if it's not a faithful adaptation of Fables, then it's not worth having one at all.

  • There is a boatload of lore in the comics. They cant just let all of that get screwed up.

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