Peter & Max: A Fables Novel (DC/Vertigo) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Bill Willingham

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel

Published by DC/Vertigo

Oct 16, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Fables is the very popular comic book series from DC/Vertigo that reimagines imaginary figures as castaways from their faerie lands, living in the real world among us mundane, or “mundy” types. Most of your favorites, such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming, Blue Beard, the Big Bad Wolf, and many more have appeared in the long-running comic. Peter & Max is a novel that takes place in the same universe but, with the exception of a short epilogue, eschews the comic storytelling for traditional storytelling.

Bill Willingham, the writer of the comic, pens this as well, so of course the characterizations and tone are spot-on. The book concentrates largely on Peter Piper, he who picked those pickled peppers, and his older brother Max, who turns out to be the Pied Piper of Hamelin. There are some noteworthy appearances from other characters of legend, such as Bo Peep, who marries Peter, and the Witch of the Black Forest, who is partly responsible for Max’s evolution into something capable of epic wickedness.

This story of brother versus brother spans hundreds of years, and incorporates alternate realities, multiple mythologies, and a little U.S. and German history to boot. Yet, despite the busy background, Willingham proves as capable of clean, directed storytelling in pure prose form as he is with sequential art.

I can’t claim to have enjoyed this as much as the Fables comics and graphic novels. There’s something extraordinarily rich about having an artist’s vision incorporated into the presentation, and some of the transitions in Peter & Max were a little sudden. But overall it’s a great complement to the series and a pretty good standalone fantasy novel. It’s no George R.R. Martin or Scott Lynch, but certainly better—and less cluttered—than the bulk of the genre fantasy offerings out there. (

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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October 21st 2009

As a fan of the series who buys it month-to-month, I guess I’m biased in that I enjoyed it. I would be interested to see if non-Fables readers enjoyed it.

It’s great to see my favourite magazine cover my favourite comic. I check for a mention of it in every printed-issue of Under The Radar, and so far have only seen it in there this month!