Friday, September 19, 2014

So You Want to Read Fables...? (The Updated Updated Edition)

I am a huge fan of Bill Willingham and his Fables series. I started reading it in 2009 and quickly caught up. It is now like Christmas every time something new in the series is released. The writing and the artwork combine to make it easily one of my favourite series ever. In 2012, though, I found it hard to find a post that explained a suitable reading order. When I started the series it was relatively small, but I can understand how overwhelming it would be for someone to start fresh and have no idea where to go. This lead me to create my own post. I was doing well keeping it updated for a while there, but got a bit behind. I thought I would repost today with all the additions.

F= Fables and J = Jack of Fables.

It starts off easily enough:

F - Volume 1: Fables: Legends in Exile (Issues 1-5)
F - Volume 2: Animal Farm (Issues 6-10)
F - Volume 3: Storybook Love (Issues 11-18)
F - Volume 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers (Issues 19-21; 23-27)
F - Volume 5: The Mean Seasons (Issues 22; 28-33)
F - Volume 6: Homelands (Issues 34-41)

NOTE: Congrats, you are now safe to start Jack of Fables. The events in this book pick-up after issues 34 and 35 of Fables contained in Homelands. You do not have to start now, but if you want to it is now safe. It didn't actually release until after Volume 8 of Fables.

F - Volume 7: Arabian Nights (and Days) (Issues 42-27)
F - Volume 8: Wolves (Issues 48-51)

STOP!! If you haven't all ready, you should read 1001 Nights of Snowfall. I did not, but it ties into Volume 9 of Fables. (I don't think you lack if you just read it whenever. It is technically a prequel.)

F - Volume 9: Sons of Empire (Issues 52-59)
F - Volume 10: The Good Prince (Issues 60-69)
F - Volume 11: War and Pieces (Issues 70-75)
F - Volume 12: The Dark Ages (Issues 76-82)

STOP!! You are now on a Fables vacation. In order to read Volume 13 you have to read Jack of Fables because this is a Crossover edition.

J - Volume 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape (Issues 1-5)
J - Volume 2: Jack of Hearts (Issues 6-11)
J - Volume 3: The Bad Prince (Issues 12-16)
J - Volume 4: Americana (Issues 17-21)
J - Volume 5: Turning Pages (Issues 22-27)
J - Volume 6: The Big Book of War (Issues 28-32)

STOP!! It is now time for a Jack of Fables vacation. Sort of. When released as individual issues Volume 13 actually contains Fables, Jack of Fables, and The Literals. When they released it as a trade paperback they put everything together and called it Fables.

F - Volume 13: The Great Fables Crossover (Fables: Issues 83-85; Jack of Fables: Issues 33-35; The Literals: Issues 1-3)

Note: If you are worried about any possible spoilers it is now save to read Cinderella: Fables are Forever. (More about this spin-off below). You can do what you want for the rest of the Fables and Jack of Fables. A suggested order is such (this is how they were released and I read them):

J - Volume 7: The New Adventures of Jack and Jack (Issues 36-40)
F - Volume 14: Witches (Issues 86-93)
J - Volume 8: The Fulminate Blade (Issues 41-45)
F - Volume 15: Rose Red (Issues 94-100)
J - Volume 9: The End (Issues 46-50) - This concludes Jack of Fables.
F - Volume 16: Super Team (Issues 101-107)

Note: If you are worried about possible spoilers after this comic it is safe to read Werewolves of the Heartland and the first Fairest. (More on these comics below.)

F - Volume 17: Inherit the Wind (Issues 108-113)
F - Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland  (Issues 114-123)
F - Volume 19: Snow White (Issues 114-123 (back-up stories only) and issues 124-129 (December 24, 2013)
F - Volume 20: Camelot (Issues 131-136)
F - Volume 21:                 (Issues 141-149) (March 3, 2015)

Note: I am not sure at this point if there are going to be any possible spoilers in the The Unwritten crossover, that I talk about more below, but just going by release dates lets assume you should read up to here before reading it. Once the comic is released I will correct this note if necessary.

The Spin-offs and Standalones:

There is also the standalone comic Werewolves of the Heartland. The comic is a chance to see Bigby all by himself. It is technically a good introduction to the series; but if you are worried about any possible spoilers it was originally set to be released around the same time as Super Team and follows events from that comic.

Then, there is Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love (Issues 1-6) and Cinderella: Fables are Forever (Issues 1-6). From Fabletown with Love doesn't have many spoilers, but you are best to wait and read it until at least after Volume 11. Fables are Forever, though, does talk about events from later in the series. If you want to avoid possible spoilers do not read it until after Fables: Volume 13. Also, the two collections are entirely unrelated. There is no need to read one right after the other.

The newest spin-off to the Fables series is Fairest. On the one hand it is an excellent introduction to the series and is a possible starting point if you are new to the series. On the other hand, if you are interested in keeping things in order and not having any spoilers at all (even minor ones), I recommend starting this series after you read Volume 16 of Fables.

Fairest - Volume 1: Wide Awake (Issues 1-7)
Fairest - Volume 2: Hidden Kingdom (Issues 8-14)
Fairest - Volume 3: The Return of the Maharaja (Issues 15-20)
Fairest in all the Land
Fairest - Volume 4: Of Mice and Men (October 7, 2014)

Then, Jess Nevins released Fables Encyclopaedia. It is essentially the annotated version of Fables. It is something worth having wherever you are in the series. I have been warned that it does contain spoilers up until Volume 18 of the main series, though. (I sadly haven't had a chance to read it yet!)

Lastly, there is the novel Peter & Max. This is an original novel that also can be read as an introduction to the series. I don't remember any spoilers for the series, so I wouldn't worry about a reading order. If you are in the mood for a Fables novel instead of graphic novel, pick this one up!

One thing I was remiss in mentioning before is the video game The Wolf Among Us. I am not a big gamer, but I am tempted! Anyway, from what I have researched the game is a prequel to the series and will not spoil anything if you play it first and then decide to read them later.

Now this is where things get interesting... Fables is doing a crossover with another Vertigo comic, The Unwritten. If you have never read The Unwritten before, it is another literary graphic novel where the main character travels through various fictional worlds. It works really well for a crossover. The crossover is going to occur in a collected The Unwritten graphic novel and take place in Fables. It is set to be released next year. So, for the sake of having all the information available here is the reading order if you are interested in the crossover.

The Unwritten:
Volume 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (Issues 1-5)
Volume 2: Inside Man (Issues 6-12)
Volume 3: Dead Man's Knock (Issues 13-18)
Volume 4: Leviathan (Issues 19-24)
Volume 5: On to Genesis (Issues 25-30)
Volume 6: Tommy Taylor and the War of Words (Issues 31-35)
Volume 7: The Wound (Issues 36-41)
Volume 8: Orpheus in the Underworlds (Issues 42-49) (February 4, 2014)

This all leads up to the crossover...

Volume 9: The Unwritten Fables (Issues 50-54)

And, because I am a bit of a completest, I would also mention that there is a standalone volume in The Unwritten series called Tommy Taylor and the Ship that Sank Twice.

And, if you enjoyed The Unwritten, Volume 10 is called War Stories and will be out October 14, 2014.

Lastly, just because for some this might be the easiest way to get the Fables series, here is a list of what the Deluxe editions contain:

Volume 1: Fables 1-10
Volume 2: Fables 11-18
Volume 3: Fables 19-27
Volume 4: Fables 28-33 (1001 Nights of Snowfall)
Volume 5: Fables 34-45
Volume 6: Fables 46-51 
Volume 7: Fables 52-59 and 64
Volume 8: Fables 60-63, 65-69 
Volume 9: Fables 70-82 (October 7, 2014)


  1. I love this post so much. I'm a huge Fables fan, but I got SOOO behind reading them after I finished my Masters degree. This helps me pick back up!

  2. Thanks sooooooooo much. These are such great books and I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post.

  3. Nice post. I don't think anyone should read Peter and Max until reading at least book 10 in the series... Now I want to know. What's your favorite book in the series so far? :-)

  4. Anonymous8:15 PM

    Thank you so much, from russia, for this post.)

  5. Um, this is awesome. You are a genius. I think I knew that there was going to be a Fables crossover with The Unwritten (which I think is also brilliant), but I had forgotten about it until just now. I'm excited all over again!

  6. Oh Kelly, this is awesome awesome awesome! You've sort of made me want to start reading them all over again to make sure I read things in order (oh okay, and because my pathetic brain could really use a refresher).

  7. Anonymous11:07 AM

    awesome post!

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)

  8. This is so crazy helpful. THANK YOU!!!

  9. This is awesome!! I was referring to your older post, but now I will bookmark this one instead and share with all my friends!

    I am almost all caught up with the series and the companions, but have not even started The Unwritten. I really got to check these out!

    Thank you!!!!

  10. Oh, dear! I've read none of this series. On the other hand, I won't have to wait for the latest book if I start with Vol.1, I'll have plenty of reading ahead!

  11. I will be honest, I have never read nor heard of this series. I will give it a shot, because I like fairy tales and fantasy.

    This was a great and very informative post of the series. Thank you :)

  12. Anonymous6:48 AM

    Thank you very much! I was so confused but now there is an order.

  13. This is fantastic, Kelly! I am going to link to it on the sidebar of the Graphic Novel Challenge. Fabulous resource. I have to get myself up-to-date on this, keep pre-ordering, so have them but am letting them collect dust instead of reading :-0 I didn't know about the UW crossover. What to do? what to do? Would love to have you join us in the GN challenge this year! :-) Smallest commitment is only 12 for the year ;-) PS - I lost all my bookmarks and blogs when my harddrive died in Sept, glad to find you again!

  14. Ashley3:35 PM

    Thank you so much! I found Fairest in all the Land at a comic book store, and ate it up. But then I realized that how curious I was about all of the characters, so I looked up Fables and Fairest...and then got SO confused, haha! Bookmarked! :)

  15. Holy crap!!! Thank you soooo much for this. I just read vol 13 of Fables and realized... man I need to read Jack. So now I am going back and reading the Jack ones. I also now know where to stop!!! WOOT WOOT!

  16. As a fellow "completest" myself I really much appreciate this guide!

  17. Fairest in all the Land is actually still part of the story I'd say... It comes after reading the Cubs in Toyland, Snow White and during (?) the Camelot arcs. It actually has a very important conclusion to a story regarding Beauty that was addressed in of the "Fairest" comics.

  18. ALSO THANK YOU.. I've used your guide for reading all of Fables and it helped to refer back to this tremendously.

  19. I'm a new fan of Fables. I should've find your post before I read Fairest. I'm collecting Fables deluxe edition, but I started to read Fairest first 4-5 volume, and now it spoils everythign for me :(
    Oh well, I guess I need to stop reading Fairest until I read the rest of Fables (and since I'm collecting deluxe edition, I need to wait around 6 more year....)

  20. Anonymous5:35 AM

    BTW thanks so much for these, they were invaluable to my Fables experience.

  21. Should I play the game first, or read the comics? Help, I want to read the comics but I don't want any spoilers for the game.

  22. I was just wondering if I should read the comics before playing the game by telltale? Or is it best to play the game first?

    1. Anonymous7:44 PM

      the game doesn't spoil anything from the comics and it won't matter what order you do it in

  23. Will there be any updates? I ask because I would like to know the best reading order for the main comics and the Fairest comics, and how the unwritten comics intertwine with the canon.

  24. Anonymous12:11 PM

    why is issue 22 on volume 5 and not in volume 4? do I have to skip it and read it after issue 27?

  25. Thanks for this. I've consulted it often, and it helps. :)

  26. Anonymous6:30 PM

    Thank you for this! I've just started to play the game and it got me interested in reading the comics. And now thanks to you I know that reading only the Werewolves spin-off my friend was gonna lend me is a bad idea hahahahah
    I just had a little doubt. While I can't buy the collected editions (think I'm even gonna buy them here in Brazil, which might make them different too, I mean, AvX had something else in there and the few others I read too), I downloaded the single digital comics to get started. Do I still follow the same order as the collected editions? Thanks!

  27. Hi

    Thanks. This has been helpful. What happened to issue 130? It's not part of the volumes.

  28. The Telltale game happens in an earlier time than the comics, it is totally standalone.

  29. Anonymous6:37 PM

    I'd like to mention that Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love should really be read between volumes 11 and 12 and it was a bit of a spoiler for me when I read it after volume 4 and it started mentioning events that wouldn't happen until much later in the series.

    The other order I was confused on was when to read Fairest. Like mentioned above, I would start it after volume 16 of fables but would suggest reading Fairest in All The Land in between volume 3 and 4 of Fairest. It's also worth mentioning that this particular comic has a few continuity errors that might be due to authors other than Willingham writing some of the segments. It is worth reading though as a handful of characters are killed off and the conclusion is fairly important to the rest of the series. The last few Fables issues has even had characters mentioning the events of the story.

    Finally The Wolf Among Us is worth mentioning as a fairly good quality (and canon) addition to the series. It pails in comparison to the rest of the comic but I think it serves as an excellent introduction to the series and is what sparked my interest in Fables in the first place. Best of all, it takes places many years before the comic starts so nothing is spoiled by playing the game first.

    Oh, one more thing to note! Be careful reading the Fables Encyclopedia. Some of the entries spoil events up to Volume 18 as well as Volume 1 of Fairest.

  30. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Hey man, thanks for this reading list. I got confused when I got to the Great Crossover and this really helped. Just wanted to say this could be improved if you added in a note about Fables: The Last Castle and when to read.

    1. Anonymous12:27 PM

      I saw it was missing too and looked it up. It is included in Fables V4 so should be read about then if reading individual issues:

  31. Anonymous1:03 AM

    The game by telltale works as a prequel to anyone wondering. You can play it at any time with no fear of spoilers. It only gives away characters and bios.

  32. Do I have to read all the Spin Offs and Jack stuff to understand fables? I just wanna read all the Fables issue, is that ok or will I be confused?

    1. You can skip Jack and be fine. You will just see him vanish from Fables and then reappear briefly in the crossover. You may be a little confused, but I think there is enough background that you should be fine.

  33. Does the deluxe editions contain everything, such as the spinoffs as jack off fables? Because I am a but of acompletionist but I am way to lazy to have to buy each volume separately.

    1. For whatever reason they have not released Deluxe editons of Jack of Fables, so you will have to get those as trades. As well as Fairest, but that is still a relatively short series.

  34. Thank you for that, only guide for reading fables in the hole internet :D
    One question, I will loose much if I read Fables V13 and so on, If I read only till JoF V3? I got all Fables till V18, but only this JoF and will take some time to get em. Read Fables or let them sealed till I buy JoF?

  35. Anonymous6:15 PM

    Thank you so much for creating this. Much better then trying to noodle the reading order from Wikipedia.

  36. Wow. So glad Candace linked here. I'm bookmarking this, because I will definitely need it as I get further along!

  37. Anonymous10:07 PM

    Thank you so much for this post. I have it bookmarked, and I refer back to it often. Thank you so much for compiling this and being so detailed.

  38. Anonymous5:20 PM

    Cinderella: Fables are Forever should be read after Fables vol.14. It's spoils a baby of B&B and a little of witches new situation.

  39. Anonymous6:17 PM

    This post has been so useful to me, as I only got into Fables at the start of the year. Once I started, I was addicted but I got a tad confused when I found out there was multiple spin-off series'.
    Just as an FYI, I completed the Wolf Among Us game this week and it contains no spoilers whatsoever. It all takes place pre-volume 1 before Snow becomes the Mayor's assisstant. Also as the game is decision based, your actions could be completely different from the comics anyway (though I tried to make Bigby make decisions that tied in with what I knew was going to happen).
    Thanks again for taking the time to make something so useful. You made Unwritten and Fables way more accessible!

  40. Greg G2:31 PM

    This is great! Funny, I just finished playing the "Wolf Among Us" game this morning on my iPad. As I was going through the chapters, I became very interested in the series, and picked up the first 4 volumes. I'm one of those nuts who tends to be a completist, so I can easily see myself also picking up all of the side series, too... and I've bookmarked this as my guide to help me get through it all. Thanks!

  41. Thank you for this, I just got vol 1 and 2 today and this will help me stay on track and get the right order so I don't miss anything.

  42. Anonymous6:41 AM

    Thanks alot! :)

  43. This is great, thanks for that. I just want to mention that Peter and Max spoils some things before Vol 4 of Fables. I would suggest waiting until you've finished Vol 4 of Fables before reading Peter and Max. Things like the election and the pregnancy are spoiled otherwise.

  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

  45. Complete Fables Reading order using Deluxe Editions:
    Fables Deluxe Editions 1-5
    Jack of Fables Vol.1 (The Nearly Great Escape)
    Jack of Fables Vol.2 (Jack of Hearts)
    Fables Deluxe Editions 6-8
    Jack of Fables Vol.3 (The Bad Prince)
    Jack of Fables Vol.4 (Americana)
    Fables Deluxe Edition 9
    Jack of Fables Vol.5 (Turning Pages)
    Jack of Fables Vol.6 (The Big Book of War)
    Cinderella Vol.1 (From Fable Town with Love)
    Fables Deluxe Edition 10
    Jack of Fables Vol.7 (The New Adventures of Jack and Jack)
    Jack of Fables Vol.8 (The Fulminate Blade)
    Fables Deluxe Edition 11
    Cinderella Vol.2 (Fables are Forever)
    Fables Vol.16 (Super Team)
    Fairest Vol.1 (Wide Awake)
    Fables Vol.17 (Inherit the Wind)
    Fairest Vol.2 (The Hidden Kingdom)
    Fables Vol.18 (Cubs in Toyland)
    Fables Encyclopedia
    Fables Vol.19 (Snow White)
    Fairest Vol.3 (The Return of the Maharaja)
    Fables Vol.20 (Camelot)
    Fairest (In All the Land)
    Jack of Fables Vol.9 (The End)
    Fairest Vol.4 (Of Men and Mice)
    Fables Vol.21 (Happily Ever After)
    Fables Vol.22 (Farewell)
    Fairest Vol.5 (The Clamour for Glamour)
    Fables: The Wolf among Us (Vol.1)
    Unwritten Vol.9 (The Unwritten Fables) “Fables Crossover”
    Fables Covers: The Art of James Jean (New Edition)
    Peter & Max: (A Fables Novel)
    Coming Soon:
    Fables Deluxe Edition 12 “May 2016”
    Fables: The Wolf among Us (Vol.2) “June 2016”

  46. Anonymous7:13 PM

    Actually should be read after volume 15: rose red. For the above reasons
    If the original blog could be changed, it would help others.


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