Friday, June 29, 2012

So You Want to Read Fables...?

Note: I recently updated this post and republished it as a new post. You can find the updated version by clicking here.

I love Fables, Jack of Fables, and all of the brilliant spin-offs by Bill Willingham and his team published by Vertigo. I had a Twitter conversation earlier that brought to mind how complicated the series can be if you are just starting out. I am all caught up and tend to read the books as they are released, but when you haven't read even one of them it can be a bit overwhelming, right? And, your first instinct might be just read all of the Fables and then all of the Jack of Fables and so on. I am here to point you in a direction that might lead to a more rewarding experience of the world.

F= Fables and J = Jack of Fables. It should be clear, but just in case.

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: Now, 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)
F - Volume 17: Inherit the Wind (Issues 108-113)
F - Volume 18: Cubs in Toyland  (Issues 114-123)

There is also the standalone comic Werewolves of the Heartland that was finally released at the end of last year. 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 does its own thing, so no real worries for spoilers. 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 addition to the Fables family is the comic book series Fairest. Fairest - Volume 1: Wide Awake was released in November of last year. This comic book series is a good starting point if you are overwhelmed with the series overall. If you are worried about spoilers, though, you should wait until the huge story arch is completed in Volume 13. It is not so much huge spoilers as making you wonder how things got to that point; so it might actually make you more eager to check out the earlier comics. The sequel, Fairest - Volume 2: Hidden Kingdom, will be released in July.

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 left out of this post originally was that the comic book series has been collected into Deluxe Editions. I have been buying them as trades, so I don't actually have the hardcover editions, but I thought I would also include them at the bottom here if you are looking for an easier way to collect the series:

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 (Up-coming)


  1. Thanks for the reminder of Werewolves of the Heartland. I'll be sure to put it on my list. This is a really helpful post for newbies to the series.

  2. In a show of ignorance, I only just found out about this series. Ana recommended them. Unfortunately, my library only has volume I, and in Dutch. But perhaps if I like it (and I expect to) I can convince the library or my own purse to enable me to read more.

  3. This is great Kelly! Sure will be helpful to a lot of people. I have the series pretty much listed this way on my series blog.

  4. Woah... sounds complicated. I can't wait to read it!

  5. Thank you, thank you!! Now I can stop bugging you on Twitter. LOL. I am going to read Vol. 12 of Fables then getting to Vol 6 of Jack and 1001 Nights. Maybe even Peter & Max. Then I'll continue along in the order you have here. Can't wait for Fairest and for the Werewolf books.

  6. Kelly, I have to say I'm totally weirded out right now!!! I was literally going to email you this weekend to ask you about this very thing!!! I'm going to read Fables 12 here shortly, and I knew before I read 13, I needed to read some of the Jacks, but I didn't know how many. Ha--you've now been spared a pesky email from me. :P

  7. Oh thank you SO much for this. I really want to read Fables. Your recommendation of The Unwritten was so spot on. I've read the first of that series and once I'm caught up with it I want to start Fables. Now I have a road map.

    THANK YOU!!!

  8. I started reading Fairest before reading any of Fables and am loving it thus far. It's such a neat concept! I just picked up the first volume of Fables, and I can't wait to start reading it!

  9. Thanks for this!! I've read 1 and 2, but my library doesn't have anything before F7.... *sigh* Still looking for it, though.

  10. You're my hero! I've been wanting to read these for a long time but I wasn't sure where to start. This is just perfect. Thank you!

  11. I read the first volume ages ago, and really enjoyed it. I really should get back to reading it at some point.

  12. I have SO much catching up to do with this series!

  13. Fantastic! I'd love to start this series, and now I know how to do it! Thanks, Kelly!

  14. Thanks for this! I'm completely obsessed with Fables lately, and currently reading The Dark Ages (F 12), and I didn't even check if Jack could be anything interesting. Now I know I should stop after F12 to read the first volumes of Jack - so happy I saw this post now!

  15. This is fabulous! It will really help me talk about Fables to people at the library who want to begin the series -- we have nearly all of them. (and it will give us hints on what we are missing, too!) You've performed a wonderful public service here, LOL

  16. This is fabulous! It will really help me talk about Fables to people at the library who want to begin the series -- we have nearly all of them. (and it will give us hints on what we are missing, too!) You've performed a wonderful public service here, LOL

  17. Thanks for such a comprehensive list! I have no idea how many of these I am able to get through interlibrary loan but I will read it as close to as in order as I can!


    As I was telling you and Heather on instagram today, I've been very curious about this series for the last couple of months. I'm going to read off your list--I scoured the online catalogs of libraries within 25 miles of me to try to hunt down every issue. Looks like I can get all of them except maybe four.. and the first three are within 5 miles of me. Phew! lol Should be fun!

  19. Thanks... I'm playing catch-up following a long hiatus from reading FABLES and appreciate your help in keeping me straight.

  20. This is pure awesome!!! And, apparently I found it just in time as I got #9 from the library last week!! Looks like I'm off to find 1001 Nights of Snowfall too!!

    BTW, thanks to Beth Fish Reads for directing me here today!! Bookmarking this right now!!

  21. Hi Kailana. Fantastic post!! I sent you a mail about possibly reposting this post on my fairy tale news blog to help my readers get up to speed on Fables (especially before the movie takes over) but realized that I sent from gmail to a hotmail and that sometimes hotmail automatically puts gmail in spam. If you haven't seen it - please check your spam? Thank you so much.
    - Gypsy
    Once Upon A Blog.. fairy tale news

  22. Thank you for this post. I open this as a browser page while I read Fables just to know what to read next.

  23. Thanks for posting this! I hate reading comics out their intended story arcs. This posting does a fantastic job of putting together a comprehensive list of how new readers of Fables should approach the series.


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