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Adam Hughes and Inaki Miranda's Fairest!

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This is an extended version of an article taken from issue 82 of ImagineFX magazine. Be the first to read ImagineFX articles in print before they're posted online and get your hands on loads of additional DVD content by subscribing. Visit our shop for more options.

Are you a fan of Adam Hughes? We interviewed the artist about his career to date!


Tall Tales

It’s been 10 years since Bill Willingham’s comic folklore-fest Fables came out, making cover artist James Jean a household name. Now Bill’s back, having released Fairest earlier this month, the latest mini-series to spring from the Fables world, and he’s brought along his old pal Adam Hughes to produce some delectable covers, too.

If you know your fairy tales, you’ll know there’s no simple answer to ‘who is the fairest of them all?’, and with Adam Hughes painting a room packed full of beautiful fairy tale women in his wrap-around issue one cover, it’s even trickier.


Above: How the first cover of Fairest might have looked - Adam Hughes's first sketch of the first cover.



If there was ever a project tailor-made for the pin-up comic artist then it’s this all-female comic series. “Actually, it’s not all-female,” corrects Adam. “’The fairest in all the land’ includes some good-looking male Fables too. My only regret is Prince Charming died in the war with the Adversary and I really wanted a shot at drawing that handsome son-of-a-bitch.”

Though Adam may be in comfortable territory with his subject matter, he’s still trying new things. “I’m attempting to be more thoughtful with my compositions,” he says, “like the cover for the third issue,” (see the Snow Queen, below).


Above: Adam's pre-colour Snow Queen cover for issue 3.


Old habits die hard, however, and you’ll still see classic Adam Hughes in this new series. “For rendering I’m using a method I’ve been working on for a few years,” he explains. “Greyscale tonal drawings, done with Copic marker pens, then coloured up in Photoshop.”

In fact this is the same technique that the artist used to create our striking Catwoman cover for issue 67 of ImagineFX. “I want all the Fairest covers to have that dreamy vibe that James Jean established with his Fables cover run,” says the new pretender, “so I’ll probably do all my Fairest covers this way.”


Above: Adam tried out various composition ideas for his Ali Baba cover, before settling on the one below (handsome devil!)


Rich history

With the covers in safe hands, the new series further expands the Fables universe, which already includes the 50-issue spin-off Jack of Fables as well as two Cinderella mini series, developing characters and moving the action to new territory – literally. Artist Inaki Miranda and his colourist Eva de la Cruz, and sci-fi/fantasy novelist Lauren Beukes took Rapunzel to Tokyo in their story arc The Hidden Kingdom (set just before the time-frame of issue one of Fables).


Above: Inaki Miranda and colourist Eva de la Cruz place Rapunzel in Tokyo.


For Inaki the decision to come on board was easily made. “Bill has created such an astonishing web of perfectly defined characters, putting them in a world where fantasy and daily reality walk hand in hand.” Bill has a more modest take on the Fairest’s appeal. “Fables has become a book wherein we tell large, sprawling stories involving a big ensemble cast,” he says, “where it’s possible to overlook smaller stories about a single character – smaller, not in a sense of importance, but in focus.” Indeed, Fairest is a chance to show some love to those characters, including Rose Red, Snow White, Thumbelina and Rapunzel.

New blood

Fairest introduced a new writer to comics – Lauren. Having won acclaim for her novel Zoo City, the author signed up for Fairest after a meeting with Bill at Montreal’s WorldCon in 2009. “I’m very aware that I’m playing in Bill’s world with his characters. But at the same time he’s given me a lot of freedom to go where I want with a character who has been, until recently, mainly in the background,” says Lauren of Rapunzel.

Inaki feels that Lauren is a natural fit for comics. “I can tell that Lauren has the same amount of love for this project that I do,” he says, “she is constantly throwing cool details into the visual soup,” such as when she asked him to draw in subtle background details, “like an eclectic Hokusai-inspired painting on the wall.” Who knows, perhaps future series can include the fairytales from around the world?!


A chat with Fairest and Fables creator Bill Willingham

How do you explain the enduring appeal of Fables?
It’s hard to say. Enduring is a pretty big word to use about a comic book series. Mountains endure, whereas Fables has been around for about 10 years. Still, that’s pretty good for an extended story about talking cows and gun-wielding bunnies. We’re a curious species. We want to know why and we want to know how, and we always want to know what happens next.

Did you have an artist wish list to work with on Fairest?
I have an artist wish list on every comic I write. I’ve been fortunate in getting many names on that list to do Fables stories, large and small. Fairest, in addition to its other qualities, doubles the opportunities to work with that list of the world’s best comic artists.

What’s been made and what’s planned in the Fairest series?

If you look at the wrap-around cover to the first issue, you’ll get a solid clue or two. We plan to tell stories about each of the characters depicted there. In addition, there are a few characters who didn’t make that first cover, who’ll be showing up. We wanted to keep a few things secret, after all.

Who comes first?
Well, our first tale (which was out in early March 2012) involved the continuing adventures of Sleeping Beauty and the Snow Queen. Then we’ll have a short story that reveals something pretty surprising about one of the long-time Fables cast members. Our second large story arc centres around Rapunzel and our third introduces a new Fables character. And we soldier on from there.


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