Chris Roberson talks with the Outhouse about his newest Cinderella miniseries, Cinderella: Fables Are Forever
Chris Roberson has been one of the busier writers in comics recently. Not only has he taken over the reins of Superman from J Michael Straczynski, he's also released a follow-up miniseries to last year's acclaimed Fables miniseries Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love. Chris stopped by the Outhouse to talk about Cinderella: Fables are Forever and what readers can expect from his latest jaunt into the Fables-verse.
The Outhouse: Chris, this is your second Cinderella miniseries. Can you tell readers how you got involved in the Fableverse and the challenges you've had in bringing your own spin to Cinderella?
Chris Roberson: It's all thanks to Bill Willingham and series editor Shelly Bond. Bill invited me to write a fill-in issue of Jack of Fables a couple of years ago, and he and Shelly both liked what I turned in. A few months later, Bill called me up and asked if I'd be interested in writing a miniseries focusing on Cinderella, Fabletown's number one super-spy. Well, how could I say no?
And it hasn't really been a challenge, so much as it is an interesting intellectual exercise. I'm essentially being paid to write Fables fan-fiction, and to find a way to insert my own characters and stories into the world that Willingham has created as seamlessly as possible. It's really up to readers (and Bill) to decide whether I've succeeded or not.
OH: Is it a challenge to write a book that is set in a universe like Fables that has a such an imaginative continuity?
CR: If anything, it makes it easier. Working in an established world that is so richly realized offers you the opportunity to borrow bits and pieces of established lore to construct a story, without having to fabricate all of it from whole cloth. And it's that challenge of finding the places in the world that HAVEN'T been fully explored yet, and then EXPLORING them, that makes it really interesting.
OH: Your second miniseries begins with Cinderella in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. What was your inspiration for throwing Cinderella in a very...James Bond-esque setting?
CR: I grew up in the last decades of the Cold War, and I kinda miss having them as antagonists in spy stories. Not as VILLAINS, as such, but as sympathetic characters who are simply pursuing a different agenda. When I first struck on the idea of a "Shadow Fabletown" of Fables who wanted nothing to do with Fabletown, it seemed only natural to place them behind the Iron Curtain.
OH: Not many readers have heard of Tugarin Zmeyevich, a new character introduced in the first issue of Cinderella: Fables are Forever. Could you tell us about him and if we'll be seeing his more traditional form?
CR: Tugarin Zmeyevich is a figure from Eastern European folklore, a creature very much like a dragon. As for whether we'll be seeing him in his traditional form? You'll have to wait and see!
OH: What other Fables will be popping up in Cinderella: Fables are Forever?
CR: Ivan Durak is another eastern Fable who we'll be seeing a lot of. His name literally translates as "Ivan the Fool," and he's something of a Jack character from Russian folklore, a hapless younger son who usually triumphs through dumb luck. We'll be seeing a number of figures from Chinese and African folklore and fairy tales as well, with a few more surprises along the way.
OH: You revealed Cindy's nemesis to be a very surprising and familiar character. Why that character and will we be seeing more of her and Cindy's back story?
CR: Last year my wife and I were watching The Wiz one night on DVD, and I noticed something about Dorothy Gale I'd never thought about before: namely, that she is a killer for hire. When Dorothy goes to kill the Wicked Witch for the Wizard in exchange for a trip back home, she is agreeing to commit murder in exchange for pay, essentially. She killed the Wicked Witch of the East by accident at the beginning of the story when Dorothy's house landed on her, but when she takes out the Wicked Witch of the West it is a premeditated, conscious act. So by the end of that first Oz story, Dorothy has killed two witches and profited from it. I figured that maybe she learned that she had a taste for it, and after the end of her story went on to become a PROFESSIONAL killer for hire.
OHL Were you tempted to use the more popular movie version of Dorothy and mythology of the movie instead of the traditional book mythology and characters? Will we be hearing Dorothy talk about her movie depiction at all?
CR: Well, no, for a couple of reasons. First, the book version is in the public domain while the movie version isn't. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is a lot more creepy stuff in the books than we ever saw on screen. The Technicolor Oz is a pretty domesticated place, and one that audiences are very comfortable with, but the Oz of the books has all of these odd little creatures and concepts scattered around the landscape, that make good fodder for stories like this.
OH: Will Cinderella: Fables Are Forever tie in directly to the main series?
CR: Yes, the miniseries picks up directly from what's happening in the main title, and the end of the miniseries will feed right back into it.
OH: Shawn McManus has delivered yet another fantastic issue featuring Cindy. How important was it to bring Shawn back for another go on Cinderella?
CR: I don't know that I would have wanted to do the series without Shawn on the interiors (or without Chrissie Zullo on covers, for that matter!). So far as I'm concerned, Shawn's Cinderella is DEFINITIVE.
OH: What is the creative process like between you and Shawn? How much do you collaborate on character design and the like?
CR: Most of the interaction is mediated by our editor Shelly Bond, though Shawn and I have spoken a few times on the phone. But really, I leave as many of the decisions about the visuals and design and such up to him. He knows what he's doing, and I'd be a fool not to let him do it!
OH: With Jack of Fables ending soon at #50 is there a chance we could see you guys doing a Cinderella ongoing? If not, do you have an idea for what you would like to do in another Cinderella mini?
CR: There's been talk about another Cinderella story further down the road, but nothing definite yet. I definitely have an idea in mind, though!
OH: Any other upcoming work you'd like to talk about? We know that Superman and Cinderella has you pretty busy...
CR: Superman and Cinderella are definitely keeping me busy, but I've got a few other irons in the fire! For Boom! Studios I'm scripting STAN LEE'S STARBORN and the forthcoming ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST (a twelve-issue miniseries featuring characters and concepts from Michael Moorcock's fantastic novels), and Mike Allred and I are still chugging along at full steam with our creator-owned book from Vertigo, iZOMBIE. Seriously, I'm the luckiest kid in comics!
Cinderella: Fables are Forever #2 hits comic book stores everywhere March 9th. For a full review of Cinderella: Fables are Forever #1, please click here.
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer and Josh Pucillo