Willingham, Bill 1956-

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WILLINGHAM, Bill 1956-


Male. Born December 1956, in Fort Belvoir, VA; son of Thomas (a master sergeant in the U.S. Army) and Hazel Willingham.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, DC Comics, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.


Novelist; comic-book writer and illustrator. Military service: U.S. Army, served as a military police officer.


Will Eisner Comic Industry awards for best serialized story and best new series, both 2003, both for Fables.



Fables: Legends in Exile, illustrated by Craig Hamilton, Steve Leialoha, and Lan Medina, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2002.

Sandman Presents: Taller Tales, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2003.

Fables: The Last Castle, illustrated by Craig Hamilton and P. Craig Russell, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2003.

Fables: Animal Farm, illustrated by Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2004.

Fables: Storybook Love, illustrated by Mark Buckingham and Bryan Talbot, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2004.

Robin: Unmasked!, illustrated by Rick Mays, Francisco Rodrigues de la Fuente, and Aaron Sowd, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2004.

Creator and writer of numerous comic-book series, including "Elementals," "Ironwood," "Coventry," "Proposition Player," and "Fables." Also illustrator of "Elementals" and "Ironwood."

Author of prose novels Down the Mysterly River, The Monster Maker, and Hyde and Seek, published by Clockwork Storybook.


Comic-book writer and illustrator Bill Willingham, a twenty-year veteran of the comics industry, started his career in comics with the popular independent series "Elementals." The series followed four characters, inexplicably resurrected from the dead and imbued with super powers representing the elements of earth, air, fire, and water. "Elementals" was "arguably the first ongoing mature superhero title," commented Rebecca Salek and Barb Lien-Cooper in an interview with Willingham on the Sequential Tart Web site. However, Willingham didn't see the series as groundbreaking. In the interview, Willingham stated, "I was simply trying to tell better stories than the current standard in superhero comics. And there's nothing extraordinary in that. Anyone who comes into this business should believe they can and will do better than the current standard."

Willigham's comic series "Ironwood" is an adults-only series about a beautiful but demon-possessed ship captain who searches for the wizard who can lift her curse. His other adult comics include "Coventry," which addresses the effects of fantasy-based problems such as curses and monsters on the modern world; and "Proposition Player," about a professional poker player who becomes a dealer in souls. Some of Willingham's additional work in 2004 included pure superhero fare such as "Robin" for DC Comics.

Willingham is perhaps best known for the award-winning series "Fables." In "Fables," the characters of legends, tall tales, bedtime stories, and fairy tales coexist in the world with modern humans. Once happy in their myriad lands, they are violently displaced when a character known only as The Adversary invades and conquers their homelands one by one. Old grudges among the characters are forgiven and old conflicts forgotten as the somewhat human creatures take up residence in New York, in an area of the city called Fabletown. The more animal-like Fables live on a farm upstate. King Cole is the ceremonial leader of Fabletown, but a world-wise Snow White is the deputy mayor who gets things done. The Big Bad Wolf, rechristened Bigby Wolf in human form, has assumed the position of Fabletown sheriff. Other well-known characters proliferate. Favorite fairy-tale standbys are fleshed out as idiosyncratic characters: a down-and-out, philandering Prince Charming; animal-rights activist Goldilocks; jazz player Little Boy Blue; unhappy couple Beauty and the Beast; and Pinocchio, still a boy and sexually frustrated. Charles de Lint, writing in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, called the entire "Fables" series "a must-read for any aficionado of fantasy in a contemporary setting."

Fables: Legends in Exile, is the first trade paperback collection of the "Fables" stories. Jack, of beanstalk fame, urgently reports to Bigby Wolf that Rose Red is missing. Worse, her apartment is soaked with blood, indicating foul play. Bigby attacks the case with relish, fingers Bluebeard and Prince Charming as suspects, and dodges Snow White's interference. Booklist reviewer Ray Olson commented that the mystery is solved "in a classic Agatha Christie-ish parlor-room confab." "What may seem like a novelty actually proves to be quite riveting, thanks to Willingham's morphing of fabled characters into more modern archetypes," commented Jonathan Messinger on the Pop Matters Web site. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted, "Willingham's dialogue is humorous, his characterizations are sharp, and his plot encompasses a tremendous amount of information with no strain at all."

In Fables: Animal Farm, Rose Red is working off her community service obligation—incurred for her role in an extortion plot uncovered in Fables: Legends in Exile—by helping Snow White with her regular visits to the upstate farm where the animal Fables live. They arrive to find that the farm manager, Weyland Smith, is missing, and resentment grows among the animal Fables for being forced to live on the farm. What starts as the first stirrings of a revolution to retake the Fables' original homelands by force turns into a genuine revolt by the animals against Fableland, led by activist Goldilocks. Willingham has "infused these animals with so much personality that they're far more interesting than traditional 'human' characters like Cinderella and Pinocchio," observed a reviewer on the Comic World News Online. Reviewer Phil Carter, writing on the ScifiDimensions.com, commented that Willingham's "dialogue is crisp and snaps back and forth between characters like the fuzzy yellow ball at a tennis match, and though it seems odd to juxtapose characters from fables and legends with our undeniably modern world of guns and taxis, Willingham manages it with perfect aplomb."



Booklist, February 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Fables: Legends in Exile, p. 970; October 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Fables: Animal Farm, p. 309; December 1, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Sandman Presents: Taller Tales, p. 657; March 15, 2004, reviews of Fables: Animal Farm and Fables: Legends in Exile, p. 1293.

Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Steve Raiteri, review of Fables: Legends in Exile, p. 100.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October-November, 2001, Charles de Lint, review of Down the Mysterly River, pp. 45-46; October-November, 2002, Charles de Lint, review of Fables. Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2003, review of Fables:

Legends in Exile, p. 201; April 12, 2004, Jeff Zaleski, review of Fables: Storybook Love, p. 41.


Bill Willingham Home Page,http://www.billwillingham.com (June 30, 2004).

Cinescape.com,http://www.cinescape.com/ (June 30, 2004), Tony Whitt, review of Fables: The Last Castle.

Comic Book Resources Web site,http://www.comicbookresources.com/ (June 30, 2004), Arune Singh, interview with Bill Willingham.

Comic World News Online,http://www.comicworldnews.com/ (June 30, 2004), review of Fables: Animal Farm.

Fresh Web sitehttp://www.orcafresh.com/ (June 30, 2004), Tim O'Shea, interview with Willingham.

Grovel/org,http://www.grovel.org.uk/ (June 30, 2004), review of Sandman Presents: Taller Tales.

PopCultureShock.com,http://www.popcultureshock.com/ (June 30, 2004), Harold Bloomfield, review of Fables: Legends in Exile.

PopMatters.com,http://www.popmatters.com/ (June 30, 2004), Jonathan Messinger, review of Fables: Legends in Exile.

ScifiDimensions.com,http://www.scifidimensions.com/ (June 30, 2004), Phil Carter, review of Fables: Animal Farm.

Sequential Tart Web site,http://www.sequentialtart.com (June 30, 2004), Rebecca Salek and Barb Lien-Cooper, interview with Willingham.

Shaking Through Web site,http://www.shakingthrough.net/ (June 30, 2004), Kevin Forest Moreau, review of Fables: Legends in Exile.

Shotgun Reviews Online,http://www.shotgunreviews.com/ (June 30, 2002), Troy Brownfield and Jamie Tarquini, review of Fables: Legends in Exile.

Titan Publishing Web site,http://www.titanmagazines.com/ (June 30, 2004), interview with Bill Willingham.

X-Axis.com,http://www.thexaxis.com/ (June 30, 2004), review of Proposition Player.*