21. Fables (DC/Vertigo)
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham, various
Many people were fearful that Vertigo wouldn't be able to sustain its success in the 2000s after the creative outburst of two preceding decades. Impressively, Bill Willingham’s Fables proved that when you have a publisher willing to push the envelope of what comics can be, there will always be great books ready to hit the market.
Fables presents the popular folklore that we all grew up with—like Snow White, Pinocchio, Cinderlla—and brings them into our modern world, where they live in secret in a community called Fabletown in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Though some stories deal with fantastic action and adventure, Willingham also brings us behind the scenes of the politics of Fabletown by showing readers how these classic fairy tale characters deal with the frustrating nuances of organized government. Ideas like that help Fables to transcend the fantasy genre and become something much larger and more intricate in scope.
Thanks to its engrossing characters and a dense world that's full of detail and drama, Fables has moved beyond the shadows of traditional fairy tales and established its own mythology.