Since I can only arrange the date for my defense when both grades from the exteraccounal reviewers are in, I can only wait now and finally have some actual free time. It feels almost alien after being chained up at work for months now.
So I went on a comic reading binge. The Unwritten is doing a crossover with Fables, so I spent the weekend catching up on Fables. I stopped reading it when Willingham did the Angel comics so badly and turned out to be such an asshat in the process.
I stopped at Fables 12 because 13 is a crossover with Jack of Fables, which I found boring. I now reread the series and continued with 14 since 13 is not that important to the story anyway. I'm now starting Fables 17 (Inherit the Wind).
It's difficult, reading something for entertainment, where you don't particularly like the author anymore. Fables has a lot of good sides, it has superb plotting, a very good sense for pacing and drama and also some really likeable and interesting characters. Also beautiful and expressive artwork.
But it has some undercurrents too, that I previously just intentionally overlooked because I liked other parts so much. I somehow assumed that the Fables world is imagined to be somewhat archaic, accounting for many of the political statements in the comic and for the picture it paints of women. But now I tend to think that was letting Willingham off too easy. The comparison with the truly superb Unwritten makes it more obvious than it used to be to me.
Even though Fables has a host of diverse, interesting and also very powerful women, Willingham always sticks to this notion that once a woman has a man, she somehow has to follow orders from that guy. Not even Frau Totenkinder is excluded from this and considering how many other fairy tale tropes he is subverting, why not break with that one? It's really annoying and it feels like he is stuffing his politics down the readers throat. Sort of, see, those are intelligent, resourceful, brave and powerfull women....who know their place.
I have not read the Unwritten crossover yet and don't know where it fits in the Fables timeline yet, but googling to find out where it fits in already got me to disgruntled reviews of Unritten fans, who resented the misogynist streak, Fables carried over. Apparently it is not even necessary to read up on Fables to get on with the Unwritten, because the Unwritten version is more a Fables AU, but I don't regret catching up with Fables anyway.
I still enjoy Fables and I love the focus on Rose Red in the later books, but I can't say anymore that I love it without reservations.