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Bill's Other Work

As you walk up to the shelving unit, you see a notice posted on the side.  It reads:

Welcome to the Bill Willingham section.  Here is where I've collected and written about Bill's other works.  I'm focusing on the original work created by him, but I'm also listing the recent work he's done for other titles such as Sandman, Batman, Robin and X-Men.  As new work comes out, I will shelve them here as well.  If you have any comments, please write me a note.

-Miss Sarah, the Librarian

Index

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #168

Coventry

Down the Mysterly River

Elementals

Hyde & Seek

Ironwood

Monster Maker

Pantheon

Proposition Player

Robin #121- ?

Sandman Presents: Taller Tales

Strange Heroes

Thessaliad

Thessaly

X-Men Unlimited #49

~~~

Info About Bill Willingham

 

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #168

Published by DC Comics

A one-shot issue titled "Urban Legend," 6/11/2003

Summary: Batman falls broken and bleeding in front of a couple.  They help him because he saved them from a crime.  But when Batman wakes up, he can't remember who he is. 

Here's a good review of it from Silver Bullet Comics.

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Coventry

Published by Fantagraphics Books

A comic that ran 3 issues before being dropped, 1997.

Summary: "A nutshell description is film noir meets horror-edged fantasy."  Check out a good review of the first 2 issues (from which the previous quote came from).

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Down the Mysterly River

Published by Clockwork Storybook

A prose novel, 2001, ISBN: 0970484135

Summary: (from the back cover) "As odd a collection of fugitives as there ever was: A wolf who is not a wolf; a badger who is also an ex-army veteran; the brave sheriff of a lost forest realm; and a big, ugly, stinky, yellow monster. Together they're on the run from the dreaded Blue Cutters, who seem bent on their destructions. To escape the Cutters, the four friends will have to flee out of the hills and down the Mysterly River, to reach the one far away place of safety the Cutters aren't allowed to go: the Castle of the Wizard Edgar."

I do own this and have read it. While the above summary may make it sound like a children's book, I have discovered that its adventures are as exciting as they are thought-provoking. Every page fills the reader with questions. And every time a question is answered, more rise up to fill its place.  "Willingham gives us deadly sword fights, narrow escapes, lethal traps, surprising betrayals, and all of the other necessary elements of a thrilling adventure tale. But at its heart this is also a mystery story, and if the four fugitives can't first solve the mystery of the Heroes Wood they may never live to reach sanctuary."  Check out Amazon for 6 pages from the first chapter and images of the front and back cover.

Edgar Rice Burroughs's work has influenced Bill Willingham's writing style, and a lot of it comes out in this novel.

If you are interested in reading some of Edgar Rice Burroughs's work, some of it is available to read online.  Here's a Princess of Mars, the first in the Mars series.  It also has links to the next 4 in the series.  Here's Tarzan of the Apes, first in the Tarzan series.  It also has links to the next 4 in the series.  Here's The Monster Men.  And lastly, here's a long list of Burroughs works from the Online Books Page.

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Elementals

Published by Comico

A comic that had a first run, 1984-88, of 29 issues.

There was a 2nd run, 1989-94, of 26 issues.  Bill wrote issues 1-16 and 18-22.

There was a very short third series, 1995-1996, of 3 issues.  None of those were written by Bill.

There were various Sex Specials, Swimsuits Specials and other one shots, but very few of those were done by Bill.

Here is Comic Foil's Guide to The Elementals.

Summary: "The heroes are all dead. Each member of the team died in some association with one of the four basic elements: earth, air, fire and water. Tommy Czuchra died in a rockslide; Jeff Murphy perished in a helicopter crash; Jeanette Crane was lost during an arson fire; Rebecca Golden drowned. As a reaction to the machinations of the villainous Saker, the quartet was revived to function as avatars of their respective elements in order to combat his efforts to destroy the world. Tommy became Monolith, Jeff was Vortex, Jeanette took the name Morningstar, and Rebecca was named Fathom (yeah, way before the other one)."  Check out the full article, with an interview with Bill.

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Hyde & Seek

Published by Clockwork Storybook

A prose novel, 2002, ISBN: 1932004017

Summary: Set in the fictional world of Coventry with the modern day pulp-style adventures of the ancient and legendary hero Beowulf.  This is all the information that I could glean from Bill's site and the web.  I do have more information about Monster Maker, which comes before Hyde & Seek.

This is currently out of print, but Bill hopes to find a new publisher eventually.

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Ironwood

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT!

Published by Eros Comix

An adult comic that ran for 11 issues and was collected into 2 trade paperbacks, 1997, ISBN: 1560972041 and 156097222X

Summary: "Pandora, a demonically-possessed nobleman's daughter, enlists randy adventurer Dravagon to find the wizard who can lift her curse."  "Mayhem and sexplay ensue." "Ribald sex-and-sorcery adventures." Excerpts from the Eros Comix website (scroll down to Ironwood).

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Monster Maker

Published by Clockwork Storybook

A prose novel, 2002, ISBN: 0970484186

Summary: "It's not easy being immortal. Mighty Beowulf, world famous hero of old, is down on his luck, living in a dive, deep in the bad part of Coventry. He's been out of work since his private hero's license was revoked. Then fate comes calling in the person of a lovely young woman named Janet Garrow. She works for a private organization called the Saint George Group, dedicated to the difficult and dangerous task of hunting down the world's deadliest monsters. She wants Beowulf to reenter the heroing trade by joining them. It seems that the entire population of a small Montana town has decided to commit suicide — all in the same night — and its up to Beowulf and Miss Garrow to find out why. But before he even has a chance to solve that mystery, Beowulf has to survive his appointment with the Monster Maker! Bill Willingham makes the classic character a pulp hero for the new millennium in this new series of fantasy adventure novels. Willingham first used the licensed professional hero, Beowulf, in the short- lived Coventry series."  Selection from Diamond listing (at the bottom of the page).  

Hyde & Seek follows this book.

This is currently out of print, but Bill hopes to find a new publisher eventually.

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Pantheon

Published by Lone Star Press

a 13 issue series and a one-shot Pantheon: Ancient History #1, 1998-2004

Summary:  "Pantheon tells the story of Dynasty and the Freedom Machine, the world's premiere superhero team. After the great super criminals have all been captured and the heroes have gone their separate ways, Dynasty must regather the team to deal with the rogue superhero, Daedalus, who's decided the world will not be truly safe until he is in charge." Excerpt from Comic Book Clearing House Preview of issue #1.  Shotgun did a good review of Pantheon #-7.

Sometime late 2004, this series will be collected into trades.

You can find out more about each individual issue at Lone Star Press's Pantheon page.

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Proposition Player

Published by Vertigo

6 issue mini-series, 1999-2000

also collected into a trade of the same name, 6/4/2003

Summary: "In the first issue of the series, we are introduced to Joey, a man who rides the ragged edge between charming rogue and unlikable schlep. Joey works as a “proposition player” at a Vegas casino, a gambler hired by the house to fill an empty seat at the poker table to keep a game rolling. Eventually, because this is a Vertigo series, something supernatural happens, and Joey is naturally at its center." The excerpt is from a Comic Book Life reviewBill's site says it's "about a low-rent professional poker player who screws up and accidentally becomes God."

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Robin #121- ?

Published by DC Comics

Bill's run on Robin started on 12/17/2003 and has yet to finish.

Bill goals with Robin: "My goals are pretty humble, all things considered. I want to do a series of quick, two to three issue stories, that feature lots of action and adventure, without losing sight of the fact that Tim is also a kid with a home life. I want to show some of the nuts and bolts of what one has to endure when training to be a superhero, with Batman as your drill instructor." 

The first story arc: "In my first year of this series, in addition to the other big plans, I want to build up Robin’s own rogues’ gallery a bit, because in a large part a hero is defined by the caliber of his villains. As part of that, in the first story arc, covering issues 121 – 123, we’ll introduce the character destined to become Robin’s own arch nemesis – the Joker to his Batman – though the character won’t actually resemble Joker in many ways. His name is Johnny Warren and over the course of the story he becomes Johnny Warlock – a black hearted, petty street thug who falls sort of ass-backwards into a bit of real power."

These excerpt are from an interview with Bill at Comicon.

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Sandman Presents: Taller Tales TP

Published by DC Comics/Vertigo

10/15/2003

This collects all of the Sandman-related comics that Bill has written:

Sandman Presents: The Thessaliad #1-4

Sandman Presents: Merv Pumpkinhead, Agent of Dream

Sandman Presents: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dreams, But Were Afraid to Ask

 The Dreaming #55, The Further Adventures of Danny Nod

 

Summary: "Concentrating on the unique cast from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman mythos — and adding some new ones to the mix — the whimsical tales collected here feature a James Bond-style adventure for Merv Pumpkinhead; an educational journey through the Dreaming; a quest for vengeance with the witch Thessaly; and a diverting survey of dream-related facts, all from the perspective of one of the most unique voices in comics."

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Strange Heroes

Published by Lone Star Press

7 issues done so far, 2001-2003

Summary: "Each issue features two ongoing stories, in the tradition of Marvel Comics’ Strange Tales and other anthology comics of the 1960’s. "  This info was pulled from Lone Star Press's Strange Heroes page, check it out for more info on the individual issues.  You can also check out a good review of the first 3 issues by Collector Times.

You can find out more about each individual issue at Lone Star Press's Strange Heroes page.

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Thessaliad

Published by Vertigo

4 issue mini-series, 2002

collected into the trade Sandman Presents: Taller Tales

Summary: "One of the most memorable and interesting characters in all of Neil Gaiman's incredible run of The Sandman was Thessaly, an ancient and staggeringly powerful witch who makes a delightful return in this recently concluded four-issue mini-series. [...] Thessaliad is tight and sharp, a delightful conversation/confrontation/flirtation between The Sandman's Thessaly and a ghost named Fetch who has been sent to summon Thess to her certain doom. Thessaly is almost never rattled, and the sardonic banter between the two under circumstances varying from a fascinating mystical train-ride to brutal, supernatural attack is never less than riveting."  From the Comic Book Gallery comes high praise for Bill's work and for Thessaliad itself.  

The 4th Rail gives issue #1 a good review with "Thessaly, one of the darker characters of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, seems an odd choice for this tone, but in fact she serves as a great "straight man" (if you will) for the magical hijinks that fill the book."

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Thessaly: Witch for Hire

Published by Vertigo

4 issue miniseries, 2004

Summary: "Thessaly is back, cuter and deadlier than ever.  For the past two years, she's been moving from place to place, but not of her own volition.  Monsters of all kinds have been coming after her, wrecking whatever kind of anonymity she had set up.  As it turns out, the ghost Fetch is behind all the monsters - all 30 of them.  It may be a strange way to show affection, but Fetch is determined to put some spice into Thessaly's life.  Thessaly, of course, doesn't want any, unless it can be used to get rid of annoying ghosts." My review of Issue #1.

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X-Men Unlimited #49

Publisher by Marvel

A one issue Nightcrawler story titled "Mustang Sally,"  7/2/2003

Summary: "It's a throwback to the days when Kurt was a feelgood, swashbuckling kind of character.  The plot is elementary - innocent girl is kidnapped by nasty subterranean thingies, Kurt goes to the rescue.  The bit about persistent optimism in the face of negative press coverage is standard.  It's a handy reminder, though, that Kurt is at his most entertaining when he's largely angst-free.  That was part of his role.  He was the upbeat guy on the team."  Excerpt from a review by the The X-Axis .

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Info About Bill

Here's where I'll collect info or oddities about Bill.  If you know anything else about Bill, write me a note.

First of all, check out his biography on his site.

~~~

Did you know that Bill once put down the pen and paper and tried his hand at professional poker?

Bill writes: "And yes, I did take a year off to see if I could really make it as a professional poker player -- about half of which was spent as a Prop Player for the El Cortez Casino. It turned out I could make a living at it, just not a very good one. I'd never planned to do it for more than the time it took to find out if I could. It was a great (if necessarily frugal) life, but coming back into the funnybook business was more rewarding."  He came ins second in a tournament.  The best hand he ever got was a Royal Flush, but it was a small pot so he gave it to the dealer.  "And the biggest hand I've lost with was a full house, Aces full of kings to a guy who had four of a kind. Lost a lot of money on that one, because he only had one pair showing and I thought, even if he made his boat, mine's bigger. Oh well."

~~~

"How I Made It"

from Jan '03 Wizard Edge, page 64

BILL WILLINGHAM

CURRENT WORK: Fables (DC/Vertigo)

FIRST PUBLISHED WORK: Valeria (First Comics)

DAY JOB BEFORE COMICS: Designer in the art department at TSR

WHAT I LEARNED: "The person trying to get work and the person actually getting the work done have to be two entirely different people.  The skills and the drive, everything you need to do to get work is all really social, glad-handing, but to actually do the work you have to be willing to be alone in a room for eight or more hours a day to get the stuff done.  The hardest part was the transition to sitting down with that first big blank page; now it's your job to fill it with stuff."

ADVICE I WOULD GIVE: "If you are determined to do your own story and comic, make sure it is a good one because a page of comics is such a difficult thing to produce.  Why waste your time on anything but something you are just dying to do?  Make sure it's worth it."

~~~

It is well known that he has been nominated for several comic industry awards.

Not so well known is that Bill was once arrested for overdue library books.

This info was gleaned from the old Clockwork Storybook website.

~~~

Bill has drawn many comics that he didn’t write.  Mostly for DC, he has done issues of Green Lantern, the Green Lantern Corps, the Justice League, and others.

Info gleaned from Bill's site.

~~~

You can also check out Comicon's page about Bill It's old and never updated, but has some info about Bill in the FAQ section.

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This page was last modified on Monday June 28, 2004

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