Willingham, Kitson Bring Magic Back in Image's 'Restoration'

"Fables" writer Bill Willingham and Barry Kitson talk exclusively about their newly announced Image Comics series.
Barry Kitson/Image Comics
"Fables" writer Bill Willingham and Barry Kitson talk exclusively about their newly announced Image Comics series.

In Fables, writer Bill Willingham delighted readers by revealing a hidden magical world that existed in the middle of New York City. But for Restoration, his new Image Comics series with artist Barry Kitson, he's bringing magic back on a far greater scale.

"It's called Restoration because it's about the sudden restoration of gods and magic into a world that has been devoid of magic for centuries," Willingham told THR. The series begins on the very day that magic returns to the world -- "one very bad day," he teases, for reasons that will be revealed in the first issue.

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The returned gods have learned from their time in captivity and abandoned the idea of separate pantheons in favor of one simple goal: Conquer the human race and force them to worship. "Of course mankind can be a stiff-necked bunch of bastards, most of whom aren't content to simply knuckle under and serve," Willingham said.

If this sounds ambitious, you ain't seen nothing yet. "Barry Kitson and I are going to try something new to an adventure story like this -- something that I've wanted to try for some time," Willingham explained. "We're going to start out with a cast of hundreds and slowly winnow it down to a few point-of-view characters through which we'll follow the bulk of the story. But that's been done before. The slightly new twist on it this time is we're not going to pick out our starring cast until we're well within the tale. The idea is to let the story itself dictate who will become the most important characters in it."

The scale of the series is "both scary and attractive," according to Kitson. "I love world-building for characters, but being able to make this as epic and all-encompassing as Bill's story deserves is certainly going to be a challenge," he continued. "One of the important things will be to balance the detail and cohesion of both the magical and everyday aspects of the story, making both worlds as believable and resonant to each other as possible."

"It's a big stage on which we can tell just about any size of story we want," Willingham agreed. "Something designed as a small, focused story has to remain small and keep that same focus at all times. Something this big allows us to tell big, sweeping stories, which we plan to do, and also to look at the smaller, more intimate stories taking place amid all this world chaos, which is what we also plan to do."

Both creators agree that Restoration's placement at Image came about as a result of the opportunities available at the publisher. "We both wanted to work together on a project that was truly ‘ours' with full creative freedom, and Image seemed the place best suited to help us achieve that," Kitson explained, adding that Image is also "producing most of my favorite series at the moment."

"Blame Ed Brubaker," Willingham joked about bringing the series to Image. "He came up to me at one of the past Emerald City conventions, singing the praises of Image and what sort of deals can be found there. It was at his insistence that I first spoke to Eric about the possibility of working with Image someday."

Restoration will launch later in 2014.