~written by Bill Willingham
Animal Farm is the second trade paper collection of the comic series Fables, consisting of issues six through ten in addition to a little bit of bonus material. Like the first volume, Legends in Exile, the second volume serves somewhat as an introduction to the series except this time instead of focusing on the human legends living in Fabletown in New York City, the more or less non-human fables living at the Farm in upstate New York take prominence.
After the stunt pulled by Jack and Rose Red to fake her death, both are sentenced to community work. Jack gets put on the janitorial staff with the Flycatcher while Rose Red gets to spend some quality time with her older sister Snow White. Communications with the Farm have recently gone down, which is not an entirely uncommon occurrence. Snow, as the mayor of Fabletown's second in command, goes to investigate, bringing Rose and and a Farm escapee (Colin, one of the Three Little Pigs) along with her. The estranged sisters arrive to find a revolution underway, and unfortunately have stumbled into the middle of the Farm's plans.
In addition to the rather obvious allusion to George Orwell's Animal Farm, William Golding's Lord of the Flies also has a strong presence. One of the things I love most about Fables is that the characters aren't limited to traditional fairytales, but that more contemporary stories are included as well. In Animal Farm appearances are made by characters from The Jungle Books, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," and the Br'er Rabbit stories, just to mention a few.
I particularly enjoy the semi-realistic illustrations used in Fables.While not always the most consistent in the portrayal of the various characters, overall the artwork is steady and quite good. The panels are completely in color and are nicely executed. Definitely one of the better illustrated comics out there in my opinion; I really like the style.
I thought the story-arc of Animal Farm ended up being much stronger than Legends in Exile, but both volumes are tremendous fun. My favorite character from the first volume, Bigby only has a cursory role (understandably, not many at the Farm want the Big Bad Wolf around), but I am beginning to develop a bit of a crush on Rose Red as well. Animal Farm provides further details into how the "real world" interacts with that of the fables'. Also included in this volume is a nice collection of concept drawings, covers, and cover sketches. I am really enjoying how this series is developing and look forward to reading the next collected volume, Storybook Love.