Fables: Volume 2: Animal Farm
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artists: Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha
Distributed By: Vertigo
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I was introduced this particular comic book quite by accident. I feel the need to stress this because I have a reputation to uphold and I can not have it tarnished by the likes of fairy tale graphic novel enthusiasts like yourselves saying that I’m a fairy-tale-looking-nut. That’s right, I know what you like and I know you’re only reading this review because you already know what Fables is and you want to know my opinion on your favorite bedtime stories. Well, I’m on to your little games, and I won’t fall prey to it. I will review this graphic novel as objectively as I would any other piece of fiction and I don’t care if it upsets your delicate hold on reality. Well, as I was saying, I fell upon this graphic novel by accident. A very bored friend of mine went to the library to find something with which to occupy her time. She brought home three graphic novels, one of which was Fables: Volume 2: Animal Farm, which she promptly left in my house without my permission and hence I was forced by international law in accordance with several Biblical doctrines, to read it. So that’s how it happened and as you’ll no doubt agree, I was not in any way responsible for my own actions.
Anyway, onto the story. Fables (Vol2) Animal Farm, centers around two sisters, one of whom you may have heard of, the other, you may not. Snow White and Rose Red, supposedly they were always very close until Snow White found her Prince Charming, ran away with him and left poor Rose Red to be systematically ignored from fairy tale lore from that point forward. Oh, by the way, in case you couldn’t tell by now, Fables is all about fairy tale creatures. In this comic book—and I’m assuming the other volumes of Fables—fairy tale creatures, big and small, are all real and they live forever. The ones that can pass for human live among the humans, while the ones that can not (example, the three little pigs, any giants or dragons that may have been dreamt up) live in a special, cloaked community in Upstate New York, nicknamed, Animal Farm.
This is where the story begins, with Red agreeing to accompany her sister Snow White to an annual inspection of the Upstate ‘Farm,’ as punishment for faking her own death in the previous volume. They bring with them Colin, one of the three little pigs from the famed story so that he can rejoin his two brothers. Though a five hour car ride with Snow White may not seem like a big punishment to you or I, to Red who resented her sister’s ‘perfect-do-everything-by-the-numbers’ attitude, the car ride was torturous. The plan was for the two siblings to hash out their grievances once and for all and move forward with their lives as sisters.
However, the path to sisterly love gets halted when they arrive at the ‘Farm’ to discover Wayland Smith, the man placed in charge of the ‘Farm’ had vanished and the rest of the Fables were preaching revolt. At first Snow White thinks its all just harmless talk, until Colin’s head is found at the end of a pike in front of her Inn, and even then, she is reluctant to recognize the plan the other fables are unfolding. What is their plan? To take back the world that they are currently hiding from, by assembling an army and forcing the world to reconsider that they do indeed exist and that they are the rightful owners of the human world. All of this, of course, is against the law, Snow White enforces that law.
Forced into hiding, Snow White finds that some of the fables are still willing to help and do what’s right, but with a growing army of dissenters at her heels, her chances of escaping with her life are slim. Things get further complicated when she discovers that her own sister has taken up arms with the separatist fables.
Over all, I really like this graphic novel. I thought it was cleverly thought out, written and just plain fun to read. The irreverence with which the characters were portrayed was wonderfully deviant, especially the liberties taken with Goldilocks’ relationship with the three bears—you’ll have to read that one for yourself because I don’t think I can get away with writing it here. Anyways, I would recommend this graphic novel to anyone over the age of seventeen, because, let’s face it, just from what you read here, you should know that this is not a G rated fairy tale novel. This is brutal and gritty and harsh and quite often, shocking. And I loved every page. I look forward to reading more, and you will too. So pick one up—I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.