Most people know George Orwell for his cult classic 1984. But another fan favorite of Orwell’s is Animal Farm. Orwell’s tale of animal rebellion and how in time, the animals become mirrors of their former human oppressors. Orwell’s tale has been adapted in the past in various different media. So, it was only natural to see the iconic story be adapted into comic form. That’s where writer Xavier Dorison and artist Felix Delep come in. They took the basic premise of Orwell’s narrative and made it their own in their new series Animal Castle by Ablaze Publishing.

Animal Castle

In Animal Castle, the fate of the original human inhabitants was a matter of conjecture. They could have just left or perhaps they got caught up in an Armed conflict. Some have even theorized that an epidemic took them down. The end remains the same. The humans are no longer there. The castle that was built and the farm it became was now controlled by the animals. Which was great news to the animals that remained. They would be free to choose their own destinies. At least, that is what they thought. But as humans could have told them, it doesn’t take much to turn freedom into despotism.

Civil Unrest

This was the case in Animal Castle. Apparently, some of the animals had learned much from their one-time human masters. They had learned that the strong can dominate the weak. They also learned that work was best suited for those not in charge. By allowing those on the lower levels of their new society to do the hard work, the whole society would benefit. Especially those at the top. However, just as in human society, poor treatment, over work, and the obvious imbalance of food and water began to take a toll of those who bore the brunt of the hard work. Inevitably, leading to civil unrest.

Work Must be Done

But in the meantime, there was still work expected. That included everyone. All the animals not in the “ruling class” had a job to do. That included the recently widowed cat, Miss B. Despite trying to raise her two kittens on her own, she was forced to take on her dead husband’s responsibilities. That meant moving heavy bricks to be used in the construction of a castle tower. All for the glory of the President. However, your livelihood, as meager as it was, was dependent on your work. If something went wrong, you didn’t get paid. And it was hard to raise a family with no way to pay for food. This only increased the animals’ desperation. It was a powder keg looking for a fuse to be lit.

 

Capital Punishment

This only got worse as severe punishment was meted out to those who stepped out of the social norms. And God forbid that a hen should decide to keep one of her eggs for herself. This was the crime that the Hen Adelaide had committed. And in the land of ruler and President Silvio the Bull, this was a capital offense. One that needed a strong response. It was these types of jobs that he created his dog militia for. So, she was tied to a stake and killed by the militia in public view. The thought was it would deter others from such rebellious actions. It seems that animal nature is not that far different from human nature.

Because the results were just the opposite of what was intended. Eventually, all it took was a strong leader and the belief that standing by and doing nothing was no longer an option. And for the workers, Daisy the goose was that leader. But as might be expected, there are risks when you fight back against oppression. Especially against a well-fed, stronger and quite frankly, more ruthless opponent like the Militia. The results were what you might expect. Carnage and the demise of the outspoken Daisy. Who would the animals follow now?

Thoughts

Writer Xavier Dorison and artist Felix Delep have crafted a powerful and different look and direction for this Orwell inspired book. Delep is especially in his element as his animal’s leap off the page. Skillfully reflecting almost human emotions as he moves the story along. Ablaze Publishing’s Animal Castle Issue one lays a groundwork for an intense and addictive narrative that demands reading the next issue…and the next…and the next. It’s no wonder that the first issue sold out. Thankfully for those who missed it, the reprint comes out along with Issue 2 on January 12th. I highly recommend it.

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