Chickens is part of a larger graphic novel by the name of Animals that is pending release. This one-shot is in a way a preview to that graphic novel, but the self-contains story doesn’t rely on you reading or even knowing about the rest of the story. It’s literally a story about Chickens and has other farm animals that are all anamorphic. The big difference from other anamorphic stories about animals is that they’re aware of what animals they are. In a way it’s like Animal Farm, but not. I know terrible description right? The way I took it was that the chickens represent a particular race, but I’m not going to break down who they represent or the pigs and cows because it’s mostly irrelevant. The point is that the different animals represent the different nationalities of people. And speaking of people… they eat us. At least it’s alluded that they eat us. It’s not shown per say or said outright, but there are subtle hints to pick up on.
The story is centered on Marigold a young woman chicken that works in her mother’s boarding house. You will hate her mother. She’s cashed in Marigold’s future for her younger brother and forces her to do all the work around the house. Trouble arises when the city inspector arrives unannounced to check on the outdated electrical of the house. The mother manages to shoo the inspector off, but clearly the situations isn’t going to end there and that they’re not up to code.
We meet a pig by the name of Mr. Buckner that works in the slaughterhouse and lives at the house. He strikes up a conversation with her and it’s clear that there is a bit of a friendship brewing between the two of them. Meanwhile Marigold’s brother Danny is told to help her clean the bathroom and promptly sits on his duff and doesn’t help. Marigold tells him to stop ditching school, but he doesn’t listen. Later at dinner he’ll wish that he had.
The story’s execution is magnificent. Writer Eric Grissom continues to improve with each new tale and this one-shot has me excited to check out the graphic novel in its entirety. If you can’t relate to Marigold on some level than you’re missing out on the human existence. Maybe it’s the fact that I came from a small town, but I could relate to aspects of this story or have seen aspects play out in other people’s lives.
If you’ve followed the site or listened to the podcast then you know that I enjoy Eric Grissom’s writing. He’s very talented and is able to bring real emotions and reactions to the page via the artists he works with. It really is a talent that is underappreciated.
It’s an emotionally rich story that is simple, but isn’t and that seems to be the theme. Sure I described it as Animal Farm because the animals represent us, but in this story they represent us differently. For instance the mother is biased towards pigs in the way that others have bias towards different nationalities. The important thing is that Marigold doesn’t and actually portrays characteristics of a caring and forgiving person. It also shows that children are not their parents. There’s so much I want to say about her character’s actions, but you’ll see for yourself when you read the issue because it’s a deep well.
The visual storytelling plays a huge role in the execution and success of this story. There is sadness on Marigold’s face when we’re first introduced to the character. From that one panel you can glimpse at the life she leads. It’s not the life she wants and she’s sad because she feels trapped. Later we learn that it’s because of her brother and mother that she’s trapped, but before the narrative tells us that we already know.
Claire Connelly’s black and white artwork is above and beyond the right choice for this story. Sure you’ll see animals on the page, but after a few pages you’ll see people and rich multidimensional characters. This story isn’t very long and yet by the end of it I knew every character in the story and a big chunk of that came from the visuals. Black and white was 100% the right choice for this story and adds a powerful effect to the narrative.
Now I mentioned that this one-shot is a part of a larger story so you’re probably wondering how you can read it. Well the creators have it up on a “pay what you want” platform meaning that you can check it out. If you just want to read it then you know what to do, but if this story sounds interesting then please consider throwing the creators a couple bucks to support their efforts. It’s longer than most comics on the market so don’t worry about there not being much content either. This is a great one-shot and has me wracking my brain about my end of the year list that’s quickly approaching. Please check it out and support and indie book that really deserves it.
Writer: Eric Grissom Artist: Claire Connelly Self-Published Price: Pay What You Want Website