Books &Illustration &Layout & Design &repeated posts 07 Apr 2013 05:01 am

Joy Batchelor’s Animal Farm – recap

- When the film Animal Farm was released, a tie-in book was published which republished George Orwell‘s novel with line drawings from the film by “Joy Batchelor and John Halas.”

It’s probable that Joy Batchelor did illustrate the book. On a recent post, Rudy Agresta remembered Vivien Halas discussing her mother’s illustrating it in the book Halas & Batchelor Cartoons. I haven’t found that passage in Vivien’s book.

The animated film was produced by Louis D. Rochemont Associates in 1955 at a studio they set up in Stroud, Gloustershire in England. The studio was formerly the home of the Anson-Dyer company and GB Animation wherein ex-Disney veteran, David Hand, made his short films for Rank.

This is the book’s dustcover._________________________ (Click any image to enlarge.)

This is the double/title page.

Each chapter has its own heading, and there are usually one to two stills within the body of each chapter.

Some of the illustrations, like this one, spread across two pages under the type.

For those of you unfamiliar with this story, it tells the tale of a farm wherein the animals are mistreated.

Under the guidance of the pigs, the animals take over the farm and create an animal collective.

However, the pigs grow lazy and do less of the work as they take charge of the others.

They eat more than their share of the food and mistreat the animals who do the greatest amount of work.

As animals begin to die under the guidance of the lazy pigs, there is some grumbling among the masses.

The pigs dominate and rule with a heavy hand.

Boxer, the horse, is the figure of strength and symbolically the real leader of the animals.

The pigs move into the farmer’s house and become little more than a replacement for “man”.

Many animals take the lead of Boxer and try to do their share, while the pigs fight for the lazy leadership.

The pigs push Boxer to the limits and use the dogs as their personal guards and force their will on the others.

Boxer grows ill as the pigs grow lazier.

The lazy pigs celebrate their success. Animals hear gossip about the humans planning a charge to take back the farm.

The weakened Boxer, no longer useful to the pigs, is sold for glue.

Eventually the humans return, and in some eyes of the animals they blend with the pigs.
The line illustrations do a nice job of representing the film. They’re also quite consistent.


You can watch Animal Farm on YouTube by going here.

10 Responses to “Joy Batchelor’s Animal Farm – recap”

  1. on 07 Apr 2013 at 9:24 am 1.Stephen Macquignon said …

    The illustrations are beautiful love the lone work. Not long ago I bought a poster from Animal Farm it’s at the frame store

  2. on 07 Apr 2013 at 1:44 pm 2.Tim Rauch said …

    This version of the book was in my house growing up and the beautiful illustrations probably had a lot to do with me picking it up. When I first saw images from the film I thought “Oh, they copied the designs from that illustrator!” Thanks for posting, these are fantastic.

  3. on 07 Apr 2013 at 5:55 pm 3.Nat said …

    The overall line work and cross hatching are really impressive. It would be great to see Animal Farm in print again with these illustrations.

  4. on 07 Apr 2013 at 10:41 pm 4.Shane (Fighting Seraph) said …

    Those are amazing, and I posted that film on my Newgrounds page along with several other unknown/neglected features.

  5. on 09 Apr 2013 at 12:36 pm 5.Peter Hale said …

    Just for the record, the Stroud studio was indeed originally Anson Dyer’s but it was not the home of David Hand’s G-B Animation studio, which was at Moor Hall, Cookham, in Berkshire.

    Rank shut down G-B Animation in 1950 (Rank was in financial difficulties and cut back all its subsidiary companies) so when Halas & Batchelor started looking for designers and animators to augment their small unit in order to produce a feature, they were able to draw on a pool of people trained to ex-Disney standards. Much of the credit for the success of Animal Farm belongs to them.

  6. on 10 Apr 2013 at 12:54 pm 6.Jenny said …

    I saw Animal Farm on TV in L.A. when I was very young-probably too young, to be honest.

    The death of Bambi’s mother? Pah! Nothing I’ve seen in animation equals the emotional horror I felt at seeing kindly Boxer looking resignedly out the back of a panel truck, sent off to be killed for glue. Good god almighty! THAT is traumatizing. I did grow up with a lot of respect for H&B(and more for animation in general)as a result of the shock!

    These illustrations are beautiful.

  7. on 11 Apr 2013 at 12:26 am 7.DB said …

    Jenny, I certainly relate!

    I remember watching Animal Farm on TV as a young child of around 7 or 8 at least a few times – shown on weekend afternoons I believe. The hauling away of Boxer just broke my heart. I guess it didn’t traumatize me TOO much because I saw it at least a few more times, always crying my eyes out. If they had had video/DVD in those days I probably would have watched the movie over and over – sucker for punishment maybe.

    Someone else in the family had the Animal Farm book with the illustrations, and they are burned in my mind as being THE representative of those characters.

    I had not seen the film in years, and watching it through adult eyes, the character designs are quite fine (not as good as the book illustrations) but sadly the animation is not as good as the material deserves – the problem of not a big enough budget I presume. Its also too bad there is so much voice-over, which gives it the unfortunate feel of an educational film.

    Still – a really important film for me as a child.

  8. on 11 Apr 2013 at 1:36 am 8.Michael said …

    I’ve stated several times on this blog how much Animal Farm meant to me as a kid. It was he first tme I’d seen a film that was “serious” and not for kids. The Christian Brothers in my school were super conservatives and taught me all about communism and held up the book as a proof of the threat we were facing. How incredible that an ANIMATED film would relay such a message. (Even though I was an arch liberal – even back then.)

    I was also heavily touched by Boxer’s story. One of my real treasures is a gift from John Halas of a cel with matching drawing of Boxer.

    my cel

  9. on 14 Apr 2013 at 2:31 am 9.DV said …

    Aw Michael, that cel is beautiful.

  10. on 23 Jan 2014 at 9:11 am 10.Chris said …

    Whilst collecting all sorts from the animated film, I have branched into illustrated novels of Animal Farm. I have a few choice publications from the late 1940′s and 1950′s, including this American publication which is also signed by John Halas and Joy Batchelor.

    There is a comic book by Marc Bati in various languages, French, German, Spanish etc. Marc told me by email they were given a video to watch of an animated Animal Farm. Then they had to go to it and illustrate. The likeness is uncanny if you ever find these publications.

    I also have a 1954 Latvian edition. It was illustrated by Karlis Smiltens who worked as an in-betweener on Animal Farm. Again the likeness to H & B was incredible, which is why it initially caught my eye. Karlis said after drawing so many pigs for the animation he just could not draw them any different. He signed the book for me and sent back with it two original drawings. Such a lovely man.

    I enjoy finding early illustrated editions of Animal Farm. However anything to do with the animated movie is at the top of my fave list.

    Again Michael, nice cel, what a great special gift.

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