This week, as the world continues to take advantage of the renewed freedoms post lockdown, I take a look at Quarantine, where Jordan Thomas and an army of top class comic artists have used the lockdown to their advantage by telling a story about what happens to a family who are forced to remain in their own home. Will this be a breakout success or will it hit a bit too close to home for readers tastes?
Publisher: Burnt Barn Comics
Writer: Jordan Thomas
Price: Currently available through the Mugshots Kickstarter
Quarantine tells the story of a family of four: David, Lucy, daughter Grace and son Peter who, as residents of Ballard apartments, receive an announcement from authorities that due to an emergency their apartment complex is being transported to an alternate dimension and undergoing Quarantine. They are told that food will be provided to them but all residents must remain in their homes, will have no access to information and only a limited amount of entertainment TV programmes. So begins 50 days of no one but each other and nothing but their own four walls to interest with. However, as time goes on, the lack of an explanation behind their predicament, the unusual food and the terrifying noises from the other apartments, the family start to suspect all might not be as it seems. Is something more sinister afoot or is it all just in their heads thanks to all their isolation.
Jordan Thomas has created a truly engrossing, yet utterly unnerving story within the pages of Quarantine, as I found myself struggling to put it down for one second. It was very eerie how well Thomas tapped into the emotional range for his characters during their dilemma, as they all read very similar to my own (and most likely millions of others around the world) experiences in the last six months as of the time of writing. The atmosphere for much of Quarantine certainly has a very claustrophobic feel as the family struggle within the unusually confined space of their home; giving it a vibe of Saw and Right at your Door.
However, rather than rest on his laurels, Thomas delves further into the paranoia that such an experience would bring across, with major undertones of conspiracy from the outside world. I found the story immensely compelling to follow as Quarantine is injected with a very sinister vibe from early on, giving our protagonists a general feeling of distrust in authority while paradoxically believing that they will protect them. This contradiction is something that remains, although the levels of which they display these separate feelings changes places as the story progresses. In this way, Thomas has formed his story thanks to influences of films like the Crazies and (aptly enough) quarantine, as well as a more sinister dose of WALL-E thanks to the seemingly omnipotent Kindly Corp, which feels like a parody of the Pixar films Buy n’ Large conglomerate.
As for the artwork, given the number of collaborators and the quality of their respective works, it certainly stands to reason that the visuals would be terrific. However, even despite the usual high quality of these names, every one of these pages are truly outstanding. There is (obviously) little consistency from one page to the next but I found myself blown away by how appropriately fantastic each page was as I proceeded through the title. In fact, it has me asking myself if Thomas had a plan for which artist would be working on what page in order for them to work so well together.
Of course, there is definitely the possibility that Thomas handed out pages at random, but there are so many scenes that feel so perfectly rendered that such coincidence would have had odds high enough to make me a millionaire. These include a number of standout pages such as the family sitting down to watch ‘The Kindly Family’, which Louie Joyce makes it look so sinister with a Ben Templesmith style of visuals as the subversive subliminal messaging pump though this corporate sponsored series feels so apparent even if it is not obvious. There is also Rosie Packwood’s image of the Apartment complex as the residents reach the halfway point which is both awe-inspiring and horrifying as you see all the neighbours and their current circumstances in a very Kirby-meets-Allred style. It is this image that has me wondering if another apartment would have had a more intriguing story, but maybe that is something for a sequel.
Of course, these are but the stand-outs from my perspective but from Andy W. Clift’s slasher horror infused page with its deep reds and blue colours to Martin Simpson’s tremendous Larime Taylor-esque artwork which offers up the big reveal of the story in truly horrific and unsettling fashion, every page is a visual feast for the eyes with no one pages failing to keep up with all the others high standards.
Quarantine is a fantastic read and one expertly put together by Jordan Thomas as his contingent of artists. With a seriously captivating story which asks some interesting questions about people’s relationship with government and each other and art which is beautifully varied but gels incredibly well together, Quarantine is definitely a title you need to read, although maybe not during any future lockdown.