Into the Coronaverse

Quarantine – created by Jordan Thomas

Quarantine cover by Darick Robertson

Near the beginning of lockdown a friend of mine had just started the process of divorcing her husband, when their entire household had to quarantine for two weeks. In a rom-com world they would have some crazy adventure, rediscover the spark and get back together. In this world they managed to blank each other for the fortnight whilst facebook posts grew ever more strained and bizzare. Lockdown collaborative work Quarantine certainly does not put forward a rosy rom-com vision. Instead there is plenty of dark humour and 2000 A.D. style urban claustrophobia.

You might think that the current state of the world was not one that would lend itself to creative endeavours. But the onset of the coronaverse meant that we had nothing else to do except express our existential dread creatively. Comics are fond of a team-up, and so a group of heroic artists were brought together to fight a menace bigger than any could deal with alone. If this had been a regular comics team up they would have met while patrolling the city, had a fight, encountered a villain and realised they needed to join forces to beat it. In this case I think it was just some emails going back and forth.

Art by Shaky Kane

Jordan Thomas brought together 28 artists for Quarantine, providing a script while Russell Mark Olson produced designs for the characters and other elements of the world. Add to that backup features, pin-ups and the small matter of organising a kickstarter. Anyone who has ever tried to collaborate with even one other person on a creative project will know that this has the potential to be quite a headache. So kudos are due for organisational abilities alone.

The plot of Quarantine sees an apartment block suddenly thrown into what seems to be another dimension. Cut off from the rest of the world and dependent on state provided ‘goo’ for breakfast. It follows one family who find themselves trapped in their apartment by robot guards. As the days wear on with little hope of freedom or change, the family watch as their neighbours turn on each other and events outside of their front door become ever stranger.

Art by Andy W Clift

The idea of locating the action in a limited space does mean that the artists involved manage to find a consistent look and feel. Whilst artists have their own distinct styles, which are sometimes quite contrasting, the book still largely maintains a unity of style. There are no jarring contrasts.

It is very hard to review 28 different artists, so I won’t try. I would say that there are no weak links artistically in the book. Indeed it is a very effective showcase for the strength of British comics, especially in the indie scene.

The pages picked often fit in with the artists style. Sarah Millman of NPC Tea fame portrays a warm moment which quickly gives way to a terrifying robot battle depicted by Andy Bloor which crackles with fear. 

art by Craig Paton

A standout page for me was Craig Paton’s terrifying neon violet drenched panel showing the breakdown of life in horrifying ways within the different apartments of the building. A great use of composition but with lots of detail and truly evocative of a terrifying mood. Another take on the same kind of panel by Clark Bint is also very effective. When we take a step back the horrors affecting each individual household can be seen as universal.

Some of my favourite artists provide great pages, like Pete Taylor and Gustaffo Vargas. Some other notable pages came from names I was not familiar with but will definitely try to check out. Donna A Black gives us eerily illustrated panels that flicker with horror. Andy W Clift uses a limited colour palette to provide an unsettling mood

Art by Donna A Black

There are big names too, Darick Robertson is the cover artist, Sean Philips provides a backup strip, Gary Erskine contributes a fine page  and the immortal Shaky Kane brings his Kirby style intensity to the book.

Quarantine is a vivid, claustrophobic book which taps into those feelings of dread we have all experienced recently but with a lightness of touch that you might find one of Tharg’s Future Shocks. Dark humour for a dark world.

Quarantine is brought to you by

Jordan Thomas

Darick Robertson

Gavin Mitchell

Shaky Kane

Sarah Millman

Andy Bloor

Andy W Clift

Donna A Black

Alex Moore

Gary Erskine

Chris Matthews

Clara Meath

Louie Joyce

Anna Readman

Craig Paton

Benjamin Filby

Ahmed Raafat

Andre Caetano

Russell Mark Olson

Gustavo Vargas

Rosie Packwood

Clark Bint

Pete Taylor

Rory Donald

Ed Bentley

Saint Yak

Martin Simpson

Emma Kubert

Dan Earey

Luke Parker

J F Totti

Sean Phillips

Iain Laurie

John McCrea

Warwick Fraser Combe

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