Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1 is published by Image Comics, written by W. Maxwell Prince, art by Martin Morazzo, colors by Chris O’Halloran, lettering by Good Old Neon, and featuring Declan Shalvey, Al Ewing, PJ Holden, Deniz Camp, Artyom Toplin, Aditya Bidikar, Christopher Cantwell, and Eoin Marron. This comic is a collection of short stories and thoughts written during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Often, when reviewing comics, I start by looking at what the point of the creators’ work is and attempt to measure how well the individuals have succeeded in their endeavor. This approach generally works well for me. Whether a superhero fueled adventure, or a coming of age story about teens learning how they feel about stuff, the central point of a comic is generally fairly clear. Even anthologies usually adhere to this system fairly well. Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1 seems to function as the exception to my rule.
The trick for me is this: there is no central narrative theme to these stories. Instead, they are simply a collection of works that share a time and place rather than a concept. That time and place is the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of these stories address the situation they were created in, others are just about stuff. Feelings, fears, and reevaluations of one’s self are all explored within these pages. How does one judge and evaluate this sort of collection? Do I measure it by whether or not I agree with what I feel the writer is saying? About how unique or original their point of view is?
I suppose the most interconnecting element to this collection of short works is its general emotions. Given the moment in time in which it is written, it won’t surprise you to find that these are not generally happy tales. Most deal with themes of frustration, fear, sorrow and confusion. From the opening piece, where the author compares their experience as a creative during COVID to William Shakespeare being trapped indoors during the plague, the moment in the world is readily apparent in the works of this volume.
But, as shadows cannot be present without light, not everything in Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1 is simply a display of the negative sides of life in the now. A couple of pieces use their time to try to be more reflective. This is best illustrated with a story about a man named Mike.
In this tale, Mike is having a convention of all the Mikes he’s ever been. The various times of his life are all represented in this story. Whether it was the young fit Mike, the alcoholic Mike, or the depressed post-divorce Mike. He has brought all of these Mike’s together to try to get them all to accept that, while he’s made some pretty big mistakes, they are all Mike. And they are what they are. Rather than burying himself in shame for his many shortcomings, he needs to forgive himself. So he can learn, grow, and become yet another Mike.
The art in Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1 goes hand in hand with its various stories. It reinforces the somber moods that mostly populate these pages well. While none of the art ever really jumped out at me, it never failed to deliver it’s stories clearly. This goes for the colors as much as for the lines themselves.
Lastly, the lettering in Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1 does a good job of presenting the story in an easy to read manner and adapting to the various styles within. It uses some light flourishes with its presentations where appropriate, but most of these stories don’t really lend themselves to much flash in their presentation.
So, how do I feel about Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1 remains the question. It is an interesting collection, but I don’t think I would ever recommend it. While several of the pieces are heartfelt, it doesn’t deliver anything that stands it out among the plethora of options out there. It’s interesting, but I struggle to call it good.
Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Ice Cream Man Presents: Quarantine Comix Special #1
While several of the pieces are heartfelt, it doesn’t deliver anything that stands it out among the plethora of options out there. It’s interesting, but I struggle to call it good.