ADVANCE REVIEW: Sweet and sour servings from the Ice Cream Man in this Quarantine Special collection
A compendium of stories by Declan Shalvey, Deniz Camp, Artyom Toplin, Al Ewing, AJ Holden, Christopher Cantwell, Eoin Marron, and Chris O’Halloran.
Ice Cream Man was a series that I’ve been wanting to read and yet never got a chance to get into. Now that the series is well past its twentieth issue, I wasn’t sure where to start. Then this Quarantine Special came out. Like so many of us, comic writers and artists have been in lockdown during this difficult time. So when the preview said that it was made up of short stories from writers and artists done during the lockdown, I wanted to give it a go and see, just how they spend their time during the pandemic.
Originally released online through quarantinecomix.com, they are now collected in a 55-page comic with 10 stories from different creators. All somehow tied into the Ice Cream Man universe. Some were just forgettable, and one was rather rage inducing. However the two that I want to talk about are fantastic, yet wildly different.
"Creature Causeway" by Al Ewing and PJ Holden
This was a very short story crafted like a video game, in which you help local wildlife. Beautifully told as though you’re literally playing a 2-D game, it’s fun to pass over the panels to view the story as it unfolds to a very shocking and yet amusing conclusion. Although this looks like a story a child might enjoy, it doesn’t turn out like it. Not something I was expecting from the mind of Al Ewing, but I think that’s part of the shocking nature of it. For that reason, this was one that really stood out from the other stories.
The next story is “Small” by Christopher Cantwell and Eoin Marron, with Chris O’Halloran
This is a story that serves as a warning to everyone. Baxter is a middle-aged man who gets too involved in his miniature train sets, ignoring his family, and wishing he could just have a relaxing life within the set he has built. However as with all stories in this compilation, nothing is as it seems.
This seems to be a tale as old as time; be careful what you wish for, and you don’t know what you've got until it’s gone.
In the past few months this is something that we should all take heed of, we all enjoy our comics and our pastimes, but we need to make sure that they don’t come at the cost of something or someone else. This story really makes you think about your own mortality and what time we have here and now. So take the time to enjoy what we have. Don’t get too caught up with things and possessions. This story I’m sure can resonate with so many people, and it’s delivered in a classy yet also terrifying way. Add to that the great looking art, and you have what I would say is the best story of the issue.
Although most of the stories were forgettable, these two I would say are worth checking out. One being incredible fun and disturbing, and the other being a beautifully tragic life lesson. This is what Ice Cream Man is supposed to be though; it’s not for the faint of heart and they aren’t all happy endings, but they will all say something or teach us something. If that doesn’t do it for you, then I’m pretty sure “The Secret Origin of Pinky Ring,” which is a parody of Green Lantern, might.
Ice Cream Man Quarantine Comix Special comes out 9th September from your local comic shop as well as comixology