Webcomic Weekly: Quarantine Comix – The Webcomic Rachael Smith Just Wants To End

by Richard Bruton

Webcomic Weekly, putting a quality webcomic worth clicking in front of you once a week. This week, it’s the unfortunate return of Rachael Smith‘s Quarantine Comix. It’s something we’ve featured before here at Comicon, and the only reason it’s unfortunate is that I know Rachael Smith is desperate for the time she no longer has to keep putting out these brilliant, honest, heartbreaking moments out there to the world. But until then, Quarantine Comix remains the perfect record of life in Covid times in the UK.

Quarantine Comix was Rachael Smith‘s near-daily record of just what life is like for her in England through 2020 as we all suffered under Covid restrictions and lockdowns. Yet it was never meant to be still going strong into 2021. I imagine Rachael felt that she’d be doing these for a few months and then that would be it.

Except it wasn’t, it wasn’t at all. She started it back in early 2020, somewhere that feels about a decade ago right now. I covered it in May 2020, it was a pick for best digital comic of 2020 from both myself and from Olly MacNamee. None of us, not me, not Olly, certainly not Rachael, thought she’d still be making them into 2021.

But sadly, she is. She’s making them with no prospect of the situation causing them to be made to be going away anytime soon. I’m writing this in mid-January 2021 where the UK is now into its third lockdown, suffering the worst infection rates and death rates of the entire Covid pandemic and there’s little hope of the lockdown ending here anytime before the end of March. The only positive thing about the whole sorry state of affairs is that we have an NHS (National Health Service) that’s been going above and beyond for a year now and we have a vaccine rolling out across the country that gives us a hope, a small but tangible hope, that we’re going to be getting back to normal at some point. But no one, absolutely no one is putting money on things getting anything back to normal before 2022.

So, Rachael is still making her Quarantine Comix, these beautiful little moments in one person’s life that manage to encapsulate, with such brilliance, the experiences we’re all going through right now. And they’re done so perfectly that they resonate perfectly with everyone feeling the same things, going through the same things as Rachael is.

Perfect and personal example. I’ve managed to get away with lockdown pretty well through 2020 for many different reasons. I’ve been so lucky in so many ways. Yet, through Christmas and the New Year, I crashed, completely. And I couldn’t work out what was happening. And then I read this…

And then I realised that no, it wasn’t just me, I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, like my brain and body just wanted to shut down all the time. And that’s just one comic, just one day of Rachael’s work. It helped, it helped just that little bit, something that Rachael’s Quarantine Comix have done in little ways for so many people.

So yes, it’s shit out there, it’s showing no signs of getting better any time soon, but at least Rachael Smith is out there putting her thoughts, OUR thoughts, down on the page and managing to make us all feel just that little bit better.

I don’t think Rachael would argue with me when I say that we’re all desperate for her to stop making Quarantine Comix, because when they stop we’ll actually be in a better place. But until the pandemic is over, until the lockdowns are over, until life gets that little bit better, Quarantine Comix are there to help just that little bit. Thank you Rachael, thank you for all that you’re doing to help us all that little bit.

Quarantine Comix is sort of a continuation of her previous works in Stand in Your Power and Wired Up Wrong where Smith opened up about her life, her loves, her mental health, with a bravery that few of us could ever imagine being strong enough to do so. Effectively, it’s her dealing with day-to-day life, with her cast of characters…

Except things have moved on since then. Rachael and Rob have moved in together, she’s moved house, quit her part-time job. Yet Barky and Friendly are still daily visitors to her world and we get to experience everything with her as she goes through ups and downs…

Smith has this astonishing ability to make the everyday things she’s going through mean so much, her experiences are so well documented, so perfectly capturing the zeitgeist that we all read her strips and scream out loud, ‘Yes, Fucking yes, that was me yesterday!’

I mean, we don’t all order from ‘Gousto’, but all of us can see the truth in having a little thing going wrong spiral out of control right now…

It doesn’t matter what she tackles, it simply resonates through the larger readership and makes us all realise we’re not in this alone.

So thank you to Rachael for putting herself out there like this, thank you to her for making the worst of days feel just that little bit better for what she does. And thank you just from me for everything she’s doing. And Rachael, it WILL get better and when it does, I’m going to give you a big hug and buy you a beer.

Quarantine Comix by Rachael Smith will be released in collection at some point, but right now you can find them at her her Facebook pages, her Twitter, buy the originals and limited edition prints of the colour full-pages through her Etsy store. All of us, Rachael included, cannot wait till the day she feels she can stop.


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