Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman
Artist: Jey Levang
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Starting college for the first time is tough for Charlie and Tamara, two shy kids who don’t know what to do with their newfound freedom and all the strange people around them. Things are made worse when they find their school has been infected by a horrific virus and they’re now trapped in the quarantine zone.
If that synopsis feels like it has a very sudden tonal shift, that’s because Lazaretto has a very sudden tonal shift, and how you feel about that will probably be central to what you think of the comic. About half of it is a charming, light-hearted story about two kids trying to find their place in a new environment, and then it takes a very sudden and very dark dive into grotesque horror.
To the credit of artist Jey Levang, his artwork is able to capture both in compelling ways. The exaggerated sketched style lends itself both to a charming coming of age story, and a nasty horror story. Wandering around campus and being overwhelming is illustrated with a sense of style and emotion that is matched by the horror of seeing someone vomit blood or be trampled to death.
The two main characters are fairly compelling. Tamara comes from a very religious background and is dealing with the recent death of her mom. School and other people are overwhelming, and she’s muddling through as best as she can. Charlie is facing pressure from his dad to do well and straighten himself out, and he has trouble connecting with anyone else, completely alone.
Mostly the Chapman’s writing creates a sense of tension underneath the genuine charm of the first half, the in the second half grows to consume the story.
The two central characters are compelling enough that I want to see how the story continues, and how Levang continues to capture charm and horror with a unique art style.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments and opinions are those of the individual reviewer.