Review – Frank at Home on the Farm #1-3

Writer: Jordan Thomas
Artwork: Clark Bint
Letters: Letter Squids
Graphics: Daniel Gruitt

When Frank Cross returns home from The Great War, he expects to be welcomed back into the warmth of his family farm. However, he discovers that the farm is deserted, save for the livestock, and that the inhabitants of the local village are mysteriously reticent to talk about his family, and in some cases deny all knowledge of their existence. When tortured fever dreams lead to a disturbing revelation regarding the animals on his farm, Frank must go to extremes to discover the truth behind his family’s disappearance and what role the local villagers had in it.

We’re due a Kickstarter for issue four of this series shortly so my editor asked me to take a look at the first three issues of Frank at home on The Farm. This is my first foray into Jordan Thomas’ world, and I’m genuinely impressed with these first three issues. This is a really well thought out and constructed psychological horror story that really keeps you guessing as to what is really going on. There are two very obvious possibilities in that regard, the first being that Frank is suffering from shell shock. Having just returned from service in WWI, it would be easy to assume that Frank is translating the trauma of his experiences into the nightmares and fantasies that have been assaulting his senses since his return. The second possibility is that Frank has actually returned to a twisted, more disturbing version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Either of these possibilities would provide fantastic explanations of the horrors Frank is facing, and there may well be aspects of both in the final denouement, but for now I’m really enjoying the possibilities of either outcome. I’m reaching a bit here, but my thoughts went to Jacob’s Ladder. There are, for me, some interesting similarities between Frank Cross and Tim Robbins’ Jacob Singer, particularly in the isolation that a lot of servicemen feel when they return from combat and the difficulties they have reintegrating with society as a result. I have a particular fondness for isolation horror, and while this doesn’t strictly conform to that genre, it’s definitely more of a psychological isolation than a physical one that Frank is experiencing as a result of his experiences since he’s returned. Again, there’s something just on the edge of my senses that is awfully familiar. It’s not quite Lovecraftian, but it does have moments that you’d expect to find in a Stephen King novel.

While part of me is really intrigued by the idea that this is all being played out as some kind of psychological break in Frank Cross’ mind, I’m just as intrigued by the thought of this being the Orwellian nightmare that it appears to be at face value. The thought that this is all the orchestration and machinations of a group of sentient and articulate farm animals is just great, the setting and themes even lending themselves to something out of a Quatermass story.

Either way, I picked this series up this afternoon, devoured the first three issues in one sitting, and have gone from never having heard of this story or the creative team behind it, to adding notifications for this title everywhere I can think of.

The artwork for the series is perhaps a little hit and miss in places, but never enough to pull you out of the story, and I have to say that when it is good, it’s downright terrifying and disturbing on a level that I really wasn’t expecting. Throughout the last three issues, Clark Bint has consistently shown moments of brilliance in both the layout and the character/creature design. When I was a kid, I used to visit my aunt and uncle’s farm, and some of the animals were genuinely scary. There is nothing pink or cute and cuddly about most pigs; they are huge, vicious and could swallow a child whole. Oh, and don’t get me started on the cows and that constant side-eye they give you!

Being a big reader with a fertile imagination, perhaps reading Animal Farm before a summer visit was a mistake, but it certainly taught me to respect and give my trust sparingly to the animals I encountered. Bint seems to have dipped his hand straight into my memories and pulled out the caricatures that I created in my mind, particularly in how I always pictured Napoleon and how I think of pretty much every pig I encounter even today. I do feel somewhat relieved to think that other people must have these thoughts in their head too, and that I’m not just some borderline crazy, comic book nerd with an overly fertile imagination.

On the whole, I’ve been really surprised and impressed with the quality of this series and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this creative team takes us next.

“You need to remember that the pig is not to be trusted”.

Rating: 4/5.

The Kickstarter for issue 4 is set to go live shortly, and you can sign up for notifications when it goes live by CLICKING HERE. 

The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

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