Written by Dan Hill, Art by Gav Heryng
Kelly is a single mother with a child to raise, bills to pay and a persistent deadbeat ex. She’s also a military drone operator, traumatised by a recent botched operation. Her two lives have begun to seep into one another, and her mind has begun to fray.
In Disconnect, Hill and Heryng have crafted a laudably unflinching portrait of PTSD. The real-world psychological effects of drone operators’ remote, morally questionable work have been well-reported, and to its credit Disconnect feels as much an investigative, biographical piece as a work of fiction. It is a meticulously researched and sharply told examination into a real-world claustrophobic nightmare, worthy of standing alongside any such interrogative piece of art.
That’s something you need to know going in, that this is art, and needs to be approached as such – the characters and narrative are necessarily straightforward and it’s not a pleasant read, but it is worthwhile and artistically important.
Heryng’s artwork makes the most of the medium’s strengths, with several clever art and lettering techniques helping deftly interweave Kelly’s fears and guilt as her home life, the botched operation, and the resultant cover story begin to blend together. Likewise, Hill has plotted his sparse elements expertly to clash against one another, and Disconnect never talks down to its reader by walking us through what the team have so carefully constructed or the moral intricacies of Kelly’s situation; we’re expected to pay attention and consider these issues for ourselves.
That said, an even lighter touch may’ve been wise in certain places. Especially in the first few pages, the dense narration could afford to ease off slightly and allow Heryng’s art to breathe, thereby switching up the pace of the comic. However, the unrelenting narration does effectively communicate the pressure Kelly is under and the ‘always on’ nature of modern life, something Hill and Heryng looked to investigate, so perhaps it’s a worthwhile trade-off.
Disconnect is a hard comic, but an unwavering and impressive portrait of a modern trauma, and an example of comics’ maturity as an artform. It’s uncomfortable art, which may be the most worthwhile form of art there is.
$2.99 for 24 pages of content. 15+ rating
Reviewed by Tom Woodman (@TomMayoWoodman)