Comics: Long Lost Volume 2 (2018) - Reviewed

It is fitting that after my brief absence from writing, catching you up on my favorite indie comic of the year, Long Lost, would be very high on my priority list. The first volume, which encompassed issues 1-6 of the story was released in trade paperback format in June and the first issue of volume two was released June 27th.

When we last left our two feisty sisters, Piper and Frances, at the close of volume one, they had made a startling discovery in the home of their youth. It seemed like their home wasn’t quite the place they had left so long ago, and was now in some type of other dimension, overrun with frightening, supernatural creatures. While trying to escape from the house, the girls find themselves trapped, cornered by monstrous looking humanoids with malicious intent. This chase eventually finds them tumbling into a deep hole in the home which leads them to a dark cave, guarded by an enormous monster. Volume two, issue #1 leaves the girls separated from one another, Frances, escaping to the outside world, rescued from the diseased, deformed creatures waiting for her outside the cave by Aunt Jody, and Piper, still trapped in the caves below.  Issue two develops both the plot and characters even further, even offering glimpses into some of the more mysterious elements surrounding the storyline. 

As someone who has been following this story since its release earlier last year, I’ve steadily become more and more invested in the characters and seem to have even more questions with each issue. Though I think that if not done properly, consistently leaving readers with more and more questions can be quite frustrating, Matthew Erman seems to have truly found a way to both satisfy and tease his loyal readers. I feel like I learned something new and large after each new issue, but that something just left me needing a follow up. Every single time I receive a review copy, I read the final page several times and immediately google when the next issue is coming out. Issue two had a lot going on in just over twenty pages, particularly because the girls are now separated, meaning we have two storylines to follow. 

That being said, it managed to stay extremely coherent and didn’t feel rushed or confusing in any way. The Long Lost creative team just seriously continues to shine and impress with this gem of a series and I am once again blown away with how much I connect with all of the material. Emotional yet humorous, interestingly dark and spooky as hell, the second issue of volume two is managing to hold on to the slow burn format from the prior issues as well as give readers more insight into the zany town of Hazel Patch and what is going on with its residents. 

The cover of volume two, issue two may be my new favorite series cover. Lisa Sterle’s ability to make the horrifying beautiful is a skill that will never cease to surprise me. The colors on this cover begin at the top with a deep violet, and have this wonderful gradient, or ombre effect that slowly fades into a deep green. Where the color is subtle and dark, the material on the cover really packs a punch. It shows both sisters, in their own way, fighting to find their mother and escape from whatever darkness holds the town of Hazel Patch. The scene is certainly creepy, but drawn in such a way that it really does showcase how well Sterle creates beauty out of horror. 

I typically prefer full color as opposed to grayscale when it comes to comics, but the way color is done in Long Lost truly makes it feel as if the various grayscale color scheme of each book is exactly the way the book should be. This issue, the color palette changes dramatically throughout the pages, beginning with bright, yellowish off white panels, and as the story develops, and twists and turns are realized, fades into a wonderful smoky violet gray in the more climactic scenes. In its dreamy, feminine simplicity, the characterization is also incredibly emotional. Feelings are captured realistically through facial expression, which is one of my favorite parts of the artwork in this piece. I find conveying emotion through art can definitely be a struggle to many comic artists, but Lisa Sterle’s work leads me to believe it’s fairly second nature to her.

At this point, I think it’s fair to say that I am one of Lisa Sterleand and Matthew Erman’s biggest fans, thanks to Long Lost. With each new issue I am left both satisfied and on the edge of my seat by the end. Learning the answers to questions I have throughout the time I’ve been reading, yet finding new plot twists and undeveloped scenarios always has me wanting more. Truly, I hope Long Lost simply continues forever, I don’t think it’s possible for them to run out of steam with this one, and I for one hope to see no end in sight, regardless of how unrealistic that may be.

--Rachel Rutherford