Comic Book Retrospective: Long Lost (2018)

It is fitting that one of my final reviews of the year would be for a series that was one of the very first that I received to review. It is with emotions that can only be described as bittersweet that I have been given the last issue of my favorite new release of the year, Long Lost, which is to be released in January. Although because I grew so heavily invested in the story of Piper and Frances, the ending of the book brought some feelings of sadness, I was truly impressed with not only how it was ended, but the fact that although the book had gained quite the following and interest of many, and they probably could have continued it, they chose to end it at a spot that made sense for the characters. Many times series, shows and movies (we did not need THREE Hobbit movies) tend to capitalize too much on popularity, success and money that they end up sacrificing quality by doing so. The creative team behind the Long Lost franchise made the right call where they chose to end the series, even if I certainly wouldn’t have complained about a little bit more.

As I have mentioned from the beginning, this series started off in a way that held my attention immediately. Writer Matthew Erman’s writing style is sharp, modern and descriptive but also much of the story had portions that were written in what felt and read like riddles, adding to both the uneasiness and overall web of secrecy within the plot. The building anticipation and slow burn of this series was finally met with intense climactic moments in the final two issues. Many questions readers have formed throughout their time reading this series were answered, though I know I definitely still have some unanswered ones. Long Lost, though surely about the bonds of family and sisterhood, is still a supernatural horror series. There are moments of the grotesque and plotlines that are certain to send a shiver down your spine so it would not be a surprise had it gone out in a shocking, traumatic way. 

The last issue of the series was the most emotional issue to date. The bond of sisterhood and the tumultuous yet loving relationship between Piper and Frances was brought to a point that left me sobbing at my computer. Through my tears, I was very glad that I continued to keep reading. Without giving anything away, I will say the story ended in a way that left me satisfied and uplifted. I received the chance to discuss the final issues with Matthew Erman earlier this week and took the opportunity to inquire about the thought process behind the ending. His response truly spoke to the heart behind this series and one of the many reasons I have such admiration for the creative team. He stated: “The world is too filled with upset and sadness for me to contribute to that.” What a wonderful and true sentiment.

Long Lost Volume Two: Issue Five was an explosion of color. In a series that muted palettes and natural colors worked so successfully, bringing the most climactic moments to life with use of vibrant fiery hues was a genius move from artist Lisa Sterle. The art in issue five was my favorite in the series. There was so much detail, so much expression; it just added to all of the emotional and intense moments of the story. The cohesiveness between the art and story is a shining example of what a successful graphic novel should look like. The relationship between artist and writer comes to life on every page and you are left with so many special, magical moments that allow you to not only develop relationships with characters, but also feel like you have developed a relationship with the team behind the story. The art in the final issue reverted to the style and palette of the beginning issue which made the story feel like it had indeed come to a close. Seeing the soft, purple and grayscale palette felt familiar and like home which I think is exactly what Sterle was trying to accomplish. The finality and closure that the art brought in this issue was so special, particularly after the vibrancy and energy of the prior issue.

As mentioned above, my feelings about the ending of Long Lost are best described as bittersweet. I am so happy I was able to take this journey to Hazel Patch over the past year and definitely loved every moment. I got lost in the world they were a part of, laughed with them, cried with them and certainly felt like I developed a relationship with each character in the story. Long Lost is more than a great story. It is an immersive experience into a world that will take hold of your attention and emotions captive until like you feel like you are a part of the story. I could not recommend this series more, but I will once again attempt. Seriously, do yourself a favor and order this series. All of the issues will be available in January and there will be a full trade paperback released in March. Though the written story has come to a close, I believe there is still more of Piper and Frances’s story to be told and I for one will continue to be waiting expectantly.

--Rachel Rutherford