I’m not going to lie: I’ve been excited about Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle’s Long Lost since it was announced by Scout Comics. The first issue is gorgeous and haunting, and very, very promising.
I was immediately drawn to the book’s cover. There’s something incredibly magnetic about it–maybe it’s the contrast between Frances, the character on the cover, and the foliage surrounding her. Maybe it’s the bright tangle of red thread that fades into subtle background color. Maybe it’s the detail that appears upon closer examination.
The first issue of Long Lost has pretty much everything I look for in a comic. Horror? Yes. Mystery? Heck yes. Gorgeous art? Definitely.
The story follows Piper, a young woman who seems content to live alone with her puppy, Pockets. Readers learn early that she is estranged from her mother and is quick to shut down phone calls from family. Erman uses Piper’s self-imposed isolation to shut out readers as well.
Though this doesn’t offer much in terms of Piper’s past, it does establish her personality, despite meaning that she as a character remains something of a mystery. Because of this, I found myself grasping for detail as I read, but the ones readers learn about Piper are more often horrific than ordinary.
The glimpses of Piper’s thoughts and dreams Erman and Sterle offer hint at something monstrous rising to the surface. The whole issue is a long, slow inhale–each little snippet of detail builds the tension between what Piper knows and what she’s experiencing and what the audience knows and is experiencing. It works well as exposition, giving readers just enough detail to fear whatever is hiding around the corner.
This is in large part due to Sterle’s art, which is both haunting and gorgeous. Piper and Pockets’s expressiveness makes them instantly relatable characters, even if the events they’re going through are less relatable.
The simple backgrounds and inky landscapes make each detail stand out, and the creepy scenes even more unsettling. The interior art has the same magnetic quality as the cover, and the nighttime scenes that open the book are particularly beautiful. Most of the comic is drawn in black and white and shaded in gray. There is a little color, but it’s used sparingly to add contrast, making it really effective in anteing up the tension.
With the first issue of Long Lost, Erman and Sterle have introduced us to an intriguing blend of horror and family drama, set in a haunting and atmospheric landscape. Mystery and thriller fans definitely aren’t going to want to miss the latest installment in Scout’s increasingly impressive lineup–this is one case you can absolutely judge the book by its cover and won’t be disappointed.