After TV shows like Stranger Things and comics like Paper Girls (and long before that, the 80’s films that inspired them), few sights have become more prescient of great things to come than young people riding bikes at night. You see that image and there’s an understanding that whatever comes next is special, and Long Lost isn’t the comic that breaks the pattern.
What comes next, though, is anyone’s guess. Issue one stirs up tension from deceptively mundane activities and very little dialogue. Writer, Matthew Erman, lulls readers into thinking the comic isn’t complicated because the scenes are very normal. Piper takes her dog out to poop. Piper feeds her dog. Piper checks her text messages while sitting on the toilet (and that one’s the best, because how many comics take the time to acknowledge people go to the bathroom, too?), but you get to the end and realize you have to go back.
There’s a monster in the woods, and you feel that monster’s presence invade the normalcy of (what should be) an ordinary day. The order events take place in is crucial and artist, Lisa Sterle’s, control over black and white tracks time progression with pinpoint accuracy. There’s the way white looks as electrical lights and the way white looks as daylight. The smudged, black night, where Piper almost looks stamped on outside, is different from the interior of her house at night, and the clarity of these differences keep the comic charged.
There’s also what’s missing in that early, bike scene — friends. Bike scenes always have people riding together in a tight-knit group but Piper is alone, and one of the conflicts that takes place entirely over text is Piper’s sister, Frances, deciding to visit when Piper won’t respond back. We see Piper get the messages, so know she’s been ignoring them, but the threat of a visit should force her hand. Piper doesn’t try and keep her sister from coming. She doesn’t react much at all, and that passivity starts to stand out.
Little ideas and images in Long Lost, that wouldn’t draw attention on their own, interject like giant question marks when introduced together. A well in one scene is boarded up in another. A color used once becomes notable when the issue’s title is, “The Exact Color of Doubt.” Even a dream sequence’s sharp focus, instead of the usual fuzziness, turns convention on its head, with a typed font that feels harsh, like prose, without a bubble to surround it. Piper isn’t safe, and the ways in which she is different from her sister branch out from hair color (Piper’s is black, Frances’ is white), but their sibling reunion will be electric when this chilly thriller continues.
Long Lost #1 will be available November 29th.