Titled “The Exact Color of Doubt,” Long Lost #1 gives us a slow start to what could become an interesting horror comic. Co-creators Matthew Erman’s and Lisa Sterle describe the series as Stranger Things meets Ghost World. It is hard to see how much of that description fits at this point, but the seeds are sown. And if it is anything like what grows in this issue, those seeds will turn into something very scary indeed.
Lisa Sterle steals the show with her amazingly rich art. The black and off-white pallet is very effectively utilized as the almost sepia tone gives it an older feeling and the solid black of the inks allow the bleeds to seamlessly blend across the gutter and into the involved panels. This is easily the best part of this issue. The bleeds in the issue function just like their name sake implies as entrails, hair, and mysterious black liquids drip down the page and into the panels below with the words floating outside unconfined by time. Because there is no change in the pallet, simple things like spilled coffee can invoke the mystery substance in the dream causing quite an unsettling effect. There is a blending of reality with what might or might not be outside of it and any comic that can make a reader question what is really going on like this is well worth a read. This is further aided by atmospheric artifacts that look like mold spots, which increasing appear during key moments. It almost feels like an American version of a horror manga with the occasional layers of nonsequential panel transitions and the gorgeously textured sumi style inking.
The writing that Matthew Erman does perfectly supports this thematic quality with simple ominous statements like “…An old great beast roamed…” which serve an additive function to Sterle’s superb artwork. Erman also has a solid ear for one sided dialogue. The sisters are both parallel and extreme opposites as one is rather quiet and solitary while the other is overly talkative and friendly. Both of them speak mostly for and to themselves. Even though we have almost no interaction between them in this issue, it is clear that their relationship will be the heart of the series. The main problem is that this first issue doesn’t give us enough plot points to clearly guess what the storyline might include yet. The description includes information telling us that the sisters are estranged and that they will be looking for their missing mother, but I am not sure I would have known that by reading the comic on its own. Regardless, what is there, makes me want to keep reading. That last panel especially grabbed my attention.
Despite the fact that the first issue of Long Lost lacks some much needed exposition of some kind, it does build very good suspense. It is also throughly immersive and emotionally resonating. If you are looking for a story that is gruesome yet beautiful, I recommend giving this a try. There is a good chance that this will be a hauntingly rewarding read once we have the full story. Four Stars!
LONG LOST by Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Scout Comics