The cover for the Long Lost trade paperback.Image: Lisa Sterle (Scout Comics)
Piper and Frances, the two sisters at the core of Long Lost, are grown-ups figuring out how to make sense of adult needs and responsibilities.
When that process gets interrupted by a series of weird happenings that pull them back to their hometown, they find themselves learning disturbing things about their family history.
When Long Lost's first issue dropped, older sister Piper was ignoring texts from Frances and dealing with a mysterious intrusion into her home. Written and drawn by the married team of Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle, the upcoming trade paperback collects Long Lost #1-6, which follows the girls as they go back to the small mining town of Hazel Patch where they grew up.
They head there to follow up on a mysterious invite they got for a birthday party for their missing, mentally ill mother. On the way there, they get attacked by shambling, zombie-like humans, only to have the attack stopped by a mysterious robed woman. Eventually, the girls reunite with the aunt who raised them after their father died and their mother was committed to institutional care.
Piper, Frances, and ... something else have an extremely odd reunion.Image: Lisa Sterle (Scout Comics)
Things in town have gotten bizarre and dangerous beneath the already disturbed surface. Ominous religious ceremonies, freakish body-horror illnesses, and unpredictable bouts of violence all flare up around Piper and Frances.
These events, along with a major revelation from Aunt Jody, make it seem like their entire background may be cursed in ways they struggle to understand.
One of the dream sequences from Long Lost.Image: Lisa Sterle (Scout Comics)
Erman and Sterle push hard, Lovecraftian terror against soft, diaristic poetry in this indie comics series, resulting in an appealing mix of tonalities. Each issue either has passages of a creepy gothic folktale - featuring younger versions of the girls in what seems to be an elliptical framing story - or inner monologues that clue you into the characters' angst.
Those elements stir up a sense of simmering panic but Piper and Frances' interactions themselves largely feel invitingly relatable. They nag and joke with each other or reminisce about their troubled childhood, all in a naturalistic voice.
Awkward lunch.Image: Lisa Sterle (Scout Comics)
Long Lost comes across as handmade, intimate, and dreamlike. The series' pacing is languid - antithetical to so many other horror creations - and that decision lets the girls' reactions to the occult threats and mysteries steep in a soupy fog of foreboding. Everything they have known about themselves, their family, and their hometown has proven to be dangerously unreliable.
That uneasiness is what brings Long Lost's core concern into focus: Can you rely on your most important relationships to protect you from sudden assaults from the unknown?
Long Lost's journey into deeper darkness will be continuing in the coming months, and it's going to be intriguing to see if Piper and Frances' sibling bonds fracture or strengthen as they face more horror.