Connect with us

Arts & Culture

Not All Comics Have Capes

Oftentimes the things that scare us the most are what is left unsaid—that unsettling fear of the unknown or intangible. It is those moments of uncertainty that toy with our imagination, ushering in that irksome moment when we are left alone with our thoughts and insecurities. It is this notion that makes husband and wife [...]
Danny Hamen

Published

on

Oftentimes the things that scare us the most are what is left unsaid—that unsettling fear of the unknown or intangible. It is those moments of uncertainty that toy with our imagination, ushering in that irksome moment when we are left alone with our thoughts and insecurities.

It is this notion that makes husband and wife duo, Lisa Sterle and Matthew Erman’s, horror comic series, “Long Lost,” so thrilling. Sure, they use evocative imagery, like twisting viscera creeping past the gutters of the panels, but it is their aptitude at slowly building tension that creates a unique and unsettling kind of drama.

“It is so much about what is not said, and what is left up to the reader’s imagination,” said Erman, who wrote the 12-issue series, leaving Sterle to illustrate. “It is about trying to build a feeling through tone and imagery. [Sterle] is as much of a writer of this as I am, because I rely on her ability to create tension through space and time. Without that, you can’t have horror. You have to build that moment before something happens.”

Scout Comics, an indie comic publisher out of New York, picked up their 12-part series last October, giving them a little more than a year to bust out a final product. Even before its initial release, “Long Lost” has already garnered national press for its engaging storytelling and unique style.

Sterle’s imagery combines viscerally charged elements from American known indie artists such as Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes with styles of Japanese manga, particulary in the use of exaggerated facial expression and lack of color. The comic lives in a sepia tone with the occasional addition of color to intensify a moment.

“It just feels right to me—having a horror comic without color,” said Sterle. “It is where all my inspiration comes from. As the issues go on, there is more exploration that happens with color.”

Each chapter—or entry—is titled after a song that they believe evokes the precise emotion of the release, nudging the reader to put it on while reading. The artists chosen range from Dirty Three, Blonde Redhead, Fleet Foxes, and Fleetwood Mac. The first issue, “The Exact Color of Doubt,” mirrors the cathartic and spacious aesthetic of The Liar’s recording, adding an additional, almost Easter-Egg-like layer to the series.

“A lot of the cultural references we plucked helped cement the tone,” said Erman. “Comics don’t have the benefit of film in that you can rely on sound to create atmosphere, so this is my way of circumventing that. I can name a chapter after a song that I think most emulates the feel of that chapter, or lyrics that speak to specific themes.”

At its core, “Long Lost” tells the story of two separated sisters, Piper and Frances, who must travel back to their small hometown to see their mother. The sisters, while sharing similar mannerisms, are polar opposites—Piper being the guarded worrywart while Frances is the bubbly optimist—in a way, symbolizing the two sides of a perfect human consciousness.

“There is a little bit of both of them in both of us,” said Erman. “Piper is an introverted person that is at odds with the world and her place in it, and Frances is this person that is settled, and OK with her place and embraces life as it comes at her. I have really grown to identify with these characters and how they navigate the world.”

Erman masterfully brings these characters to life through conflict, whether that means exploring the nuances of sisterhood or putting them in danger. Although there are strange and often frightening creatures within the series, they seem to serve as an abstract connection to the psychological conflict of the day to day.

“The themes of ‘Long Lost’ are purpose and trauma—feeling misplaced in the world—home, feeling, and belonging,” Erman said. “Sometimes you need the visceral, psychical nature of—whatever it is, a monster or a ghost—to [talk] about those real life fears.

Another unique element of the series is that there are, not including Piper’s puppy Pockets, no male characters, a conscious decision made by Erman and Sterle when creating the series.

“Originally, Piper and Frances were supposed to be brother and sister,” said Erman. “The problem with that is it really limits the roles they can play in your story—the reader is going to have an expectation. We thought really hard about why that particular character needed to be a man. And there was no good reason. And then, once we started writing the characters and their relationship with their mother, we kind of realized that is really a story about women.”

This is a refreshing change to what many has called a male-dominated media—a comic that favors emotions and subtlety over senseless action—an intelligent and witty shift in the conversation of what comics are actually supposed to be.

The first chapter of Long Lost will be released later this month. Copies will be available at your local comic shop or through their social media page,
facebook.com/longlostcomic. 

SHOUTOUTS

Lisa Sterle and Matt Erman spread the love on the local comic scene:

Cartoon Crossroads

This was our first year attending and it was so wonderful. With Tom Spurgeon running the thing, it’s putting a big spotlight on Columbus for creators.

CCAD’s Comic Major 

We’re so jealous of the kids going through this major because it is an absolutely unheard of experience. The work these students will end up producing is going to be stellar.

The Laughing Ogre 

Gib Bickel is a treasure in the city and his shop is nationally revered for a reason. He has seen it all. The staff there is so knowledgeable about comics—it’s the reason we’re semi-regulars.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library 

An incredible place to have here in Columbus for every aspiring creator or fan of comics/cartooning.

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Two of the 13 “Greatest Places in America” are in Central Ohio

Mike Thomas

Published

on

Throughout Central Ohio, efforts to uplift communities have been ongoing for decades. Now, some of these efforts are garnering attention on the national stage.

According to a report from Columbus Business First, The Short North Arts District and Delaware's historic downtown were named among 13 “Great Places in America” by the American Planning Association, a national organization of urban planners.

The APA's picks highlight locales representing “the gold standard for a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for the future.”

In its rundown of the Short North Arts District, the APA points to the neighborhood's status as "a pioneer in urban revitalization in Central Ohio," and goes on to call the neighborhood the "art and soul" of the City of Columbus.

As for downtown Delaware, the APA It highlighted efforts by civic and business leaders in transforming the derelict city center into a thriving neighborhood full of attractive amenities for locals and visitors to enjoy.

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

Nina West makes TV History with Emmys appearance

Mike Thomas

Published

on

Hometown hero Nina West is having a big year. Following her "Miss Congeniality" win in season 11 of RuPaul's Drag Race, West has released of a children’s music album, Drag Is Magic, and a comedy EP, titled John Goodman.

Now, the Columbus drag icon can add a moment of television history to her impressive list of accomplishments.

According to Deadline.com, West is the first person in Emmys history to walk the purple carpet in full drag.

Season 11 of Drag Race, which airs on VH-1 and has been renewed for a 12th season, took home 4 Emmy wins, including the trophy for "Outstanding Reality Show." The long running competition was nominated for 14 awards in all—the most of any VH-1 show in history.

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

How Bazaar: Popup arts fest shines a light on local creatives

Mike Thomas

Published

on

While cultivating a newfound sense of personal fulfillment might be as simple as picking up a paint brush or instrument, earning a living through your art is a more complicated prospect. As longtime friends, collaborators, and Columbus art-scene hustlers Dustin Bennett and Zak Biggard will tell you, making it as an artist sometimes comes down to who you know.

Having met years ago as coworkers at a local printmaking shop, Bennett and Biggard have gone on to individual success with their own creative design firms. For Bennett, part of this work entails curating the art displayed at Clintonville’s Global Gallery, a cafe and art space that is committed to promoting fair trade handcrafted products from around the world.

When an exhibition Bennett was planning for the space fell through, he reached out to Biggard to fill the vacancy with his work. The resulting show was a hit, with Biggard selling several pieces in one of Global Gallery’s most successful exhibitions to date.

Biggard and Bennett outside of Global Gallery (Photo: Brian Kaiser)

His reputation with the venue established, Biggard approached Amy Palmer, Global Gallery’s manager, with an idea for a large-scale show. She gave him the thumbs up, and Biggard again partnered with Bennett to help bring his vision to light. The result is a show spanning three weekends in the month of August that the duo have dubbed Bazaar Ritual.

“The idea was a bazaar, this sort of Middle-Eastern marketplace where you walk in and it’s just a feast for the senses,” says Biggard. “All of these different sights, sounds, smells—everything packed together.”

As mutually beneficial as their collaborations had been, the Bennett and Biggard hope to open the doors of opportunity wide to other artists. Through this new exhibition/festival, the two aim to shed a light on creators who may not know how to navigate the sometimes complicated process of getting work into a conventional art show.

“Most of these people have never been involved in the gallery scene or never been able to show their work off,” Biggard explains. “They are just so excited to be a part of something, and the stuff I’ve been seeing from people, I just can't wait to have everything together in one place.”

When the exhibitors do come together for the popup-style event on August 3rd, 17th, and 31st, they will bring with them works across a diverse range of media.

“We’ve got people who make jewelry, clothing, glass blowers, painters and performance artists,” says Biggard. “It’s really the diversity of the work that’s the theme.”

As diverse as the work on display in the show will be, the exhibitors themselves hail from various disparate walks of life—everyone from nurses to dog walkers, printmakers to salespeople, as Bennett explains. In addition to the work shown during the recurring weekend events, each artist in Bazaar Ritual will have the opportunity to display one piece in Global Gallery throughout the month of August. Artists will keep 100% of the proceeds sold throughout the month and during the weekend events.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By0yi8xhuPE/

Along with providing a platform, the Bennett and Biggard hope that Bazaar Ritual will serve as a networking hub where creatives can meet and form collaborations of their own. Response from artists interested in taking part has already been building organically, with those involved telling their friends, those friends bringing more friends, and so on.

In addition to the prospect of hanging out with artists and perusing the exhibitions, the organizers of Bazaar Ritual have a number of surprises in store for attendees. Food trucks will be on hand, as well as live local music on Global Gallery’s spacious patio.

Though Bennett and Bigard are working diligently to bring this fledgling event to fruition, the two seem calm in the lead up to the show. Their artist-first approach lends a communal feel to the event, with creatives joining forces to put on an organized yet laid-back experience that shirks the corporate mold of some traditional gallery settings.

“We’re trying to do what art is meant to do and bring people together,” says Bennett. “We’re trying to bring together as many friends and strangers as we can—motleys and misfits alike.”

Global Gallery is located at 3535 N High St, in Clintonville. You can visit Bazaar Ritual there from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM on the 3rd, the 17th, and the 31st of August. For more information, check out @bazaarritual on Instagram.

Continue Reading

No mo’ FOMO

Missing out sucks. That's why our daily email is so important. You'll be up-to-date on the latest happenings and things to do in Cbus + be the first to snag our daily giveaways

Shop Now!

The Magazines

X