The webcomics blog about webcomics

Gone But Not Forgotten: Return to Sender

This is the first is what will likely become a semi-regular series of looks at webcomics that no longer update. Some of them will be finished stories; some of them will be early projects that inform later, more well-known work; some will be on permanent hiatus. All of them will be worth your while to investigate.

Vera Brosgol is the best webcomicker not presently doing a webcomic; big words, let’s back them up. For a couple years there, she did a webcomic that never finished, has done some primo spot art, contributed to both Flight anthologies, and has made her way into the more-than-indy-not-quite-major print comics world via Oni Press. Quite a lot for somebody who’s not yet 22 years old.

Most people initially noticed “Verabee” through her webcomic, Return to Sender. The first thing to catch you is the art: there’s a looseness that reminds you of Chynna Clugston-Major’s work on Hopeless Savages (especially with Vera’s use of in-panel margin notes), with a wash of blue-grey that provides shadows, contrast, highlighting, and depth to wonderfully expressive faces. Ah, the faces. Check out the look of shock on Our Hero (his name’s Often — the only question is exactly how many times he got beat up in grade school) in that bottom panel as he hears the collision of car and pedestrian. Oh, wait, he’s just reacting to the no-longer-skipping CD playing too loud. Hmm. Well, that’s just … just….

Just hilarious, actually. That sweetly vicious sense of humor becomes quickly apparent as we follow a bizarre chain of events that culminates in a little girl getting hit in the head by a rock from outer space; the entire reaction from Often’s friend Colette when watching the news consists of, “Did you see me? I looked GOOD.” Colette’s casual brutality towards life (in general) and Often (in particular) continues with a game of “Made You Look!” when Often’s attempts to buy Girl Scout cookies, goes spectacularly wrong. When messing with his head isn’t enough, she’ll consider messing with his internal organs, too.

But that’s just life when the magic mail slot in your apartment starts spitting out instructions that lead to those dead little girls, spooked pigeons and hobo fights. It’s that mail slot that all the monsters apparently want to get their hands (or whatever) on, whether or not they’re invited in. So where does the magic mail slot come from? What’s the reason for following the instructions, other than the fact that Often gets killer nosebleeds when he doesn’t?

Well, kids, sometimes webcomics get interrupted because of school, work, a shift in artistic desire, whatever … and that’s why when you’re done reading the RtS archives, you should keep it on your “check it once a week in case it resumes” list of bookmarks. After all, it had delays before, and this could be just another one. But just to be sure, one of these days I’m going to bribe one of those sick Make-A-Wish kids to ask Vera how it ends. Until then, we’ll just have to wonder. By the way, when a story intrigues you so much that you’re willing to exploit a dying child, that’s how you know that you’re dealing with a master storyteller. There’s an enormously wide set of possible directions for the story, and in your gut you know that she could make any of them work.

But before you get mad at not knowing how it ends, consider what Vera’s been up to since: a new website, some brutally funny animated shorts, eight pages of a Hopeless Savages one-shot, a college degree, and lots of art that makes you smile. There’s big things on the horizon, and every reason to expect that seeing Vera’s name on the cover or masthead is reason enough to plunk down money for that comic or trade. She’s going to be crazy huge one day (probably much sooner than we all think), and there’s still just enough time to get in on the ground floor of loving her work. Get reading, and stay away from the hobos.

that is seriously a good comic. I read it, like, a year ago and have kept checking back ever since, to no avail.


In one of those funny coincidences that sometimes happen, I just remembered that Return to Sender was awesome and went to check if it updated in the last few weeks, right before I loaded Fleen.

The art is amazingly expressive, and the story is like a fairy tale for grownups. Pure goodness.

The piece she did for Yahoo/Konfabulator is worth a gander, too.

Good luck finding a Make-A-Wish kid. She’ll probably tell the tyke the ending and not draw it.

I agree with the sentiments on her artwork. So expressive with minimal lines.

[…] believe that I may have mentioned in the past that there are certain no-longer-updating pages that I always go back and check; I don’t care […]

[…] where do all those old webcomics go? I’ve mentioned previously how I will always keep certain webcomics in my personal bookmarks, hiatused or discontinued or abandoned as they may be, because just maybe they’ll be back […]

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