MY FACEBOOK FEED has never been so unanimously excited as the day Allie Brosh returned to the internet.
In May, Brosh posted a new entry on her popular site Hyperbole and a Half. The post was titled "Depression Part Two"; it was the follow-up to a story posted 18 months earlier, in which Brosh discussed her recent struggles with depression. A lot of "THIS"-ing went on over the next few days, as "Depression Part Two" was re-posted by seemingly everyone on the internet.
Hyperbole and a Half combines first-person narration with exaggeratedly amateurish, MS Paint illustrations. In "Depression Part Two," Brosh compares depression to outgrowing her favorite toys as a child: "As I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun," she writes. "I played out all the same storylines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared... I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience. Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything."
The subject matter is about as serious as it gets, but the story is illustrated in Brosh's signature style, her adorable bug-eyed avatar clad in a pink onesie or a stained gray sweatshirt, slumped despairingly in a chair. The childlike illustrations allow her to tackle intensely heavy subjects while dodging any hint of self-seriousness or self-pity.
Brosh's work is very much a product of the internet, from the LiveJournal-esque oversharing that's particularly pronounced in the early days of her site, to meme-friendly illustrations that seem perfectly calibrated to help Redditors express emotions. It's surprising, then, how well her work translates to print. "Depression Part One" and "Depression Part Two" form the centerpiece of Brosh's new book, which collects classic Hyperbole stories alongside a few never-before-seen pieces, and they're just as affecting on paper as scrolling down a computer screen. Her comedy pieces translate equally well: One of the new stories, "Dinosaur (The Goose Story)" (technically an expansion of a 2010 post) is the kind of funny that's dangerous to read in public, unless you're cool with giggling like a weirdo while hunched over a funnybook. Hyperbole and a Half is the rare blog-to-book project that doesn't just feel like a cash-in; it's a thoughtfully constructed, genuinely worthwhile collection of hilarious, weird, and soul-searching work.