A couple of weeks ago, I read a short paragraph in our Sunday paper about Allie Brosh’s graphic memoir, Hyperbole and a Half. The long subtitle – Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened – was my first clue that she is very funny. It’s been a cold, snowy winter and I needed something to laugh about, so I went to her blog. It is also called Hyperbole and a Half and it is where her book began.
Apparently, I’m one of only a handful of people new to her blog. She started it in 2009, and in less than a year, she was getting almost 2 million views a month. By 2011, that number had grown to between 3 and 7 million each month. It’s easy to see why. I spent a lot of time exploring her archives, and she had me laughing out loud with her twisted way of looking at events in her life.
Her essays are a combination of text and illustrations. On her FAQ page, she says she uses Paintbrush for the illustrations that look deceptively simple. Some may call them crude, but Allie notes that it’s a “precise crudeness.” She may revise one drawing many times. She also puts careful thought into deciding what sections of her posts should be text and what parts work better as illustrations. She’s a perfectionist, who has been known to delete posts from her site because in hindsight she felt they were not her best work.
Her blog also includes some serious posts, most notably the two about her experiences with depression – “Adventures in Depression” and “Depression Part Two.” Her serious posts are just as compelling as her humorous ones. “Depression Part Two” brought 5,000 comments from her readers who were touched by her honesty.
About the only complaint her viewers have is that her posts have been infrequent in the last few years – only 3 posts in 2013. Perhaps that is because she’s been working on her book. According to information from the publisher, the book contains some of her blog posts, but 50 percent of it is new material.
Of course, if you’re just discovering her work, as I am, it’s all new material, and I’m glad I read that small paragraph in the newspaper that introduced me to her writing. After all, it’s still cold and snowy, but humor is great medicine for cabin fever.