By Sarah Metts | Contributor Published: 05/19/2013 10:14 am EST
If you chuckle at the phrase “all the things”, imagine large, furry creatures when you see the word “alot”(sic), and understand that Kenny Loggins’ name can be hilarious at Christmas time, then you are a fan of Allie Brosh’s blog Hyperbole and a Half.
The blog, started in 2009 because Brosh was “procrastinating on studying for a physics final”, has gathered a large following, with over 100 million page loads to date. Brosh, a 27-year-old with a knack for creating crudely-drawn illustrations using MS Paint, shares her humorous stories, imaginings, and memoir-ish recounting of adult and childhood memories.
I remember when I discovered the blog, eyes wide despite finishing the last term paper of my junior year (you can imagine how bloodshot they were). My grin grew as I scrolled through each post, her style and voice instantly addictive. My favorite posts (found below) are the witty recounts of Brosh’s childhood that especially benefit from her dose of hyperbole (hence the name of the blog). Trying to put a dying fish out of its misery becomes a dark confrontation with death—all featuring a cute little blonde haired girl in a pink dress.
The sweet cherries on top are the MS Paint images Brosh creates, breaking up walls of text and enhancing the posts exponentially. Each image carries the same genuine quality of expression and entertainment that makes them memorable. And in a world that can’t stop meme-ing, who hasn’t seen these?
But scroll down until you see “Post Archive” on the right hand side. Notice anything?
In 2011, Brosh signed a contract with Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone Books to create a book based on the blog. Brosh’s last blog post in 2011, openly told fans that she was dealing with depression, something only hinted at in other posts. And then *poof*—she was gone. Adoring and concerned fans reached out and Brosh answered via Reddit post. That’s something that her fans appreciate—her responsiveness to their questions and comments. In an interview with True/Slant Brosh commented:
“I feel a strong sense of connection with my readers. We’ve typed a lot of words to one another and I consider many of them true friends, so I care about how they feel about what I do. I guess I feel a sort of social responsibility to them.”
So fans (myself included) were overjoyed when Brosh posted “Pre-Post Transition Post” on May 8, 2013. Her announcement on the blog’s Facebook page received several thousand likes and readied her readers. The Pre-Post stated:
“In parts, it might get a little flinch-y and uncomfortable, and if I succeed in making you laugh during those parts, you’re going to feel real weird about yourselves. But it’s okay. Just let it happen. I WANT it to happen. Because it makes me feel powerful, and also because there are flinch-y, uncomfortable things everywhere. Seeing them is inevitable. If we can laugh about some of them, maybe they’ll be less scary to look at.”
In the following post, “Depression Part Two”, Brosh chronicles her inner and outer conflict during her deepest depressive state. What I found most compelling was her difficulty trying to get others to relate and understand, expertly described with the “dead fish” simile:
“It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.”
Personally, I connected with the post on different levels, as a reader, writer, and fan of the blog. However, my first reaction was relief; I was happy to see she was back for round two.
She set out to tell her fans what happened while still making them smile. My opinion: mission accomplished. I mean look at this face:
Panel from “Depression Part Two”, Allie Brosh, 2013
Several Facebook followers have commented that her latest post accurately depicts how they have experienced depression and in turn brought hope into their life. For me, it’s rare to establish this sort of relationship with someone on the web and it wouldn’t be possible without Brosh being open about her struggle.
Even though she hid from the world to deal with her demons, Brosh still connects by revealing her personal moments without safe phrases but with honest observation and illustration. This post is for fans, new and old, to get to know Brosh.