Alex Hirsch Gravity Falls Lost Legends
"Gravity Falls: Lost Legends" is the first official "Gravity Falls" comic and was released on July 24. (Image via Geek Tyrant)

“Gravity Falls,” a cartoon of the highest caliber, kept audiences spellbound for the entirety of its five-year run.  How could it not? Loveable Mabel searches for romance while brainy Dipper hunts for monsters, and they both get in each other’s way. It’s an instant classic. And although the show has gracefully ended, the story continues through some exceptionally clever books written by “Gravity Falls” creator Alex Hirsch.

“Journal 3” took Hirsch to the top of the heap as a bestselling co-author in July 2016. And while he has written several other successful books related to the series, a new one has just been released. On July 24, “Gravity Falls: Lost Legends” came to Amazon. And once again, Hirsch sweeps audiences into his wonderfully weird world with four new tales of Gravity Falls and the strange family that lives there.

As a fan of the show, I admit I’m a bit biased. But here’s why Hirsch and “Lost Legends” deserve all the hype “Gravity Falls” got.

Knowing His Audience

One of the most fascinating elements of “Gravity Falls” was its interaction with the audience. In every episode, a cryptogram flashed at the end of the credits for viewers to copy down. Hidden somewhere in every episode, a key revealed how to unravel the message at the end. Once cracked, the message would tell a joke about that episode or hint at what might happen in the series.

For a mystery, the secret messages were the perfect way to engage audience participation. As soon as an episode had finished airing, I spent hours poring over each frame, hoping to find the key and crack the code before other fans did.

Once the show ended, Hirsch released clues to a real-life treasure: a statue of the show’s villain, with clues and encrypted messages for anyone who wanted to help. Giving a bunch of nerds a puzzle to solve while pretending to be an immeasurably powerful demon? Yeah, Hirsch knows how to have fun. Today, the show still has a dedicated fanbase, always eager for a new book or mystery to solve.

Keeping in line with the show, “Lost Legends” has encoded messages throughout the book for readers to crack. Some codes have normal lettering, and some have extraterrestrial symbols found in the show. It wouldn’t be Hirsch if it didn’t include something hilarious, challenging or bizarre.

“Journal 3”

“Gravity Falls” references “Journal 3” throughout the entire series as a book of magical secrets by an unknown author who has mysteriously disappeared. When the actual “Journal 3” came out, every fan wanted to know more about the author of the journals and the fantastical world in Hirsch’s mind.

An incredibly original book, “Journal 3” had all the fun of cryptology from the show, along with bestiary-esque and intense, thrilling journal entries from many “Gravity Falls” characters. And if the book itself wasn’t exciting enough to begin with, a special edition of “Journal 3” also had a magnifying glass and a blacklight to read some of the invisible ink print, both of which were part of the heroes’ tools to read the journal in the show.

Not many blacklight books exist to begin with, but to combine it with stories of dangerous science experiments and extradimensional beings, along with the mystery and hidden messages, makes the book exceptionally clever. Again, Hirsch’s creativity surpasses expectations.

“Lost Legends”

Although “Lost Legends” lacks a blacklight, it still has all the charm of “Gravity Falls” that every fan sorely misses.

“Lost Legends” plays off of a few jokes from the show: namely, the joke of Shmebulock, a gnome who I laughed at for only being able to say his name. As it turns out, the poor gnome was cursed to only say “Shmebulock” for the rest of his days — except for once every thousand years, when he can speak freely. The surprisingly articulate Shmebulock acts like a fan of the show; he’s also been watching the Pines family’s antics, and he has photos and theories about each of them.

Through Shmebulock, the four lost legends of Gravity Falls come to life. In “Lost Legends,” all of the most beloved characters from “Gravity Falls” appear: Dipper, Mabel, Grunkle Stan, Ford, Soos, Wendy and Pacifica return for four wacky adventures.

In each of the adventures, Hirsch also plays on another beloved element of his show: the morals. It wouldn’t be “Gravity Falls” if the characters hadn’t learned something important about themselves by the end of the story, and Hirsch consistently addresses the more heartfelt side of his world in each of the “Lost Legends” adventures: healthy self-image, letting go of the past, being selfless and even dealing with difficult parents.

“Lost Legends” had everything a fan would want. If you don’t know “Gravity Falls,” you might want to watch the show before you read it. But even if you didn’t, it still has great stories and exceptional illustrations that anyone could understand.

Alex Hirsch has outdone himself again with creepy creativity. My only criticism for “Lost Legends” is that it had to end eventually.

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