It’s like they were saying: “Here’s what you missed! Now come join the AWESOME!”

The Li’l Depressed Boy #13

Written & Colored by S. Steven Struble

Pencils & Inks by Sina Grace

The Li’l Depressed Boy has always been one of those series that I wanted to read but never actually did. Well, this week, we can check LDB off my comics bucket list; I read issue #13. In fact, not only did I read #13, but I freaking loved #13. S. Steven Struble and Sina Grace have won over a new fan with their loveable loner sack-boy—the eponymous, affable LDB—and his romantic misadventures. Struble’s scripting is superbly mopey, and Grace perfectly complements the story with his delectably alterna-indie pencils.

The issue starts off with an extended flashback/montage sequence washed in blue that features all of LDB’s previous failed romances. It’s a quick catch-up moment that might disorient new readers, but overall it segues perfectly into the next scene: LDB nervously anticipating his date with his new boss, Spike (real name: Gertrude). Struble and Grace perfectly capture the first date nerves in just a few panels, building to a natural break-the-ice moment between the two characters. It’s truly a feat when the reader is just as relieved as the characters on-panel, and Struble achieves this in spades. As the date progresses and things start to go LDB’s way, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat… buoyant. Yes—buoyant. As if all were right with the world. It’s that warm, fuzzy feeling that you get when you really connect with something you see on-screen—and that something is like a first kiss or reunion or when John Cusack holds the radio over his head in Say Anything. You know, like it’s all been building to this one moment and the outcome you’ve been rooting for pans out just perfectly.

There’s a brilliant sequence right after the date that captures all the subtle moments of the walk-her(him)-to-the-door scene: a single panel showing Spike and LDB’s hands just a few inches apart; the shifting sideways glances; a gorgeous double-page spread featuring the big moment (KISS); a panel specifically showing the moment right after the release of the kiss; etc. etc. In one page, sans dialogue or captions, we see LDB buy Spike a small astronomy kit and telescope. It’s a beautiful, silent moment, and it follows the preceding scene perfectly. Grace gives LDB the most heartwarming little half-smiles throughout the whole book, and the facial expressions on our spirited little sack-boy are easily decipherable and, as a result, doubly powerful. Spike is a strong, nuanced female character, and I look forward to seeing her and LDB’s relationship evolve in coming issues.

And she’s super cool—in a hip, nerdy-Mary-Jane, digs-space kinda way.

Verdict

Buy it. I’m going to pick up as much of this series as I can. This issue is also a great jumping on point for new readers! It’s totally indie, and totally rad. The book is perfectly constructed, and the artwork and story blend together into a romantic, gratifying little comic. Who needs a cape and tights? I’ll just take me some Li’l Depressed Boy.

And those interested in seeing/reading more from Sina Grace, he’ll be releasing a new comic (also through Image) called Not My Bag. There’s a short preview in the back of Li’l Depressed Boy #13! There’s also a riff on the classic Obama—Hope poster featuring LDB and the word, “MOPE.” Brilliant.

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