The Li’l Depressed Boy #16
Shaun Steven Struble – Writing, Coloring, Lettering
Sina Grace – Penciling, Inking
Chris Giarrusso – Cover Art
Joey Braccino – Review
THE STORY SO FAR…
“LDB and his boss Spike are in a secret relationship. Toby, the other manager, is a jerkface.”
That’s the flip-and-you’ll-miss-it recap on the opening credits page of Li’l Depressed Boy #16. It’s so simple, so straightforward, and perfectly apropos to the charm of Shaun Steven Struble and Sina Grace’s story of a rag doll boy’s misadventures in real-life.
LDB is a movie theatre peon in love with his supervisor, Spike. In my review of issue #13, I gushed endlessly over the splendid joy I derived from Struble’s characterization of Spike and LDB’s budding relationship, and I’m glad to say that issue #16 continues to build on and complicate this very positive partnership for our eponymous sackboy. Struble wisely frames his script around several silent sequences, allowing for Sina Grace’s spectacular indie-naturalism to tell the nuanced story of Spike and LDB’s secretive relationship as well as the ups-and-downs of the conflict embedded in this issue. I won’t go into the conflict here because, as per the simplicity of the recap, most of this issue hinges around one jealous action from Toby, the aforementioned jerkface.
While Struble’s characterization and scripting is filled with subtlety and authenticity, it is Sina Grace’s artwork that truly shines in this comic. Yes, Struble writes to Grace’s strength, but man, Grace is one of the best on the indie-scene. Stand-out sequences all focus on subtle looks between Spike and LDB; side-glances and proverbial Raimi-cams tight on LDB’s dejected sack-face are executed perfectly multiple times in this book alone. Li’l Depressed Boy is grounded in 99.9% realism, and Grace’s pencils reflect this from the character designs to the perspective to each individual piece of popcorn. That .01% of course is the walking, talking sack-boy that serves as the book’s protagonist, but it speaks to both Struble and Grace’s gifts as storytellers that this surreal departure blends in seamlessly. LDB is a surrogate—a universal audience-identification figure for any reader who, well, endures the everyday ups-and-downs of everyday everydayness. The fact that LDB operates artistically and contextually in Li’l Depressed Boy’s naturalistic aesthetic reflects the larger themes and appeal of the narrative itself.
Check it out. Li’l Depressed Boy is, intrinsically, an almost universally accessible comic book. The story is at once simple and nuanced. The artwork is at once intensely natural and highly innovative. For a book with “depressed” in the title, this issue of Li’l Depressed Boy runs the gamut from joy to sorrow to concern to anger and back again. The letters column reveals that this issue will be the last release for quite some time, so take advantage of this “mid-season break” to catch up on all the Li’l Depressed Boy you possible can!!!