Let me start with a little anecdote about how I ended up getting a copy of The Li’l Depressed Boy TBP. It was back in July, and I was at San Diego Comic Con 2011, early one morning in front of a line in the main exhibit hall waiting for Invincible artist Ryan Ottley to arrive so I could get on his sketch list for that day. While I was waiting, Steven Struble was setting up shop a couple of tables down from us. Seeing as we were a captive and bored audience, he took advantage of the situation and wisely started pimping out his book. After having already heard good things about the book from others, I began flipping though a few pages. The book looked great, so with encouragement from others in the line, I gave the man my money and took my first step into the world of LDB. Struble signed the book and gave it to me with a free bonus CD soundtrack, “Songs for Jazz: The Li’l Depressed Boy E.P.” by Kepi Ghoulie. Later that day I found Sina Grace working the Skybound booth and he happily signed the book as well, and even drew a real quick sketch of LDB on the inside cover for me. Skip ahead, one month later, and….
If you took the movie (500) Days of Summer, multiplied it by [Enter you favorite underground indie band here], and divided it by any John Hughes movie, you would end up with The Li’l Depressed Boy. This comic book revolves around a boy (LDB), who when we first meet is trying to break free of his anti-social routine which consists of watching TV, playing video games, reading books, and generally keeping himself safe by avoiding social interaction with others. As LDB begins to venture back out into the world, he soon meets a very interesting “Weird Girl,” Jazz. The two immediately hit it off and they begin spending time together, hanging out, going to concerts, bowling, shopping, playing laser tag, and just having an all around good time. As in any relationship, though, problems soon arise, misunderstandings ensue, and feelings inevitably get hurt, which just leaves you wanting more.
What makes LDB a great book is that it is so easy to relate to, and having LDB portrayed as a rag doll character is genius! When you take a book that is already very relatable to the audience, and then take it one step further by giving your main character an almost blank identity where he can literally be anyone, you’ve instantly connected your audience to your story in an almost first person point of view. The reader quickly becomes the character, and because the situations he goes through are so universal, you share in LDB’s loneliness, his awkwardness, his happiness, and in his experiences. It’s a credit to Struble’s great writing that he is able to covey these emotions so truthfully, and write situations that are very real and dialog that is so genuine.
All of these things would not be possible without a great artist to back them up, and LDB has one in the form of Mr. Sina Grace. Grace’s drawing style creates the perfect visual match to realism and relatability of the story. The genius of Mr. Grace comes across in the details and indie look of the book. Just looking at the clothing of the characters alone, I doubt I’ve seen a book where the characters change clothes more often and have a more realistic style than in this book. Not to mention the amazing job Grace does of depicting the actual real life bands that appear in the book. It’s to his credit how effortlessly he seems to be able to capture the feel, the humor, and raw emotion of the book, many times when no dialog is even present in the panel. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I heard that the artist on LDB was originally suppose to change for each arc, but in all honesty I couldn’t imagine this book being as great a fit without Struble and Grace together.
I have to admit that in all likelihood I would not have gotten around to picking up this book any time soon (if ever) if the circumstances didn’t present themselves the way they did that day, and what a mistake that would have been. Li’l Depressed Boy is a fantastic book and anyone who grew up in the generation of video games, the Internet, comic books, iPods, and such should check out this book. I also believe that LDB is a book that girls could really enjoy. If you want to get your girl interested in comic books, LDB would be a great gateway for that. In addition, this is the perfect time to start reading LDB seeing as how the comic book is only a few issues ahead of this TPB. Also, besides the first four issues of the comic, the TPB comes with some great extras, including sketches, pin-ups, and even a LDB paper fold up doll that you can make! I also encourage you (if you are able) to get the Kepi Ghoulie soundtrack E.P., because it is great and goes so well with the feel of the book.