A Lil’ Depressed Moment

Image have an armada of new comics coming out over the rest of the year, but hold on! That’s no reason not to look at the comics they already have, and appreciate them. Which, why would imminent comics ever stop somebody from reading current comics? Faulty logic, ComVan!
Just one of the current Image comics is called The Lil’ Depressed Boy, which it happens to be the most realistic portrayal of modern living (for a certain group of people) ever put into a comic, with writer S. Steven Struble savouring every awkward pause and artist Sina Grace relishing every unspoken thought that surrounds their central character. That character is LDB himself, who is simply a regular guy floating through life without much idea of where it’s going to take him or what he wants from it. This fills him with listlessness.

In the most recent issue – issue #9 – LDB attempts to find a job. Having previously attempted to deal with romance, his attention now wanders to the dwindling contents of his wallet. What follows are a series of moments which most of us will recognise. LDB walks into various shops, casually wondering if he can get a job working there. In one shop, he panics when he sees the cashier is attractive and back away. In another, he is intimidated by the camaraderie of the guys behind the counter of a music shop. Each time, the creative team refuse to give us any look into what he’s thinking, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. Strangely, the fact that the central character has an expressionless all-purpose face actually gives him more expression as a personality, and his every second glance or moment of pondering is forced onto the page, leaving him now privacy. We get to see everything he gets up to, and experience his life with him.

Nothing of much consequence happens in this book – ain’t that just true of life, folks? – but that isn’t really the point. We get to see our hero struggle onwards, testing his resolve over a series of minor hurdles which attempt to get in his way. He also plays a bit of guitar hero. The most telling sequence of the issue, and one which most of us can probably relate to, is when LDB goes food shopping. While walking down an aisle, he spies a bar of chocolate. He looks at his basket. He looks at the chocolate bar. He dumps the rest of his food and takes the chocolate bar home. WE’VE ALL DONE THAT! Or at least, considered doing it.

The pacing of the issue is absolutely spot-on throughout, with a final splash page which is rather poignant and all-the-more enjoyable for it. Grace’s art tells the story just as well as the fleeting moments of dialogue (although there are a few scenes which are perhaps a little oblique, and hard to understand first time), with some of his best work towards the end. In particular, a sequence where LDB, having suffered a small setback, takes a brief moment to wallow in his sadness before hurling it off and strutting over to the next challenge of the day, is wonderful.

Although a lil’ depressing, this series is quickly becoming one of the more uplifting works of comics currently in publication. Lil’ Depressed Boy has turned into, surprisingly, the face of modern-day twentysomething…ing, and is well worth picking up.


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