The day to day struggles of life are hard to convey without boring the read to tears. I know what it’s like to do laundry; I’ve ridden in the fast lane of shit job hunting. I’ve even tapped out underneath the considerable weight of heartache. Inviting a reader to join along with a protagonist in his daily life of the dull and mundane can lead to disaster. Cue Li’L Depressed Boy #9, where writer S. Steven Struble and artist Sina Grace make the mundane romantic and the uninteresting melancholy. LDB (Li’l Depressed Boy) is us, a reflection of us in the truest sense. His name is a description, his appearance that of a rag doll, his entire character is metaphor and symbolism. Allowing us to put ourselves in his life, as opposed to remaining a voyeur, is why issue #9 works.
For those following the ups and downs of our hero, life has not been wonderful for LDB. A road trip to see a band ended badly, his life is routine to the point of madness, and the girl he loves doesn’t love him, or maybe she does. She’s not very clear on her feelings, which is not exactly surprising. The young woman in question – her name is Jazz – is not exactly somebody we root for. She seems fun and open minded, but also calculating and selfish. Example. Jazz busts off LDB’s door knob just to get inside to use the bathroom. Why? There’s a gas station down the street. Was it a power play, or is the young woman just that impetuous?
Stewing over these ideas, LDB lies on his couch, listens to music and attempts to purchase the things he loves with the limited finances left to him after fixing his door. What’s a non-descript looking voodoo doll crossed with a crash dummy to do? Find a job. LDB spends the rest of the issue applying at jobs that dwindle down his hopes as they go on. A comic book shop! Ideal! A record store! Ideal! A crappy job at a movie theater? Not so much. The jobs spiral down in coolness and fun as LBD comes to understand just how much working sucks. I enjoyed watching him struggle with this demon simply because I could never figure out where his money came from.
Issue #9 ends with LDB getting the movie theater job. His joy at being employed is not sufficient to overpower his dismay at working at a movie theater. Struble leaves the issue with that, forcing us to wait until issue 10 to see how LDB handles gainful employment. By the end of issue #9, you’ll feel a connection to LDB that you don’t understand. Struble puts it in all the issues. That feeling is you identifying and commiserating with the hero. It’s powerful stuff; I just wish Li’l Depressed Boy came out every week so I could find out what happens next in the very real world or a very surreal character. As always, Sina Grace’s art is sweet and beautiful. He adds texture to the story and gives a sense of how LDB sees the world. His work draws you in just as much as Struble’s writing.
CRAVEONLINE RATING: 9/10 (4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)