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The Li’l Depressed Boy, Volume 1: She Is Staggering

I was a pretty severe latecomer to this series, which I only just recently realized was written by an Amarillo resident. If I still lived in Lubbock, I suspect several folks would’ve already told me about this, but living so far away, there’s no one to tell me the local comics news anymore. But better late than never, right?

So here we’ve got “The Li’l Depressed Boy” by writer S. Steven Struble of Amarillo — in fact, he says he moved to Amarillo specifically to write comics — and illustrated by Sina Grace from Los Angeles, which probably has some nice opportunities for folks working in comics, too. The comic is mid-way between a slice-of-life book and romance comic. This trade paperback collects the first four issues of the series.

Our lead character is a guy called the Li’l Depressed Boy, or LDB for short. He is — or at least, he looks to us like — a life-sized stuffed doll with a crudely drawn-on face, though the smart assumption is that’s how he feels, since no one ever says “Holy cow, you’re a walking doll!” LDB actually is depressed, though perhaps not clinically so. He just spends most of his time alone, reading, watching TV, and feeling sorry for himself. He resolves to try to get out more often, meets up with one of his few friends, and runs into a girl named Jazz, a classic Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and they start hanging out together, playing zombie shoot-em-ups, bowling for style points, raiding thrift stores, playing Lazer Tag, and going out to spray-paint the cars at Cadillac Ranch (which explicitly sets the story in Amarillo, which is kinda nice). Can LDB make this new relationship work? Or is it doomed from the beginning?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love the optics of LDB as an oversized sack doll, and the rest of the art is muy bueno as well. The dialogue is great — frequently hilarious — and the characterizations are fun, too. The antics that LDB and Jazz get up to are also very funny — bowling for style points is really something that should catch on everywhere, though I don’t know about using a bowling ball for a hadouken is something that should be encouraged. I also really enjoyed the way the story used music — actual musicians are featured in the stories, often performing at clubs or parties, and it gives the story a fun vibe.

Best thing about it — the series feels like real life. If you haven’t known people like this, you’ve probably been in similar situations, you’ve been in similar clubs, you’ve been to similar hipster parties. The settings feel like the real things — who hasn’t been to a thrift shop or bowling alley or run-down apartment like the ones we see here? The whole story feels like it’s happening near where you live. Even with a sack doll as the lead character.

Not sure if I’ll end up picking up the ongoing series — even with reading the first four issues, I’m still way behind on the rest of the series — and I certainly regret not picking this up from the beginning.

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