Review: The Lil Depressed Boy #5

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Review: The Lil Depressed Boy: Supposed To Be There Too #5
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: S. Steven Struble
Art: Sina Grace

This week sees the second issue of S. Steven Struble and Sina Grace’s cult favourite Li’l Depressed Boy: Supposed To Be There Too. For the unfamiliar, Image’s indie series centres on an unassuming, sensitive guy as he navigates throughout life with social anxiety and an adorable relationship with his dream girl Spike.

This issue, entitled “Move with Your Lover,” picks up directly from Spike’s announcement that she has been accepted for a college transfer and will be moving away in a month’s time. LBD does his best to be the supportive boyfriend but clearly struggles to let go. We also see LBD negotiate his professional life following the all the drama regarding Toby hitting him, as well as a subplot of a child being mildly injured in the cinema.

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Between the dialogue- or indeed, lack thereof- and the vivid, engaging art work, Struble and Grace perfectly capture the heartache of letting somebody go. We have seen LBD’s love for Spike grow with every issue; it is pretty heart-wrenching seeing him put on a brave face and remains supportive throughout her moving out process. I challenge even the stoniest of hearts not to gush when he says “the last thing I want to do is stand in the way of your dreams.” They muster the enthusiasm to ensure long-distance is totally achievable, but only time will tell if comics’ cutest couple will survive.

As is the norm for Lil Depressed Boy, the dialogue is kept to the minimum- with full pages containing little to no speech at all- and the chat we do get is nothing out of the ordinary. Of course, the characters’ natural speech deliberately humanises them and allow the reader to identify with them fully.

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#5 maintains the same easy pace of previous issues, so mellow it feels like nothing really happens. Of course, Lil Depressed Boy is at all times rooted very much in reality- an impressive feat given the main character has a big doughy face and no features- and is free of explosive drama and tension. And as we have mentioned in previous reviews of Lil Depressed Boy, there isn’t a lot that really happens. Removing complex plotlines affords Struble and Grace the luxury of maximising the emotional resonance of Spike’s departure, which is important, but once again the reader may finish the issue without feeling like they’ve read anything at all. Plus the injured child subplot only really serves to see LBD snap at someone; other than that it feels a little superfluous.

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Grace’s art work also remains consistent to the rest of his work on Lil Depressed Boy; he retains the delicacy in his pencil work- simultaneously understated and haphazard- and subtle colour palette seen in previous issues, which compliment the mellow pace of the story. There is little detail in background of each panel, preventing anything from distracting from the characters and drama in the foreground and allowing the reader to focus on Struble’s story. The art work may prove to be Lil Depressed Boy’s saving grace.

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On the whole, Lil Depressed Boy: Move with Your Lover is an acceptable read and totally consistent with the rest of the series. But therein lays the problem: the absence of any real excitement or tension is becoming routine and formulaic. Perhaps Spike’s departure will give the series the shot in the arm it needs, but frankly this seems unlikely. On the one hand, the mellow nature of Lil Depressed Boy is what makes it so likeable and gives it character; while on the other, it makes for slightly dull reading. Thankfully the characters are amiable and the art work is tremendous.

SPOILER AERT: Lil Depressed Boy gets a cat. Because obviously.

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