Comics We Love: ‘Lil’ Depressed Boy’, a Love/Hate Letter to Hipsters
There's a very simple test to see if you'll enjoy Li'l Depressed Boy. Look at the cover. Does this apparent indie title focusing on a loner twenty-something interest you? If yes, continuing reading. If not, then this book probably isn't your cup of fair-trade, organic coffee. But even if you're a superhero regular a city comic book shop, you likely know someone that this book will fit better than an undersized ironic tee.
Published by Image Comics, S. Steven Struble and Sina Grace's Li'l Depressed Boy is a self-identifying blend of Blankets, Charlie Brown, and Scott Pilgrim. So much like the later, in fact, that there's even a pin-up in the back of the trade that is designed exactly like the Oni book's famous covers.
There's a fine line that Li'l Depressed Boy walks, a line so thin it's like trying to measure fractal coastline - do the creators want you to feel bad for the main character, or are they making fun of a very identifiable personality prevalent in today's society?
The answer is both.
More on Li'l Depressed Boy and a ten-page preview after the jump.
Like John Cusack quips in High Fidelity, "I'd feel guilty taking their money, if I wasn't . . . well . . . kinda one of them," creators Struble and Grace seem to revel in hip pop culture as much as they seem to want to mock it in the mirror. I feel compelled to quote the Nick Hornby-inspired movie in part because the first issue's cover was the classic Say Anything image. Indeed, there are so many references to so many stereotypical hipster staples that it's overwhelming to the point that your eyes roll on every other page. Like when a character with blue hair and lip-ring says how much he hates hipsters -- I mean, really says that in the book -- or the predictable way that the perfect girl seemingly falls for the average guy who's aw-shucks-just-a shy-dude-who-enjoys-good-entertainment type. He also magically pays for everything without seemingly having a job of any sort.
It reminds me of this song "Summer Home" by this band that's totally blowing-up right now -- you probably haven't heard of them, Typhoon -- anyway, there's this line, "I never said I was honest. I am true." You should check it out, they're going to be huge, like Postal Service huge, but hopefully not The Decemberists huge because I really prefer their earlier stuff, you know, before they got big.
If you understood the last paragraph, then something will happen right about the middle of Li'l Depressed Boy: reflection. "Oh wait, I do love Sleater-Kinney, everyone does, it would be rad as hell to find All Hands On The Bad One on vinyl at Goodwilld." "Oh man, I did go play lazer-tag with my friends, trying to beat a team of annoying teenagers." "Oh no, I totally had that poster in my apartment two years ago." "Yep, I want a Devo t-shirt."
And like my High Fidelity quote earlier, we've come full circle. You know this book, there's a chance you are this book, and you'll probably realize how the story will end. Li'l Depressed Boy is real in a way that's familiar and inflated, but none-the-less engaging to finish.
Yes, this book is about hipsters, but that word is thrown around so much in our culture that it's lost its meaning (if it even had one to begin with, which is doubtful). The hipster label seems to apply as broadly as the word "hippie" did in the late 1960s to anyone who enjoyed Revolver. If you're even reading this far into this post, you're a hipster. How meta is that?
As humiliating as it may sound, I hope Li'l Depressed Boy is the last semi-autobiographical, underground emo comic we see for a while. Even though I'm comfortable with the powerless jargon that is coming to define my generation, as a hipster I still hate hipsters because I hate myself. Hang on, I think Tyler The Creator has a line about this, "Here's the number to my therapist . . . "
So, see the end of an era and take a good look at what will come to encapsulate the early turn of the millennia in the same way culture has simplified every decade in order to make sociological history easier to remember. You can say you were nostalgic before it was cool.
Truthfully, I'd probably have liked this book a lot less if I hadn't read it in a trendy Portland breakfast joint drinking a local roast mocha. Oh well, back to the headphones. I gotta check the bus to go work my minimum-wage retail job. Glad I went to college.
Non-sarcastically, though, I am glad I read Li'l Depressed Boy.
Featuring pin-ups by Ming Doyle, Tim Daniel and Chris Fenoglio and more, Li'l Depressed Boy volume 1 is on sale now at finer comic book shops, bookstores and online retailers like Things From Another World.