Li'l Depressed Boy, written by Shaun S. Struble and drawn by Sina Grace, wrapped up its latest arc a few weeks ago. This human story has become uncommonly relatable to those who suffer from depression, as the title character does. As Struble and Grace describe, the book has become a story to let readers and fans know they are not alone with their problems.
I had a chance to sit down with Struble and Grace to discuss the book and the autobiographical nature of the stories within the title.
Alex Wilson: Jazz has been a big party of the story and LDB's life in the past. Will she continue to be throughout the story?
Shaun S. Struble: Well, Amarillo, Texas is a small town so you can't really escape anybody you're trying to avoid so she's going to pop up now and again for a while.
AW: LDB is semi-autobiographical. What are some exaggerations, if any, within the story?
SSS: I have a tendency to amalgamate people to make the story a little more interesting but otherwise everything that's happened in the book has happened to me.
AW: Can we walk through the creative process between you both?
Sina Grace: From my perspective, the way it goes is I'll get to hear about the story and compliment it and then usually Shaun will send me scripts where it's page layout, panel description, yada yada, and then every once in a while when years of trust and working together come into play I get the occasional Marvel method page which is super fun, and he'll [Struble] be like "however many panels you think, the characters do this and that," and that's always fun and it's great to go there with your collaborator and accidentally read each others minds. Shaun will always send me LDB's shirts and what he should be wearing and lets me have my fun by letting me design the girl characters, the ancillary characters. There's a good back and forth.
SSS: We work a lot through texts. I'll email Sina the scripts and he'll text me the layouts and the pencils and the inks for me to approve. We're pretty much in constant contact with each other, just working on the book.
SG: It's a very fluid relationship.
SSS: There are a lot of bands I would love to have in the book. We haven't scheduled a new one yet but I really hope the next one will be Cayetana from [Philadelphia.] They're an amazing group who's first album came out last year and was just amazing.
SG: It's usually pretty organic, if the music thematically matches the arc and it makes sense for the story and the band is willing. So far we've been met with lots of support from the musicians. So far so good.
AW: LDB was left on a bit of a higher note than arcs past. Was this a conscious decision or just the natural progression of the story?
SSS: Well, despite the title of the book, the story is suppose to be uplifting and it's about LDB's search for happiness and it's going to have an ebb and flow, he's going to be happy sometimes, he's going to be sad sometimes until he gets to the point where he finds contentment.
AW: LDB has a cat now. Can you tell me the name of the cat?
SSS: Buddy. Actually his full name is Buddy Wakefield, named after one of my favorite poets.
AW: I feel many readers identify with the themes in the book, such as depression and the storytelling medium itself. What do you hope to impart to readers through the story?
SSS: The secret of it is I'm writing this story to say you are not alone but I'm not saying it to the audience. I'm saying it to myself and when the audience comes and they're identifying with the same thing it makes me feel better, to know the stuff I've been dealing with in my life is universal. It's not really as bad as my mind makes me think. It's great to be able to build a community that helps me feel supported and hopefully I help them feel supported.
AW: What about you, Sina?
SG: Honestly I just try to convey that message and then my personal approach to storytelling is to let the reader know the little stuff matters and that's why we create space in the series for quiet intimate moments, panels that are just about characters sitting in the moment and not reacting to anything necessarily. At the end of the day, the "you are not alone" aspect is really important, letting people know we "get it" is super important.
AW: Last question, what's the weirdest thing you guys would do for $200?
SSS: I would demonstrate by puppetry skills.
SG: I would probably draw an entire comic book for somebody for $200 depending on the time of the week.