Nerdlocker Artist/Writer Interview – Sina Grace and S. Steven Struble


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Who doesn’t love a man with feelings? Or a really good comic? How about a wonderful combination of the two? I know what you’re thinking: there’s no such thing. Well I’m here to tell you that there is such a thing and it’s called Li’l Depressed Boy. Over the past few months I have fallen in love with every aspect of this comic. At a glance you would think that the creators of Little Big Planet made a comic. But once you take a moment to appreciate this book, you will be pleasantly surprised. After mindlessly fan-girling over this comic for what seemed like ages, I managed to get the attention of both the writer and the artist behind this piece of indie genius. Here is what S. Steven Struble and Sina Grace had to say about their life and works.

Nerdlocker (NL): Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Where do you find inspiration and what influences your writing and art?

S. Steven Struble (SSS): I moved to Texas twelve years ago to break into comics. Strangely, in a roundabout way it worked. I am a competitive performance poet. I am an avid reader and gamer. I am a colorist on other people’s books. I spend a lot of time with my record collection.

Sina Grace (SG): I live in Los Angeles. My day job is editing comics for Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint. I illustrated a kids book with Buffy’s Amber Benson. I periodically drop names, I love drawing at coffee shops, which is a great place for me to people watch (depending on the issue of LDB, you can tell where I lived).

SSS: It sounds silly and cliche, but my number one influence is my life and my friends. I don’t really go a long way to hide it either — LDB’s best friend in the comic, Drew Blood, is one of my real friends. I love comics. Poets like Anis Mojgani and Buddy Wakefield. Lots of stuff.

SG: Comic books are a huge influence. I still spend like 10 to 20 dollars a week on comics, and there are a lot of fashion designers who inspire me, namely Alexander McQueen (RIP).

NL: LDB is a very creative comic and because of that it’s quite special. How do you want people to see it and react to it?

SG: I think the way most people have been seeing it is exactly how I’d like the reaction to be: what a surprising treat. We work in a period in comics where shock value is incredibly important. Even Batman has resorted to some violent measures to intrigue fans. The Li’l Depressed Boy’s biggest stunt is getting real bands to appear in the book. Folks pick up the book, and if they get to the last page feeling like their day is a little better for it, then I feel rad.

SSS: What he said. I want people to know that we’re doing this earnestly and trying to create something that can be identified with. The huge hope is that we might inspire a few people to break free from their routines and search for life outside of their front door.

NL: Were either of you, in fact, Li’l Depressed People. If so, when? Have you ever found yourself hadoukening a bowling ball down the alley?

SG: Oddly, I’ve never quite been LDB. When I was a lot younger, I was definitely reserved, but LDB and I don’t respond to the world the same way. I think I’m more like his love interest, Jazz: purposely aloof and quick to throw rocks.

SSS: Yeah. I won’t lie. I am LDB. I named the character after the nickname my brother would taunt me with in my mopey moments. I struggle every day with my anti-social nature.

NL: What is next for my favorite sad sack?

SG: It’s time for him to get a job. And maybe a New Girl.

SSS: One of the questions we get a lot is, “Where does LDB’s money come from?” We’re gonna deal with that. It’s the next step in expanding LDB’s world.

NL: What is your favorite comic book or character and why?

SG: I keep trying to answer this question and say, “Spider-Man is not an option,” but I keep coming back to Peter Parker: there’s no other character that has really been able to capture my attention for decades and decades on end. I love that he’s just one of the guys – a small fish in this big superhero pond.

SSS: Do I just have to pick one? Oh, man! That’s hard. I guess I’m going to say Madman. I’m a sucker for the way Allred straddles darkness and that beautiful manic pop cuteness of the character.

NL: Who are some of your favorite artists and writers?

SG: I live for Craig Thompson, Adrian Tomine, Paul Pope, all the Skybound creators, Jordan Crane, old Disney artists, Grant Morrison, Sean Murphy, Bryan Fuller, etc. etc. etc…

SSS: Ditto on all of those. Especially Tomine and Pope. Sam Kieth, Mike Allred, Los Bros. Hernandez, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Tara McPherson — honestly I could go on for days…Dashiell Hammett.

NL: How long have you been in the comic book industry?

SG: Technically a decade. I was doing some editorial intern work at Top Cow in high school, and have been publishing zines since then, too.

SSS: If I remember correctly, I started coloring professionally in 1996 — so 14 years? Yeah. 14 years.

NL: What was your profession before comics?

SSS: Nothing. It was my first job. I guess you could say “High School Student.” I’ve taken side gigs here-and-there, but comics has always been primary.

SG: RETAIL HELL.

NL: What are some other projects you’re working on?

SG: I’m slowly inching along on a graphic novel I’m writing and drawing called Not My Bag. See my previous profession to get a better idea of what that’s about!

SSS: I’ve got some things percolating in my head that aren’t ready to be talked about. Also, I’ve been taking a hiatus from writing poetry, but am starting some new poems I’m excited for.

NL: What would you like for Christmas?

SG: Workman boots and a cat of my very own.

SSS: What I want for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB Gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time. Oh, and a Wacom Cintiq.

NL: Finally, what is something random and nerdy that no one knows about you?

SG: I’m a slave to my own past: I straight-up just bought the re-mastered Sailor Moon manga. Only you and Brian Bockrath know that. I keep all my Cliffhanger! books nearby (Crimson, Battle Chasers, Danger Girl).

SSS: I am a hugely nerdy Muppet fan and if I weren’t doing comics, I’d probably be pursuing puppetry as a career. I own several puppets that I perform with for fun and I have a life-size replica of Kermit sitting on my desk.

If you haven’t checked out Li’l Depressed Boy, you are missing out. A big thanks to Grace and Struble for chatting with us. Keep checking Nerdlocker for more artist and writer interviews from some of today’s best comics!


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Anarchy Jones

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