Neverboy #1 tells the story of an imaginary friend who uses drugs and fantasy to keep himself and his fictional family alive in the real world.
LIFE IS AN ILLUSION
Neverboy #1 is Shaun Simon’s ode to imaginary friends. The protagonist shares the title – Neverboy – and is introduced to readers in a hospital where he is being examined by a young girl and her imaginary pet elephant. Throughout the issue Simon layers in many hints, both visually and textually implicit, to key readers into our protagonist’s ephemeral nature.
There is the added bonus throughout Neverboy #1 mirrored conflict. Neverboy has a son named Ben with a ton of stage fright over a coming school performance whilst also being hunted down by a group of – supposedly – thugs on motorbikes. Simon uses these aspects to compound Neverboy’s depression and non-too-subtle substance abuse issue. This issue is a veritable cauldron of conflict and obstacles mixed in with a beautiful and strong fantastical elements make for a stunning issue.
Throughout Neverboy #1 the nature of the reality the characters inhabit is brought into question by Simon as much as the nature of the trouble this family unit finds themselves in. At no point are the more unique qualities of the story spoon fed to readers, we are trusted to carry in a certain knowledge from our own childhoods in order to put all the pieces of the story together.
As for the protagonist, the titular Neverboy #1 is a bit of a hipster dufus, but charmingly so. As Simon reveals more about the little boy who brought Neverboy into the world his dedication to protecting his family not only makes a lot of sense, but brings a true note of sadness to the issue. Under the mysterious magical elements and the obstacles that keep presenting themselves in the face of Neverboy and his family is a current of grief.
When the drug abuse element in introduced into Neverboy #1 it throws the leading man’s character into question and when the revelation comes that it carries a strength and secondary motive then Neverboy no longer seems like such a bad guy. It’s an interesting move on Simon’s part to flip the substance abuse trope on its head by making this a necessity in Neverboy’s existence on our plane as we understand it.
Neverboy #1 marries the updated supernatural elements from a book like Peter Panzerfaust with the stakes in something like Locke & Key, the titular protagonist is compelling and Shaun Simon lets your figure a lot of it out for yourself. This is an awesome first issue.
Artist Tyler Jenkins continues the proud tradition amongst indie comics artist of sketchy linework in the pages of Neverboy #1. Given the fluid nature of reality and its inhabitants in this issue he is a perfect fit. The world is solid and well defined … until it begins to fall apart just as Neverboy’s poses and actions grow more and more cartoonish as his appearance in our world grows challenged.
Colourist Kelly Fitzpatrick contributes to this slipping nature by eeking the colour out of the leading man’s hair as Neverboy #1 goes along. Jenkins sets up the familiar building blocks of a modern big city and Fitzpatrick knocks them down as she works to subtly indicate Neverboy’s slipping foothold in our world.
Neverboy #1 just looks really, really cool.
BOTTOM LINE: OUTSTANDING DEBUT
Neverboy #1 is such a cool idea and so well paced. It deserves to be read and tells the kind of story that deserve a place in independent comics. You deserve to pick it up.
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