Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire

Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the WoodsFor some stupid reason known only to myself, I passed on the $1.00 first issue of Sweet Tooth, written and drawn by Jeff Lemire.  The comic series is soon to reach its tenth issue and after reading the first five issues contained in the first trade paperback Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Deep Woods, I am giving strong consideration to not trade-waiting this series; I might have to pick this up in individual issues.


The series centers on a sheltered 9-year-old boy, Gus, who happens to have some of the features of a deer noticeable in his features, including a set of antlers that extend prominently from his head.  His father has setup home in the woods and isolated the two of them from a society that is falling under the weight of a plague that has nearly decimated the normal human population, yet leaves the human/animal hybrid children that have appeared over the prior seven years untouched; the hybrids are rare and highly sought after.

After Gus's father succumbs to the disease that has destroyed much of the human population, Gus is left to his own devices in the lonely woods, the only home he has ever known, until the day that two hunters discover the boy and seeing a payday make a play to snatch him.  The assault is interrupted by "the big man," Jepperd, who effortlessly kills each of Gus's poachers and convinces the boy to leave the woods and join him on a journey to the safety of The Preserve.  No longer wishing to be alone and trusting the old big man, Gus agrees to accompany him and the pair travel through the perilous wasteland of America on their way to The Preserve.

Sweet Tooth is a slow burn comic, that has moments of action, but the real story lies in the journey and the relationship between Jepperd and Gus, who he refers to as Sweet Tooth because of the boy's newfound love of candy.  Lemire's raw artistic style took a brief moment to adjust to, but now I could not see another artist drawing this engrossing story.  The minimalist dialogue coupled with the beautiful storytelling of the art are perfectly joined, making the shear ugliness of the world Lemire has created beautiful in its own right.

The past year has been a treat for some of my current favorite comics, many of which coming from DCs's own Vertigo Comics.  Sweet Tooth, Daytripper, Unwritten have all been striking and incredible series from Vertigo, and then there are the non-Vertigo titles Chew, Parker: The HunterThe Walking Dead, and Criminal, all non-super hero books that are so well written and so creative that most anyone can pick them up and enjoy them.

The second volume of Sweet Tooth looks to have a release date of December of this year, but I may not want to wait on this one and will start picking up issue six and up...the hunt is on.


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