Thursday, November 21, 2019

Comics Lust 11/19/2019

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/desperately need some R&R Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). I guess we need to accept the fact that we are probably not going to maintain an exactly weekly schedule with our posts, but we will continue to attempt to do so. Tulip and Reverse Obie will always be working behind the scenes to maintain Donist World’s standing as a Fortune 320,000 company. I, on the other hand, will continue to create content about our great passion (y’know…comic books) while juggling life, work, relationships, and creating my own works, including the follow up to Kibbles ’n’ Bots (which is done) as well as its follow up. Anyhow, take a breath, let your shoulders relax, grab a refreshing water (or a beer or two) and some kale chips (or delicious tortilla chips and salsa), sit back, and afterward check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.

Comics Lust

Bingemode (Part 1)

It’s been a hot minute since I last posted to “Comics Lust” but I needed a bit of a break to come up with some new topics. This week happened to have some great new comics, but they were mostly ones that I’ve been talking about for months on end. Thus, I present “Bingemode!”
As comic book readers, that usually also means we identify as comic book collectors. We have our books on our desks, stashed in closets, many are bagged and boarded, some are grouped and sorted while others are like a deck of shuffled cards. Then there are the trades and hardcovers and, if you are like me, that fabled bookshelf, the granddaddy of them all, where you prominently display your most prized books, the ones that will be buried with you in your tomb as if you were a fancy-pants king/queen; who says you can’t take them with you, by golly?! Again, you are a collector…your wife/partner/friends/colleagues/etc think so, too, only the word they use is “hoarder.” That’s cool. As long as they leave the sacred organizational system alone we’re all good; that Ms. Tree One Mean Mother TPB is sitting there for a perfectly good reason, don’t touch it.
Then Wednesday arrives.
With each Wednesday comes a new assortment of comics and the collection grows. We usually read those new comics over the next couple of days, but that leaves a bunch of days in the week with no new comics to read. Whatever is a comic fan to do? Why, reread those favorites from the past, of course! Yes, there are certain comic series that I read on an every-other-year (or so) cadence (The Micronauts, Preacher, Miracleman, Swamp Thing, etc), but there are others that see a much greater expanse of time pass before I revisit them. It’s those comics that I will touch upon in these installments as I pick a series and hammer through from beginning to end. Do they hold up? Do they thrill as much as they did the first time through? Did I notice anything new? Time will tell, so let’s get our Bingemode on.

Sweet Tooth

(Mostly everythinged by Jeff Lemire with guest-artists Matt Kindt, Nate Powell, Emi Lenox; colored mostly by Jose Villarrubia and Jeff Lemire; lettered by Pat Brosseau; published by Vertigo Comics, a DC Comics imprint)
I’m fairly certain that Sweet Tooth was my introduction to Lemire’s work, but I was initially hesitant to dive in. In 2009, Vertigo had already lost much of its allure for me in the wake of Preacher ending nearly nine years earlier. I remember seeing Sweet Tooth #1 on the shelf at my LCS on the day it came out and the Vertigo label caught my attention. Here was a brand new Vertigo series and it was only $1. I didn’t recognize the name of the creator and after flipping through, I decided it was a pass. Within a few months, it began to settle in exactly how big a mistake I had made as podcasts, review sites, and LCS workers sung Sweet Tooth’s praises. So, I bought the first trade.
Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that Lemire’s art did not capture me at first glance, but by the fifth or sixth page, it clicked. Lemire is a master storyteller and you cannot help but empathize with his characters. When Gus is alone and afraid, you feel that very same isolation. When Jepperd’s eyes burn with fury, you feel that great, seething anger build, but most importantly, when those angry, hate-filled eyes meet Gus’s in the second issue and they soften for what must be the first time in years, you can’t help but lose yourself in the characters, the world, and the masterfully told story. I had initially dismissed this comic as looking overly simplistic, rough, and even rushed, but that is not the case. Lemire’s style with its economy of line tells you everything you need to know about what is happening on the page through both action and drama. Oftentimes, you don’t need words to follow along with the story. Your eye flows from moment to moment as you absorb the emotions of the scene, but it’s the words…the words are what will move you through intense imagery to utter fear for a character’s wellbeing, or from the sadness of a panel to complete and utter heartbreak; Lemire’s books often bring this Donist to tears, which is not an easy thing to do, and I absolutely love him for it all the more.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world wherein much of the population has succumbed to the Affliction, an incurable, fast-spreading disease that will eventually claim the rest of humanity that has somehow survived the past seven years. But that is not all that the Affliction has done. All births from the time of its arrival and ever since has resulted in the birth of animal/human hybrid babies. Enter Gus. Gus looks like an average young boy, perhaps a bit skinny, but were it not for the slope of his nose, the long horizontal ears, and the nearly foot-long antlers jutting from his temples, he would pass as human. Sadly, Gus’s father has died of the Affliction and the boy soon ignores his warnings of venturing too far away from their isolated cabin. Inevitably, Gus catches the attention of some poachers desperate to trade him for food, bullets, or whatever they can get. When all seems lost, a mountain of a man named Jepperd arrives and easily kills the poachers and promises to take Gus to The Preserve, a place of safety for all animal hybrid children. But neither Jepperd or Gus knows that Gus just might hold the key to what caused the Affliction and his body might possibly hold the cure. Their journey leads them across the country where they meet terrifying enemies, other hybrid children (both friendly and deadly), conflicted scientists, monstrous men, new friends, shocking secrets, and hidden histories.
Sweet Tooth ran for forty issues with no annuals or one-shots or crossovers of any kind, ending in early 2013. Every issue was written by Lemire with most of them illustrated by him as well. A handful of issues see other artists fill in and expand the world with those issues focusing on providing key background stories on the main characters of the series and end up being crucial to the experience as a whole. Returning to this phenomenal, heartbreaking yet uplifting tale was an incredible experience that was only heightened by the six and a half years it took me to once again pick up that first trade and read all 40 issues back to back. I at no time wanted to put the book down or “take a break” and found myself wanting nothing more than to read the entirety of the series in one sitting and ignore the demands of work, sleep, food, or what have you. I still got tearful with the end of issue 39 and was held in awe of the final issue as it continues the story, leaps into the future, and leaps again even further in time. With the final page I was again tearful but for very different reasons as the story definitively concluded, leading me with a sense of wonder and hope in the face of the great tragedy of the Affliction.
Sweet Tooth is a powerful comic book series and one that I will return to often, not necessarily every year or two, but probably every five or six or so. Fans of Lemire, post-apocalyptic stories, and good stories in general MUST read this beautiful and compelling book. You will love almost every character you meet within the pages of this can’t-put-it-down treasure, including many of the most monstrous ones once you learn their history and motivations…or at least you will understand them. There are currently four ways to experience this must-read series:
I didn’t realize how much I had missed Gus, Jepperd, Wendy, Bobby, and the rest of the characters from this harsh world, but I am so happy to have reconnected with them after all this time. Sweet Tooth Not only aged well, it was better than I remembered. This brilliant, beautiful series simply must be part of your collection.

That’s it for this installment, Denizens, and I will see you next time. Thank you for reading.


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