Thursday, 28 June 2012

So I Read Sweet Tooth

A 250 word (or less) review of Sweet Tooth trade collections 1-4
By Jeff Lemire, Vertigo Comics

When I first picked up Sweet Tooth, one of the staff at my comic shop described Jeff Lemire’s comics (particularly Essex County) as the comics equivalent of Tragically Hip songs: things are literary, expressive, and direly bleak in a Canadian prairies kind-of-way. Sweet Tooth to a certain extent fits this description. The story takes place years after the majority of humanity was wiped out by a mysterious plague and follows Gus, an animal-human hybrid (an apparent byproduct of the plague) leaving his home for the first time, and Jeppard, a violent man with questionable motivations, as they attempt to navigate through the dangers of their world. The mystery of the animal-hybrid children and the plague and… well, other things, are also integral to the plot, and the deliberate and relentless unfolding of answers is a huge part of what makes Sweet Tooth so engrossing. The interplay between characters is the other impetus to the book as,  cataclysmic plague and pseudo-science-mythology aside, Sweet Tooth is mostly about family and human connectedness even in the face of fantastic tragedy. Jeff Lemire writes a thrilling and visceral script filled with unexpected twists and downright merciless plot developments. His artwork; a kind of minimalist, sketchy, expressionism often suffused with soft watercolours; punches home the surrealism and bleakness of this plague ravaged world. I kind of feel Sweet Tooth represents a bridge between the more genre and literary based comics traditions: Jeff Lemire is a unique talent worth checking out.

Word Count: 245

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