I worry if I go around complimenting my friend and Biff Bam Pop contributor JP too much he’ll wind up with a swelled head. But the truth of the matter is, sometimes the guy is just ahead of the rest of the world. He’s certainly ahead of me when it comes to an appreciation of both indie comics and the DC Universe. Put the two of them together and you wind up with writer/artist Jeff Lemire, who JP has been raving about since last year. In fact, my industrious friend even managed to score a interview with Lemire for Biff Bam Pop on the eve of the release of his new DC/Vertigo title Sweet Tooth. Like I said, sometimes JP just knows.
I’m definitely a late comer to Lemire’s work, but a few weekends ago at the Toronto Comic Art Festival (TCAF) I managed to play catch up. I picked up a trade paperback copy of Lemire’s Essex County along with the first trade compilation of Sweet Tooth from Lemire himself. Part of me wanted to play catch up with my buddy and see if I actually would enjoy the artist he’s been so high on. And part of me was just feeling left out. I wanted to know what all the fuss about Lemire was, specifically Sweet Tooth, which has been getting some mainstream raves for months now. And man, I’m glad I picked it up.
Sweet Tooth: Out Of The Woods takes place in a post-Apocalyptic world (my favourite) where children have been born as human/animal hybrids. The Sweet Tooth of the title is Gus, half-human and half-deer, who is soon left to fend for himself following the death of his father to “the sickness”. Gus soon meets up with Mr Jeppard (sounds likes leopard) and begins a journey far from the security of the home he had, meeting sympathetic survivors and some evildoers as well.
The back cover suggests that Sweet Tooth is for those readers that appreciated The Stand and The Road, and I’d agree with that sentiment. There’s the struggle to survive found in the former and the father/son relationship in the latter. Lemire’s storytelling is clear and concise and moves along briskly, while his art is strangely compelling, though it’s a style that I normally don’t gravitate towards. But his Gus is a unique creation, from both a physical and psychological perspective.
Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth is a standout comic, even in its trade paperback format (which, like most other DC trades, is on a paperstock that I can’t stand). It’s nice to see that all the accolades this Canadian artist is receiving, from critics and fans (and friends), lives up to the hype. Hugely recommended reading.