These days, I am a big fan of the work of writer Jeff Lemire. But I remember when his Vertigo series Sweet Tooth was coming out, I’d see multi-page previews in the Vertigo books I was reading, and my interest in the book was, shall we say, nonexistent. Some kid with antlers and a worried look on his face likes candy bars or something? Pass.
But now not only is it a Netflix series, but I have since read a few titles by Lemire and found I generally like what he does, so why not see how much I may actually enjoy Sweet Tooth?
My trade collected the first 12 issues, and it basically introduces the reader to Gus, a sweet-natured boy with deer ears and antlers. He’s been raised in the woods by his Bible-thumping father until his dad dies of the plague that seems to have wiped out much of the human race. Gus has been told to never leave the woods, but he wanders around and is found by a pair of hunters looking to turn Gus in for a reward of some kind.
Gus then is seemingly saved by a large bruiser of a man named Jepperd. Jepperd is armed, angry, and a bit violent. However, he offers Gus a chance to go somewhere safe, and Jepperd carries chocolate. Gus seems to like that stuff, so Jepperd dubs the kid “Sweet Tooth”. However, Jepperd’s true mission isn’t what it seems to be on multiple levels, and Gus’s sweet and naive nature may not save him, but it may be enough to keep him alive in certain ways. See, there are other kids like Gus, and Jepperd, well, he may have more of a conscience then he lets on.
As set-ups go, this one works quite well. It does a fine job of setting up the main characters of Gus and Jeppherd and the world they live in. The animal kids are suitably weird. The plague is an unknown factor, and Jepperd at least is far from the simple character he appears to be at first glance. Both he and Gus are emotionally resonant characters who have a lot of pain in their lives and may need something neither of them quite understands just yet. For Gus, the answer seems to lie in his father’s Christian faith and desire to be a decent person. For Jepperd, it seems to be more dishing out violence to other people who he figures deserve it for one reason or another.
So, Lemire the writer did the expected good job. However, Lemire also did the artwork on this book, and that I am most definitely not a fan of. I suspect it was Lemire’s artwork that might have turned me off on the original run back when this series started. It just isn’t to my taste. So, while I plan on eventually finishing this series, I don’t think I am going to rush back any time soon.
8.5 out of 10 hypnosis scenes.
As for the Netflix series, I do plan to get to that one sometime soon.