By Casey Brazeal
Jeff Lemire draws the kind of sketchy textured lines that are perfect for tree bark. They hatch over each other and bend at sharp angles. They’re the wrong lines for new cars and bikini babes, but they’re perfect for old people and antlers.
Sweet Tooth is an ongoing horror comic from Vertigo that takes full advantage of these rough looking lines.
Lemire created, writes and draws the book so it is completely his own. Having one creator seems like an advantage for the book, Sweet Tooth has a unified, complete feeling world that’s a million miles from focus group thinking. The world is devastated and big, but Lemire only reveals a little of it at a time.
The main character of the story is a little boy with Antlers. This spooky creature wears a plaid shirt and a guileless expression. He gets the nick name Sweet Tooth from his fondness for candy bars, a fondness that almost leads him into the hands of poachers looking to sell mutants like Sweet Tooth for profit. It’s terrible to see this very innocent boy-thing in danger. A lot of the tension in the book comes from this little boy trying to deal with the grim world around him and the unclear motives of the people in it.
Even with all it’s grimness this isn’t just a book for horror fans. It’s not that it isn’t scary, it can be very scary but that’s not what’s best about it. It has a fine plot, it’s well drawn, with characters you can care about, but none of that is the A #1 reason to read this book. What’s best in this book is its terrible, ugly world.
Don’t misunderstand the word “ugly” to mean badly drawn or not worth looking at. “Ugly” is just the opposite of pretty, it doesn’t mean bad. In fact, sometimes the only way to get a visual idea across is to create something that is a long way from pretty. Sweet Tooth is often very ugly and just as often very good.
You can visit Casey at his blog, North and Clark.