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Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire

1/09/2010. Contributed by Ewan Angus

Buy Sweet Tooth: Out Of The Deep Woods (Vol. 1) in the USA - or Buy Sweet Tooth: Out Of The Deep Woods (Vol. 1) in the UK

author pic

pub: Titan Books/Vertigo. 128 page softcover. Price: 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84856-773-3.

check out websites: www.titanbooks.comand

You know the scene from 'Bambi' where he loses his mum and it's filled with that angst filled, tear-jerking Disney emotion? Well imagine stretching that scene and smashing it together with 'Fallout 3' or 'The Road'. Then you've got Sweet Tooth. A post-apocalyptic comicbook that focuses on the plight of Gus, a half-deer/human hybrid. 'Sweet Tooth' is a dark but amusing comic that deals with the ideas of religious reliance and the other usual tropes of loneliness, depression and lack of place in a world with no ordered future.

Written and drawn by Jeff Lemire, the equal parts cute and horrid artwork works beautifully with the plot, the cute innocence of Gus with his antlers is pounded relentlessly by gunshot wounds, bodies and genuinely bleak scenery.

Throughout the first five issues, we have just enough to keep us intrigued. Whilst the comic series of 'The Stand' published by Marvel and based on Stephen King's novel and 'The Walking Dead' by Robert Kirkman are the go-to apocalyptic comics this is one you should be looking out for. Its childish protagonist is a brilliant central character and his naivety is charming and terrifying as he knows nothing about the outside world. As Gus was born after the event that caused social collapse, he is mutated with his endearing (get it?) antlers and was brought up in the woods on his own and has absolutely no idea about the real world, social interaction or violence. He was, perhaps wrongly, brought up as a staunch Christian with myopic views and the struggle he must go through to shake off these beliefs makes for excellent reading.

Of course, as we have the naïve helpless kid, we need the badass bodyguard with a shady past. Cue Jeppard, a harsh old git with a strangely accurate shot. Portrayed both parts harsh and kind with a blunt edge, Jeppard is another enigma that these first five issues set up.

Issue 3 ups the ante and features one of the most devastating scenes in my recent comic book findings. Gus, on his own, as Jeppard is injured, sets off to find food and medical supplies comes across an old abandoned house. Following a bit of searching, Gus comes across the bedroom of a wee boy who has died in his bed.

'You was just a boy like me, wasn't ya?' he says solemnly to the corpse. He then takes the kid's book, which he was holding, and sets off. The horror of this scene is not that Gus finds the corpse but also that he is unaffected as he hasn't been taught to fear death. The finding isn't confusing to him, it was just another part of the outside world.

Intriguing, heart-wrenching and satirical, 'Sweet Tooth' is a title with brilliant storytelling and a protagonist you can't help but love.

Screw the other post-apocalyptic works out there, 'Sweet Tooth' is the one you should be reading.

Ewan Angus

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