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Comics You Should Know: Sweet Tooth

Over the last 15 years, there have been few creators who have demonstrated such a wide range of storytelling as Jeff Lemire. The Canadian artist and writer has done all kinds of wonderful stories in a variety of formats, in some cases doing all the work himself and, in some cases, sharing the load with other artists. In the middle of his success, Lemire launched the successful story Sweet Tooth, as a Vertigo comic. (DC Comics will try and claim it now but Vertigo was a successful imprint of DC, run entirely different and separately and responsible for amazing series that DC itself would have never published.)

Sweet Tooth is set in a near future that is apocalyptic, and, in this world, children are beginning to be born merged with other animals. As you can imagine, that sets off all kinds of things in the wider world. But the main lead of the series is Gus, who has a quiet life in the woods, seemingly living in the world off the grid with his father. And while his father is doing an excellent job of sheltering him and educating him, the world comes at them, as Gus exhibits the traits of both a human and a deer.

The story advances and eventually we see Gus on the run with his guide, Jeppard, an aged man who promises to help take him to a sanctuary. And to say more would spoil the series.

But Sweet Tooth is a series that should be checked out. The series ran for 40 issues and it has a very interesting conclusion. Lemire’s style as an artist is unique and we have touted it here on Nerds on Earth for good reason (check out our pitches for both Essex County and Roughneck). It is a very particular style but Lemire knows how to use it to show both the innocence of Gus but also the violence and darkness that he confronts on his journey with Jeppard. Two issue of the comic stand out as well because they are presented in landscape direction instead of the normal comic style. (Think about the comic pages being turned on their side.) The approach lets Lemire play with edges and borders in ways that normal comics do not get to.

Sweet Tooth is definitely a Comic You Should Know. The series is collected in both one large book but also 6 trades. Due to the comic’s success and critical popularity, your local library likely has access to those trades, which are also available on Comixology for downloading for less than $10 per trade and the first 12 issues are free as part of Comixology Unlimited.

But even more so, it will be curious to see how the new Sweet Tooth television show is going to play, as it releases on June 4, 2021 on Netflix. Here is the trailer.

As you can see, the series takes the starting point of giving a bigger, wider world than the comic starts. Part of me is a bit disappointed in that. Part of the thrill of the story in the comic is the slow reveal of the world. The trailer alone seems to drop things that don’t come into the comic world until much later.

Originally the series was done for Hulu before eventually moving over to Netflix and it is rumored to have 8 episodes. I suspect that with a fast-forwarded timeline that the television series could burn through all of the content from the original series. But it also could play well with a cliffhanger type ending, as there are several moments like that in the comic.

And, lastly, Lemire himself has returned to the world again. In November of 2020, 7 years after the end of the original series, Sweet Tooth: The Return was launched for a 6-issue run. The Return revisits the world of Sweet Tooth some 400 years into the future, and we get a glimpse of what the world became.