DC’s superhero titles won more than just sales last month — they also won the attention of the comics press pretty much everywhere, from mass media outlets that almost never mention the “c” word to the little guys like us. Right now, looking at the coverage, it’s too easy to forget there are other books out there deserving of our attention, but of course there’s a huge world of reading material besides The New 52, and from that world comes my favorite book this week, Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt’s Sweet Tooth #26.
Jeff Lemire’s a pretty busy guy at DC right now, what with his writing two of the aforementioned New 52 (Animal Man and Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., both awesome), so it makes sense that he’d relinquish art duties on his own creation, Sweet Tooth, for a few months. Picking up the pencil/pen/brush is Matt Kindt, a cartoonist known for his work on independent books like Pistolwhip, 2 Sisters and Superspy as well as the Vertigo comic Revolver. He’s also lent his talents to Sweet Tooth before, in a small flashback segment back in issue #19. I personally wasn’t too familiar with his work before picking up this book, but what can I say? His art’s great, and it’s close enough to Lemire’s own to not make for a totally jarring transition. I’m most impressed by the colors, usually handled by the uber-talented Jose Villarrubia. Here Kindt takes care of it himself since he paints the book, and they look great; they’re appropriately muted given the issue’s barren setting, yet expressive and beautiful. In short, I love how this comic looks, and I’m happy to welcome Kindt aboard for the next three issues.
Kindt’s art probably also feels less like a departure from the norm because the story’s he’s been given is a flashback. In this opening chapter of the three-part “The Taxidermist,” we follow Dr. James Thacker, a well-to-do London academic who’s been tasked with finding his sister’s fiancé, who several months ago disappeared on a Christian mission to Alaska. This book stays squarely in the past; we spend all our time with Thacker and ship captain Jasper as they make their way through the Alaskan wilderness to discover what happened to that expedition. Besides the Alaska connection (when last we left Gus and Jepperd in the present-day, that’s where they were headed), readers might not even be sure how this issue connects with the main Sweet Tooth story, though by the end of the book they’ll likely have their answer.
I don’t think Sweet Tooth has ever put out a bad issue, but #26 is my favorite in some time. Script-wise, it’s told mostly with journal entries, which gives us more words than we’re used to in one of these comics. What results is a meaty, substantial read that fully establishes its characters and sets a great, eerie tone sure to be exploited in the next two books. I also love that Lemire can take a very practical, real-world need (like taking a break from penciling a book to keep on schedule with all his work) and turn it into a fantastic story that spotlights other deserving creative talent. Would that every monthly comics creator had the same foresight.
Basically, I can’t recommend Sweet Tooth enough. If you’ve never read it, #26 is a pretty solid place to start (I don’t think you need to know what’s happening in the present day to enjoy this story), but also, the first couple volumes of the trade paperbacks are pretty damn affordable. Seriously, guys, check this book out — I think you’ll like it.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more