Friday, August 6, 2010

Sweet Tooth #12

by Jeff Lemire

If you've heard good things about this comic, and have been thinking about checking it out, this is a great issue to jump on with.

One of my favourite things about Lemire's Essex County Trilogy was the way in which he gave over a lot of real estate to show the quiet life on the farm.  Pages would go by with only a few panels and no words.  It was very effective, and easily done in a project where he had a lot of space to work with.  Writing and drawing a monthly comic doesn't afford a cartoonist with the same freedom; something has to happen every month (insert remark about decompression here) or the readers disappear.

With this issue, Lemire finds an interesting way to have a 'silent' comic, yet still cover a lot of story ground.  There are two narrative tracks in this issue.  Most of each page shows what's been going on with Gus, now that he is in captivity.  He gets showered and placed with some of the other hybrid children that he has met before.  Nothing is said in this section, but we are able to feel a great amount of empathy for Gus, who clearly doesn't understand what's going on.

At the bottom of each page, there is a narrow horizontal panel that focuses on Dr. Singh, the man that discovered Gus's lack of a belly button (with all that implies).  He is dictating an account of what is going on, starting with the emergence of H5-G9, the disease that started the world on the road to its current dire straits, and moving up to his discovery about Gus.  It gives him a more human side, helps to explain some deep background for the series, and slows down the comic, so it isn't a three-minute read.

Lemire's doing some very cool work with this comic, and this issue helps to build a lot of suspense for what is coming.  This feels like the freshest and most experimental thing that Vertigo has put out in years, and they should be commended for standing by a project like this which is so far outside of their usual style.

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