Pick of the Week

09.02.2009 – Sweet Tooth #1

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.3
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 8.6%
Users who pulled this comic:

Size: pages
Price: 1.00

Don’t expect to get blown away by Jeff Lemire.  It doesn’t work that way.  Now, I’m not saying the work doesn’t have impact, but Lemire’s comics don’t work the way others do.  They don’t smack you in the face.  Instead, they linger, and tug at you, and make you go back and read them again, and they make you wonder.  At the conclusion of the first issue of his new series from Vertigo, Sweet Tooth, I’m left wondering, in the best possible way. 

You could spend your dollar (and you really should) on Sweet Tooth #1 and buzz through it, and maybe even enjoy it, but maybe you’re not walking away with the feeling that you’ve seen something amazing.  But then, I started thinking about it, making me read it again, and take stock of what we’ve actually got in our hands here.  Lemire is covering plenty of ground he’s explored before: themes of loneliness, the noise that exists under the silence of words not being said, and the cruelty of ignorance.  But he’s doing that in a new context.  Essex County was in our world, and grounded in reality.  The Nobody certainly has a foot firmly placed in science fiction, but again, the story was largely set in our world.  Such is not the case with Sweet Tooth

It might have started as our world, but that was a while ago, and things have changed quite a bit.  We just don’t know what they are yet.  We know there was an “accident” and the few kids born after the accident are “special,” presumable like our young protagonist, Gus, who seems to share some traits with a deer.  Gus is confined to a fenced-in, wooded preservation with his widowed and deathly ill, very religious father.  He’s seen nothing of the world outside, and neither have the readers.  Like Gus, we don’t know what’s out there.  We don’t know what the world is like, and that fear, fascination, and curiosity is transferred to us with all the creepy silence Lemire can muster.  As I said, I’m left wondering, and want to go along with Gus on the journey he’s surely about to take.  It’s a great set up for a story, and I have the knowledge that Lemire has absolutely nailed his past stories to spur me along for this one.

It will be plain to anyone looking at this book that Jeff Lemire doesn’t hail from the same art background as most of the mainstream superhero work out there.  His work is much more evocative and expressive than it is bombastic.  I go back to the word “quiet” to describe how it feels.  There are all sorts of organic, scraggly, sketchy lines that convey emotion and tell a story more than they necessarily resemble something lifelike.  It isn’t pretty, but it makes the reader feel something.  It sets a mood, and lets you know where these characters are coming from a great deal faster than most creators could do with words.  You can watch the tone of the art shift ever so slightly as the tension ramps up at the end of the issue.  The angles get more extreme, and the stillness and coldness of the first half of the book are replaced by fear and motion.  Again, it’s subtle, and it doesn’t hit you over the head, but it’s there, and it works very well.

I had wondered what sort of difference we would see in Lemire’s art once it was colored, but I was pleased to see that it works just fine.  Colorist Jose Villarrubia managed to color the book very effectively, in a way that works with Lemire’s artwork.  Too much detail and noise would have ruined the work, but instead the color fleshes out the world just a bit more, and works with the art and story seamlessly. 

The thing is this.  I don’t really know what this story is yet.  I even declined to read Lemire’s essay/pitch for the book in the “On the Ledge” editorial section.  I don’t want to know anything I’m not reading in the pages of the book itself.  It’s a more satisfying and pure experience in that way.  My recommendation is to that single dollar bill you’ve got somewhere, or even gather some change from under the car seat, and give this a shot.  After you read about it, think about what was actually there, and how the book made you feel.  Don’t expect to be blown away all at once.  If you’re like me, you’ll be left wondering.  The blowing away comes later, and it’ll be even better.

Josh Flanagan
You ever seen a deer-one before?


  1. i didn’t read it yet but i saw it coming a mile away. i’ll read the review after i read the issue.

  2. That was a fast pick

  3. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing that we made our picks at the same time….while you had 15 books to read, I only had 6. I must be a slow reader.

    Great choice for pick and a great review though. I loved everything about this comic and it’s definitely going to keep my interest for awhile. But my pick was ‘Strange Tales’ #1 because how great every story in the anthology was.

  4. Great pick Josh, I just wanted to give people a heads up.  I was on his blog checking out info for the Windy City Con.  If you mail Jeff you copy of issue#1 he will sign it and include an orginal sketch!  What a great deal from what I am hoping is the next big thing to come out of Vertigo because I really enjoyed this book.  check of http://jefflemire.blogspot.com/ for the all of the details. 

  5. This wasn’t a surprise, especially after I read it. Good pick. 

  6. Great choice – this was a good week for non-DC/Marvel books, so this pick fits in. Oh, and it was also a great start to what I’m sure will be a more introspective monthly.

  7. I have my copy right here in front of me, but i cant crack into it until after work.  I love knowing that I have the pick of the week. 

  8. Damn, my shop didn’t get this. Now I gotta go to the dreaded other shop. Lady that runs it is a creep

  9. Fall Out Boy was way ahead of Lemire here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0T-gxtVUzM

    (Totally kidding, but it *is* interesting they used a similar concept)

  10. Great review for a great book. I’m really excited to see what Lemire does with an ongoing story. This feels like the start of something special. 

    And you get a free preview of the Fables novel in the back? High five, Vertigo. They seem to have found a perfect model for hooking new readers and promoting other properties in the process. Very cool.  

  11. Cool, you get a preview of the Fables novel too? I really like Vertigo’s promotional stuff lately.

  12. Free FABLES preview in the back, eh?  Maybe this is how I hook my wife into reading a monthly comic.  "Hey hon, check out this preview of FABLES.  Oh, what’s that in the front?"  BANG!  Now she’s reading the entire issue.  Well played, Vertigo.

  13. Read this at lunch. GREAT first issue. The preview gave the impression on the tone and evironment of the story, but I have to say it was the voice that really wowed me after reading the whole issue. The voice right from the beginning, has — at once — a sense of innocence, folksy charm and ominous foreboding.

    Great, great issue. I’ll definitely be picking this one up monthly.

    You know, I’ve been following Vertigo since before it was Vertigo, and I’ve always been a fan. But they’ve definitely been through some ups and downs and struggled with their brand identity. Right now, I feel like they’re on a very high upswing. They’ve got fantastic and diverse new content coming out in a variety of formats.  Kudos, Vertigo, for doin’ it right.


  14. I just noticed that the solict for this kinda ruins some of the mystery for this. Kinda like with Chew #1, it gives away some aspects of the mystery before we explore it. Still it’s a great first issue and I actually forgot about the solict until I saw it on the site when reviewing it.

  15. Now I am even more irritated that my shop didn’t get any copies of this. You review has increased my interest in the book considerably.  Now I’m going to force my wife to read it (by withholding Fables until she does).

    @PaulMontgomery – I agree that Vertigo’s marketing department is absolutely firing on all cylinders, right now. They have me BUYING books that I wouldn’t even have noticed without their efforts to garner interest.

  16. My favorite picks are the ones that give me an incentive to try something I was on the fence about picking up.  I read your great review and got this issue, and I love it.  Thanks!

  17. Eh. It was… not that great IMO. May not be my thing.

  18. *shrug* It was okay.  It’s no where close to the chopping block yet, but I’m not dying for #2.

    I went with Chew #4. 

  19. UGGH! I can’t believe this–Why isn’t Sweet Tooth the POW?! It totally should have be–oh…wait…nevermind

  20. too bad all those trees died for a fables preview… kidding, relax

  21. Good call, Josh. Glad I picked this one up. Definitely on board with this one monthly!

  22. Good stuff, but I went with Chew #4.  I’m sucked into this world though, plan to stick to the monthlies.

  23. Sweet tooth was pretty awesome, definitely a 5 out of 5. I gave my POW to Chew. it was just too damn entertaining to pass up. But i also found Incognito ended REALLY strongly. I haven’t really been into that series but the end was a real thrill ride. Still it’ll be nice to see Criminal come back

  24. Fantastic first issue.  That two-page spread with the father’s decaying body set in smaller panels against the huge forest background was great.

  25. Thanks, Josh. Really looking forward to picking this up. I’m a total comic noob, but from what I read in your post today, this is exactly the kind of "mental" stuff I like.

    Talking Books (http://keidalgrim.wordpress.com)

  26. I didn’t leave this book nearly as excited as many of you, but it was definitely good.  Lemire is very dry for me at times, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It depends on the mood I’m in when reading his work.  Last night? Bad mood and impatient, which is not an equation for success when reading Jeff Lemire. 

  27. Just to off the wall for me.

  28. I finally got to read the POW and enjoyed it a great deal. I must say, this is the second time I have been drawn in by the $1 price point after being absolutely repelled by the free preview in other Vertigo books. I wish I knew why that was. In this case, as well as in the case of Unwritten, something about the fact that the preview was a few pages from the middle of the book (and which pages they were) gave me an entirely wrong impression. Of course, as a result this was a nice surprise.

  29. The preview certainly made it feel like a different series all together didn’t it?

  30. Yes, I would actually preferred not to have read the preview pages in the order they were presented.

  31. I’ve basically stopped reading preview pages for that very reason.

  32. I only read preview pages for new series or ones that I might check out.  Not for the books that I already read.  But of course, this time it came back to bite me in the ass.  Damn you, Vertigo.

  33. Definitely my pick of the week!  Mysterious, beautiful, haunting and then some.  Everybody needs to check out Essex County and the Nobody – this guy is really working on a completely different level. I am so excited to see what he does with an ongoing.

  34. I read this book, and …. think I enjoyed it?  First issue really didn’t establish much about what the series will be like, other than the general mood.  Way too early to tell if the series will be any good– but I’m glad I spent the $1k on it, at least.  Probably won’t pick up #2, if it’s at a regular price– but may someday come back and read in trade if I hear great things about it.

    My POW was Invincible Iron Man.  Matt Fraction has worked wonders with the Tony Stark character in that series, taking Tony from the truly unlikeable borderline super villian that he was prior to that series, to being the incredibly likeable underdog that you can’t help but root for.  

    Not a very good week of comics– but Invincible Iron Man is the one book that I’m still thinking about, 24 hours later.  Just terrific, one of Marvel’s best books easily.

  35. $1K?

    You paid too much.

  36. Unfortunately my store didn’t get any Sweet Tooth.  Though they said they’d have it for next week.  I’ll definitely be picking it up then.  My pick was Strange Tales #1.  I loved every story and laughed out loud on multiple occasions.  Fun book.

  37. At the time of this post 44% of the iFanboy nation has selected this as their pick of the week. Mindless drones? 

  38. @SUperMoore: Nope. It was at 37% before the POW was posted.

  39. @Jim: Did they ask for points on the other end too?


    looking forward to reading this issue. things take a little bit of time to get to australia

  40. I’m a new user. How do I select my POW?

  41. @Ricky – If you haven’t picked books, go to the "comics" section in the header, and choose all the books you bought, or will buy.  Then click on "your comics" located under the logo at the top, and the comics you’ve picked will each have an option to "Make this your pick".  Click the one you want, and you’re good to go.

  42. Having just finished reading Cormac McCarthy’s incredible book ‘The Road’, I noticed how familiar the themes are in ‘Sweet Tooth’. But there’s nothing new under the sun I guess, as Jeff Lemire noted in his comments in the comic. Anyway, very much enjoyed the issue and looking forward to more.

  43. A few people mentioned that this looked like a lackluster week of comics. I’ve just gotta say: this was a GREAT week of comics for me. Almost nothing tied into Dark Reign or Blackest Night, and there was a good deal of diversity from the indies. Marvel’s second tier books were totally hitting their stride, from Luke Cage Noir to Immortal Weapons to Ghost Rider. Buffy was the best that book has been in a while. And then books like Sweet Tooth, Chew, Witchfinder…? All great. Everything on my list was fairly diverse in style and theme, and nothing was too tied to continuity or mega-events/themes. Yeah, this is my kinda week.

  44. @daccampo: Yeah a lot of great indie or smaller tier mainstream books this week. If it was a week with Blackest Night or all the Avenger books came out….This could’ve been forgotten or even smaller titles like Strange Tales wouldn’t be talked about.

  45. I’m with Dave — the ‘biggest’ books I had this week were probably Incognito & Iron Man; both of those were great and then I had excellent issues of Agents of Atlas, Exiles, Immortal Weapons, and Cable.  Plus Sweet Tooth.  I’m much happier with this week’s across-the-board quality than with many weeks that have much more hyped titles.

  46. @Josh – thanks for pointing that out. I had looked there but on my screen the "make this your pick" button was almost entirely washed out and very difficult to see.

  47. Was this book great?  Yes.  Will it read better in trade?  Also probably yes.  Might not pick up any more singles and wait for the trade instead.  At least we know Vertigo is better then DC at getting them out quickly. 

  48. i loved it, but i didn’t know why. i think i know now after the review, thanks dude.

    i think i also liked it cos im a fan of post apocalyptic stuff. off topic, but im have way through "the road" by cormac mcarthy… its an unbelievably strong post apocalyptic tale. a must read.

    it was 85p in the UK. will the price stay there or go to 2.99 for the rest of it?

  49. It’s a good setup but I think the positive reaction revolves around potential rather then actual substance.

  50. @s30: It’s just for the first issue.

  51. The covers for the next two issues look really good. I gotta remember to tell my LCS owner to put this and Chew in my pull bin.

  52. This was a haunting read, lovely and spooky at the same time. Finishing it reminded me why I read trades.

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