Drawing the Eye: Art, Storytelling, and Sweet Tooth / by Alex Jarvis

This is a discussion of Sweet Tooth, meaningthere are likely to be spoilers.
If you don't want to spoil the story, check out Alex's review of Sweet Tooth here.

I really want to talk about the art of Sweet Tooth. As I mentioned in my review, the writing was mostly subtle character building in the dialogue between the innocent Gus and the war-weary Jeppard. But the third character is the art of Jeff Lemire (also the author), who uses the framing of the paneling to create strong beats within his pages, where words would fall short.

The use of blackness stands out in this volume. One page is entirely black, save for a small narration bubble in the middle. It focuses the eye directly where Lemire wants you, namely, the words. This is not a mistake; It appears he wants to very tightly control the "camera" in these panels, making sure you are seeing exactly what he wants you to see.

Check out this effect in an action scene:

In the first iteration, you're not even going off-panel. Lemire is focusing on the points of impact with red, synesthetically referencing pain. In the third, he is referencing that first callback to show you something happening in the panel, but hidden from view. It's used a few more times (and once in a terrific fashion as Jeppard uses the butt of his gun to smash someones face in. Man, that's a fantastic scene.) to great effect.

Here's another example of the right focus.

Look at how much information that conveys. The level of equality set up between the two bodies (extending as far as biology and as close as innocence) would be clunky and sad if it were done with words. There's a very similar scene later on where Gus tries to reassure Jeppard that he is a good man, which shows Jeppard's eyes fading slowly into black. These are scenes that really shine in Sweet Tooth, showing a unique strength of hving your writer and artist share the same brain.

What stuck out for you in Sweet Tooth volume one? Let us know in the comments.