Jeff Lemire's "Sweet Tooth: Out of the Woods" is a harrowing work of originality. Although it's a twisted take on the postapocalyptic genre, the graphic novel goes places without telling you where you're headed, keeping you on your proverbial toes.
The title refers to the nickname given to Gus, a young boy of about 9 who has a taste for candy bars. He also has pointy ears and antlers on his head "? the result of an "accident" that causes animal-like deformities in children. Gus lives with his father, secluded from society in the middle of the forest. But then his father dies, leaving Gus alone.
Hunters nearly kill the boy, but a stoic man named Mr. Jepperd comes to his rescue. Together, they hit the road "? not unlike "The Road," of course "? in search of a better life at a place called "The Preserve," which may or may not exist, depending upon which violent stranger you ask. The outside world is a complete enigma to Gus, so every turn is tinged with danger.
In five issues, "Sweet Tooth" unfolds with palpable tension, expertly written and drawn for maximum mood. That mood is purposely chilly and chilling, as you'll feel so bad for Gus, you'll come close to tears. The only negative thing about it? It ends on a cliffhanger; the second volume streets in December. That's a long wait, but likely worth it. "?Rod Lott