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AICN COMICS Q&@: Optimous Douche chats with SWEET TOOTH's Jeff Lemire!!!

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AICN COMICS: Q&@ is our new semi-weekly interview column where some of your favorite @$$Holes interview comic bookdom’s biggest, brightest, newest, and oldest stars. Enjoy this latest in-depth interview filled with @$$y goodness and be sure to look for more AICN COMICS as we gaze into the future of comics every week with AICN COMICS: SPINNER RACK PREVIEWS every Monday and then join the rest of your favorite @$$Holes for their opinions on the weekly pull every Wednesday with AICN COMICS REVIEWS!

Q’s by Optimous Douche!

@’s by SWEETTOOTH’s Jeff Lemire!

Hey comic cats and kittens, Optimous Douche here with a real personal treat. When I first saw SWEET TOOTH sitting on the shelf at my local comic shop I mustered a hearty “WTF is this.” Vertigo’s amazing $1 first issue strategy, though, spoke to my cheap nature and offered the assurance I didn’t have much to lose. What I didn’t know was how much I would gain. I love this book, plain and simple. When the opportunity came up in the @$$hole Clubhouse to speak to the creator himself, Mr. Jeff Lemire, I think I left a few marks on my fellow reviewers as I voraciously bit at the opportunity.

OPTIMOUS DOUCHE (OD): Hi Jeff, thanks for talking with me today. SWEET TOOTH is by far one of the most original titles I've read in years. Where did you find the spark (or sparks) of inspiration to tell the tale of a soulful boy with antlers living in a post apocalyptic landscape?

JEFF LEMIRE (JL): It came from a lot of different sources. There is a bit of Jack Kirby’s Kamandi in there, a bit of The Island of Dr. Moreau, a bit of Tim Truman’s SCOUT and Mad Max also. But those are just really surface influences on tone, style etc…the real spark came from the idea of taking the character types of Lester and Jimmy from my graphic novel TALES FROM THE FARM and transporting them into a more fantastic setting and story. So you have the big hulking damaged man and the innocent little boy together in an extreme situation. I also have always really enjoyed the post apocalyptic stories as a genre and wanted to try my hand at one.

OD: Was Gus always a human/deer hybrid when you were fleshing out the story?

JL: Yes, that image of a little boy with antlers was the first thing I had. He kept popping up in my sketchbooks, and before long a little story started to form around him. Originally I had this little boy and his sick Dad in the woods that he could never leave. The post apocalyptic stuff and Jepperd came later, as I started to develop the idea more.

OD: Speaking of the apocalypse, the world’s population has been pretty much obliterated in SWEET TOOTH by some kind of plague. What’s unknown still is whether the children with animal attributes were a result of the plague or were they on the way beforehand. Care to comment?

JL: That would be revealing one of the main mysteries of the book! You’ll have to keep reading to find out the origins of the plague and the hybrids and how they relate.

OD: OK, let me try this from a different angle. Is there rhyme or reason to the animal mutations or could we see a slew of different animals piggybacking on the human genome?

JL: Again, wait and see! But I will say that at this point they all seem to be variations of mammals.

OD: One more try. I might be reading too much into the covers of the individual books, but one in particular made me wonder about Gus’ “birth.” On one cover Gus is at the bottom of the page and his antlers are forming the roots of a tree. Was Gus “grown”?

JL: Quit asking me to reveal all of the secrets of the book!

OD: Sorry, I open all of my Christmas presents a week early as well. OK, let’s explore the past a little. It seems like the fact that Gus likes chocolate is just a simple character trait, yet it became the entire title for the book. Is it safe to assume we'll see a deeper meaning to Gus' sweet tooth in SWEET TOOTH?

JL: It really is just symbolic of his innocence and sweetness. It also makes for a catchy title. I like the juxtaposition of the two words as well, Sweet being Gus, Tooth being Jepperd.

OD: When SWEET TOOTH'S father passed away it was one of the most touching and gut wrenching moments I've read in comics. What personal experience if any did you draw from to bring those pages to life?

JL: I was around death a lot as a kid. I had a big family and we were very close. Wakes and funerals were commonplace.

OD: We seem to be learning almost as much about Gus' savior turned Judas, Jepperd, as Gus himself. Will Jepperd's presence continue to be felt throughout the title? Is he on the same pivotal plane as Gus when looking at the big picture?

JL: They are equals in this book. This is both of their stories, and as their stories progress they will both continue to influence and change the other. Jepperd is going to be a very different man by the end of this series, as will Gus.

OD: We’ve learned in recent flashbacks Jepperd had a child of his own when the apocalypse hit. Any spoilers there? Will we get to meet Jepperd’s offspring?

JL: Maybe we already have. See Issue 11!

OD: Any other spoiler morsels for upcoming issues I might be able to beg for today?

JL: Issue 12 is an homage to George Perez and Marv Wolfman’s CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #11.

OD: You're going to start working on SUPERBOY soon; will you explain how your creative process changes working with an artist versus doing both the art and the writing on your lonesome?

JL: It requires a lot more preparation. When I’m writing and drawing myself a lot of things come out in the creative process. It is a very organic process and I don’t really separate the writing from the drawing. Drawing the book is writing the book for me. So in order to try and maintain my storytelling “voice”, whatever that may be, I need to put a lot more time in to actually crafting the script for someone else, I have to be much clearer about my intentions, and my visual approach to each page in the scripting stage. And then of course each artist brings something else to it when they interpret those scripts. I like that; I like being surprised by what I get back.

OD: Do you have any other upcoming projects you want to tell your fans about?

JL: I am working on a new graphic novel for Top Shelf called THE UNDERWATER WELDER, due in late 2011 or early 2012. It tells the story of a deep-sea welder who has a strange encounter at the bottom of the sea and surfaces a changed man in a changed world. I am also writing a new Superboy monthly series for DC starting in November!

OD: Well that’s it, folks. The first SWEET TOOTH arc is now in trade format at the affordable Vertigo $10 price mark. If you like comics and more importantly original comics that buck the norm while still respecting the medium this will be the best Hamilton you ever spent.

Optimous' book AVERAGE JOE is being published by COM.X. AJ is a tale that explores what our world would be like today if everyone was gifted with super human abilities in 1938. The guys are looking for top shelf art talent to partner with on this project. Reach out to Optimous on FaceBook for further details.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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