The Goggler Pull List #11: Sweet Tooth and Die

Dept. of Comic Book Compulsions

On this week’s edition of The Goggler Pull List we’re featuring two of our favourite reads of all time: Die, Kieron Gillen’s brilliant homage to Dungeons & Dragons, and the Jeff Lemire classic, Sweet Tooth.


Sweet Tooth (Jeff Lemire)

So, you’ve seen the Netflix series. You are right to have loved it as much as you did. And now you’re thinking about whether or not to try reading the comics. The short answer is a resounding “yes.” And for two reasons. 1) The comic books really are as good as everyone says. 2) They are so different from the screen adaptation that you will get an entirely new and completely different experience.

I should preface this recommendation by saying that I love everything that Jeff Lemire has written. Essex County. Extraordinary X-Men. Descender. Trillium. His brilliant run on Moon Knight. And of course, the wonderful world that he’s built around Black Hammer. He is one of a handful of writer/artists who is as comfortable doing realist indie fare as he is with straight up genre work. (Some of the others being: Tom King, Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Matt Fraction, and Chip Zdarsky.)

Sweet Tooth, which first came out in 2009 under DC’s now defunct Vertigo imprint, was always one of those indie darlings that would inevitably find itself on many an Internet listicle, from the “5 Best Post-Apocalyptic Must Reads,” to the “10 Comics That Changed Comics,” to the cringeworthy “7 Comics That Are For Grown Ups Only.”


The series came at an opportune time. Publishers were taking more risks and audiences were looking for reads that were riskier. It was perfect. Here was a monthly comic about a “deer boy” named Gus and his griseous human guardian, Jepperd, both of whom wander through a North American landscape that has been ravaged by a mysterious virus. The comic was dark and unforgiving, with characters who possessed very little by way of saving graces. This was a series that didn’t shy away from our darkest inclinations and successfully built a compelling father/son relationship around betrayal, hurt, and the kind of bad decisions that seem impossible to come back from.

It is a testament to Jeff Lemire’s skills as a writer to craft so many unlikable characters and infuse them with just the right amount of humanity in order to make them relatable. Because despite its bleak view on humanity, Sweet Tooth somehow manages to still be both hopeful and heartwarming.

The 40 issues that make up Sweet Tooth’s original run (Lemire returned to the series this year with a short six issue reimagining called Sweet Tooth: The Return) will take you on quite the journey, one that transforms from a deep post-apocalyptic mystery, to a religious parable, to something wonderfully strange and wholly unexpected. They genius here, however, lies in how well Lemire has drawn these characters. The joy of this comic book is in watching these broken individuals, traverse a broken world, and learn to slowly accept one another, despite seemingly impossible odds.

Lemire’s prose is stark and pointed. His art is scratchy and grim. Sweet Tooth has a look, and a mood, and a vibe, and I promise that you will find yourself completely immersed in it.

Die (Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans)

When Die, the comic horror fantasy series by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans was released in 2018, a lot of the press coverage surrounding it had references to Stranger Things, the Netflix series about the kids from Hawkins, Indiana who accidentally created a portal to an alternate nightmare dimension.


The first issue of the comic may have leaned there (ish), but by the time the second issue gets going, you realise it’s more than that. In fact, if anything, Die is more Jumanji. Six friends, while playing a tabletop role-playing game are inadvertently transported into the world of the game and are forced to play it, for real, and survive. That may be where the story starts but that isn’t the story that Die tells. God knows that would be unoriginal and boring.

What Kieron Gillen did was to pick up the story twenty five years after they had been brought back into the real world, as they’ve struggled to either come to terms with what happened to them as children, or fight to forget. Think of it as the second IT movie. These kids are now much older, but not necessarily wiser. The old wounds haven’t quite healed yet. The emotional scars still very raw.

Much like the aforementioned IT, or even The Return to Oz, Die shows the return of the kids (now adults) to the world of the game, not as some heroic act, but as a continuation of their journey. Decisions were made then that affect the game world now, and for better or for worse, those decisions have affected the players as well. 


Kieron Gillen doesn’t spend much time priming the reader as to what happened the first time the characters went in. It was obviously harrowing, and difficult, and painful. He teases these stories out as they encounter the results of what has happened and how those personal decisions have had a wider impact on the world they now find themselves in. 

Stephanie Hans’ art is also beautiful to look at. The world of Die is rendered in beautiful flashing and flowing colour. Vibrant and strong. Arresting and dynamic. There are panels here you’d want on your wall. 
Die is a dark comic, with stories of pain, and harsh decisions made, and a return to the implications of those decisions. It is a story about a history shared, about an experience that only these six have ever had. This is a lush world. A full world. A world full of pain and sorrow.

We get our comics either from our local comic book store, The Last Comic Shop, or on Comixology. Are you interested in checking out either Sweet Tooth or Die? Or have you read them already? Let us know by getting in touch with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Check out our previous installments of The Goggler Pull List here.

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