By Jeff Lemire
Despite the fact that his doe-eyed face fills most of the covers of SWEET TOOTH, the series was never meant to be just about Gus. It was always going to be just as much about Jepperd, the mysterious, hulking drifter. Jepperd’s like Batman to Gus’ Robin, Butch to his Sundance, Tango to his Cash. You get the picture.
For me the differences between Jepperd and Gus are the core of the book. Specifically, Gus is the ultimate innocent. He embodies childhood and incorruptibility and purity. Jepperd on the other hand is a like a dark, violent storm. He’s everything that’s been degraded, ruined and hurt in this post-apocalyptic world. Gus only knows hope. Jepperd only knows disappointment and loss.
But I soon discovered that when you put these two together they each become something else, something more. Jepperd suddenly softens. And his violence, when it inevitably explodes out of him, suddenly has a focus...the protection of Gus. And Gus, on the other hand, starts to show a resourcefulness and guile that was originally hidden beneath his almost cherub-like exterior.
And then Jepperd goes and ruins it all (SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T READ VOL.1 YET!). As we left the two characters at the end of SWEET TOOTH Vol.1, Jepperd betrayed Gus, selling him to the militia for a strange form of payment…a mysterious duffle bag. What’s in that bag? And furthermore, what could be worth this man turning his back on the only good thing he’s ever had in his lonely life since the plague hit?
All this and more is slowly revealed in SWEET TOOTH Vol. 2: IN CAPTIVITY (Out Dec.8). If Vol.1 introduced us to the world of SWEET TOOTH, and to the character of Gus, then Vol.2 is really Jepperd’s tale. It’s here that he becomes more than the two-dimensional killing machine he first appeared to be. He becomes a man. A man that knows pain and loss beyond anything Gus could imagine in his young life. Does this justify his actions? And will Gus ever forgive him? You’ll have to keep reading to find out. But for know I’ll leave you with a look at my earliest design sketches of Jepperd along with the earliest version of the cover for Issue 6. Enjoy!