Kristin M. Ferebee

Published On


Page Range

pp. 203–228


  • English

8. Dead Gods and Geontopower

An Ecocritical Reading of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth

  • Kristin M. Ferebee (author)
At the core of Jeff Lemire’s 2009-2013 graphic novel Sweet Tooth is a tale of resource extraction. This may seem an extraordinary claim to make about a dark fairy tale of a text that is chiefly concerned with the postapocalyptic relationship between an ageing hockey bruiser and a young deer-human hybrid boy. Yet Sweet Tooth #26-8 and #35 reveal that both the mysterious plague responsible for destroying human civilization in the world of Lemire’s story and the animal hybrid children inexplicably born in the same era have their origins in an ancient nonhuman force disinterred from the Arctic ice. The trope of nonhuman horrors unleashed from drilling or melting in the Arctic has become a common one; Sweet Tooth’s world-ecological (Moore) framing of the incident as one that brings together colonialism, capitalism, and science is not particularly unique. However, the Canadian Lemire’s refusal to differentiate between genetic science and indigenous cosmology in the comic’s portrayal of both viral pandemic and embodied animal gods offers the possibility of a geontological (Povinelli) reading. Here, I interpret Sweet Tooth as fundamentally a piece of climate change fiction— one that responds to an urgent need for new ways to understand a world that is not only post-Human, but also post-Life.


Kristin M. Ferebee