Donny Cates has quickly made a name for himself as a talent to watch in the creator owned comics world. Though his stories fit in the fantasy or horror genre, he considers himself a storyteller, not bound by genre. Now, he launches his latest ongoing story, one about an unconventional family- a sixteen year old girl, her father, her sister and her baby- the Antichrist. Today, we’re Buzzin’ ’bout Babyteeth.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Garry Brown
Colorist: Mark Englert
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Cover: Garry Brown
A new comic from AfterShock, Babyteeth follows teenage Sadie Ritter as she gives birth to her son Clark. Oh, and he’s the Antichrist.
We start with our main character sitting amongst ruins, creating a video for her absent son, explaining his entrance into our world. A destroyed teddy bear is our only clue to what might have happened, but just as we get our bearings we’re thrust back to the beginning of the story.
She tells an all-too-familiar tale of a scared sixteen year old, hiding a pregnancy from her fellow students and family. The father’s identity is breezed by quickly, almost suspiciously so. Sadie appears to be somewhat of an outcast, reading comics away from the rest of the student body. Nothing seems extraordinary until her water breaks, and the world literally shudders around her.
Donny Cates does an amazing job of pacing the story using a “How we got here” framing technique. I’ve recently seen other comics using this, but Babyteeth is far more successful in it’s execution. I haven’t read anything else from Cates, but his other recent books “God Country” and “Redneck” are stacked up(on my tablet) waiting to be read, and this issue has given me plenty motivation to devour those next.
The art is simply black inks over stark white backgrounds, save for colored narrative boxes and sound effects. The artist, Garry Brown, is a graduate of the Kubert School, but I would have sworn he came out of the Sean Murphy Apprenticeship with his mastery of inks and beautiful vehicle work. He does an expert job of communicating character through clothing and body language, as well. This may not seem important, but it saves us from having to read long character bios every time someone new is introduced. One look at each character tells you a lot about their intentions and personality.
The first issue doesn’t get too deep into the story, but I was left wanting more in the best way. These two creators work well together, and seem to be crafting a more grounded version of the demon-child story we’ve seen in other books and medium. We’ll have to see how the story takes shape in the second issue, but AfterShock may have another gripping and unique book for it’s catalog.
Donny Cates and Garry Brown turn their eye to the Antichrist (and maybe the apocalypse) in the first issue of this ongoing series.
Cates spends the length of the issue developing lead character Sadie, and her sister and father to a lesser extent. The story is told entirely from Sadie’s perspective, centered on the day her son Clark- the possible Antichrist- is born. In speaking to Cates (watch for the interview soon!), he wasn’t trying to tell a horror story here, and it shows. This is a family story, and a great character piece, which happens to have a wonderful sense of unease and creeping dread. There’s also some interesting touches with Sadie getting bullied, but also a clear resilience to it. From what’s on the page here, Sadie is clearly more than a stereotypical 16 year-old girl, without moving into the snarky Buffy type of character. It’s a great change of pace.
Brown is the perfect artistic collaborator for Cates here. He draws Sadie as a believable teen girl, and Clark looks like a real baby. He also shifts his style slightly as several unnatural events begin to surround baby Clark’s birth, which helps the sense of unease pervading Cates’ script.
This is a fantastic story to pick up. It’s hard to compare it to anything else, but if you’re a horror fan, give it a try.
Review by Tony Thornley