Everything is Teeth

I went to the library Friday and picked up a lot of comic books, and I’ve knocked through two of them quite quickly, over the weekend.

Everything is Teeth, a comic book memoir by Evie Wyld, is told from the perspective of a six- and seven-year-old on her trips to Australia to visit her mother’s family – so the story and drawings are gauzy, like the memories of childhood. The result is a dreamy, not-quite-nightmare of a book about a young girl’s obsession with sharks and shark attacks and her relationships with the ocean in Australia and her family, which becomes quite clear at the finale of the book. The story is sort of a series of interconnected vignettes: reading about Rodney Fox’s brush with death after a shark attack, being increasingly anxious and scared of the water, going to a roadside shark museum with her father, and finally viscerally picturing her mother and brother being devoured. I really liked the slow burn of unease that the narrative built this way, though I agree with some other reviewers that it could feel disjointed.

The art, however, is incredible, and completely makes up for the slight problems with narrative. The drawings by Joe Sumner are mostly simplistic, cartoony even, except for the sharks and their aftermaths. I couldn’t figure out if the sharks are all photographs or colored pencil, but they’re definitely photorealistic, cutting into the majority of pages menacingly, lurking around, so the reader gets a sense of the impending doom that haunts young Evie. Sumner’s images also give a lot of space for Wyld’s words to swim around themselves, which builds the dream-like quality of the narrative.

Overall, it makes for an interesting memoir, though the ending felt tacked-on. I hate to say that, since I have a feeling it’s what precipitated the entire project, but it does feel that way. Like a weird coda. Of course, I have no suggestions for how else it could’ve ended.