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Rory Frances and Jae Bearhat’s Little Teeth follows a few days in the twisted-together lives of a young, queer, polyamorous tangle in the Pacific Northwest, rendering them all as various funny animals in a simple, expressive cartoon style. The point of view wanders around, but it mainly follows an endearingly grouchy fox girl (whose name, like most of the book’s characters, we never quite learn). Pushing thirty, she considers herself a village elder, slightly above the fray; she leaves it to the younger characters to have fights over bed-sharing and TV-control rights in the same breath.
We first meet the fox while she works up the nerve to dump her latest experimental date, and — mismanaging her own nascent old-lady cynicism — she proceeds to do so with a sloppy callousness that horrifies her friends. The inevitably dramatic backlash serves as backdrop for all the other threads that weave through Little Teeth’s 200 pages. The stakes remain low-key, in all cases; this is a “slice of life” comic depicting a bunch of young people in the throes of intense living-and-learning but not necessarily experiencing any singularly life-changing moments.
My favorite thread of Little Teeth’s fabric involves its most tidily self-contained story. One of the friends, a rising star in electronic music who calls herself “Slumber Party of One”, has become romantically involved with her on-stage collaborator. They want to keep this on the down-low for professional reasons, but “SPO1” feels happy to blithely ignore the strain this creates, to the other’s chagrin. When a YouTuber crashes into their dressing room before a show for a rumor-chasing interview, they find themselves forced to start confronting it, and entirely in the form of dodges and parries to the interviewer’s questions. A clever and graceful comedic drama, worth the price of admission in its own right.
The whole book wraps up soon after that story does, with the fox re-focusing her attention on her primary partner, and all the other tumbling critters experiencing moments of coincidentally quiet grace in their respective stories — with the sense that they’ll all resume careening around the next day, as well they should. Little Teeth made me smile and laugh a lot — I should note it’s very funny, with crackling dialogue and beautifully loose-goofy cartoon art all the way through — and I feel very happy to have spent a couple of evenings with it.
Disclosure: I purchased this book myself, prior to its publication, and I can’t remember how I learned about it. I bet it was someone’s retweet. Thank you, probable person who retweeted about this book maybe!
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