Ben is six years old when he first sees the monsters which lurk in the background of so many lives. As he grows up, the monsters become a more important part of his life, a constant threat he can never dare to forget.
Sweet Heart #1 slowly builds a sense of threat. Seen at first from the point of view of a small child this world is confusing, full of hidden dangers and motives. As Ben grows up, we see snapshots of his life, and how the monsters become a low-level, manageable danger.
The monsters of Sweet Heart, by writer Dillon Gilbertson, are a metaphor for diabetes, or any long term health issue, which becomes a constant factor in the lives of so many.
Art by Francesco Iaquinta, with colours by Maco Pagnotta, provides a slow but evenly-paced story. There is excellent use of light and shadow throughout, with monster’s frequently lurking in shadows. Characters are clearly defined. The monsters are familiar, but in places genuinely creepy. They’re the thing of a child’s nightmares, avoided by hiding beneath bed sheets, but as the story progresses they become something that adults would genuinely fear. More than anything, Sweet Heart is about the constant claustrophobic threat that haunts so many people who suffer from chronic health conditions.
Lettering is provided by Saida Temofonte, and is relied upon in the narration heavy story, but smart uses of colour and other small touches help keep the many text boxes from being overbearing.
The story takes its time, gently building sympathetic characters. There are small moments regarding Ben’s relationship the medicine that keeps the monsters at bay, and his mother’s relationship with food. When things speed up and violence comes, it’s shocking and visceral.
Sweet Heart is planned as a five part story. A kickstarter is currently underway to fund Sweet Heart #2. At only $5, backers will receive a digital copy of issues 1 & 2.