Thursday Comics Hangover: Meet your new friends

The easy thing to say about the collected edition of Little Teeth, the comics collaboration between Seattle cartoonist Rory Frances and ZEAL Magazine editor Jae Bearhat, is that it's a comic about relationships. But if that brings something like an Archie comic to mind, with love triangles and neatly summarized plots, you are about to have your mind blown.

Little Teeth drops you into a group of anthropomorphic friends who live in a big city, and then it trusts you to figure everything out. You're not told the characters' names, or their relationships to each other. The story doesn't begin so much as continue around you on the first page. In a lot of ways, it perfectly mirrors the experience of starting at a new school in the middle of a school year, or moving to a new city and falling into a new group of friends. You have to figure out from context who's fucking who, who hates who, and why.

But please don't interpret that to mean that Little Teeth is a lot of work. In fact, it's a delight. These characters are fun; you want to get to know them all. They're humanized skunks and cats and dogs and mice, and they're queer and poly and curious and adventurous.

The characters in this book move from hot tubs to bars to dumpy living room couches, and they talk to each other a lot — about their feelings, about their relationships, about each other — but the pages aren't dialogue-heavy or a mess to navigate. In fact, Little Teeth feels breezy and light. Frances draws with a light line, and the book's neon pink highlights give the story a summery, youthful vibe.

Little Teeth in many ways has the vibe of an early Fantagraphics book — in particular, the punky in-your-face-ness of Love and Rockets. These are fallible, decent characters trying to make their way in a world with no adult supervision. It's better, and worse, than they ever imagined it could be.