2018 has already started, and it’s already The End of the F***ing World...on Netflix, anyway.
British TV viewers might have already caught the adaptation of Chuck Forsman’s minicomics-turned-graphic novel, which ran in eight parts on Channel 4 starting last October The darkly comic tale takes two misfit teens, one of whom’s pretty sure he’s psychopathic and the other might very well be, who fall into a relationship that involves theft, violence, destruction of property, and quite possibly even falling in love.
And now that show is coming to Netflix, and here's a trailer – which, as the title implies, is not exactly safe for work.
The miniseries is poised to bring new attention to Forsman, who’s earned a cult following for his prolific output of offbeat, sometimes retro-styled comics such as Revenger and Slasher. We spoke with him about the adaptation (often abbreviated, like the comic, to the more public-friendly TEOTFW), his upcoming work, and much more.
Newsarama: Chuck, how did the TV version of TEOTFW come about?
Charles Forsman: When I was releasing TEOTFW as minicomics chapter-by-chapter, some of them were being sold at Gosh! Comics in London, Great Britain. The guy who directed half the episodes, Jonathan Entwistle, picked them up and emailed me. That was in 2012, I believe.
It's been a pretty long process to getting it made. I never really thought this would actually be a real thing. I asked a mentor for advice when I was negotiating, and he likened option deals to buying a lottery ticket. Most of the time it goes nowhere. And he is right. This thing fell apart so many times. It's basically a miracle that it got produced.
Nrama: How involved were you with the TV version?
Forsman: Early on, I wanted to be hand-off. I trusted Jonathan and knew he would make something great if given the chance. Also, I just didn't want it to eat up my life. I wanted to make my comics at the time.
The production company, Clerkenwell Films, has been very nice to me, though. They brought me and my girlfriend over to watch a week of filming. I met everyone on the production, and got to see actors saying lines I wrote alone at my desk.
Nrama: The show's run in England already - what was the reaction to it like, and what was your reaction to these reactions?
Forsman: It was a big relief, to be honest. I liked the show, but you never know how people will react. It seems pretty positive across the board.
It was a trip to look at the #TEOTFW hashtag on Twitter the night the first episode aired. I think the show is a bit different from the type of shows that have been made in the United Kingdom, so I think people see it as something very different. And some people seem to say it feels “American,” even though it's all set in in England. I think that is part of the charm of the show. It's an English version of the American murderous road trip.
Nrama: The concept of young lovers (or such) on the run is universal in many cultures, but I can imagine that when you originally did the comic, you didn't imagine the characters as having British accents in your head. [Laughs]
How do you feel having the story take place in England affects the context, in terms of tone, subtext, et cetera? It's interesting, for example, to compare a show like Shameless in its British and United States incarnations and see what's specific to the backdrop of each country.
Forsman: Yeah, it helps that I am a pretty big fan of British TV, so I am kind of over the moon about it.
My book is a very American comic, but I like it when adaptations do their own thing. That's another reason why I was happy to be hands off on the production. It's always a bummer when they adapt a comic or book and try so hard to make it like the original thing, and lose sight of what they are making.
I think the themes of the story are very relatable to most humans, so I'm not too worried about people being turned off by the cultural differences. But like I said, they did an interesting thing where they made a British version of these American things.
Nrama: Has the TV show opened any new doors for you? Do you see yourself doing more work in film or TV coming up, or do you have any projects in progress?
Forsman: Hmm. I think we'll see if things open up when the show gets on Netflix. It's a weird thing. I learned a long time ago to never expect the world to open up. When I had my first book published, I thought my world was going to change. And the hard truth is, I learned I needed to keep my head down and work harder. The work is why I do it anyway.
It would be nice to have more work offers, because money is money. I can't lie about that. I'm chatting with some people about a Revenger project, but nothing is concrete. Film is a big love of mine. I hate when people who work in one medium think they can make the jump into another, so I try to stay weary of saying I would love to write or direct a movie, but at the same time, I would f***ing love to do that.
Nrama: And speaking of your comics, tell us about your current works.
Forsman: This past year has been a big one for me. I released the Revenger & the Fog collection and a Revenger Christmas Special, the Slasher mini series and collection, a reprint of TEOTFW and the collection of I Am Not Okay With This which I serialized through my Patreon.
I'm so grateful that I can self-publish and that I have publishers like Fantagraphics, Bergen Street Comics Press, and Floating World Comics willing to get my stuff into stores.
Nrama: Looking back at the original TEOTFW, how much would you say you've changed as a person and as a creator since you originally made it? Do you feel it's something you would still create today, or that it's more of a product of who you were then?
Forsman: Hmm. Yeah, I started the book in late 2011. My life was a lot more anxiety-filled and uncertain than it is now, so I'm sure that would have an effect if I did the book now.
But who knows, really? I'm still me. I still took these feelings from my brain and put them down. I'm not sure feelings have an expiration date. I try to not elevate the work as something that I'll never attain again. I worry that I would be chasing that dragon the rest of my life. I'd rather worry about what's on my desk and move forward.
TEOTFW was very much an experiment in process. I was feeling stifled creatively when I began it, and it really helped clear some cobwebs and perceived blockages I put up.
Nrama: What are some other comics/creators you're currently enjoying?
Forsman: I don't read as many comics as I would like. But I think my favorite thing I've read this past year was Twilight of the Bat by Josh Simmons and Patrick Keck. It's a bootleg Batman comic that is one of the best things I read in 2017.
Also, that Alack Sinner collection by Sampuyo and Munoz is a work that is so powerful to me. It's been a huge influence on the way I drew Slasher this year.
Other cartoonists that continue to amaze and inspire me are Michel Fiffe, Ben Marra, Melissa Mendes, DJ Bryant, Denys Cowan, Klaus Janson, E.C Segar, Daryl Seitchik, Frank Miller, and the list goes on.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Forsman: I'm starting a new comic only available through my Patreon this year. I'll be releasing more news about that soon. But I plan on doing 20 pages monthly and sending them out to your mailbox if you sign up for a $3 pledge. I want to only focus on that comics-wise this year, so if you want to know what I'm up to, check me out on Partreon.