Book to Screen Review: The End of the Fucking World

Debuting as a series of short mini-comics through creator Charles Forsman‘s own micro-publisher Oily Comics. Forsman’s raw and violent coming of age comic, The End of the Fucking World, went on to see wide release through Fantagraphics. Readers have been left haunted both by its nonchalant portrayal of intense brutality and its vitriol of the world. Scenes come at the reader fast and unrelenting, like a hammer blow to the head, however they are packed with layer upon layer of meaning, and it’s the things left unsaid, or characters abhorrent and rash actions in the heat of the moment that leaves a lasting impression on you.

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Those coming into writer Charlie Covell and directors Jonathan Entwistle and Lucy Tcherniak’s, Channel 4 and Netflix adaptation, who are familiar with the comic book source material will be struck by just how much has been added in the translation from one medium to another, and how this goes to further add layers.

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Those moving from show to comic will be struck by the breakneck speed at which the original’s stripped back plot moves and the bleakness Forsman’s stark black and white line art brings to the world.

It is these additions however that evolve the T.V. from a simple translation of the comic and shift it into being something all of its own. Each new narrative beat or character acts to expand upon on the central themes of self-discovery and adolescent confusion at the heart of Forsman’s work, whilst also giving the viewer new windows into the minds of our two leads, James and Alyssa.

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Take Gemma Whelan and Wunmi Mosaku’s detective characters, Eunice Noon and Teri Donoghue for example. This entirely new cast of characters and subplots serve as in world analogs for the viewers. Through Noon and Donoghue’s diametrically opposed attitudes towards James and Alyssa the viewer gets to question their own feelings towards them as well. Are they violent and destructive teens? Victims lashing out in need of help? Or can they be both? We do see a single police officer in the comic, however, they are shown as a vile villain, a member of a secret cult who is used as an example to show just how much further James and Alyssa could fall if they continue on their current trajectory.

The show switches locations from an unspecified American location to Midwest/Southern Britain. This change plays well within the show as it draws upon the real world ennui a lot of young people are experiencing in suburban Britain. The show never relies on this as a crutch or excuse for the characters actions, but use it as a means of catalyst for them. A feeling James and Alyssa couldn’t explain to themselves let alone to each other gnawing away at them from the inside, driving them into action, any kind of action for better or worse.

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The comic is blunt and aggressive in the questions it makes you ask about its characters, whilst the show acts as a slow build, your inner tension towards the leads and your own preconceptions constantly bubbling below the surface before boiling over and leaving you questioning yourself as you think, am I rooting for this messed up modern teen Bonnie & Clyde?

By Shaun Richens

 

 

 

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