One of the biggest surprise Netflix hits of 2018 came from comics but not of the superhero variety. The widely-acclaimed series The End of the Fucking World, which was nominated for a BAFTA and an Emmy and will return for a second season, was birthed as a mini-comic by Charles Forsman, and that’s how director Jonathan Entwhistle first encountered it. Now Entwhistle is hoping to repeat the magic with another adaptation of a Forsman comic, I Am Not Okay With This.
Entwhistle is teaming up with Stranger Things director Shawn Levy and Arrival producer Dan Levine, along with playwright Christy Hall, for an eight-part series based on I Am Not Okay With This, which like TEOTFW began life as a mini-comic for Forsman’s Oily Comics and was compiled into graphic novel form by Fantagraphics.
I Am Not Okay With This is the story of a teenage girl with superpowers, but in typical Forsman form, the story focuses on her personal relationships and problems, specifically anxiety and poverty as catalysts for dysfunction.
“It’s basically my X-Men comic,” Forsman told me. “She has this weird mental power that she can create pain in somebody else, and it’s almost a manifestation of her own anxiety. The power is not the focus of it. It’s a cipher for anxiety.”
Anyone who’s seen or read The End of the Fucking World, or read any of Forsman’s work, knows that the topic of teenage distress is near and dear to his narrative heart. It’s one that he tackles with empathy from his own life, but never sugar-coating the experiences he depicts.
“It’s something I come back to a lot,” Forsman said. “There are definitely elements of autobiography. It was a time in my life that I was very depressed. A big defining moment in my life was when I was 11 years old my dad died of cancer and after that my life changed.”
“I felt like I was facing the reality of death and part of me grew up faster than a lot of the kids around me. It definitely triggered a depression in me that I was in for many years. I became pretty insular and I beat myself up a lot. It’s a time in my life that I struggled looking back on for a long time. As a lot of people when they are teenagers, they don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. I had all that stuff. I was chubby. I didn’t date many girls. I was in my own head a lot.”
That experience ended up enriching his comics output, and now that seems to translate into the television adaptations of his work. It hasn’t been announced when either series will air, but if the reception is anything close to the first season of The End of The Fucking World, it’s sure to expand Forsman’s reputation as a sympathetic scribe for troubled kids and again point out the level of talent that is lurking in mini-comics.
In the meantime, we can look out for Forsman’s upcoming collaboration with Max de Radiguès, Hobo Mom, which will be released by Fantagraphics in February 2019.