Hey Everyone. Things have been busy down on the farm. Sweet Tooth has launched on Netflix to both critical acclaim and incredible response around the world. The whole thing has been totally surreal. I is now in the top 10 most viewed Netflix originals and Season 2 has been officially announced.
When I first started working on the Sweet Tooth comic in 2008 I never expected it to be published at all, let alone spawn a successful television adaptation over a decade later.
I have been getting a lot of questions and feedback about the show, so I thought I would try and answer a few of the most common questions here...
SWEET TOOTH FAQ
One of the most common questions is what it was like to have the TV version of Sweet Tooth, a story about a pandemic, be in production and come out during a real pandemic?
Totally bizarre is the only real answer to this one. When I developed Sweet Tooth I was coming at it as a fan of dystopian post-apocalyptic fiction. I loved things like Tim Truman's underrated comic series from the 80's, Scout and Kirby's Kamandi as well as touchstones like Mad Max and Cormac McCarthy's The Road. So when I pitched Sweet Tooth to Karen Berger and Bob Schreck at Vertigo in 2008 it was really my attempt to do my take on one of these stories, and sort o mix it all up with my own fears of impending parenthood and anxieties about the modern world. I even named the main character of Gus after my own son, who was a baby at the time.
Since then the world has changed a lot. The weirdest part of all is that my real life Gus is now pretty much the same age as the character and living through a pandemic.
I can say that he pilot for Sweet Tooth was shot in 2019, a year before Covid, and showrunners Jim Mickle and Beth Schwartz had the entire season plotted and three more episodes written before Covid. So the real pandemic changed very little of what they did with the story.
How involved was I in the show?
Well, I didn't write any of it, but Jim Mickle, and Team Downey were incredible to work with and have kept me a part of every step of the process. I had a lot of great conversations with Jim early on about his vision for the show and was able to be on set for the Pilot shoot in New Zealand which was amazing. (some pics of my set visit included here...)
Why is the tone of the show so much lighter than the comics? And am I okay with this?
This is by far the most common question I get. And all I can do is answer it as honestly as I can...
I love the Sweet Tooth comic. It's as big a part of my life as anything I have ever created. It's a deeply personal book for me and I am really proud of the comic. But I also really like the TV show. Here's the thing, Team Downey and Netflix were not making the comic, they were making an adaptation and to me there are always going to be significant changes from the source material. I spoke with Jim Mickle about this early on and in the case of Sweet Tooth, the world has changed A LOT since I did the comic in 2009. Socially, politically and especially the fact that we have all lived through a real pandemic. And in the decade since Sweet Tooth there has also been a lot of post-apocalyptic and dystopian shows on TV and in film. So the usual bleak landscapes etc would feel a bit tired now. Jim tired to find a new visual language for the apocalypse, one that echoed the themes of the comic, thus it's a much lusher and brighter world.
I think this is also informed by the changes in medium from comics, specifically the comics I draw, and television. My drawing style is super sparse and minimal. And New Zealand, where they filmed the show, is incredibly lush. So that alone creates a jarring visual difference. Also they obviously toned down violence in the show. I think this is a product of the changes in medium as well. Seeing bloody violence involving child characters as a drawing on a piece of paper is a totally different experience than seeing it photographed with child actors. Many of the bloodier things I did in the comic would not work as a result. Or if they did it would make for an R rated show and that was never something Netflix or Team Downey wanted to make.
The way I look at it is like this, the darker and more horror inspired elements are really in the forefront of the comic. And the heart and the more storybook aspects sort of sneak up at you through that. The show is sort of the inverse; the storybook and heart is all up front and the darker elements are still there they just sneak up at you as you go. All the core elements, characters and themes are still there. And it’s the spots that these two versions of the world I created intersect that are magical for me.
But despite all the debate about show vs. comic that I have seen, I have to say I am kind of more impressed with how many elements of the comic are actually in the show. To me it’s quite impressive that they kept so much of the comic alive, that so many characters were translated over. And and despite many new characters etc, the show still hits many of the same beats.
I guess this is all my long winded way of saying that I love both the show and the comic. The comic will always be the comic and nothing can change that. And I would never change a single panel or word of it. And the show too is its own thing, and I feel that they compliment each other really well.
You may not agree. And that's okay. I love all the debate and all the people defending one version over another. That's the fun of fandom.
And for any Sweet Tooth fans out there, my recent limited edition Sweet Tooth print is almost sold out but there are a few left and available to paid subscribers. We only printed 150 of these and they all come signed and numbered, only available to paid subscribers.
And a quick note, I will be signing and sketching copies of the all-in-one Sweet Tooth Compendium soon and a very limited amount of these will only be available to paid subscribers as well.
I bet you didn't like Jepperd being a football player instead of a hockey player! :D
I'm a fan of dystopian post-apocalyptic fiction too, and that's actually how I discovered your work. Looking for post-apocalyptic comics I found Sweet Tooth, I absolutely loved it and here I am many years later... waiting for your signed copies of the compendium even though I already have all the paper backs! :D
By the way, good points regarding the lighter tone of the TV show vs comics!
Wondering if there will be a hard cover omnibus as well made?