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It’s the End of the Effing World

Cartoonist’s teenage dystopia explodes in popularity



While in no way autobiographical, Chuck Forsman says “The End of the F***ing World”reflects his psychological state in his younger days.

Photos by Megan Haley

When the television show “The End of the F***ing World” debuted on British television in October, it was greeted with unanimous rave reviews. Less known amidst the acclaim is the show’s Berkshire origins: It is based on a comic book created by Adams-based cartoonist Charles “Chuck” Forsman. 

Forsman’s 2013 graphic novel follows troubled teenagers James and Alyssa, who, escaping their dysfunctional families, hit the road on a dangerous journey of self-discovery, tainted by self-destruction.

Forsman originally released the story as a series of mini-comics before it was published as a complete novel by Fantagraphics Books, and it was in this form that film director and producer Jonathan Entwhistle happened upon it. Entwhistle contacted Forsman, who followed up with copies of the remaining issues. Entwhistle was excited enough to propose developing it, eventually creating the series for Channel Four with an American release by February on Netflix.

Forsman said that in this early part of the process, he just let things unfold as they did. He didn’t have a desire to micro-manage the adaptation, which stars Alex Lawther, from “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” and “Black Mirror,” and Jessica Barden, from “Penny Dreadful” and “The Lobster.”

“I was very happy with the book I had made,” Forsman says. “I could see myself losing gears trying to get something made, a TV or a movie, getting involved being a writer. I don’t know if I would make the same decision now, but then I just wasn’t into it and thought if this happens, I trust Jonathan.”

Forsman visited the production in England twice—once during filming and once during post-production—where he met everyone involved, including all the actors. Writer Charlie Covell followed the original story much more closely than he expected, fleshing out the character relationships and motivations, and expanding some secondary-character roles. Her script also provided some delightful surprises for Forsman, like the addition of two detective characters.

“As soon as I saw them, I wrote Charlie and told her that I’m a little jealous I didn’t come up with these characters,” says Forsman. “They were my favorite part.”

From Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Forsman ended up in New England when he attended the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. That’s how he met his girlfriend, fellow cartoonist and Berkshire native Melissa Mendes.

Forsman began “The End of the F***ing World” in 2011 when he moved to Hancock with Mendes, having nothing more in his head than the characters and a basic set-up. It took a couple of issues to get to know them and their world. The drawing style and layouts were stripped down to indulge in story and character development.

“Even though Chuck is drawing in a somewhat old-fashioned, cartoony style, ‘The End of the F***ing World’ is still a richly naturalistic work,” says Eric Reynolds, Forsman’s editor at Fantagraphics. “All his stories are all strongly character-driven narratives, so it’s no surprise at all to me that his work could lend itself to film or television adaptation.”

Forsman’s stories often portray troubled kids in dark situations. He recalls the death of his father when he was 11 and the changes in his life that followed, including a long struggle with depression that resulted in acute alienation and an abrupt end to high school.

“I always felt robbed because I didn’t get to experience more innocent, blissful teenage years,” says Forsman. “All these feelings I have about that time, why it comes into my work is that I’m probably just trying to make sense of it and be okay with it.”

His upcoming book, “I’m Not Okay With This,” has a December 5 release date. He’s adding elements of science fiction and superheroes to his deadpan realism as he examines how poverty and anxiety damage a young person. It’s these elements that can sometimes build an intense connection with members of his audience.

“Every few months, I’ll get an email out of the blue. They stumbled upon it, and you can tell that they heavily connected with it. And that’s pretty gratifying.”

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January 2018

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Hunt Hill Farm
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Telephone: 860.355.0300
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370 Beach Road
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Sponsor: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
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10 Titus Road
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Cost: $10 adult, $8 senior/student, under 5 and member free

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1 Museum Drive
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Telephone: 203-869-0376
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Cost: $10 adult, $8 senior/student, under 5 and member free

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Telephone: (203) 438-5795
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Cost: Free for participating families

Where:
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1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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Cost: $15

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Telephone: (203) 438-5795
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The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Deyber Master Artist from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Robert Deyber is an American artist...

Cost: Free

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10 Titus Road
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
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Cost: $5-$30

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MASS MoCA
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View map »


Website »

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Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Jivan Wolf master jeweler from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Jivan Wolf hand fabricates jewelry...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut December 2, 2017 – March 4, 2018 The early 1960s marked a significant turning point in American printmaking: the rise of communal studios provided...

Cost: $10 adult, $8 senior/student, under 5 and member free

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
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The Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market hosts over 15 local vendors, farmers, bakers, artists and makers on most Saturdays from 10am - 1pm,  and is one of the few...

Cost: free

Where:
Litchfield Community Center
Route 202
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market
Telephone: 860-567-3871
Contact Name: Kay Carroll
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Weston Middle School’s Theater Group, Short Wharf, is performing Once on This Island JR in the Weston High School auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 26 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, January...

Cost: $10/$7

Where:
Weston High School
115 School Road
Weston, CT  06883
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Sponsor: Weston Middle School Short Wharf
Contact Name: Catherine Revzon
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Set in 1931 Berlin, a struggling American writer, Cliff Bradshaw, travels to Germany for inspiration  but finds himself caught in the beginnings of the Nazi uprising. He finds solace in the...

Cost: $23-$26

Where:
Thomaston Opera House
158 Main St.
Thomaston, CT  06787
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Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-6250
Contact Name: Jeffrey Dunn
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Emmanuel Villaume will conduct the Met’s new production of Puccini’s Tosca. Kristine Opolais and Vittorio Grigolo star as the heroine Tosca and her lover Cavaradossi, with Željko...

Cost: $25 adults / $10 21 and under

Where:
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
14 Castle Street
Great Barrington, MA  01230
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Sponsor: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
Telephone: 141-352-80100
Contact Name: Box Office
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