Coming at a time before apocalypse fatigue set in completely for pop culture, Sweet tooth really looks at the Mad Max next to its “Bambi Meets Mad Max” elevator pitch. The book is quite dark and flawless. That Netflix and series creator Jim Mickle have decided to move in a brighter direction for the show is an interesting comment on the entertainment priorities right now. But if Sweet tooth the TV series has decided to get closer to its source? Read on to see how the comic and the series differ.
It cannot be overstated how the Sweet tooth the comic is that the TV series. The show acknowledges that the post-apocalyptic world after “The Sick” would exhibit some inherent violence. In fact, the entire plot of the series involves hunters trying to kidnap a child and hand him over to the military to essentially be turned into medicine. It’s obviously dark. But the show still does its best to avoid on-screen violence as much as possible.
When the Big Man or another character saves Gus from the Hunters, he does so in a largely bloodless manner. Even when Big Man puts a bear trap inside a poacher’s head, the audience is spared the gruesome sights and sounds. Readers of the Sweet tooth comics, however, are spared nothing. The pages of Lemire’s work are positively drenched in blood. In the middle of the story, Gus is even forced to beat the brain of another hybrid with a brick. He says he feels bad about it, but no this wrong.
The comic also delves into the realm of sexual violence, as many post-apocalyptic stories have felt compelled to do before. At the start of the proceedings, Big Man and Gus stumble upon a town where a family captures women and forces them into prostitution. When Big Man saves two women, they become a permanent part of their party. These characters, Lucy and Becky, do not appear on the TV show (although one character borrows her name from another).
If all the violence has not already made it appear, the Sweet tooth the comic is particularly misanthropic. Almost all of the human characters in the comics are monsters. Even Gus’ beloved Big Man Jepperd is helpful because It’s a monster. Jepperd never loses sight of what makes him useful in this killer world. He only becomes a hero when he applies this skill to those who deserve it. Throughout the series, the comics hint that planet Earth might be better off without all of these humans anyway.
True to the darker tone of the comics, the characters in Sweet tooth are also a little darker. While Convery’s portrayal of Gus in the series is absolutely perfect for a young Spielbergian hero, the comic book Gus isn’t quite as confident or sophisticated. The education Gus received from his “pubba” was not necessarily top notch, so his vernacular is filled with more slang and abbreviations. He appears as a real country boy from Nebraska.