Comics Off the Page is HoneyDripper’s new series of blog posts discussing TV and film adaptations of comic books.
"Sweet Tooth" by Jeff Lemire is a completed comics series published by DC's Vertigo imprint following the adventures of a deer-human hybrid boy in a post-apocalyptic world. Earlier this year, the first season of its TV adaptation was released on Netflix, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. "Sweet Tooth" takes place in a world reeling from a devastating pandemic, not unlike our own. But around the same time that this new virus appears in "Sweet Tooth," a new breed of human-animal hybrids also begins to emerge. Fearing what they don't understand, the people of this world assume that the hybrids must be related to the new virus, and they begin hunting them down. Thus begins the story of Gus, a human-deer hybrid who was raised by his father in secret. But when his father contracts the deadly virus that’s been going around, Gus must learn to survive on his own in a world where nearly everyone wants him dead. That's when Gus meets Jepperd, a tough, angry brute who just might be Gus' only chance of survival.
While the Netflix adaptation stays true to the plot of the comic, each version has its own approach to the story. For example, Jeff Lemire’s comic has a much darker and dreary tone. In the comic, Gus’s father is portrayed as much more fearful, with a fire-and-brimstone outlook on the world. He believes that the pandemic began as some sort of punishment from God, and he raises Gus to believe that the world is an inherently evil place. Jepperd is also different in the comic versus the TV show. Comic book Jepperd is much more angry and stern, and he has a serious sailor’s mouth.
In a time when we are still in the midst of our own pandemic and all the unknowns that come with it, Netflix’s "Sweet Tooth" took a different approach that better suited the times. It shows us how much worse things become when we let fear rule us--when we start blaming each other for things that are out of our control instead of supporting each other when we need it most--but it also shows us what happens when people have a change of heart. In the Netflix series, we get to see little Gus slowly melt tough Jepperd’s heart, and it melts the audience’s hearts in turn. I think we could all learn something from Jepperd, who lets down his tough exterior when he finds a child in need. So if you're in need of a hopeful, feel-good TV show right now, Netflix’s "Sweet Tooth" might just be the one for you.
Overall, “Sweet Tooth” is a wonderful and timely story, but the TV adaptation is just a tad sweeter.