ADAPT THIS: “DMZ” by Brian Wood & Riccardo Burchielli

ADAPT THIS: “DMZ” by Brian Wood & Riccardo Burchielli (photo)

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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of each “Adapt This” column, you’ll also find some thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.

This Week’s Book: DMZ by Brian Wood and  Riccardo Burchielli 

The Premise: After a second Civil War turns the island of Manhattan into a demilitarized zone, photojournalist Matthew Roth finds himself alone and abandoned when the news crew he accompanied to the island is killed in a firefight. As one of the few journalists on the ground in the DMZ, he begins reporting on the daily struggles for the 400,000 remaining inhabitants of the island, who are cut off from family, friends, and the rest of the nation. As he gets pulled deeper and deeper into the war between the United States of America and the secessionist “Free States,” he’s forced to find the balance between reporting the news and making the news.

The Pitch: When Brian Wood recently informed his fans that DMZ had almost been set up at a television network, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. What was surprising — and a little disappointing — was that whatever network made a play for the project couldn’t make it happen.

For anyone who’s read DMZ, the notion of bringing Wood’s tale to life on the screen is pretty much a no-brainer. Packed with compelling story arcs, fascinating characters, and a unique forum for addressing hot-button issues in the real world, DMZ practically begs to make the leap from comic book page to gritty, live-action series.

For those who aren’t familiar with the series, DMZ is a blend of “Escape From New York”-style survival story, post-disaster documentary, and gonzo-journalism narrative, all rolled into one ongoing saga that stretches from one end of Manhattan to the other. And like many good stories set in Manhattan, the ravaged, barely recognizable urban landscape is as much a character in the tale as Matty Roth and his neighbors — something the story shares with many of the best New York City-based films and television.

Given the current obsession with post-apocalyptic settings — “The Walking Dead” and “Falling Skies” television series, to name a few — a series like DMZ would seem to be a natural fit for today’s television audiences. And in this case, the absence of zombies, aliens, or other supernatural elements not only sets it apart from the competition, but could also make it more appealing to viewers who shy away from genre projects. (It might allow for a lower budget, too.)

However, even without all of these other elements, the story of DMZ makes a strong case for itself as exactly the sort of thing networks should be looking to for the next generation of programming. Whether it’s photojournalist Matty Roth, former med student Zee Hernandez, or charismatic local leader Parco Delgado, every character in DMZ has a compelling story, and it becomes clear early on that seeing the island of Manhattan through their eyes is not just a plot point, it’s the foundation of the story.

The Closing Argument: While DMZ unfolds in an alternate timeline, it’s easy to identify the points in recent history that, if a different decision or two were made, would’ve set the real world on a path echoing that of DMZ. A network that treats the world of DMZ as a period piece instead of a fantasy could very well find themselves with the rare project that spans the divide between real-world drama and escapist adventure. Given all of those attributes, it’s easy to believe we’ll be getting another update from Wood soon enough — but this time, he’ll be telling us about the network that did pick it up.

This Week’s Comic Creator Recommendation: Bone by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)

“More than anything, I’d love to see Bone adapted as an animated feature. And in a perfect world, it would be lush, hand-drawn animation rather than computer-generated graphics. It’s such a classic story, it deserves a classic treatment.” 

Ron Marz, the writer of numerous company- and creator-owned titles including Green Lantern (in which he co-created the Kyle Rayner character), Silver Surfer, Witchblade (which he currently writes), Shinku, and a long list of other titles from Top Cow, Marvel, DC, and other publishers.

Would “DMZ” make a good movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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