DID YOU READ

ADAPT THIS: “The Unwritten” by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

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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 some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find 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: The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

The Premise: Tommy Taylor is both the son of a novelist and the namesake for the main character in his father’s phenomenally successful series of books about a boy wizard. His life is a series of conventions and public appearances, signing autographs and representing the real-life version of the literary figure, until a fan unearths information about Tommy’s past – and his father’s mysterious disappearance years ago – that throws everything Tommy knows about his life into question. As the line between Tommy’s fictional adventures and the real world begins to blur, he’s drawn into a dark, magical mystery that explores the nature of storytelling and the power it wields over our world.

The Pitch: Sure, the premise of The Unwritten clearly draws from the Harry Potter phenomenon, but that surface-level connection is merely a starting point for an amazing – and occasionally very, very dark – adventure.

The acclaimed creative team behind the Lucifer series, Mike Carey and Peter Gross have crafted a tale that takes a cultural phenomenon we’re all familiar with – the worship of literary characters and how that carries over to their real-world representations – and injects it with some reality-bending action and a grittier, more adult tone. Given the rabid fan base for franchises like the Twilight and Harry Potter series, and how that carries over to the real-life actors associated with them, its easy to see identify with the world Tommy inhabits when the story begins, filled with shrieking fans, costumes, and convention panels.

And it’s this beginning point that really sells The Unwritten as great adaptation material. The world of popular fiction and high-profile adaptations is something that fascinates us all, whether we’re fans of a particular property ourselves or simply trying to wrap our heads around the cultural phenomenon. The Unwritten is firmly set within that world, and manages to mix a behind-the-scenes take on fandom with a compelling, original adventure that bounces between the “real” and fictional worlds.

It’s also worth pointing out that appeal of a character like Tommy Taylor for an a talented actor. Over the course of the first volume of The Unwritten, Tommy is presented as hero, villain, and everything between, and often serves as the reader’s window into the surreal adventure unfolding around him. Much like the reader, he’s not quite sure what’s happening to him, either, and he brings you along for the ride.

On the effects side, The Unwritten opts to keep the more fantastic sequences to a minimum, and keeps its audience guessing as to whether the weird events occurring around Tommy really are something otherworldly, or simply a sign that he’s lost touch with reality. This works in favor of a potential adaptation, as there would be little need for expensive set pieces for much of the series, with only the occasional reference to fictional events in the books needing any major effects.

The Closing Argument: In many ways, The Unwritten is like an adult version of The Neverending Story, with the main character’s overlapping adventures in the real world and fictional settings taking on a much darker, psychological tone. There’s plenty of action and mystery, but there’s also the sense that Tommy’s quest for the truth will have a high body count – and could cost him his sanity, too.

Filled with great heroes, villains, and fantastic creatures, The Unwritten would probably best be adapted as a television series on a cable network, giving the story time to unfold at a gradual pace, and keeping viewers coming back week after week for the next chapter.


Would “The Unwritten” make a good television series? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.