ADAPT THIS: “Rodd Racer” by Toby Cypress

ADAPT THIS: “Rodd Racer” by Toby Cypress (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 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: Rodd Racer by Toby Cypress

The Premise: In a dark, dirty city of the future, the “Thunder Alley Rally” is the biggest event of a generation. Rodd Racer must outrun the greatest racers in the world and a dangerous assassin in order to win the race and save his own life and the life of the woman he loves.

The Pitch: A good adaptation of Rodd Racer will combine the high-octane action of the “Fast and the Furious” movies with the steampunk-noir style of “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” flavored with a dash of the Eastern-cinema-meets-classic-Western fusion that Quentin Tarantino does so well.

At its heart, Rodd Racer is a throwback to classic 1950s and ’60s crime stories, with its hero perpetually covered in bandages and backed into a corner by his dealings with the more clear-cut bad guys. He simply wants to do right by the owman he loves and get out from under the bad guys’ thumb — but he’ll have to take an even bigger risk in order to win his freedom. Much like Donald Westlake’s popular thief, Parker, Rodd Racer finds himself having to stay one step ahead of the mob in order to pull off his redemption scheme.

At just around 60 pages, Cypress’ story will need some padding to reach standard feature-film length — a condition that should appeal to studios and production teams craving the freedom to shape a story in their own way. There’s quite a bit of implied background material that Cypress doesn’t touch on in the comic, so there’s ample room to expand the narrative and build a unique world around its cast.

Rather than offering a future filled with jet packs and hoverboards, the setting for Rodd Racer is more of a steampunk retro-future, with zeppelins filling the skies and races conducted in nitro-fueled, old-school stock cars. Cypress’ future-world is ruled by vintage visions of the future mixed with actual, modern-age technology (hence the earlier “Sky Captain” reference) — something that should be fairly easy to pull off without drowning the story in special effects. This isn’t “Speed Racer,” after all.

The story’s small cast of characters allows ample opportunity for actors to make the roles their own, and the brevity of the source material leaves more than enough room to expand the narrative and otherwise develop the story into a more well-rounded movie experience.

The tough-guy lead in Rodd Racer is the sort of role someone like Tom Hardy would be a great fit for, combining equal parts action, drama, and the ability to make a grease-stained undershirt and a bandaged nose seem like the coolest look in the world. There’s also room for a strong female lead in Rodd Racer’s nemesis, the assassin nicknamed Drag’On. Tack on Rodd’s garage-jockey girlfriend and the weasel-like mob boss putting the pressure on Rodd, and there are more than a few meaty casting opportunities in a Rodd Racer adaptation.

Of course, even after all of these other elements are settled, the real focus of a “Rodd Racer” movie should be the race itself. If the film’s director can capture anything close to the sort of tense, edge-of-your-seat race experience found in films like “Ronin” or the more flashy, unbelievable physics of the “Fast and the Furious” films or “The Transporter,” there’s great fun to be had in “Rodd Racer.”

The Closing Argument: Many of the car-racing films to hit theaters lately have gelled into a very similar, very tired cinematic experience. An adaptation of Rodd Racer puts a new spin on the genre, but doesn’t take it so far off-base that the audience can no longer connect with it (a la “Speed Racer”). Rodd Racer is a character-driven story at its most basic level, set against a fast-paced race in a stylized retro-urban landscape. It could be just the sort of fresh perspective on gritty racing stories that Hollywood needs.

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

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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