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DID YOU READ

10 graphic novels and comics that should be movies

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The following are Ron’s picks for comics that should get the cinematic treatment. For our weekly column on other books we think should be adapted, the aptly titled “Adapt This,” click here.

We are in the midst of a graphic novel renaissance. Anticipation for the upcoming Batman movie is at record high levels. The Walking Dead is a huge hit. Aya of Yop City, another favorite, is coming to the big screen in 2D soon. And so, connected to that, a question arises: What other popular graphic novels are particularly well-suited for the big screen. Here are 10 that this writer would, quite frankly, gladly by a ticket.


10. Starman

The character development of DC’s Jack Knight, aka Starman, spans the entire length of this graphic novel. One could even go so far as to posit that the narrative right down to the paneling (storyboarding) is the blueprint for a great superhero movie. But as superheroes go, Starman, like Batman, possesses no actual superpowers. Instead, Jack Knight uses his “Cosmic Rod” — a device invented by his father, the saintly scientist Ted Knight — to punish criminals menacing his home, Star City. Jack Knight, a fully-fleshed character if there ever was one, loves all things retro. He doesn’t wear a costume but is a legitimate tough guy that reluctantly inherits his family’s Starman mantle after his brother is assassinated by the murderous Mist family.


9. “Y: The Last Man”

A mysterious virus — or what appears to be a mysterious virus — wipes out all the men on the planet. Yorick Brown, an “escape artist,” and his pet Capuchin monkey, Ampersand are the only male survivors on a planet full of women. It sounds like male fantasy wish fulfillment but it isn’t. This Vertigo graphic novel takes Yorick on a quest across a world full of recently unattached women to find — get this — his true love, Beth, who may or may not be in Australia. This is a guy movie that a date wouldn’t mind (wink wink) either.

What complicates things are an Amazonian cult hell-bent on killing the last man on earth as well as the literally millions of women that would like to possess that last man (and, seriously, how awesome is that?). Ultimately –spoiler alert– it is Yorick’s handling of Ampersand’s feces that gives him resistance to the plague (blech). There has been online speculation that Zachary Levi would be an excellent Yorick. I will not poo-poo, no pun intended, on that speculation. A winner of three Eisner awards and written by Brian K. Vaughn I have only four things to say on this in closing: Make. This. Film. Now.


8. “The Zen of Steve Jobs”

Published in, of all places, Forbes, the Zen of Steve Jobs is one of the most brilliantly imaginative graphic novels in recent memory. It is also quite viral. Written by Caleb Melby, this graphic novel tells a fictional and very sweet story of Steve Jobs in his “Wilderness Years” — after he was aced out of the company, Apple, that he had founded. Steve at the time actually enlisted Zen priest Kobun Chino Otogawa to teach him about how Buddhism could enhance his famously acute design sense. The rest, of course, is history.

Although a heady topic, to be sure (at the intersection of Buddhism and design), it works — and is quite beautiful — as a graphic novel about a person who changed the world. After the best-selling Walter Issacson biography and the creepy action figure culturally we are still not quite over Steve Jobs. This, more than any Jobs biography, would make for a wonderful full length film.


7. “Maus”

Art Spiegelman’s “Maus” was a game changer for graphic novels. In depicting a subject as serious as the Holocaust, “Maus,” an anthropomorphic graphic novel depicting Jews as mice and Germans as cats, expanded the parameters of the subject matter of all graphic novels that came afterwards. There is Before Maus and now we live in After Maus — a space in which the graphic novel can now be properly construed as a legitimate art form.

It is astonishing that no one (Steven Spielberg? Francis Ford?) has turned this into a CGI film yet with Tom Hanks doing the voice. Fingers crossed.


6. “Swamp Thing”

It is about time to apply some bio-restorative formula to this wonderfully eerie story by Alan Moore about our favorite plant elemental and his nemesis, the relentless black magician Arcane. This story has it all: love, loss, an inquiry into the nature of power, dark magic and even a low level, unintrusive environmentalism.

The swamp thing is more than just a vegetable mass that thinks itself Alec Holland (although that’s partly true) — it, no pun intended, has legs. There have already been two movies and a TV show that have spun out of the successful DC comic. Imagine what a filmmaker like Tim Burton could do in reimagining the unforgiving Louisiana Bayou.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.