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DID YOU READ

John Carter 101: A Primer on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Warlord of Mars

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John Carter” leaps into theaters this week, and his arrival will likely be many moviegoers’ first introduction to the Civil War soldier who became the red planet’s greatest hero.

First appearing in a 1912 pulp magazine, John Carter is the creation of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who also gave the world the vine-swinging king of the jungle, Tarzan. Now, 100 years later, Walt Disney Pictures is hoping to create a new generation of John Carter fans with this weekend’s big-screen adventure featuring Taylor Kitsch as the title character.

Still, if you’re not familiar with Burroughs’ series, there’s no need to worry. Not only does the film do a great job of introducing the character, but we’ve got you covered with a short overview of the series, its characters, and the worlds they inhabit.

Read on for everything you need to know about “John Carter” before you buy your ticket.

The Books

The character of John Carter made his debut in a serialized story published in the pulp magazine The All-Story and titled “Under the Moons of Mars.” This story was later collected in what would become the first of 11 novels, A Princess of Mars.

Collectively known as the “Barsoom series” (the name given to the planet by Mars’ native inhabitants), Burroughs’ stories encompass several generations of characters, including John Carter, his children, and various other Martian and Earth-born characters. The final book in the series, John Carter of Mars: Skeleton Men of Jupiter was published in 1943.

John Carter’s first adventure in the series – and the inspiration for the “John Carter” movie – is set during the year 1866, and is written as if Burroughs’ received a first-hand account of the story from Carter himself. Burroughs is a recurring character in the series, as he often finds himself charged with watching over Carter’s inanimate body each time the adventurer’s consciousness is summoned to Mars.

The Premise

Throughout the series, whenever John Carter travels to Mars, he leaves behind a physical body on Earth that appears lifeless – necessitating that someone like Burroughs keep watch over it until he returns. The mysterious mode of transport reconstitutes his form on Mars, but due to the planet’s gravity and atmosphere, he’s able to leap great distances and has strength far beyond that of the planet’s native inhabitants.

From the very first installment of the series, John becomes embroiled in a civil war on Barsoom that’s not unlike America’s own Civil War. The various races of Mars are constantly battling for the planet’s limited resources, and John’s experience in battle – combined with his powerful abilities – help him become one of the planet’s greatest warriors.

The Characters

There are a number of different species of Martians represented in the Barsoom series, though the first volume – and the film – introduce the two primary inhabitants of Mars: Red Martians and Green Martians.

The Red Martians look like humans and are the dominant race on Barsoom. They live in cities and use an advanced form of technology that allows them to live in huge cities on the surface of the planet. Competition for the planet’s resources has pushed many of the cities to fight a constant war for control of valuable territory.

The Green Martians are distinctly less humanoid, with four arms and tall bodies that tower over humans and Red Martians alike. They’re a primitive, savage culture governed by tribal leaders who rule by force. They have no concept of family or love, and live to fight with rival tribes and the rest of the planet’s inhabitants.

Among the other Martian races appearing in the early stories and the film are the white apes (seen above) – immense beasts that resemble Earth’s gorillas, but have four arms. The film also features a mysterious race of powerful, shape-shifters called the Therns who are attempting to secretly influence events on the planet.

The Cast and Crew

Along with Kitsch as John Carter, Lynn Collins plays Dejah Thoris, a Red Martian and princess of one of the great cities of Mars. Willem Dafoe voices Tars Tarkas, a Green Martian who becomes Carter’s ally, and Mark Strong plays Matai Shang, one of the Thern.

“John Carter” is directed by “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E” filmmaker Andrew Stanton, who is making his live-action directorial debut with the film.

And there you have it, folks – a brief guide that takes you from Earth to Mars, courtesy of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ imagination and Disney’s upcoming film “John Carter.” The movie hits theaters this Friday, March 9.

Are you looking forward to seeing “John Carter” in theaters? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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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.