DID YOU READ

Adapt This: “Smoke and Mirrors” by Mike Costa, Jon Armstrong, and Ryan Browne

smoke and mirrors

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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 various comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: Smoke and Mirrors by Mike Costa, Jon Armstrong, and Ryan Browne (IDW Publishing)

The Premise: Stage magician Terry Ward finds himself transported to an alternate world in which magic has replaced technology as the energy fueling civilization, and he must use every trick he knows in order to survive.

The Pitch: Co-created by illusionist and sleight-of-hand artist Jon Armstrong, Smoke and Mirrors only recently debuted on shelves, but its concept already begs for adaptation as a live-action film or television series.

Imagine a world in which Steve Jobs gets on stage to unveil the latest line of motion-based tools for casting spells, or a new line of compact incantation books that let you do more with your home computer or stereo. That’s the world of Smoke and Mirrors. Add the stranger-in-a-strange-land element of someone from our world who ends up in this magic-based alternate reality, and there are endless storytelling possibilities and lots of opportunities for eye-catching tricks of the real and manufactured varieties.

Given that there’s only been one issue of Smoke and Mirrors released so far, it’s hard to say where the story is headed at this point, but if The Walking Dead has taught us anything, it’s that a comic and its adaptation don’t need to sync up precisely. As long as the basic story is strong and both projects keep a consistent narrative tone and theme, they can each find new ways to explore the world created by the source material.

And it’s that world that makes Smoke and Mirrors so appealing for adaptation. From its opening scene, in which the alternate-reality version of a Steve Jobs-like figure introduces a new line of “Gesture” spells, Smoke and Mirrors offers the promise of a universe unlike anything we’ve seen on the big or small screen lately. Magic is as commonplace as electricity, and the story doesn’t unfold in some medieval fantasy world where magic is thrown around by pointy-hatted wizards and wielded against dragons and other creatures. It’s a world in which you change the channel on your TV by reciting a simple spell, and Siri really is a magical entity bonded to your phone.

While we still have a lot to learn about the protagonist of Smoke and Mirrors, the character of Terry Ward also presents quite a bit of cool narrative potential. Seen through his eyes, the magic-powered world will be more easy to absorb, and the mystery of how he got there can provide a strong over-arching thread that propels the story along.

Terry’s presence also allows for some exploration of the world of illusion and sleight-of-hand tricks, as the audience will be privy to the stunts Terry must pull in order to protect himself in this new world. While we can’t expect to learn the secrets of every magic trick, an adaptation of Smoke and Mirrors could provide a nice opportunity to go behind the scenes and get a better understanding of what goes into a stage magician’s performance.

The Closing Argument: Smoke and Mirrors is equal parts magic, science-fiction, and a compelling over-arching mystery all wrapped into a single package that will catch its audience’s attention from the start with its original twist on the world we’re accustomed to living in. Casual audiences will love the easily digestible premise of a world in which magic is real and electricity is fantasy, but the story will also appeal to sci-fi fans and anyone who ponders the broader implications of a world powered by magic instead of our current energy resources. Throw some magic tricks in there for good measure, and… Presto! You’ve got yourself a hit.


This Week’s Comic Creator Recommendation: Dames in the Atomic Age by Chris Ryder (Art of Fiction)

“Of everything I’m reading right now, I’d love to see Dames in the Atomic Age adapted into a feature film. It’s an homage to B-movies and pulp magazines, but told with a brilliant modernist spark by it’s writer, Chris Ryder, and the amazing art team. It’s a small indie from an up-and-coming small press called Art of Fiction, and both should be on everyone’s radar. Most fun I’ve had reading a book in a LONG time.”

Joshua Hale Fialkov, Eisner and Harvey Award nominated writer of Last of the Greats, Echoes, Tumor, and DC’s I, Vampire.


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

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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