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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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

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

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

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

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

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

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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