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DID YOU READ

Adapt This: “WinterWorld” by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino

winterworld

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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: Winterworld by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino

The Premise: The world has frozen over from pole to pole, leaving what remains of the human race to forage in the snow and ice for the means to survive. Scully is a trader who travels between outposts, trading what he can scavenge from buried malls and other long-abandoned hubs of civilization. Everything changes when he crosses paths with Wynn, a young girl he rescues from a pair of savage settlers, and Scully and his pet badger Rahrah suddenly find themselves caught between two warring tribes in a battle for resources.

The Pitch: Think “Water World,” but with snow and ice instead of water, and a far better story, too.

WinterWorld actually predates the much-maligned Kevin Costner film by nearly a decade, and after reading this classic 1980s miniseries, there’s reason to believe Dixon and Zaffino could be owed some money from the “Water World” team — though it’s understandable if they opt not to draw any comparisons between their celebrated series and the soggy, 1995 box-office flop.

In WinterWorld, Dixon has crafted a great, post-apocalyptic adventure that manages to be compelling without any of the flashy, sci-fi gimmicks often used to hide lackluster character or story development. There’s very little going on in WinterWorld that doesn’t have roots here in the present-day, sunny world we know, and there’s little need for mutants or monsters to make the story’s setting any more frightening than it already is.

Tonally, WinterWorld is more similar to “The Walking Dead” than “Water World,” with its characters pushed from one seemingly safe place to another in their constant struggle to survive, and forced to deal with a variety of colorful (and dangerous) personalities in order to make it to the next day. There’s very little thought toward the bigger picture here or some world-changing element that could bring the world back to what it used to be — there’s simply the need to live and stay warm.

While Dixon’s original series topped out at a robust 80 pages, there’s still room to expand on the characters of Scully and Wynn in a big-screen adaptation, though the danger would be to shoe-horn in some element of romance where there shouldn’t be any — whether between Scully and an aged-up Wynn or an additional character that wasn’t present in the comic. The pair works as reluctant friends, and more of an uncle-niece dynamic than a father-daughter situation.

As far as other characters go, WinterWorld is a cornucopia of fun villains and other colorful roles for talented actors to chew on, from the burly Big-Bite, chief of the Bear People, to Bossman and his henchmen, who run a massive farm built out of an enclosed sports stadium.

That brings up one of the other appealing elements of a “WinterWorld” movie: the amazing set pieces that such a project would require.

From underground, frozen-over malls to the aforementioned “Tiers” — a farm that fills the field and rows of a covered baseball stadium — there’s ample material for production designers to flex their creative muscles and come up with memorable shots that have never been seen before on the screen.

The Closing Argument: One of the things many critics of “Water World” kept repeating in their reviews is that the film had a lot of potential that was never realized. With an adaptation of WinterWorld, there’s a chance to correct that mistake and give audiences a post-apocalyptic adventure with interesting, realistic characters and a grounded story with real stakes for everyone involved.

Oh, and don’t forget about Scully’s badger pal, either. Badgers are the new wolves.

Seriously, though — if you find a director who can think big without letting the characters be overshadowed by the world they inhabit, there’s a good chance this critically praised comic could find a warm reception on the big screen, too.


This Week’s Comic Creator Recommendation: Knights of the Living Dead by Ron Wolfe and Dusty Higgins (SLG Publishing)

“There is a palm-to-forehead-worthy obviousness to the idea of knights battling zombies. After all, the two hottest shows on TV right now feature the undead (The Walking Dead) and swords and sorcery (Game of Thrones). A story that jams these two genres together is sweet ambrosia for studio execs. What I love about Knights of the Living Dead—written by former Hellraiser scribe Ron Wolfe and illustrated by my Pinocchio collaborator Dusty Higgins—is that, instead of simply resting on the clever premise, it offers one of the most thoughtful meditations on the King Arthur mythos that I’ve yet seen. It could’ve been straight fanboy porn. Instead it is a literary show of force. A literary show of force that features copious amounts of knights slicing through hordes of zombies.”

Van Jensen, author of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer and the Great Puppet Theater. The third volume, Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer: Of Wood and Blood, will be released in two volumes in July and August. His new series, Snow White: Through a Glass, Darkly, is serializing digitally.


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

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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