DID YOU READ

Adapt This: “The Expendable One” by Jason Burns and Bryan Baugh

the expendable one

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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 and other industry experts about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: The Expendable One by Jason Burns & Bryan Baugh (Viper Comics)

The Premise: Twigs Dupree is just another average guy with a below-average lifestyle, but all that changes when accidentally becomes a test subject for a chemical that makes him immortal. After discovering that he’s unable to die no matter how hard he tries, he decides to fight crime with the help of his amateur scientist pal and a police radio scanner. His new, weird life takes an even weirder turn when he gets caught up in the search for a killer who might actually be a werewolf.

The Pitch: A potent mix of gory horror and clever humor, The Expendable One is the sort of comic that echoes the feel of such films as the “Evil Dead” movies and the recent “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” which manage to be both scary and funny. The story also shares a lot of similarities with the tone of early Dylan Dog comics (and to a lesser extent, the disappointing “Dylan Dog” movie), in that it doesn’t shy away from presenting gory imagery one moment and sex appeal the next.

While the comic itself is a fairly under-the-radar project, Burns has created a nice little introduction for his hero that serves as both his first big adventure and origin story. The cast of characters in The Expendable One is relatively small, and the comic is short enough to give a screenwriter room to expand and tweak certain elements on its way from page to screen.

Any adaptation of the book also benefits from the fact that the characters of Twigs and his wannabe-scientist pal Jerry are so loosely defined in the original 2006 series that the net can be cast far and wide for potential actors. Twigs need only be a somewhat goofy everyman with a (relatively) noble heart, while Jerry is the stereotypical science nerd, complete with bad hygiene, a big brain, and a complete lack of social skills. The only other character necessary to cast would be the mysterious Agent Armstrong, a sexy investigator tasked with recruiting Twigs for a special mission.

While the casting shouldn’t be too difficult, the real trick in bringing The Expendable One to the screen is finding a filmmaker who can walk the line between slapstick, occasionally gross-out humor, and genuine, nightmare-inducing horror. Twigs’ secret power isn’t a pretty thing, and the right director will have to find a way to inject humor into horror, and horror into the story’s humor. Pairing up the right filmmaker with an actor who can be funny while his character’s brains are spilling out of his head certainly won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end, as a film based on The Expendable One has a lot of potential to give audiences something that should feel very, very different from anything that’s come out of Hollywood lately.

The Closing Argument: It’s rare to find a film that achieves the right balance of humor and horror. Certainly, movies like “Shaun of the Dead” and the aforementioned “Evil Dead” films have had success in that world, but for every good blend of funny and scary, there are hundreds of movies that miss the mark entirely. The Expendable One offers a great foundation for a quirky, unique spin on the horror-comedy genre, and ample opportunity for a director and his/her cast to have some fun while making the audience squeal.

A little bit gorier and darker than some of the more recent examples of that genre mash-up, The Expendable One still manages to have a sharp sense of humor that should serve it well on the screen. Here’s hoping this 2006 series can find itself resurrected for some live-action scares (and laughs), because if nothing else, Hollywood could use a few more heroes like Twigs Dupree.


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

Jackie That 70s Show

Jackie Oh!

15 That ’70s Show Quotes to Help You Unleash Your Inner Jackie

Catch That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-10P on IFC.

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When life gets you down, just ask yourself: what would Jackie do? (But don’t ask her, because she doesn’t care about your stupid problems.) Before you catch That ’70s Show on IFC, take a look at some quotes that will help you be the best Jackie you can be.


15. She knows her strengths.

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14. She doesn’t let a little thing like emotions get in the way.

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13. She’s her own best friend.

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12. She has big plans for her future.

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11. She keeps her ego in check.

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10. She can really put things in perspective.

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9. She’s a lover…

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8. But she knows not to just throw her love around.

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7. She’s proud of her accomplishments.

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6. She knows her place in the world.

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5. She asks herself the hard questions.

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4. She takes care of herself.

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3. She’s deep.

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2. She’s a problem solver.

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1. And she’s always modest.

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Adapt This: “Order of Tales” by Evan Dahm

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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 and other industry experts about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: Order of Tales by Evan Dahm (self-published)

The Premise: Teller Koark is the last survivor of an ancient order of story-collectors. Before his father was murdered, he instructed Teller to seek out a mysterious story called “The Account of the Bone Ziggurat,” which just might have the power to save the world of Overside from a terrible warlord’s conquering army. Teller’s adventure leads him from one end of Overside to the other, where he encounters a host of strange creatures, including a girl made of glass, fearsome Blackbird soldiers, and an enigmatic machine-man.

The Pitch: An epic, world-spanning fantasy in the vein of Lord of the Rings, Evan Dahm’s Order of Tales manages to balance the vastness of an entirely original world and its history with a very focused narrative that follows Teller and his companions across Overside. We’re introduced to the strange and wonderful aspects of the world through Teller’s eyes, making the scope of the characters’ journey feel large while keeping the story itself more personal — a quality that makes for good storytelling in print or on the screen.

While the collected edition of Order of Tales spans nearly 800 pages, the saga is flexible enough to be compressed into a single film — though something that encompasses multiple chapters, like a movie franchise or television series, is probably best suited for the narrative. And while a live-action treatment is certainly possible, developing Order of Tales as an animated feature would go a long way toward preserving the wonderfully weird elements of the universe Dahm has created.

It’s easy to picture an “Order of Tales” animated series as something akin to “Avatar: The Last Airbender” in its structure, with an ending in mind right from the start and a narrative that follows the main character as he makes his winding way toward that final chapter. And just like “The Last Airbender,” the combination of well-developed characters and a world full of surprises allows for some thrilling adventures along the way, as Teller gets drawn into one wild encounter after another in his pursuit of the story that could save his world.

However, it’s worth noting that the world of Order of Tales is more alien than that of “The Last Airbender,” making the animated treatment that much more reasonable for any adaptation of Dahm’s saga. A big part of the beauty and appeal of Overside is the bizarre creatures that Teller encounters during his travels, so it would be a shame to subtract anything from that element of the story.

The Closing Argument: A little bit Lord of the Rings, a little bit “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” Dahm’s Order of Tales is a saga that’s nicely suited for development as an animated series that would appeal to both young and older audiences alike. Despite its fantastic setting, the story deals with a number of mature themes while keeping things active and interesting as its characters trek across Overside. As you read Dahm’s story, there’s a sense that something new and amazing lurks around every turn in Teller’s journey, and there’s no reason an adaptation can’t capture that same feeling on the screen.


Would “Order of Tales” make a good movie or animated series? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Adapt This: “An Elegy For Amelia Johnson”

an elegy for amelia johnson

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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 and other industry experts about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: An Elegy For Amelia Johnson by Andrew Rostan, Dave Valeza, and Kate Kasenow (Archaia Entertainment)

The Premise: Two people embark on a cross-country trek as a last request for their dying friend, delivering messages to various people who meant something to her during her life. As the two strangers journey from one destination to the next, they learn more than they ever expected to about their friend, and each other — and begin to suspect the real reasons they’re each making the trip.

The Pitch: Equal parts cross-country travelogue and compelling drama about seeing your life through the eyes of others, An Elegy For Amelia Johnson is the sort of awards-friendly story that inspires its audience and wins over critics. In the hands of a capable screenwriter who can bring the story from page to screen, there’s a lot of potential for a film that’s more than just a tear-jerking farewell to the main characters’ cancer-stricken friend — there’s a story here about two people who couldn’t be more different, thrown together for an unfortunate reason, who learn as much about themselves during the journey as they do about their friend.

A movie based on Amelia Johnson would give a pair of talented lead actors lots of room to explore the full spectrum of emotions, and there’s ample opportunity for the supporting cast to shine, too. Of the two main characters, one is a successful filmmaker who brings along his crew to film their cross-country mission, so there’s a nice chance to develop those characters a little more than they were in the book.

And despite the serious nature of the story, there’s actually quite a bit of flexibility in how a potential adaptation could be played, too. It’s easy to envision an Amelia Johnson adaptation with a quirky, Wes Anderson-style approach to their journey, peppering the pathos with humor, or it could just as easily be a straight-up, serious drama about the nature of life and love.

Given the movie-within-a-movie storyline of An Elegy For Amelia Johnson, the option is there to give the film a unique feel by using scenes from the road-trip film being developed by the main character as segues between chapters of the actual movie. In fact, there are many different ways a director could use the movie being created within the movie to set an Amelia Johnson adaptation apart from other films with a similar theme.

The Closing Argument: An Elegy For Amelia Johnson writer Andrew Rostan has done a wonderful job of mixing humor, sobering drama, and an optimistic exploration of life and death in this graphic novel, and the right combination of screenwriter and director should find a strong foundation for a great film here. The plot encourages its characters to change and evolve in a short amount of time, which is one of the key ingredients of a good film — and a good story in a any medium, really. All of that means that it shouldn’t be too difficult to bring the story to life on the screen, and with careful attention paid to how it gets there, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an adaptation of An Elegy For Amelia Johnson earn a few awards along the way.


Would “An Elegy For Amelia Johnson” make a good movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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