DID YOU READ

Adapt This: “Memorial” by Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis

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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 cool 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: Memorial by Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis

The Premise: After staggering into a hospital a year ago with no memory of her past, Em (the name she takes from the single letter “M” on a necklace she was wearing) has rebuilt her life and has a nice job at a small bookstore. Things take a turn for the fantastic — and dangerous — when she wanders into a strange antique store and finds that all is not as it seems with her life and the world she inhabits. She soon finds herself caught up in a war raging on various planes of reality, forced to travel through strange lands on a quest for the truth.

The Pitch: Combine the fantastic coming-of-age tales of the Harry Potter series and “Labyrinth” with the sort of strong female character and magical worlds parallel to our own that authors like Neil Gaiman handle so masterfully, and you’ll understand the appeal of Chris Roberson’s Memorial. The recent miniseries offers a darker spin on the traditional, fantasy-fueled quest stories, and though its lead character is older than those of the Harry Potter books or “Labyrinth,” the blank slate of Em’s mind allows for a similar sort of growth and evolution of her character.

Over the course of the series, Em’s adventure has her crossing path with a long list of weird characters — human and otherwise — and visiting strange worlds that often share some similarities with our own. Nevertheless, an adaptation of Memorial wouldn’t need to bust its budget on digital effects, as many of the characters, creatures, and settings she encounters are simply skewed versions of their real-world counterparts. Much like the big-screen adaptations of the Harry Potter franchise, the real focus of the story is on the human characters, with Em’s quest driving the narrative forward throughout all six issues of the series.

While Hollywood has a history of shying away from action movies with female leads, the fantasy genre hasn’t had nearly the same trouble accepting women — and girls, for that matter — in lead roles. Although the tone of Memorial is far lighter than something like Guillermo Del Toro’s scary fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth,” it’s also a bit more adult-oriented than Jim Henson’s playful, puppet-filled 1986 film “Labyrinth” and features a slightly older main character than both of the aforementioned films. These factors benefit a potential adaptation, because it means a “Memorial” movie could not only draw from the pool of popular young-adult actresses for its lead, but it also fits nicely in the PG-13 movie landscape.

Given the sort of demographic-spanning appeal Memorial already has in the comics world, it’s also easy to see why a movie based on the series could be a nice vehicle for a young actress to raise her profile. Chris Roberson has crafted an impressive, original story that manages to be both magical for readers and deadly serious for its main character — a formula that works just as well on the page as it does on the screen.

The Closing Argument: Now that the “Harry Potter” movies are in the rearview mirror, Hollywood would do well to look to the comics world for tentpole-movie source material, and Memorial is exactly the sort of story that could make an easy leap from page to screen. Given the series’ strong narrative thread and under-the-radar profile, there’s little need to pour the sort of budget-busting money into a “Memorial” movie that’s usually necessary to keep a well-known project’s fanbase appeased. The film’s director will be able to concentrate on bringing the story to life, while also having the freedom to be clever with the visual side of the film — something that Roberson and Ellis have had great success with in the comic itself.

In the end, it’s hard to argue with the potential of a project like this, as Memorial manages to combine all the best elements of some of the most popular examples of the genre, while also retaining its own, very unique identity. If Hollywood is looking for a ready-made adventure set within the fantasy genre with a dark, young-adult flavor, a “Memorial” movie offers all of that… and much, much more.


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

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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