Adapt This: “Incognito” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips


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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: Incognito by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Icon)

The Premise: Zack Overkill is a former supervillain living a heavily restricted, low-key life in witness protection after testifying against the world’s most dangerous kingpin of the “science villain” community. When he discovers that his powers are no longer being dampened by the government-issued drugs he’s required to take, he begins moonlighting as a superhero. But how long until his secret is discovered? And who will discover it first, the good guys or the bad guys?

The Pitch: After being optioned by 20th Century Fox way back in April 2010, there’s been little news on the “Incognito” movie front since October 2010. (In fact, it looks as if I was the last the person to get an update from Brubaker on the adaptation.) And since it seems criminal for a great story like this to languish in development hell, consider this another nudge to bring Brubaker and Phillips’ gritty story of supervillain redemption to the big screen.

Like much of Brubaker’s work, Incognito‘s noir-fueled storytelling environment lends itself well to adaptation, as audiences have embraced the notion of darker, grittier superhero stories set in a world not too different from our own. While the world of Incognito is no stranger to super-powered heroes and villains, they still operate on the fringes of public awareness and their clashes are often covered up by the government and media. People wearing capes and masks in public are more likely to be off their meds or institution-bound rather than stopping muggers or robbing banks.

In many ways, the world of Incognito is only a slightly more colorful version of Christopher Nolan’s Gotham, filled with bleak, gray buildings and shadowy alleys. And like the world Nolan created around his version of Batman, the addition of super-powered humans and bright costumes feels intensely foreign, making their rare appearances — and inevitable, explosive brawls — that much more thrilling. Much like the modern Batman franchise, Incognito offers a nice chance to focus on the story’s characters, but also provide some impressive, wildly destructive set pieces to pepper throughout the film.

That’s not to say that an “Incognito” movie would just be retreading well-worn ground, however.

An adaptation of Incognito would set itself apart from other “dark” comic book movies by giving the audience a main character that no one wants to root for at the start of the film. To put it bluntly, Zack Overkill is a scumbag at heart, and his initial decision to go the heroic route has nothing to do with noble aspirations. Still, given the right combination of screenwriter, director, and lead actor, Zack’s evolution from deplorable jerk to cheer-worthy hero could make for one of the most memorable character arcs we’ve seen on the big screen.

Casting Suggestions: When I spoke with Brubaker back in October 2010, he mentioned Leonardo DiCaprio and “Star Trek” star Chris Pine as actors likely to bring out the best in Zack Overkill, but it’s also easy to see someone like “The Dark Knight Rises” actor Tom Hardy doing well with the role. With liberal sampling of his performances in movies like “Inception” and “Bronson,” it’s not too hard to see the smug, self-possessed traits of Zack Overkill take shape.

There’s also a case to be made for Jon Hamm in the role, given that the world of Incognito feels tonally similar to the smokey, classically stylish universe inhabited by Hamm’s character in “Mad Men.” If the adaptation were to skew younger, someone like “The Social Network” actor Armie Hammer, who’s set to star in “The Lone Ranger,” could also provide a nice mix of tall, dark, and other noir-friendly attributes.

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


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

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


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.