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DID YOU READ

Five Graphic Novels Every Movie Fan Should Own

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01082007_torso_article.jpgBy Matt Singer

Movies have always borrowed ideas and stories from other mediums, from literature to theater to television. But in the last decade one medium has surpassed all the others in influence and importance: comic books.

It’s certainly not the first time comics have found a second home in Hollywood. During the first comic book boom of the 1940s, when titles like “Action Comics” routinely sold millions of copies a month, many of the medium’s most popular characters became the subjects of their own movie serials. Super-hero stories, with their outsized protagonists and outlandish villains, proved ideal subjects for the serials. And it didn’t hurt that the two shared an overlapping audience of dime-spending youngsters.

Even after the success of the first “Superman” movie and Tim Burton’s “Batman,” it still took moviemaking technology a few decades to catch up with the inventive imaginations of the men and women who spawned Spider-Man, the X-Men and the rest of their four-colored brood. But the world of comics has provided the inspiration for more than tent-pole theatrics: they’ve provided the spark behind documentaries (“Crumb”), biopics (“American Splendor”), indie self-loathing (“Ghost World”), vampire movies (the “Blade” series) and more.

Just as comics have inspired movies, movies have proven a fruitful inspiration for many comics. And, admittedly, most of the comic book movies that make their way to multiplexes barely scratch the surface of the diversity of styles and genres available in any good comic book store.

Here, then, are five choices particularly well-suited to movie fans. This is not a list of the greatest graphic novels of all time, or anything like that; it’s rather a list of five standout books in five different genres that deserve a wider audience amongst the moviegoing public, and all five are currently in print; most should be available just about anywhere in the country.

“Torso” (Image Comics, $24.95)

Written by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Andreyko; illustrated by Bendis

Genre: Police drama

For Fans Of: “L.A. Confidential,” “The Big Heat”

This black-and-white comic book noir based on a true story — and what’s more movieish than that phrase? — follows Eliot Ness on one of his largely forgotten cases, on the trail of one of the world’s first recognized serial killers.

Movie Fans Will Particularly Appreciate: Bendis’ cinematography, for lack of a better term. Like a really good D.P., Bendis plays with light and shadow, and his innovative panel layouts beautifully translate film’s editing rhythm to the page.

Cinematic Connections: Ness is also the subject of Brian De Palma’s memorable cop drama “The Untouchables.”

Further Reading: Both Bendis and Andreyko have gone on to high-profile work in mainstream super-hero comics including “Ultimate Spider-Man,” “Daredevil,” and “Manhunter”; Bendis has also created several other crime novels in the style of “Torso” — his massive “Jinx,” a noir take on “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly,” is also highly recommended.

True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are… (AIT/Planet Lar, $14.95)

Written and illustrated by Tom Beland

Genre: Romantic comedy
For Fans Of: “Sleepless in Seattle,” “An Affair to Remember”

Thousands of miles from home on a free vacation, newspaper cartoonist Tom Beland falls in love with a beautiful stranger named Lily he meets at a bus stop.

Movie Fans Will Particularly Appreciate: Beland’s shamelessly — at times embarrassingly — romantic storyline. Rom-com and chick flick fans take note: you have never seen a more clichéd love story than this one: from the meet cute to the impossible coincidences to the wisecracking friends and relatives dispensing folksy advice, they’re all here. And, of course, it’s all true.

Cinematic Connections: In the midst of his magical first night with Lily, Tom compares himself to George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and, in a somewhat less flattering reference, admits his childhood crush on Lady from “Lady and the Tramp.”

Further Reading: The ups and downs of Tom and Lily’s ongoing love story continue in another collection, and now each month in a new series.

[Photos: “Torso,” Image Comics, 2001; “True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are…”, AIT/Planet Lar, 2003]

[On to Part 2]

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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