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ADAPT THIS: “Rodd Racer” by Toby Cypress

ADAPT THIS: “Rodd Racer” by Toby Cypress (photo)

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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 the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.

This Week’s Book: Rodd Racer by Toby Cypress

The Premise: In a dark, dirty city of the future, the “Thunder Alley Rally” is the biggest event of a generation. Rodd Racer must outrun the greatest racers in the world and a dangerous assassin in order to win the race and save his own life and the life of the woman he loves.

The Pitch: A good adaptation of Rodd Racer will combine the high-octane action of the “Fast and the Furious” movies with the steampunk-noir style of “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” flavored with a dash of the Eastern-cinema-meets-classic-Western fusion that Quentin Tarantino does so well.

At its heart, Rodd Racer is a throwback to classic 1950s and ’60s crime stories, with its hero perpetually covered in bandages and backed into a corner by his dealings with the more clear-cut bad guys. He simply wants to do right by the owman he loves and get out from under the bad guys’ thumb — but he’ll have to take an even bigger risk in order to win his freedom. Much like Donald Westlake’s popular thief, Parker, Rodd Racer finds himself having to stay one step ahead of the mob in order to pull off his redemption scheme.

At just around 60 pages, Cypress’ story will need some padding to reach standard feature-film length — a condition that should appeal to studios and production teams craving the freedom to shape a story in their own way. There’s quite a bit of implied background material that Cypress doesn’t touch on in the comic, so there’s ample room to expand the narrative and build a unique world around its cast.

Rather than offering a future filled with jet packs and hoverboards, the setting for Rodd Racer is more of a steampunk retro-future, with zeppelins filling the skies and races conducted in nitro-fueled, old-school stock cars. Cypress’ future-world is ruled by vintage visions of the future mixed with actual, modern-age technology (hence the earlier “Sky Captain” reference) — something that should be fairly easy to pull off without drowning the story in special effects. This isn’t “Speed Racer,” after all.

The story’s small cast of characters allows ample opportunity for actors to make the roles their own, and the brevity of the source material leaves more than enough room to expand the narrative and otherwise develop the story into a more well-rounded movie experience.

The tough-guy lead in Rodd Racer is the sort of role someone like Tom Hardy would be a great fit for, combining equal parts action, drama, and the ability to make a grease-stained undershirt and a bandaged nose seem like the coolest look in the world. There’s also room for a strong female lead in Rodd Racer’s nemesis, the assassin nicknamed Drag’On. Tack on Rodd’s garage-jockey girlfriend and the weasel-like mob boss putting the pressure on Rodd, and there are more than a few meaty casting opportunities in a Rodd Racer adaptation.

Of course, even after all of these other elements are settled, the real focus of a “Rodd Racer” movie should be the race itself. If the film’s director can capture anything close to the sort of tense, edge-of-your-seat race experience found in films like “Ronin” or the more flashy, unbelievable physics of the “Fast and the Furious” films or “The Transporter,” there’s great fun to be had in “Rodd Racer.”

The Closing Argument: Many of the car-racing films to hit theaters lately have gelled into a very similar, very tired cinematic experience. An adaptation of Rodd Racer puts a new spin on the genre, but doesn’t take it so far off-base that the audience can no longer connect with it (a la “Speed Racer”). Rodd Racer is a character-driven story at its most basic level, set against a fast-paced race in a stylized retro-urban landscape. It could be just the sort of fresh perspective on gritty racing stories that Hollywood needs.

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

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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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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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

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