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DID YOU READ

Adapt This: “Smoke and Mirrors” by Mike Costa, Jon Armstrong, and Ryan Browne

smoke and mirrors

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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 about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: Smoke and Mirrors by Mike Costa, Jon Armstrong, and Ryan Browne (IDW Publishing)

The Premise: Stage magician Terry Ward finds himself transported to an alternate world in which magic has replaced technology as the energy fueling civilization, and he must use every trick he knows in order to survive.

The Pitch: Co-created by illusionist and sleight-of-hand artist Jon Armstrong, Smoke and Mirrors only recently debuted on shelves, but its concept already begs for adaptation as a live-action film or television series.

Imagine a world in which Steve Jobs gets on stage to unveil the latest line of motion-based tools for casting spells, or a new line of compact incantation books that let you do more with your home computer or stereo. That’s the world of Smoke and Mirrors. Add the stranger-in-a-strange-land element of someone from our world who ends up in this magic-based alternate reality, and there are endless storytelling possibilities and lots of opportunities for eye-catching tricks of the real and manufactured varieties.

Given that there’s only been one issue of Smoke and Mirrors released so far, it’s hard to say where the story is headed at this point, but if The Walking Dead has taught us anything, it’s that a comic and its adaptation don’t need to sync up precisely. As long as the basic story is strong and both projects keep a consistent narrative tone and theme, they can each find new ways to explore the world created by the source material.

And it’s that world that makes Smoke and Mirrors so appealing for adaptation. From its opening scene, in which the alternate-reality version of a Steve Jobs-like figure introduces a new line of “Gesture” spells, Smoke and Mirrors offers the promise of a universe unlike anything we’ve seen on the big or small screen lately. Magic is as commonplace as electricity, and the story doesn’t unfold in some medieval fantasy world where magic is thrown around by pointy-hatted wizards and wielded against dragons and other creatures. It’s a world in which you change the channel on your TV by reciting a simple spell, and Siri really is a magical entity bonded to your phone.

While we still have a lot to learn about the protagonist of Smoke and Mirrors, the character of Terry Ward also presents quite a bit of cool narrative potential. Seen through his eyes, the magic-powered world will be more easy to absorb, and the mystery of how he got there can provide a strong over-arching thread that propels the story along.

Terry’s presence also allows for some exploration of the world of illusion and sleight-of-hand tricks, as the audience will be privy to the stunts Terry must pull in order to protect himself in this new world. While we can’t expect to learn the secrets of every magic trick, an adaptation of Smoke and Mirrors could provide a nice opportunity to go behind the scenes and get a better understanding of what goes into a stage magician’s performance.

The Closing Argument: Smoke and Mirrors is equal parts magic, science-fiction, and a compelling over-arching mystery all wrapped into a single package that will catch its audience’s attention from the start with its original twist on the world we’re accustomed to living in. Casual audiences will love the easily digestible premise of a world in which magic is real and electricity is fantasy, but the story will also appeal to sci-fi fans and anyone who ponders the broader implications of a world powered by magic instead of our current energy resources. Throw some magic tricks in there for good measure, and… Presto! You’ve got yourself a hit.


This Week’s Comic Creator Recommendation: Dames in the Atomic Age by Chris Ryder (Art of Fiction)

“Of everything I’m reading right now, I’d love to see Dames in the Atomic Age adapted into a feature film. It’s an homage to B-movies and pulp magazines, but told with a brilliant modernist spark by it’s writer, Chris Ryder, and the amazing art team. It’s a small indie from an up-and-coming small press called Art of Fiction, and both should be on everyone’s radar. Most fun I’ve had reading a book in a LONG time.”

Joshua Hale Fialkov, Eisner and Harvey Award nominated writer of Last of the Greats, Echoes, Tumor, and DC’s I, Vampire.


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

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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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