My List of the 19 Best Comic Book Adaptations

The Wasted Lands Omnibus, available through Magnetic Press: http://www.magnetic-press.com/wasted-lands-omnibus/

The Wasted Lands Omnibus, available through Magnetic Press: http://www.magnetic-press.com/wasted-lands-omnibus/

While I do enjoy blogging about cuddling with weatherman Tom Skilling during a violent storm and the late night adventures of Jonesie, my hairless cat, today I’m talking comics.

Jonesie the #hairlesscat - #catsofinstagram #felinefemmefatale

Jonesie the #hairlesscat – #catsofinstagram #felinefemmefatale

Specifically, moving picture adaptations of comics–TV and film. The pop culture world has been flooded with comic book movies and TV shows, and it looks like studios won’t be keeping their powder dry any time soon. There are days when I wish film studios would just take a deep breath. Let it breathe, Warner Brothers…let it breathe. Maybe try vacationing in Barbados.

Ahhhh...Barbados...

Ahhhh…Barbados…

I’m not saying every comic book movie is terrible–far from it! There are just way too many. The quality suffers for it. But I’m no Debbie Downer. I choose to walk in the light of Odin, crop-dusting glitter-filled unicorn farts and rainbows. I’ll save the Batman v. Superman and Green Lantern funerals for another day.

Pretty much my favorite Bitmoji.

Pretty much my favorite Bitmoji.

Bloggers are always big on lists. My first inclination was listing my favorite book hangovers–and yes, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is on there — but today’s quickie post is just the best and worst comic book adaptations of all time. I haven’t done a Top 15 yet of the most mediocre. If I did, normalman would ascend that list. And then there are those I wish would be made into adaptations–Dave Dorman‘s The Wasted Lands, Mike Baron’s The Badger, and Myatt Murphy’s Fade from Blue and Two Over Ten.

I’m not here to to tell you which media you should be binge-watching. I’ll never sit in judgement if you’re revisiting Howard The Duck. Hell, I’ll cop to getting hooked into Martin Short’s Clifford or Chris Elliott’s Cabin Boy when I’m channel flipping. We all have our guilty pleasures.  (Avid readers of this blog know some of mine already. I may not have mentioned my sugar-free Bubble Yum addiction yet.) You can take or leave these lists as my seal of (dis)approval.

19 of the Best Comic Book Adaptations

  • Suicide Squad
  • Walking Dead
  • Preacher
  • Hellboy
  • American Splendor
  • Superman: The Movie
  • The Dark Knight
  • A History of Violence
  • The Crow
  • Road to Perdition
  • Sin City
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • Watchmen
  • Iron Man
  • The Avengers
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Deadpool
  • Guardians of the Galaxy

14 of the Worst Comic Book Adaptations (Sorry if you liked them!)

Me, apologetic.

Me: The apologetic version.

> Batman and Robin
> Jonah Hex
> Catwoman
> Howard the Duck
> Superman IV: The Quest of Peace
> Green Lantern (2011)
> Judge Dredd (1995)
> The Spirit
> Fantastic Four (2015)
> Daredevil
> Elektra
> Ghost Rider
> Hulk
> Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Disagree?

...here's my #, so call me maybe...

…here’s my #, so call me maybe…

Tell me some of the comic to film or TV adaptations you have liked, hated, or secretly enjoyed.

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Stranger Things: I Want My ’80s Back!

My fitness trainer Kim shared with me her iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts during our Monday night workout. According to Kim, this was no ordinary iced coffee. This one had been cold-brewed for 12 hours. Whatever that meant … it was a new offering on the menu. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. As much of a coffee addict as I am, iced coffee rarely calls my name.

Dunkin' Donuts Cold-Brewed Coffee: Heaven in a plastic cup.

Dunkin’ Donuts Cold-Brewed Coffee: Heaven in a plastic cup.

I took one tiny sip, just being polite. I was instantly transported.

Were this a Twilight  Zone episode, you’d see that bad special effect of me, sans color, dizzily spinning backwards in time, calendar pages flipping past me in fast succession. In my case, I time machined back to age six. I was standing on our kitchen stool so I could reach the sink, washing the family’s dinner dishes. The first part of this evening chore meant washing my dad’s lunchbox tupperware, and his khaki-green metal coffee thermos. Dad had engraved his name into the side of the metal. I’d trace his signature with my fingertips as I was washing the outside of it. When no one was looking, I’d sneak a sip of its contents — his day-old java — pretending I was a grown up. (I know, I know … I’m still pretending.) This Dunkin’ Donuts cold-brewed fare mimicked Dad’s day-old coffee, perhaps because Dad’s had steeped for a good 12 hours in his thermos. While it can’t bring my father back, the nostalgia of those lost days washes over me with every swallow. I’m hooked!

On the website CockedEyed.com, you can create your own "STRANGER THINGS" Lightbulb Message Encoder. How cool is that?!?

On the website CockedEyed.com, you can create your own “STRANGER THINGS” Lightbulb Message Encoder. How cool is that?!?

The much-talked-about Netflix horror series Stranger Things became my other childhood time portal recently. I binge-watched the entire series in two nights. It was beyond amazing. Winona Ryder portrays the emotional fragility of a frantic parent as believably as Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice. Maybe moreso. The camaraderie feeling we get from Stephen King’s Stand By Me (and the origin story to that film, The Body) combines with the government conspiracy style narratives of Dean R. Koontz. The music, the fashion, the cars, the bad basement decor. The vulnerable, gawky, tender awkwardness of being a teen. It all felt so familiar — like an old friend returning. A friend I didn’t realize I had been yearning for as hard as I had.

For us Gen-Xers, those were magical times. Whenever I discuss Stranger Things with my peers, I always ask them, “If you could go back to the ’80s, would you?”

Without hesitation, faces telegraphing that “Are you daft, girl?” expression, every single friend has declared, “In. A. Heartbeat.”

Speaking in Shorthand

My cousin Jeff and I share the language of shorthand, born of years together appreciating the same pop culture, inside family jokes, and death-defying adventures, the latter involving my ’73 Cadillac. When we’re together in person, a shared glance speaks volumes. We’re fluent in reading each other’s micro-expressions. There were times we’ve shared the same the brain in ways that were downright eerie, like the time Jeff’s dad, my Uncle Mick, died in an ultralight plane crash. Within a few month’s time of his passing, I had a vivid dream that Uncle Mick was in between Jeff and me, and we were all holding hands, walking over the border from Illinois into Wisconsin. I have this weird affinity for remembering my dreams every morning, but when someone passes over and I have these super-vivid dreams, they are different from my regular dreams. I know I’m supposed to pay attention. I called Jeff’s house to tell him about my dream and his roommate Kelly answered the phone. I told her about it and she freaked out. Jeff had just regaled her with the story of the very same dream from the night before. And then there was the time we were playing Scattergories (we’re a competitive, game-playing family–Jeff was part of that marathon Euchre match I mentioned recently) and we both were tasked with naming a villain with the first letter “I.” We both wrote down “Injun’ Joe,” surprising everyone with our weird groupthink.

When anything funny bubbles up in everyday life, and it often does, as we both see the comedy in everything, Jeff and I shoot each other a fast text. Aside from Blazing Saddles and Throw Momma from the Train, Chris Farley-isms are our oft-quoted go-to phrases. If you’ve never seen SNL’s “Best of Chris Farley” DVD, it’s a must for any comedy collection. (And the recent Chris Farley biography, “The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts” co-written by his brother Tom, is a must-read. For me, it was a gripping, emotional roller coaster of laughter and tears.)

Such an unforgettable life of comedy and pathos.

Such an unforgettable life of comedy and pathos. I’m always thankful to my BFF Darlene for loaning me this book.

The first text today from Jeff (the 2nd text was not for mixed company, so I won’t poke the bear) gives a snapshot of our never-ending conversation, replete with the reference to Farley and Sandler’s Zagat’s Restaurant Guide skit on Saturday Night Live:

 

This scene doubles me over. Every. Time.

This scene doubles me over. Every. Time.

The shorthand of our shared language in a never-ending conversation.

The shorthand of our shared language; it’s a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, never-ending conversation about nothing, but it means everything to me.

 

It takes just a moment out of your day–maybe five seconds–to send a text and show someone you care. If there’s a takeaway from today’s blog, it’s just a reminder for everyone to take the time. Send that text. Jeff and I both learned that hard lesson the day of that devastating ultralight crash. Life’s too short.

#SDCC2016 Attendees – PLEASE Stay Vigilant This Year

The greatest show on earth.

#SDCC – The greatest show on earth.

I debated whether I should even write this blog. I don’t wish to plant ideas in the minds of our common enemy. However, especially in light of recent events, I just beseech and implore every one of you attending San Diego Comic-Con this year to pay hyper-focused attention to your surroundings. Be aware of everything and everyone around you. We’re living in sad times; the anxiety riddled like myself are mapping the fastest route to the nearest trauma center for any major event we attend.

My son and I won’t be attending Comic-Con this year. Frankly, I’m a little relieved. That almost throw-away comment made in the press that the San Bernardino terrorists were actually plotting to attack a much bigger event made my hackles rise. It has festered in my brain ever since. Their distance to San Diego was too close for comfort. I just hope that all of you who are attending this year remain safe. There’s no greater soft target than a convention center full of entertainment industry icons.

Watch.

Look.

Listen.

Be safe.

I hope you all have a fun con. I will be keeping you, and the families of all of the fallen in my prayers.

I Really Need to Cuddle with Tom Skilling Right Now

Tom Skilling is THE rock star of weathermen. When I learned my friend Ian had interned with him, I pummeled the poor guy with a million questions. Which aftershave does he wear? What makes him laugh? Where does he live? Like Game of Throne‘s Peter Dinklage, WGN’s forecaster Skilling has been the enigmatic source of fascination for me and a few of my friends. But today, I just need to cuddle with Tom Skilling. Preferably beneath a bed. Also, that bed needs to be in a deep basement. I need Tom’s reassurances that everything is going to be just fine. Here’s why:

Dude...we are SO screwed right now.

Dude…we are SO screwed right now. (Image courtesy of U.S. National Weather Service Chicago.)

After Hurricanes Ivan (which wiped out our Florida home) and Dennis, weather anxiety has become a thing with me. Dave Dorman and I lost too much. I’ve never recovered from the panic it caused me. It even prompted our move back to Illinois. This, despite me being a sturdy Midwesterner. I’m accustomed to death-defying weather like the Blizzard of ’79, where snowmobiles were racing down Michigan Avenue. I lived here during the 1990 Plainfield tornado, so devastating it made the cover of PEOPLE magazine.

Prior to my hurricane experiences, the weather unglued me only once. I was unaware my next-door condo neighbors had just installed surround sound. They were watching the movie Twister” at what I’m guessing was 11–the loudest volume. My entire condo was vibrating. As Helen Hunt was diving into the storm cellar on their TV next door, I was bending myself into a frickin’ pretzel, trying to squeeze behind my spiral staircase to certain safety. I couldn’t reconcile why, from my cramped vantage point, I was peering out at blue skies through my transom windows. Post torna-faux, we all had a good laugh about it. (If only they’d watched Jurassic Park, like most folks with new surround sound at that time. I probably wouldn’t have freaked over an impending T-Rex attack.)

So..before Hurricane Ivan, I never gave weather forecasts a second thought. I scoffed at the old farts for whom the Weather Channel was their MTV (yes, I’m old enough to use MTV metaphors). All that changed when Jim Cantore suddenly appeared on our TV screen, reporting from two miles down the road. Like a bad horror movie, at that exact moment, our power was cut. We were sitting in inky, black darkness. We couldn’t even see our hands in front of our faces. The winds howled from the depths of hell. It was the longest, most terrifying wait for dawn I’ve ever known.

Now I sit. And I wait. The eerie stillness outside like the mosquito who has ominously stopped buzzing. It’s about to hit the fan, folks.

I get it. Chicago needs Tom Skilling in studio right now, reporting the weather. But I also need Tom, my weather teddy bear, here. Reassuring me. Beneath the bed. Preferably in my basement.

 

 

 

 

Introducing My Newest Business Offering: Meme Editor

Yes, I am that jerk. Admittedly. The one who judges people by their spelling and grammar. Judgey Judgerson. The “Grammar Geek.” Let’s just get that out of the way. Just as musicians can listen to a symphony and that one wrong note jumps out at them, the same thing happens to me, even when I’m reading for pleasure, which I do often. I believe the texting generation has destroyed many people’s ability to spell or punctuate correctly anymore, and I steadfastly refuse to text “u” when I mean “you.”

This.

This.

 

Just had to add this one, from a Facebook friend who read this blog.

Just had to add this one, from a Facebook friend who read this blog.

However, I think there’s a business opportunity at play here. I am now officially offering my proofreading services for meme creators. I’m offering to charge any meme creator 50 cents per meme to avoid the embarrassment of putting a typo-riddled meme out there, representing them poorly in perpetuity. It only takes me a mere second to spot the problems–like the unfortunate misspelling of “discreet” in this one below–so I could power through several in hundred in an hour and actually earn a decent living! I should probably add tattoos, signage, and gravestones to my suite of proofreading service offerings.

There are so many memes out there that I adore, and I’d really love to repost them, but I just can’t bring myself to be visually represented by typos. Here are some examples:

When Webster's Dictionary is your friend...

When Webster’s Dictionary is your friend…

And this one…yes, even Alan Moore (if this is really his quote–without an extensive Google session, one never knows) doesn’t escape my scrutiny, but I loved the sentiment so much, I just had to post it, despite my inner turmoil over the missing apostrophe:

When apostrophes are your friend...

When apostrophes are your friend…

Then there’s this guy’s direct message to me on Facebook. As my friend Allyson said so eloquently, “I don’t know if I’m more disgusted by his intentions or his grammar.” That actually made me LOL!

 

Screenshot 2016-04-05 17.19.16

There isn't enough alcohol in the world to make me gravitate toward someone who spells and disrespects women this way...

There isn’t enough alcohol in the world to make me gravitate towards someone who spells and disrespects women this way…I mean, “I’d” NEEDS an upper case I and an apostrophe!

I once dated someone who emailed me some love poems, riddled with typos. Since he wasn’t the type to write love poems, nor was he overtly romantic, I honestly couldn’t discern his intentions in sending them to me…so I edited them in red ink and emailed them all back to him. All I could think of was that he must be merely sharing someone else’s poor grammar with me. That should have been my red flag. Yeah…as you might surmise, that relationship ended.

For those who don't wish to pay me .50 cents. Your loss.

For those who don’t wish to pay me .50 cents. Your loss.

So…if you have a meme you want to post, but you’re really not sure if the correct spelling is two, to, or too, I’m your girl. Send it to me FIRST. That is, after you Paypal me .50 cents.

And finally, THIS.

And finally, THIS.

 

 

#Foodgasm Alert: The Turducken of Pies

I was just reading this hilarious article about the new 5-pies-in-one, or the “Turducken of Pies.” 

Screenshot 2015-12-18 15.05.38

A few years ago, my dear publicist friend Stephen Crane and I headed up from his SoCal home to visit my other friend, Tony Swatton in Burbank. (I always stay at Stephen’s house for a few days after San Diego Comic-Con to recuperate.) Tony, whom I had just seen at Comic-Con, could be a blog in and of himself. He was the “Pirate of the Year” for Pirates Magazine and has graced the cover more than once.

Our favorite pirate, Tony Swatton.

Our favorite pirate, Tony Swatton.

Tony formed the “Norse Hollywood Dining Vikings” Club, which started out as lark; he and his buddies all dressed up like Vikings and showed up at Ikea for Swedish meatballs, bemused when they were firmly escorted out. Here’s a typical biz card:

Image courtesy of Matthew Hunt Designs.

Image courtesy of Matthew Hunt Designs.

You see, Tony makes all the costumes and weapons for those memorable Capital One ads, and they are all stored at his fabrication shop. Yeah, I’ve tried some on. Since Tony tends to hang with fellow pranksters, the hijinks never stop. (If I ever move to California, it would be Burbank just to be near our funny actor friend Dan Roebuck, plus Tony’s shenanigans.) Tony also makes the swords for all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and most recently, was the star of the internet sensation show Man at Arms. His Sword and Stone shop in Burbank, CA is legendary.

On Victory Boulevard just a few doors down from Tony’s storefront is this wonderful Greek restaurant. Actually, I’m not sure they refer to them as Greek restaurants in California, but that’s what we call them in Chicago. Diners, maybe? You know the kind. The menu goes on forever. If you have a tough time making food decisions, this is no place for amateurs.

So in all, it was Tony, Stephen, Scott Empey (Tony’s BFF and my custom jewelry designer) and me. We entered and walked past this well-lit, glorious display case of pies. You could almost hear the choir of angels singing inside of it. As we sat down and discussed which sensible foods we should be ordering, the discussion took a dangerous turn, shifting to those damned delectable pies. I opined that it was criminal that no one ever made a banana-coconut-cream pie, since I always hated having to choose between the two, like two calorie-laden lovers who could both satisfy me equally. At that point, Tony excused himself to go wash his hands, and I noticed him getting chatty with the woman at the counter on his way.

As our meal ended–our bellies sore from laughing at all of Scott and Tony’s crazy exploits–a vision of beauty arrived at our table: a coconut cream pie, flipped over atop a banana cream pie, with four forks! We four foodgasm’d out! To this day, it remains the most exquisite dessert I’ve ever had, in no small part because of the company who shared it with me.

If they ship, I’ll be ordering the Turducken of Pies for my next trip to Burbank, reassembling my merry band of knights of the round pie table, plus Tony’s new wife Karen, whom I love and adore. I even have a new name for my epicurean kindred spirits: The Norse Hollywood Dining Pie-Kings–Pie Pillaging Specialists.

What If…We Had an Online #Comic-Con? Artists & Creators: This Quick Survey is for YOU

Some of the greatest ideas and innovations we take for granted today started with this simple premise: WHAT IF…

My friend, Emet Comics founder Maytal Gilboa (all comics written by women!) and I have been thinking about ways to help artists and creators to earn more money. (That’s a never-ending concern in my mind, and why Charlie Athanas and I formed The Devil’s Candy Store years ago.) I also had a better variation of the LOOT CRATE idea 8 years ago, and I’m still pissed at myself that I didn’t get investors and pull the trigger. Historically, I’ve always been 7 to 8 years ahead of the world in my thinking, and I’m an impatient sort.

So…Maytal Gilboa and I have put together a quick survey that we would REALLY appreciate you taking. Please share this link out via social media to all of your friends who exhibit at shows, whether herein the U.S., or overseas. We thank you in advance for your help!

https://surveyplanet.com/56462ebb8535760f14764440

An Unlikely Series of Events: George Barris and Henry Winkler

My life is a non-stop bizarre bazaar of pop culture icon intersections. When I heard car designer George Barris–creator of THE Batmobile–died this week, my heart sank. I spent time with George at his shop in L.A. when I was the writer/producer on cars-and-stars nationally syndicated TV series, The Super Chargers. George provided us with vehicles for one of our episodes–I believe it was the Sally Struthers episode that we shot at her residence, as well as Universal Studios.

The genius, Mr. George Barris

But even more unlikely is the story I’m about to tell. As I write this, I’m still busting out into giggles, since this JUST happened:

I recently took on a subcontractor job, and I was warned that the surveillance was so onerous, I could only communicate with The Sister Wives via texts when I went to the bathroom every 90 minutes. Our daily text message chain is a leviathan tome of non-stop, hilarious commentary. One of the Sister Wives–I believe it was Gina–started calling me “The Fonze” because I was always signing my texts “from Denise, in the 4th stall,” an act Gina deemed as “Stepping into my office,” a.k.a., the public restroom. It was like Happy Days, but smellier, and minus the wholesome fun of 1950s Milwaukee.

I had to add this graphic, since Gina found it and it's so perfect for this blog.

I had to add this graphic, since Gina found it and it’s so perfect for this blog.

So you can just imagine how hard I laughed when I learned that–of ALL peopleHenry Winkler was appearing with Dave at Rhode Island Comic Con this weekend! I texted Dave and begged him to do me this one favor. And he did. In a rare moment of compliance, Dave gave in to one of my typical madcap requests. Somehow, he convinced Mr. Winkler to sign this for my Sister Wives:

Henry Winkler/The Fonze writes: "The Sister Wives, from the 4th stall in my office"

Today Henry Winkler/The Fonze writes: “The Sister Wives, from the 4th stall in my office”

You can ask my BFF since 7th grade, Marovich, or my BFF since kindergarten, Darlene. I’m never one to let an inside joke die…to the point that I’ve not only jumped the shark, but I’ve also made a bitchin’ necklace out of its teeth, a cancer-treating soup from its fin, and wallets from its first layer of glistening skin before I’m done. Who am I kidding? I’m never done.

I will get this treasure-beyond-measure matted and framed. I’m sure it will be rotating the walls of my Sister Wives’ homes. And Dave won’t even have to buy me a Christmas gift this year. This. Was. Perfect.

Dave was a good sport, as was Henry Winkler, truly a class act.

Dave was a good sport, as was Henry Winkler–truly a class act.

 

Introducing: POOP CRATE — My Version of LOOT CRATE for My Fellow Shit Humor Enthusiasts

As I mentioned in a previous blog, our monthly LOOT CRATE arrival turns my life and home upside-down with the useless pop culture tzotchkes that Dave Dorman and Jack enjoy, and I have to find extra space (often the circular file) to store. Occasionally, I’ll find a gem in there, like the BREAKING BAD Los Pollos Hermanos apron, but that’s extremely rare.

Admittedly, my sense of humor is that of a 13-year-old boy, but I know I’m not alone in this. To witness, there’s the recent “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” episode–with a guest appearance from my friend @TJHoban–which included enticing someone to eat a shit sandwich.

There’s the recent episode of Better Call Saul–I had no less than 3 friends texting, alerting me to it–where Saul Goodman was asked to represent the inventor of a new talking toilet for children.

There’s the Seinfeld episode where Jerry rides in first class, eating the best sundae of his life while we see Elaine’s cheeks blown out like Louis Armstrong as she holds her breath, trying to use the restroom in coach after a particularly sulfurous passenger.

And then there’s this no-longer-private message on Facebook recently, from my closest cousin:

From my cousin Jeff, whose gift to me one Christmas was the "Coffee Makes Me Poop" mug.

From my cousin Jeff, whose gift to me one Christmas was the infamous “COFFEE MAKES ME POOP” mug.

I’ve passed this humor down to another generation. Much to Dave’s chagrin, our son’s favorite talking stuffed toy as a baby was my South Park Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo …“Hidey Ho, Neighbor!”

It occurred to me, given the dozens of poop-related items I am sent via Facebook, text and email daily, that I should start curating these items into a monthly tzotchke box called POOP CRATE. I encourage all of you, my kindred spirits out there, to pay me a monthly fee to curate and ship them these scatological comedy props. Here is what my theater of the mind imagines my first monthly $19.95 shipment would include:

The Shitbit — Like the FitBit, but instead of tracking you burning calories, it tracks you burning mules.

Remember when The Weather Channel was MTV for old people? Well, here's the FitBit equivalent.

Remember when The Weather Channel was MTV for old people? Well, here’s the FitBit equivalent.

Poo-Pourri — An oily spray for your toilet, to ensure your smelliest poops are stealthy.

Now THERE's the innovative stuff that makes America great.

Now THERE’s the innovative stuff that makes America great.

The Flatulence Deodorizing Pad — I especially love the warning that it’s non-returnable. That made me giggle like a school girl!

A big hit for all of those resident's of Florida's The Villages, who are back in the dating scene.

A big hit–I imagine–for all of those senior residents of Florida’s THE VILLAGES, who are back in the dating scene.

If you are reading this and would like to be on my mailing list for the launch of POOP CRATE, ping me here! You will be #1 for #2!

November 6, 2015 addition: My friend Mike just suggest my new slogan: “POOP Crate: Better than your usual crap.”