As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. This week, Print to Projector presents:
by Steven T. Seagle
Art by Becky Cloonan and Frank Quitely
“I’m a virgin.”
Young Christian author and evangelist Adam Chamberlain extols the beauty of abstinence on speaking tours but has his faith and humanity tested when he learns that his girlfriend Cassie has been beheaded while doing missionary work in Africa. He joins up with his sexually liberal step-sister to go find out what happened, leaving his Neocon mother and delinquent brother behind to spin further down a rabbit hole of cross-dressing, pornography and God.
By all accounts, “American Virgin” is insane. Adam is the very definition of a conflicted character who struggles with what he knows in his heart is God’s will and what he wants to do with his body. He is pulled in different directions by a small sort of fame in the Christian community, a mother who is grooming him like a Manchurian candidate, and a newly found anger aimed at the people who killed his girlfriend.
There are a lot of issues swirling around in this comic book that have a lot to say about not only a cultural movement happening within the United States but a larger, more universal question swirling around the world. It deals with a growing Christian youth movement (the very kind that probably scared you to death in Jesus Camp), the difficulty of living a moral life in an amoral world, death, gender concerns, leather daddies, porno mustaches, masturbation, iron phalluses, coffin humping, you name it.
For a character as chaste as Adam Chamberlain, the comic he appears in is most definitely not.
The pure absurdity of it all. There is a lot of ridiculous packed into one story, and it might have some trouble in the Puritanical world of the United States, what with its loathing of chicks with dicks and ball gags.
More so than the subject matter, the pacing would have to be breakneck to cram everything in. Truthfully, the first half is all character interactions, but the second half is almost all plot. Plus, the characters fly all over the world on Adam’s quest for revenge/book tour. However, if Bond can globe hop, so can a 21-year old virgin with a beheaded girlfriend.
From the Bible Belt to the Chasity Belt.
In light of the totally sexy, completely unnerving direction of the story, it’s almost automatic for the mind to shift to Women in Trouble and Elektra Luxx director Sebastian Gutierrez. Nothing against American directors, but very few of them understand how to deal with sexual issues without giggling or how to create strong female characters (let alone characters who are both male and female) without giving caveats to the audience. Gutierrez knows how to make a live-action cartoon of sexuality and fill it with very real characters dealing with truly difficult moments in their lives.
Paul Dano as Adam Chamberlain: Lanky with shaggy dark hair, a walking mix of on-stage charisma, self-loathing and tumultuous emotional states. Is that a description of Paul Dano or of Adam Chamberlain? Dano would be pitch-perfect for the role. Plus, it would be fun to hear him yelling out that he’s a virgin every 20 minutes or so.
Mae Whitman as Cyndi: The brashness of Cyndi might be a stretch for Whitman, but that’s part of the fun. She’s a talent that most people associate with comedy, but her turn on “In Treatment” showed a great ability for drama, and those two worlds are going to have to come together with a dash of sarcasm for Cyndi.
Carla Gugino as Mel: It probably won’t make sense now to cast Carla Gugino as a male mercenary, especially since it requires making her look like a man (and that’s a cardinal sin for a woman that gorgeous), but this book and this character deserves some highly untraditional casting.
Fionnula Flanagan as Mamie: Who better than Daniel Faraday’s mother from “Lost” to play the conniving mother more interested in dollar signs than in souls saved?
Alice Eve as Cassie: Although she loses her head before we get introduced, Cassie shows up as hallucinations from time to time – mostly as a totally nude, over-sexualized spirit that causes Adam to grow like bull while giving her eulogy. You won’t mind seeing Eve that way, right? She has the right blend of sweetness and curves to bring the dream girl to (after)life.
Who Owns It:
Although there are two films named American Virgin, there are no plans as of yet to turn the comic book into a movie. It’s unknown who owns the rights, but a likely guess would point toward Vertigo Comics.
This is the movie that the world needs. There hasn’t been a solid Christian satire since Saved! (or at least not one as good as Saved!) and this would be a completely different animal. It’s a world-traveling, Christian-book writing superstar that is having to deal with situations far behind his scope of understanding. Adam is a hard character to understand, but it’s not hard to get behind his endeavors. At his core, he’s responding to violence the way most of us would hope to, but he’s still a genuine person driven by his love of God and the version of God that he’s come to know.
With American Virgin we could see just how difficult it is not to have sex. It would be a reverse American Pie or a more sadistic 40 Days and 40 Nights.
Plus, isn’t it about time we had a movie that dealt with Jesus and with that special tingle?
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