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Archive for July, 2011


Despite an interesting premise and a good cast, Cowboys & Aliens never quite comes together.  How could a team-up like Jon Favreau, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Steven Spielberg not get this right?  Unfortunately, the movie is “just okay.”  It’s an example of what happens when you buy an idea without a great story to back it up.  And it’s what happens when it takes six A- list writers to craft a screenplay, based on a work that itself isn’t very interesting.

Cowboys & Aliens lacks most of the elements of good science fiction and qualifies as a western only because of the bundle of cliched characters, a beautiful desert hills setting, and all the horses.  That said, it may find an audience with those who have never seen a good western or appreciate a good science fiction story.  It could be dismissed as “another summer blockbuster romp, sure to please general audiences.”  With the fun premise, the stellar cast, producer Spielberg and director Favreau, it may get favorable initial box office returns, but it fails to live up to its potential to rival all the summer movies released this year.  It should be better than all the sequels released this summer.  But it’s not.  In comparison, it doesn’t quite match up to past summer hits like Independence Day or Men in Black.

It’s not as fun as a movie with the title Cowboys & Aliens should be.  I wasn’t looking for humorous by any means, but there was not one point in the packed movie house where the crowd had any reason to laugh, cheer, or gasp.  The story lacked tension and energy.  From scene to scene the characters didn’t convincingly indicate the gravity of their would-be, desperate situations.  And we were never quite pulled into the world in any gripping way–you keep waiting for something to happen, then the movie is over.

Fortunately the film has no relation to the graphic novel created by Scott Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley.  The graphic novel is a simple analog of alien imperialism over humans as a reflection of European imperialism over the native Americans, and that’s about it.  Not enough to turn into a good comic book, let alone a good movie.  Add to that the six screenplay contributers (including Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who wrote the iffy 2009 Star Trek script) who couldn’t pull a complete story out of a good idea, and proved yet again that a story written by committee rarely works.  It is frustrating that an idea as fun as mixing aliens into the 1800s Old West is so hard to make awesome.  Even kids mixing toy soldiers and science fiction figures could come up with a fun story. 

The best of the film is the cast. As for the lead cast, Olivia Wilde’s character Ella was the stand-out.  She seemed to do the best she could with her role and, as with her with roles in Tron: Legacy and House, M.D. , she is fun to watch.  And Daniel Craig delivered an excellent performance as the western movie drifter with the secret past, Jake Lonergan.  But his character was put into too many strange circumstances, and we never got to see how a man in the 1880s would react to aliens vs someone in the 2010s.  Daniel Craig’s past roles have been so good, this one probably falls toward the bottom of the list.  Audiences are starving to see the next Han Solo or Indiana Jones role for Harrison Ford.  Billed as Ford’s “Rooster Cogburn” performance, Ford’s, Colonel Dolarhyde (a really bad name, by the way) is a one-note character.  The audience wants to like this performance, but we don’t know how we’re supposed to feel about this character.  At one point we’re told he’s tough and we feel he’s meant to be the traditional man in the black hat, but everything else indicates otherwise, and we don’t have enough back story to know what to think.

As for the supporting cast, Clancy Brown (Starship Troopers, Medium, Leverage, Law and Order, Lost, Enterprise) shows how great a supporting actor he is as the town’s preacher.  Keith Carradine also delivers a believable performance as the sheriff.  But as with Favreau’s Iron Man 2, another annoying Sam Rockwell performance almost reduces his scenes to cringe-worthy.

One more positive thing–I loved the “arm gun”.  It’s not in the graphic novel, so it’s a great addition and helps make Daniel Craig’s every move as cool as he is as James Bond.

The movie might have been more exciting if they hardly showed us the aliens at all (like the shark in Jaws).  When they appear, it is too much too often, and the aliens were a mix of creatures we had seen before, lifeless like the bugs from Starship Troopers, grotesque like Kuato from Total Recall, and the scenes are shot just like the aliens in the Alien movies.  The creatures should be terrifying, to the point that the humans should be running for their lives screaming–especially for people who have no concept of space travel or extraterrestrials.  They just aren’t.

The soundtrack starts with a good clip but ultimately relies too much on what sounded like a modern electric guitar ballad instead of a full orchestral sound–an epic, grandiose score you’d expect from a western, which might have helped save the film.

Not that my standards for a video rental should be any different than for a movie in the theater, but this may play better on video or late-night cable.  I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of the western scenes again, just not enough to buy another movie ticket.  The opening, for example, gets off to the right start, with Craig’s character executing a fight scene dive straight from Rio Bravo.

Unfortunately, this one left me wishing for a real good western or good sci-fi movie.

Cowboys & Aliens is in theaters.  2.5 of 5 stars.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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One of the reasons tens of thousands of fans flock to San Diego each year is for an advance look at the best of what’s to come in the next year.  Sometimes Hollywood fulfills our expectations and sometimes it lets us down, but the advance peeks always leave you eager to see even more.  Across the street from the San Diego Convention Center this year during Comic-Con weekend, Columbia Pictures revealed a futuristic police car and future police officer from the new  remake of the movie Total Recall, to hit theaters in 2012. 

  

I think the general consensus is that it seems a little early for a Total Recall remake or re-imagining.  The original movie starring Arnold Schwartzenegger as Doug Quaid is a sci-fi classic, with standout supporting performances by Ronny Cox as Cohaagen, Michael Ironsides as Richter, and Sharon Stone as Doug’s wife Lori.  The special effects were first rate when the original premiered in 1990, including Arnold wearing a fake woman’s head as a disguise that splits apart, X-ray body scanners at the future airport–years before they would become commonplace, and that scene you can’t forget were Arnold has to pull a tracking device out through his nose.  The original is also cited by anti-violence types as having one of the highest body counts of innocent bystanders in any film.  It was–and still is–the ultimate sci-fi, action adventure.  So why remake it?  For one, the original had a box office take of $261 million.   Special effects technologies are constantly changing, so the best answer is probably “why not?”  Here is the only movie still released so far:

The new look from the San Diego display last weekend immediately resembles another Philip K. Dick story turned major motion picture: Minority Report.  And like Minority Report, the new Total Recall will feature Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, Daredevil), this time in the lead role, as Doug Quaid.  The remake also stars Kate Beckinsale (Underworld series, Much Ado About Nothing) as Doug’s wife Lori, Jessica Biel (Stealth, Blade: Trinity, Next, The A-Team) as Melina, Bill Nighy (Doctor Who, Underworld:  Rise of the Lycans, Pirates of the Caribbean series, Harry Potter series) as Kuato, John Cho (Star Trek 2009, Harold and Kumar series), Ethan Hawke (Gattaca, Assault on Precinct 13, Alive), and this time out Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Batman: Year One) plays the tough Cohaagen, the leader of Euromerica who, under the cover of protecting his people, is secretly readying an invasion of New Shanghai.  That’s right, this story doesn’t take place on the surface of Mars as the original and so there will be no reference this time out to sustaining oxygen for the planet’s residents.

Philip K. Dick’s original short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale” is a brief story as short stories go so there is definitely room to expand the story in any number of directions.  But the producers promise this version will come closer than the 1990 film to the original short story.  Total Recall is currently in production at Pinewood Toronto Studios with filming expected to wrap in September 2011.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

A familiar group in the original costume and prop collecting arena attended Comic-Con again this year.  We ran into Jon Mankuta and Brian Chanes from Profiles in History on the convention floor Friday.  They also create the SyFy network show Hollywood Treasure, a show I regularly watch to see both the discoveries they find, the collectors of Hollywood memorabilia (like a guy that looks like Santa Claus who has a house full of rare costumes from movies like Elf and A Christmas Story), and, of course, the costumes and props themselves. 

Jon Mankuta from the auction house and TV show eyed our Alien Nation latex heads from across the main walkway in the heart of the convention floor and had a guy in the crowd snap this shot. 

 

Jon is one of those guys that when you see him you have this feeling like you’ve known him for years.   He was having fun at the Con like every other fanboy in the crowd, checking out the booths and sporting a Lost T-shirt.  Jon actually played one of The Others in the Lost TV series and among other acting gigs he performed in sketches during the 2002-2006 years of Saturday Night Live.  It was great meeting someone working at an auction house who gets as excited seeing artifacts from movies just as much as the rest of us.  Coincidentally, later in the day Brian Chanes grabbed us in the crowd for a similar photo.  Later in the weekend we met up with Brian again (below right) and Profiles president Joe Maddalena (below left): 

Profiles is a great resource for screen-used props and costumes of every price range–Profiles is the auction house we featured in earlier posts that sold that record breaking Marilyn Monroe dress from Seven Year Itch, among other pieces in the Debbie Reynolds Collection.  I have also had the pleasure of working with Fong Sam at the auction house, a great guy who coordinates prop and costume auctions and takes phone bids on auction day. 

In past years at Comic-Con, Profiles in History had featured an advance look at props from various movies and TV series that were to be featured in upcoming auctions.  This year they linked up with Desi DosSantos from Screenused.com who has a nice collection of Back to the Future costumes and props.  His crown jewel is one of the DeLorean Time Machine cars from the series (from the third movie in the franchise).   Profiles in History and Desi worked with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (TEAMFOX.org) this year to take photos of convention-goers sitting in the car for a $20 donation, raising more than $11,000 for the charity.  Nice job!  And if you missed seeing the Time Machine car at Comic-Con, the San Diego Air and Space Museum will have it on display through August 13, 2011.

Strangely enough, the Profiles in History booth did not have the only Back to the Future car at Comic-Con.  On the other side of the convention center a replica Time Machine was on display (a DeLorean updated with replica movie parts under the direction of the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis), creating a sort of deja vu for the crowd.  (The replica is pictured at the top of this post).

And if you need your own Back to the Future Time Machine DeLorean, keep an eye out for the December Profiles in History auction where the real car from the Profiles booth will be auctioned, along with part 2 of the Debbie Reynolds auction.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Zachary Levi (Chuck on the TV series Chuck) took over Jolt’n Joe’s Restaurant in San Diego’s Gaslight District and during Comic-Con weekend he sold tickets to the public to benefit Operation Smile, a charity that helps children born with cleft palates.  Ultimately his “Nerd HQ,” along with selling nerd merchandising for Levi’s new enterprise, was able to collect more than $40,000 for the charity.  Nice work!

Over the weekend, the small venue of about 250 seats hosted members of the casts of Chuck, Psych, and Firefly, including Dule Hill and Adam Baldwin, and chats with Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, Lost), Scott Bakula, Zachary Quinto (Star Trek 2009, Heroes), and members of his new company, Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Jared Padalecki (Supernatural), as well as video game companies who co-marketed the event.

We attended the conversation with Scott Bakula and with maybe half the room filled, the intimate setting allowed for a lot of interaction. Unlike a lot of other panels with celebrities, Bakula was just plain fun. You could see that Scott was an actor who doesn’t take himself too seriously, yet he is serious about his craft.

Scott discussed his first major hit, Quantum Leap, and described the changes in special effects technology in that series versus today.  Back then he said he would literally have to freeze in place while his co-star Dean Stockwell would run into place–all to create the image of Stockwell’s character seeming to beam into the frame from the future.  Today, Bakula said that the director would film straight through and add the effects in later.  He said for fun, if you watch old Quantum Leap episodes pay attention to the extras in the background and you will notice they also jerk to a stop as part of the then “cutting edge” special effects.  The greatest challenge (and joy) of the show for Scott was working with an entirely new crew each week (since only he and Stockwell had a recurring role)–including literally thousands of actors–that appeared over the course of the series.

Bakula said he was proud of Quantum Leap and is glad a new generation can watch the series through technologies like DVDs and streaming media.  His favorite episode?  When he just played himself, going back and forth in time, including meeting his own father.

Similarly, Bakula said he enjoyed making the Star Trek series Enterprise.  He said he believed that in any other franchise five seasons would be a successful series, but for some reason in the Star Trek franchise you’re not considered a success if you don’t make it seven seasons.  He said part of the reason could be attributed to the tenor of the show in light of the post-9-11 landscape.  Originally sold as a light-hearted exploration show, the producers did not believe the audience at the time wanted to see escapist entertainment.  Instead the series became darker with more conflict.  While it worked and was more appropriate to the mood of the country, Bakula believe it led to the cancellation of the series.  He said ultimately “it hurt us” in terms of the longevity of the show. 

Bakula appeared earlier in the day on a panel with William Shatner and other former Star Trek captains at a Comic-Con panel about Shatner’s new documentary, where each captain is interviewed about his or her experiences.  Bakula said it’s a little hard not to pick up Shatner’s unique, abrupt dialogue timing after speaking with Shatner for an hour and answered the next question in Shatnerspeak.

Both Bakula and the audience had only just received word that Scott’s current series, Men of a Certain Age (co-starring Ray Romano and Andre Braugher) was cancelled by TNT.  It was clear that even this audience of genre fans followed Bakula in his new series and were disappointed in the news.  Bakula briefly explained how new criteria govern whether a show stays or goes, and that the days of following just one set of Nielsen’s ratings is long past.  With the advent of DVRs and similar technologies, where viewers may not watch a current program for 7 or 14 days out, the calculation of a show’s success is more difficult and arbitrary and ultimately each network has its own criteria.  He said for example, had Men of a Certain Age have aired on the AMC channel, it would probably have been renewed for another season.  He said Men of a Certain Age was TNT’s first in-house drama, and that may have played a factor in the show’s cancellation.

When Zack Levi introduced Bakula, he mentioned Bakula’s most recent genre role, that of his father on the TV series Chuck.  Levi noted the oddity of Bakula standing in the back of the room with Levi’s real dad, Daryl.  This all led later on to a duet from the stage show Godspell (which both had previously appeared in) by Bakula and Levi, both hamming it up in stage show style.

Bakula noted that his first love was the stage, and stage acting was preferable to him over TV and movie work, and his favorite work was any role where he gets to sing.

Bakula’s advice for everyone, actors or not, was far-reaching:  It’s important to stay passionate in your craft, even when your TV show gets cancelled.  Find what you love about acting or what you do and concentrate on that–that the only part you can control is the performance.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By Jason McClain (@jtorreyMcClain) 

The movie starts out with images.  The Eiffel Tower.  The Arc De Triomphe.  The Louvre.  Le Sacre Coeur.  The Seine. Familiar looking streets to your eye if you’ve ever seen anything filmed in Paris.  Of course like any big city, there were cafes on screen that I don’t remember having seen in any image before so it provided new glimpses of a city familiar to all of us from the increasingly small world through movies and television.

Midnight in Paris had me right then and I didn’t even know it.

My thoughts drifted to my all too brief time in Paris.  Walking the streets.  Stopping by carts to pick up lunch.  Looking forward to the morning with coffee, baguettes and strawberry jam.  Letting my feet take me where they wanted to go with only the memories of my tour book to guide me as the physical copy was left behind in my hostel room so that my walk was unencumbered by backpacks or books.  Yes, I missed seeing things.  Yes, I ended up in a cemetery and realized I had no use seeing gravestones, not that there’s anything wrong with it, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.  (White, no sugar.)  Still, I saw as much as I could from the vantage point of the many different random streets that go in every which way to make up the Paris city center.

Soon after leaving, I dreamt of visiting again or, even better, of living in Paris for a year, because I had fallen in love with a city and the people.  Finally using the language that had made enough of an imprint in high school and college so that I could still pick up on just enough of someone’s speech to make me smile at my ability to decipher a special code of tens of millions of people.  The language that I used on a train to talk to a couple who helped me along, that were kind enough to take the time to listen to my halting words and help me to understand that my struggle could show benefits.  Sitting every morning near the banks of the Seine, enjoying a coffee seems like it would be a cool way to spend a year.  Though the dream is now many years old, it is still one that I cherish, the thought of becoming a secret agent of France.

Minutes later during the movie, I realized I was not alone in this dream, for this was the dream of the protagonist played by Owen Wilson.

After the movie, I realized how much more universal the theme is.

Temporal displacement.

Geographic displacement.

Interpersonal displacement.

Entertainment allows us to explore those fantasies of finding a place, a time and people that we truly love.  Finding a place, a time and people where we don’t feel like we are rushing to keep up with all that is around us, but rather the flow of our world buoys us to the surface of its stream and we casually float along in peace, knowing that everything will be ok in the end.  Athletes call it “the zone,” and I’m not sure what the term would be in regular life, but in tribute to Bryan Cranston, Walter White and Vince Gilligan, I think it could just be called “breaking good.”

Spending time with those people that truly get us, that know what it means to meet a deadline for a project, or to write the perfect sentence or to find that missing dollar that balances the books in the midst of millions is something that seems easy.  We can find those people.  We can join clubs.  We can find a cool place to work.  We can take classes.  We can call, email, IM or visit friends.  We can control our interpersonal placement as much as we can control anything. Still, when the casts of Community or Torchwood appear on the television, I think a lot of us would jump at the chance to go to Greendale Community College and play paintball or to work in secrecy under the streets of Cardiff examining alien artifacts and saving the world.  We’d still keep in touch though.  Of course we would.

There are times when I think that the solitary life of a trapper in early 1800s, exploring the west for the first time would be the perfect life.  It probably comes from my father’s DNA, as “Jeremiah Johnson” is one of his favorite films. There are times that I think a mountain town calls my name to return to that small town, big peaks life.  There are other times that I know that L.A. is the perfect place for me.  Ask me any day of the week and I’d give you a different answer, depending on the traffic, the sunshine, or the dreams of snow in June.

I’m not sure where, when or who my perfect existence would encompass.  Paris in the ‘20s with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway might be pretty darn cool as it showed that world during my viewing of Midnight in Paris.  It certainly would help to explain why Doctor Who has become a favorite of mine.  Not only is all of the past open to the Doctor, but all of time and space as well. You could sample everywhere, every when and every who.  Why not?  How do you know what is your perfect time and space unless you look around a bit? Well, unless you think that your life has peaked and that there isn’t much else out there.  The glory days have passed you by and Bruce Springsteen’s song haunts your nights, as your beers never have a chance to get warm.  I hope that isn’t your truth and maybe seeing Midnight in Paris will convince you otherwise.  You might just need a displacement to give you a fresh outlook on life, if only in your dreams.

Midnight in Paris is a fantasy/comedy and is in theaters now.  Starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.

Recovering from the big weekend, we’re posting the last of the best fan costumes we saw at San Diego Comic-Con International this past weekend.  What we didn’t capture is the abundance of Captain Americas, Thors, Wonder Womans and Supermans.  Lots of those and all great.  Bizarrely and happily for some, an unprecedented number of Slave Girl Leias were at this Con.  We posted three in a photo on our Day One coverage.  Also, video game and manga outfits were everywhere.  All bright, and most very creative.  So on to the stand-outs:

In honor of the last Harry Potter movie, here is Sirius Black, with Elizabeth Bunce as the Alien Nation/Nerd Herder.

These guys on speeder bikes had a tough day walking around but they stopped crowds in their tracks:

I’m betting we’ll see more Hobbit related costumes next year.  This guy’s garb was great.  And check out those huge Hobbit feet!

And with the new Planet of the Apes movie out this year, nothing matches the original film and these two recreations of Dr. Zira and Dr. Zaius are awesome.  Their mouths moved and actually looked like the originals.

We saw at least seven DC Comics Zatannas, and you can’t have enough Zatannas.  Here this pretty lady poses with borg.com Hollywood writer Jason McClain.

Lots of Batmans as usual but this “Mirror Universe Batman” rocked:

I wasn’t sure if this next gal’s outfit was from a specific game or show, but she looks great!

And to wrap up the best costumes at Comic-Con 2011, here is artist Pablo Ramos as Bob’s Big Boy (flanked by Elizabeth and C.J. Bunce):

I first saw Pablo at Comic-Con in 2008 and whenever anyone discusses the all-time best costume at any convention Pablo’s costume always makes the #1 spot on my list.  As with my other favorite costumes, the idea of the costume is often what helps make a costume the best.  Originality = A+.  And skipping traditional Con outfits in favor of such a pervasive pop culture blast from the past, well that makes Pablo the best in my book.

Finally, it is not usually the case that one would criticize someone for wearing a costume to a convention, or declare a worst costume of the Con.  This year we have the exception, and please, scroll no further if you are easily grossed out.  We’re intentionally posting only the blurred version for your protection:

Congrats and thanks to everyone who went all out for Comic-Con (except for diaper man).   It made the convention more fun for everyone (except for diaper man).

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

The last day at Comic-Con!  What’s that mean?  Making sure you get to every last booth and panel you want to see, buying that last comic book or art page, getting that last autograph, and more great costumes.

I collect comic book sketches and it wouldn’t be a con without adding a new one.  This year Patrick Scullin sketched me this great classic Green Arrow.  Thanks, Patrick!

 

Donato Giancola, fantasy artist extraordinaire, was selling limited edition compilations of his work and beautiful prints.  You probably know him best from his painting that was used as the cover of The Hobbit graphic novel–the only Tolkien illustrated adaptation out there.  Great stuff and a great guy!

Everyone’s favorite wookiee attended the convention this year again–Peter Mayhew was signing autographs at his booth.

Superb comic artist Frank Cho (University squared, Liberty Meadows, Marvel, etc.) and Joe Keatinge (background) unveiled their new series coming in 2012–Brutal

Check out that punch, and that’s no guy’s arm!  They actually showed me the details Friday but I swore not to post until the public unveiling.  Promise kept!  Cho walked me through some original pages and cover art going to France for a gallery sale.  Stunning pieces.  But no Brandy art for sale–he’s keeping those (wouldn’t you?).  The REALLY big news?  Frank said the rights to Liberty Meadows reverted to him!  So if he can just get through all his other projects we may see Liberty Meadows start up again someday.

Note to self:  When I get older and gray(er), keep coming to Comic-Con!  Check out this great Ben Kenobi:

And Comic-Con is not just for adults.  These kids at the DC Comics booth had great outfits.  That Speedy outfit looks like he came out of the classic Neal Adams series.

And you might be saying “enough Green Arrow already” but here’s a great Smallville Green Arrow costume.  This guy made it by hand in three weeks.  Nice work!

Here, Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG’s Counselor Deanna Troi) appears to be sizing up Rod Roddenberry at the Lightspeed booth.

And one last pilgramage to flip through the stunning original art of the late, great Michael Turner at the Aspen booth:

I also got to meet comic book writer Jai Nitz, who has written for Marvel, DC Comics, Image, Disney and Dynamite, including Kato Origins, Green Hornet:  Parallel Lives, and Tron: The Betrayal.  With all the comic book artists at Comic-Con, you don’t see all that many writers at this venue.  So great to meet up with Jai!

More news from Comic-Con coming this week.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Day Three of this year’s Comic-Con was as big as ever. 

Some great panels, including a Young Adult novelist panels focused on alternatives to vampires, along with book signings and giveaways of ARCs (advance review copies) for books not published until the fall–a great perk at Comic-Con.  Larry Nemecek, Star Trek author and insider, led a packed room of Trek fans showing previously unseen photos and behind the scenes Trek information.  The Mythbusters had a line waiting of fans an entire 45 minutes after the show started.  The cast of Fringe signed autographs in the main area at their studio booth.

Some great finds on the floor including nice chats with Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek: TNG) and Marina Sirtis (Troi on Star Trek: TNG).

Elizabeth C. Bunce went all fangirl with Eddie McClintock, star of Warehouse 13 and Nicholas Brendan, who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  These guys love to engage and are genre fans themselves.  Brendon has a recurring role on Criminal Minds.

Celebrities look like everyone else, especially in a crowd of 130,000.  If you’re lucky you catch a star moving incognito across the main floor.  We caught Anthony Stewart Head (our favorite librarian/watcher, Giles, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who ducked away from his handler to snap a photo with Elizabeth on his way to a Merlin event.  Awesome!

Great costumes as usual.  Here is a great cross section of the crowd.  First up this stellar Jawa:

And a super Black Canary:

Here’s some great Starfleet jacket replicas from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:

From The Incredibles:

And it wouldn’t be a Con without some Klingon warriors:

One more day then the countdown starts again for next year’s show!  Next week I’ll run down the best and worst costumes at Comic-Con this year.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Day Two of the San Diego Comic-Con proved to be non-stop fun.  You can’t get the full comic convention experience without at least one day in costume so at borg.com that day was today.  Elizabeth C. Bunce and I took to the floor as Tenctonese visitors from Alien Nation who happen to work at the local Buy More, including Elizabeth as a member of the Nerd Herd from the TV series Chuck (with screen-used prosthetic heads from the series courtesy of Prop Store of London, also at the Con).  Our favorite costumes are the most obscure and we got about 1,000 fans and press stopping us for photos, several saying we had the most creative costumes of the day and interviews by four TV stations including G4.

You certainly get noticed in costume and that also means you sometimes get an extra chance at meeting your favorite celebrities and childhood idols.  Chuck himself, Zack Levi, said he loved our outfits and stopped to say “I really appreciate that you’re representing both Buy More and the Nerd Herd.”  Sweet!  Levi was hosting his own offsite mini con of sorts called the Nerd HQ, where you could skip lines and for a $20 donation to the national Smile charity you could meet Zachary Quinto (Star Trek’s Spock, Heroes),  the stars of TV’s Psych, or as we did, get to spend an hour with Quantum Leap, Men of a Certain Age and Star Trek Enterprise’s own Captain Archer–Scott Bakula in a small conversational setting of about 100 people (Scott also gave us a thumbs up and signed autographs).  Bakula was more down to Earth than you can imagine, talking about the ups and downs of acting and singing an improvised duet with Zack Levi onstage.

My own childhood hero, Mark Hamill, was signing autographs and we had our own alien to Jedi chat with Mark.  Every bit the classy Jedi!

We lucked into a conversation with Saul Rubinek, star of SyFy’s Warehouse 13, and we talked about all his past shows including Nero Wolfe, and how much we loved him as our all-time favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation villain, Kivas Fajo.  A super gentleman.  More on Saul in future posts.

We headed off to lunch and ended up at an Italian eatery with none other than Jim Lee and his lovely wife.  Jim is pretty much the monarch of this year’s Comic-Con and was taking a rare and much deserved break from from all his panels and signings.  He and his wife were having a great time and you can tell the pressure of the new DC Comics 52 re-launch is only providing him with extra excitement and energy to roll out a great new line of comic titles for fans this fall.  Here’s a photo of us at lunch in the Gaslight District.

We also got to meet the ubiquitous actor Mark Sheppard (Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica), his wife and four kids.  I will post separately about our chat with Mark later.  We had great conversations with the guys from Profiles in History, too, who currently star in the SyFy reality show Hollywood Treasures.  Very fun to see these guys are fans like the rest of us!  Profiles in History was selling photos in one of the Back to the Future DeLoreans for Michael J. Fox’s charity.  A great idea and a great cause!  This was a Comic-Con favorite of the day.

And here is Elizabeth with our friend Kevin Dilmore at the Hallmark booth.  Kevin (along with his writing partner Dayton Ward) is THE favorite Star Trek novelist of fans.

And we had a blast roaming with borg.com writer Jason McClain!  We’ll post more photos in the coming days, but please let us know if you see us on any other websites!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

The first full day of the 42nd annual Comic-Con got off to a great start Thursday at the San Diego Convention Center with the first of tens of thousands of fanboys and fangirls and writers, artists, actors and everyone and anyone from the entertainment industry packing the venue.  Lots of oversized swagbags and swag to carry in them and big displays from major creative properties.  Several major events are celebrated this year, including the 35th anniversary of Star Wars throughout the convention.

But today Comic-Con really emphasized the COMIC in Comic-Con.  Artists and writers packed both Artists Alley and the main aisles.  Echo and Strangers in Paradise creator Terry Moore was signing at his booth (his 15th year at the Con):

Fan favorite David Petersen (Mouse Guard) revealed an exclusive to borg.com tonight:  Years in the making, Friday will be the debut at Comic-Con of his boxed set Mouse Guard role playing game with a limited quantity available at Comic-Con.  Here he is signing at his booth: 

Legendary fantasy author Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn, Tamsin) shared stories about his writing and inspired others at his booth in Artists Alley.  Freddie Williams II (Captain Atom, Robin) and his wife Kiki were jam-packed up until closing with fans at Freddie’s booth. 

But not all the fun was to be had on the convention floor.  Another popular franchise celebrates a benchmark this year.  Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books hosted an invitation-only bash tonight at the Hilton Bayfront to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Jeff Smith’s comic book franchise Bone.  Guest of honor Smith was on hand, as well as a who’s who of the comic book and sci-fi/fantasy genres.  Terry Moore and his wife Joann, were in attendance, as was David Petersen and his wife.  Legendary artist Sergio Aragones celebrated as well, along with Judd Winick (Green Arrow writer, among other noted DC work) and Patrick Scullin (Super Siblings).  Attendees included Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine artists and authors Elizabeth C. Bunce (Liar’s Moon, StarCrossed, A Curse Dark as Gold), Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), Ted Naifeh (The Good Neighbors), Jake Parker (Missile Mouse), Dan Santat (Sidekicks), Raina Telgemaier (Smile), and Doug TenNapel (BadIsland).

Here, the crowd toasts Jeff Smith (far left).  Next to Jeff is Joann and Terry Moore, far left is Judd Winick next to Jeff’s wife and business partner Vijaya.

Here Elizabeth C. Bunce, Lisa Yee (Millicent Min), and Sheila Marie Everett, Scholastic publicist, celebrate at the party for Jeff Smith.

No industry has a more welcoming group of people than the Comic-Con crowd.  Writers and artists shared stories into the night and everyone had a great time.

And Comic-Con wouldn’t be Comic-Con without some great costumes, including this group of Slave Leias at the Lucasfilm booth:

More to come tomorrow!

And we’ll post more updates throughout Comic-Con and over the coming weeks.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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