Category: Behind the Scenes


Star Wars Artists Edition cover

Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope and long before we had any guess about what might happen in the prequel trilogy, George Lucas, for good or bad, retooled all three episodes of the Star Wars trilogy into the Star Wars Special Edition theatrical release.  Between January and March 1997 the world got to “see the movies again for the first time” and was reminded where the word blockbuster actually came from.  Now Marvel Comics is following suit with its own look back to original Star Wars source material.

Marvel Comics is releasing two new versions of Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin’s original six-issue adaptation of the original Star Wars.  This is the classic adaptation that saw its first chapter, Issue #1, released before the movie hit theaters.

The first volume is being released today: Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.  The OGN is for “oversized graphic novel” but the value in this book is the restoration, George Lucas style, of Howard Chaykin’s original artwork via a replacement of Marie Severin’s original 1970s colors with Chris Sotomayor’s update of the six-issue movie adaptation into a more modern color scheme.  Adi Granov supplies the new cover art for this edition.  Marvel said it will soon release similar editions of its adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Check out a preview of the new look at a classic movie adaptation below.

Star Wars OGN cover

IDW Publishing and Marvel Comics announced this week a second treatment of the same Star Wars comic book adaptation.  The Star Wars Artist’s Edition will be consistent with past IDW “artist’s edition” offerings, showcasing the original comic book pencil and ink art behind the series in high quality color reprints of the original, giant-sized page format that the artists sketched the artwork.

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Episode VII Snowtroopers 2015

You probably heard it all day yesterday: May the Fourth be with you.

But this year’s annual Star Wars observance meant a whole lot more in light of the next Star Wars installment coming our way in December.  We saw some new images of several new characters, some with actors we’d heard of, others as strange as those from the original Mos Eisley cantina.  All thanks to Vanity Fair magazine.

The biggest news was that the slick new chrome-armored stormtrooper from the second Star Wars VII trailer (seen here) is played by Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie–yes, women can serve the Empire–and she’s apparently hunting down a certain AWOL trooper played by Attack the Block’s John Boyega.  We’re predicting that even with a very 1930s action serial/”something George Lucas would come up with” name, this new villain, called “Captain Phasma,” could be getting primed by toymakers to be one of the highest-selling action figures of 2016.

Vanity Fair Star Wars Episode 1 Vanity Fair Episode III Star Wars Vanity Fair Star Wars

If this seems a bit familiar it may be because Vanity Fair has previously featured fans’ first looks at the last entries in the Star Wars saga, also with Annie Leibovitz photo shoots.  For those new to Annie Leibovitz, she’s one of the best known photographers of the past 40 years, with many famous shots of rock stars.

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Something different

Gracie cosplay champ

When I first started borg.com in June 2011, I wrote it in my basement on Saturdays, trying to prepare concept articles as much in advance as possible.  At the time I planned on writing weekly, but the first day then became seven days which became a month and it kept on going until I wrote something at least every day for the next 1,421 days.  In the background was the TV set, playing things that wouldn’t distract me like major league baseball, Lawrence Welk reruns and Antiques Roadshow, and even lame cable shows like reruns of My Fair Brady (yikes).  And beside me every day was Gracie.

Gracie had her own couch, and sometimes preferred lying beside me on the floor near my chair.  Sometimes I would give up on writing and move over and fall asleep next to her on her couch.  Gracie had the bubbliest, vibrant soul and fun-loving spirit of anyone I ever met, human or otherwise.  She coined the term “pie-eating grin”  after I left a cherry pie on the counter on Thanksgiving that she very delicately and completely hollowed out with her tongue.

Pigeon the Magnificent

I don’t watch dog movies or read dog stories because they all end bad.  The dogs always die.  Dogs don’t live as long as humans and the only thing that can be said, to quote a great philosopher, is: It sucks.  But Gracie’s life was awesome and she inspired others.  About a year and a half after I started borg.com she got pneumonia, and fought her way back.  Then she got diagnosed with lymphoma.  What I feared was a death sentence ended up as a “life” sentence.  Unlike with humans, chemotherapy with dogs does not typically produce the side effects humans encounter.  Gracie made it through two rounds of chemo in more than two years and made it halfway through a third round.  And she passed away Friday a little more than a day shy of her fourteenth birthday.  That’s age 98 if you believe in that “dog years” stuff.

If anyone ever says “oh, I would never put my dog through that” either knock them upside the head for me or send them my way.

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Jaguar Bautista James Bond SPECTRE

If you like cool cars (and who doesn’t?) and you like ogling the latest and greatest high-end, high-performance cars, then you need look no further than the latest James Bond movie.  Bond will be back this November in SPECTRE where he takes on the latest villain, Mr. Hinx, played by Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista.  The production recently closed down the streets of Rome for the next Bond high-octane car chase, this time pitting Bautista against Daniel Craig’s Bond in two unreleased cars.

First is Bautista in this sleek, jaw-dropping Jaguar C-X75.  Then Craig, of course, has his Aston Martin, this time the new DB10. And they apparently made plenty for filming action scenes in the new entry in the Bond franchise.

Aston Martin from SPECTRE

A new featurette just released by MGM shows some behind the scenes images and interviews with cast and crew.  Check it out, after the break:

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He-Man print in limited edition of The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Review by C.J. Bunce

Next month Dark Horse Comics releases a must-read for fans of He-Man, She-Ra “Princess of Power,” and the Masters of the Universe world of toys, animated series, magazines, chapter books, posters, comic strips, and comic books.  The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Hardcover includes more than 300 pages full-color art, a portfolio featuring an exclusive print by Gerald Parel, a foil-embossed cover, and a die-cut two-piece Castle Greyskull slipcase.  A standard edition of the book will also be available.  Many well-known creators worked with these characters since its inception in the early 1980s, including Ralph McQuarrie, Drew Struzan, Dick Giordano, J. Michael Straczynski, George Tuska, Klaus Janson, Boris Vallejo, Tony Moore, Darwyn Cooke, Geoff Johns, and Tommy Lee Edwards.

Designers from every stage of the creation of He-Man, She-Ra, Skeletor, and the large cast of sword and sorcery heroes and villains, offer insight into character development, decision-making, and the impact on 1980s kids.  The best feature is the inclusion of hundred of pieces of full-color art, concept artwork, page layouts, sketches, storyboards, packaging art, prototypes, never before seen and unused imagery, advertising art, original comic art, and final comic book pages, covers, and animation cels.  It features restored art from master illustrator Earl Norem, as well as interviews with Dolph Lundgren, who played He-Man in the 1987 movie, director Gary Goddard, well-known TV producer/comic book writer Paul Dini, and voice actress Erika Scheimer, among many others.  Captions for photos were written by comic book creators Tim Seeley and Steve Seeley.

The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Hardcover slipcase edition

Particularly of interest to toy collectors are the original notes from the development stage of the toy line at Mattel.  Mattel, which had passed on the ground-breaking Star Wars action figure line, developed He-Man as a direct competitor to that toy line.  Mattel drove the look of the characters–this was first and foremost a toy line, inspired in part by the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta.  But it grew beyond that.  Artists and writers and other creators remark with pride about the focus on the stories that went beyond the toy line.

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Absolute Green Arrow cover art

Review by C.J. Bunce

Oliver Queen was dead, to begin with.

The average superhero fan today probably wouldn’t know Oliver Queen today but for three events: (1) the modernization of the character by writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams in the 1970s, (2) his update to urban longbow hunter by writer/artist Mike Grell in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and (3) the literal resurrection of Oliver Queen in the early 2000s by the partnership of writer Kevin Smith, penciller Phil Hester and inker Ande Parks.  No TV series would have arrived without the survival of the character thanks to these stories–reprinted and available in a deluxe hardcover for the O’Neil/Adams stories here, and in paperback reprinted only recently for Mike Grell’s stories here, here, and here.  In light of Green Arrow/Arrow’s popularity today being greater than ever before in his 73 year history, it’s only fitting that DC Comics is releasing the third great chapter in the character’s history with Absolute Green Arrow this month.

Absolute Green Arrow, available here from Amazon.com, reprints Issues #1-15 of Green Arrow, Volume 3, in a matte black with gloss hardcover with slipcase  in a sharp, over-sized, 9.6 inch X 15 inch format.  It includes all of Matt Wagner’s stylish painted covers, previously released introduction by Smith and afterword by Hester, and original artwork in an appendix by Hester.  If you ever wonder how much work the inker must conquer, just take a look at Hester’s pencil work and you’ll have a great appreciation for Parks’ inks.

Green Arrow Hester Smith Parks original Batman art

Hester and Parks did shading and shadows like nobody else. Original art seen in full color as published in Absolute Green Arrow.

The first ten chapters form the “Quiver” story arc, and the last five the “Sounds of Violence” arc.  This is the entire run of Kevin Smith’s stories for Green Arrow.  Phil Hester took over writing and artistic duties for the next several issues with even better stories than found in these early chapters.  But these Smith stories present a Green Arrow in a way a bit like Frank Miller played with Batman’s mythology in The Dark Knight Returns.  Smith’s Green Arrow is not as innovative as the seminal Miller work, but it’s plenty fun, and each new chapter feels like Smith saw this opportunity to play with DC Universe characters like a kid in a toy store.  You’ll encounter the Justice League, memorable encounters with Aquaman and Hawkman, and even a quirky adventure featuring Stanley and his Monster.  Former sidekicks Roy Harper and Connor Hawke are here, too, but most importantly Oliver Queen rebuilds his relationship with long-time love interest Dinah Lance aka Black Canary.  Difficult to come back from after being presumed dead.

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Wizard World Des Moines

Convention planner Wizard World will hold its first pop culture convention in Iowa this June–one of dozens of Cons it is holding across the country this year.  Wizard World Comic Con will introduce Des Moines to sci-fi icon William Shatner (Star Trek), horror icon Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back), and Jewel Staite (Firefly), plus Emily Kinney and Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead), and a giant roster of other celebrity guests from film and TV, past and present.

Arrow Manu Bennett

Arrow’s Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, actor Manu Bennett.

Other familiar genre actors scheduled to attend include Manu Bennett (Arrow, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), J. August Richards (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Angel), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Psych), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and both Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco from Boondock Saints.

Dean Cain Superman

Dean Cain, from Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Several well-known comic book writers and artists will be featured in Wizard World’s Artist Alley: Des Moines’s own Ant Lucia (DC Comics “Bombshell” covers and posters), Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), Mike Zeck (Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars), Iowa-based artist Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Flash), Michael Golden (Star Wars, The ‘Nam), and many others.

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Captain America Agent Coulson cards

What better item to take to a convention to get Chris Evans’s autograph than a set of Agent Coulson’s Captain America trading cards–vintage and near mint, as Coulson bragged in the movie The Avengers.  Next month you’ll be able to land your own collectible set of the cards designed from the original digital images used in the film.  And that’s not all that is coming your way if you like collectible trading cards or playing cards from your favorite movies and TV shows.

In fact you can pre-order the set now here from Entertainment Earth, including both a near mint set and the bloodied Captain America cards resulting from Coulson’s death scene.  The set comes with its own display folder.  It’s scheduled to ship in April.

Coulson and his cards    Coulson cards

While you’re at it you can pick up a deck of the Tall Card game inspired from the game played on board the Serenity in Firefly.  You can pre-order it from Entertainment Earth here.  That game includes those recognizable round cards you remember from the TV series.  It also is scheduled to ship in April.

Tall Card Firefly screen shot  Firefly Tall Card Game

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Jackie Brown Pam Grier

This August thousands of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fans will attend the inaugural Kansas City Comic Con, a new comic book and pop culture convention to be held at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  Four months away and the show has already booked some great movie and TV guests as well as the very best comic book and fiction writers and artists in the U.S.

Headlining the show will be none other than Jackie Brown herself, actress Pam Grier.  Not only is Ms. Grier known for her leading role in Quentin Tarentino’s hit film, but she has also starred in the classic 1970s films Coffy and Foxy Brown, as well as Fort Apache The Bronx, Something Wicked This Way Comes, John Carpenter’s Escape from L.A. and Ghosts of Mars, and TV series including Night Court, Crime Story, Knots Landing, Miami Vice, Bones, The L Word, and Smallville.

Colin Baker Doctor Who TARDIS

Many Doctor Who fans will get their first chance to meet Colin Baker, who played the fan-favorite Sixth Doctor on BBC’s original series from 1984 to 1986.  Known for his bright patchwork jacket, you may have seen him most recently in the funny film The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, discussed earlier at borg.com here.

Barriss Offee   Shaak Ti

In this big year of Star Wars, Kansas City Comic Con attendees will get an opportunity to meet two actresses known for their roles as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels.  Nalini Krishan played Barriss Offee, a Jedi Knight and General in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.  Also scheduled to appear is Orli Shoshan, who played Jedi Knight Shaak Ti, also in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (as well as deleted scenes in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith). 

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Atari box

Atari, the company that brought us the Atari 2600–the game system that revolutionized what it meant to be a zombie–offered families in the early 1970s the benefit of the neighborhood arcade without that annoying quarter-gobbling component.  Adults who shake their heads today at kids zoning out over their smartphone games forget what it was like when they first zoned out over  Combat, Air-Sea Battle, Duck Hunt, Asteroids, Yar’s Revenge, Berserk, Pitfall, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and all their pixelated friends.

When Space Invaders was introduced, kids lined up at Woolco stores for hours on end to play the in-store demo model to try to beat the current high score.  The earlier Pong and Breakout games were revolutionary–and addictive–but Space Invaders was exciting, nerve-wracking, and required a different take on an old skill.  Hand-eye Coordination became a new, finely-honed, almost magical power.  Wielded the best by teenagers.

Then something strange happened.  We got distracted by something else.  Most of us didn’t even notice when Atari vanished.  When modern video games playable on PCs via compact discs came around we all went searching for the original Atari games and for years, nada.  What happened to Atari anyway?

Pac-Man game over    ET video game

If you didn’t track the business pages for Atari back in the 1970s and 1980s, a new documentary will get you caught up.  Atari: Game Over is a nostalgic look back at the first video game designers and how one designer created the first great game for Atari, and later the last, and then vanished into anonymity.  His journey parallels several die-hard fans’ strange and curious search to prove or disprove an urban legend–that Atari lost so much money on the E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial video game for the Atari 2600 (thought by many to be the single worst video game of all time) that Atari dumped at least a million of the unopened boxes in a desert town landfill back in 1983.  It’s also a story of one of the first Dot Com economic busts long before there were Dot Coms.

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