Category: Comics & Books


League of Regrettable Superheroes

This summer Quirk Books released an interesting look at the obscure side of comic books with The League of Regrettable Superheroes.  Cartoonist and graphic designer Jon Morris delved into the archives of Digital Comic Museum and Comic Book Plus to locate oddities from the Golden Age of comics to modern times.

Morris showcases 100 of these characters, many that only survived one issue of a long forgotten publication.  You’ll meet Invisible Scarlet O’Neil, Ghost Patrol, Moongirl, and even Nightmare and Sleepy.  Sprinkled with interesting facts from the comic book world, Morris includes plenty of trivia.  One character way ahead of her time– Spider Queen seems to have had all the powers Spider-man would maintain, yet she predated him in comics by 20 years.  Other entries are curious selections, like Rom the Spacenight–star of a pretty popular series in the early 1980s that had a sizable fan base.

You’ll see plenty of examples of full color covers and interior art from the characters represented, as well as characters created by legends in comics like Will Eisner, Gil Kane, C.C. Beck, Neal Adams, Herb Trimpe, and Joe Simon, whose other characters would become much more well known.

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By C.J. Bunce

One hundred and thirteen years ago this month, film audiences saw a bright future for the very first time.

The science fiction film was the French classic Le Voyage dans la lune, or A Trip the the Moon, created by science fiction special effects and animation pioneer George Méliès, who modern film audiences may know as one of the heroes of Martin Scorcese’s Academy Award-nominated film Hugo.  The famous scene in A Trip to the Moon where the rocketship blasts into the Man in the Moon’s eye is a classic bit of film nostalgia, the full 14-minute film based on two classic works: Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, and H.G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon.  You can’t have a better science fiction pedigree than A Trip to the Moon.  But the first science fiction film available in color?

The Victorian era meets the future in this scene from the 1902 color film A Trip to the Moon

Film enthusiasts for literally a century were aware that A Trip to the Moon was originally released in theaters not in the typical black and white that monopolized film into the 1960s, but in color.  But how could that be?  The story was a secret treasure of sorts, that stayed hidden until 1993, when a film collector revealed the sole remaining color copy of the 1902 film in Barcelona.  The 13,375 frames of decomposed material was practically worthless until film preservationist Serge Bromberg found a way to catch the photographed images when the material was deposited with a special chemical vapor.  Every day for two years his staff worked through each frame, and in 2010 digital technology had come so far as to allow the preservationists to re-build the film at Technicolor’s laboratories in Los Angeles, using a $500,000 grant from French film foundations.  The result was revealed to audiences at the Cannes Film Festival three years ago.

Film pioneer Georges Méliès mixed stunning color animation and special effects in this view of the future of travel in A Trip to the Moon

But before the film was revealed, a matter of sound arose.  The original film was created before the concept of the talkie, or even the playing of music to accompany the film.  No score had ever been created for A Trip to the Moon.  The same foundations that had financed the restoration selected the French band Air to compose a 16-minute soundtrack for the film.  Because the homegrown film was considered by the French to be so revered as a national treasure, musicians Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel were themselves elevated to celebrity status.  After completion of the soundtrack, Air began composing a full musical score expanding on the themes they created for the film.  Their sound is both futuristic and modern, and has been compared to their influences: Pink Floyd, spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone, and the bands Vangelis and Tangerine Dream.

But where does the 3D fit in?

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Gotham season 2 poster

Gotham, the great new series from Fox in 2014 that re-imagined Batman’s Gotham City before Bruce Wayne donned a cowl, will be adding even more villains in Season 2.  As a bonus, Michael Chiklis will play a new member of the Gotham police force.  Marketing for the series’ sophomore season promises the show will dig into the origin stories for The Riddler, which we’ve already seen a fair amount of in his portrayal by Cory Michael Smith, as well as The Joker and Mr. Freeze.  And the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is expected to uncover more secrets from his father’s past.

But we’re most anxious to see what’s new with Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), and last year’s surprisingly good villain, Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin, played so well by Robin Lord Taylor.

But how will the writers fill the gap left by Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney?

Check out this latest trailer for Season 2 of Gotham:

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TIE fighter

If you remember the 1970s, you may remember the first time you saw the catalog for Star Wars toys–an insert in any and all Star Wars vehicles, playsets, and large-sized action figures.  Hasbro has published the complete, first catalog for Episode VII of Star Wars, and as we expected from the preview we discussed last week here at borg.com, plenty of dollars will be spent at midnight, September 4, 2015–“Force Friday”–as the new line of toys spreads across the country.  As much as for its groundbreaking space fantasy films, Star Wars is known for its landmark toy and collectible merchandising.  Look before Star Wars and nothing compares.

Below, we reprint the new catalog so you can start making your want list.  But first, do you remember the first Star Wars catalogs?  Just compare what was offered for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back fans to what will be available to the latest generation of Star Wars moviegoers.  Not much has changed, has it?

You’ll find 3 3/4-inch action figures, even the first of the 12-inch line of figures, vehicles, lightsabers (although the new line could merit its own catalog), and then those… other items you can’t quite explain.  Like Star Wars plastic model kit vans from the past, or now… is that a Chewbacca Furby?

Here are both the catalogs from Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope, Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, and the latest–the catalog for Episode VII, The Force Awakens:

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Descender 1 cover

If you missed out on writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen’s 2015 sci-fi comic book series Descender, you have a chance to catch up.  You can purchase for download Issues #1-5 at Comixology at any time, but this weekend the website is offering a free digital copy of Issue #1.

Why should you check out the free preview?

Nguyen really has a solid lock on the look of this story about a child-like android (or does he rate cyborg status?) who is the only survivor of a galactic assault on his world.  His stylized settings and spaceships, as well as his color choices remind us of Phil Noto’s visuals on Trigger Girl 6, one of the best retro-style creations we’ve seen in years.  His wide perspective and large panel spreads really evoke something from an exciting future.

Descender panel

Lemire’s world building gets readers up to speed quickly.  He takes the theme from Steven Spielberg’s Artificial Intelligence/A.I. yet makes it far more interesting.

If you’re not convinced yet, just look at the first few pages below and see what we mean:

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Tarking audiobook

Last year here at borg.com we reviewed the new canon Star Wars novels A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller and Tarkin by James Luceno.  Check out our review of A New Dawn here and Tarkin here.  Both of these are recommended reads for fans of Star Wars and those interested in the new universe of the Disney era Star Wars.  In particular fans of Star Wars Rebels, the animated series, won’t want to miss these adventures from the characters in the series.

You can now get either of these books as free audiobook downloads at Audible.com.  Audible is offering a free trial membership.

Here is a summary of the terms:

  • First book free with 30-day trial
  • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
  • Cancel easily anytime
  • Exchange books you don’t like
  • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel

New Dawn Audiobook

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3D Photobooth Gimli Jo Kamm KCCC 2015 Kansas City Comic Con

The first Kansas City Comic Con comic book and pop culture convention wrapped Sunday at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  We bid farewell as Doctor Who’s Colin Baker headed to the airport to return home to England and other guests set out across the country after a long and exciting weekend in the Midwest, leaving behind some happy and (exhausted) fans.  But first, crowds again lined the aisles Sunday, grabbing last-minute selections of prints from artists, books from writers, and comic books and collectibles from the several dealers on site.

Sunday saw more panels, more autographs and photo ops, and more conversations with creators.

Royals Iron Man

Our vote for the best cosplay of the show?  This Kansas City Royals-inspired Iron Man.  What better cosplay ambassador to the first Kansas City Comic Con than this superhero?

But it was hard to beat this great costume of a Gnoll from Dungeons & Dragons:

Gnoll from D&D

Excellent work!

Our vote for the best new addition to conventions anywhere this year was Jo Kamm’s 3D Photobooth.  Unlike the 3D photobooth featured at last year’s World Series, the 3D Photobooth at KCCC printed highly detailed, large figurines.  And unlike other 3D printing booths we’ve seen before, Kamm’s software and technology recreated recognizable faces.   We’ll feature the process used at the booth in a later article, but our response and those of various passersby watching the imaging in process was simply “Wow!”

Here Kamm renders examples of a digital 3D, 360-degree image of both our Radagast ensemble from Saturday…

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William Binderup Pam Grier KCCC 2015

The first ever Kansas City Comic Con began yesterday afternoon at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.  Thousands of fans met hundreds of creators of comic books, fiction, cosplay, and other creative pursuits.  Many fulfilled dreams to meet celebrities of TV and film both new and from the past.  Comic book conventions are all about spending the weekend with like-minded fans of anything and everything you could conceive of fitting between the sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero genres.

The first day was full of con-goers getting the lay of the land–getting sketches commissioned by their favorite local or nationally-recognized artist, getting in the front of the line to meet a host of celebrity guests, and getting the first selection from the great volume of dealers at the show.  Helping out everyone were the yellow shirt-garbed “henchmen”–a well organized group of ambassadors that handled everything with a smile.

Bunce Pam Grier KCCC 2015

You can’t beat a day when you get to meet one of the coolest women in the history of cinema.  C.J. Bunce with Pam Grier.

Guests included Pam Grier, star of dozens of movies in the 1970s as well as TV and film roles since, and in particular the lead role in Quentin Tarentino’s Jackie Brown.  Ms. Grier is everything you’d hope for in such an iconic actress, and she had plenty of stories to share with fans Friday.  She also hosted a special screening of Jackie Brown after the show at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater.  Attendees received an exclusive Jackie Brown print signed by Ms. Grier.

Jedi KCCC 2015

Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan arrive for the opening of KCCC 2015 Day One.

Nalini Krishan and Orli Shoshan signed photos for fans and participated in photo ops, as did other media guests.  Ms. Krishan and Ms. Shoshan were featured as Jedi Knights in the Star Wars prequels.

Elizabeth C Bunce KCCC 2015

Author Elizabeth C. Bunce in steampunk cosplay.

Your humble editor spent the day with author (and borg.com writer) Elizabeth C. Bunce at Table 617 in the convention’s Artists Alley.  As much a part of comic conventions as print media creators and celebrities are cosplayers, and plenty could be found in the convention halls.

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The Jaws Log Carl Gottlieb

Review by C.J. Bunce

A feat of Carl Gottlieb’s contemporary, firsthand account of the making of the movie Jaws, called The Jaws Log, is that the author had not planned on writing the book during the production and yet his resulting work is a modern classic.  After all, how could he have known the movie he was writing the screenplay for would be the kind of success to warrant a “making of” chronicle?  Yet after production, with the buy-in of director Steven Spielberg, Gottlieb, who also played the newspaperman in the film, played a real-life journalist, amassing enough notes and anecdotes to pull the book together.  Along with extensive interviews from the film crew and town locals at the shooting location in Martha’s Vineyard, the result was a step-by-step look at filmmaking, considered by many as one of the best “making of” books ever produced–originally published in 1975 just after the blockbuster was born.  Forty years later the account holds up well.  X-Men series director Bryan Singer has called The Jaws Log “like a little movie director bible.”

If The Jaws Log is your first foray into the making of the movie Jaws, you’re likely to have the same response.  It’s no surprise Gottlieb was a successful screenwriter:  Gottlieb is a superb storyteller.  And if you’re wondering about the source for all the laughs that separate the tension in the film, you’ve Gottlieb to thank for much of that.  Again, no surprise, as Gottlieb also wrote for The Bob Newhart Show, All in the Family, and The Odd Couple, as well as the screenplay a few years later for Steve Martin’s The Jerk. 

From The Jaws Log

We can also thank Gottlieb for gutting so much of author Peter Benchley’s novel that didn’t work (we recounted the elements earlier this summer in our Retro Review of the novel here at borg.com).  The success of the movie, coupled with the absolute silence from critics for cutting and re-writing so much of the source work, is Gottlieb’s true legacy.

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BW1    Cluster_006_A_Main

Today we have another big sampler of comic book previews for books hitting comic book stores everywhere tomorrow, on Comic Book Wednesday.

We have previews today with something for anyone and everyone and we’re previewing many books that have been around for a few issues in case you missed them.  It’s always easy to request back issues from your local comic book shop.  So look for previews below from Dynamite Comics, IDW Publishing/Archaia, BOOM! Studios, and Dark Horse Comics.

BigTroubleLittleChina_014_B_Variant    RSConan01-Cov-A-Ross

Don’t miss out on Red Sonja/Conan, Star Trek, Big Trouble in Little China, Zombies v. Robots, Transformers v G.I. Joe, Barb Wire, The Shadow, Cluster, Broken World, and Swords of Sorrow.  And don’t forget to look for the Adam Hughes cover art for Barb Wire and Alex Ross cover art for Red Sonja/Conan.

Without further ado, here are this week’s previews:

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