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Category: Fantasy


grimm below the surface

Last week’s episode of Grimm may have been one of the best on TV this year, bringing together threads formed since the beginning of the show.  The result proved the old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and pitted the “good” guys together with the “bad” guys against the “even worse” guys.  The most unlikely of pairings occurred in nearly every scene.  It was brilliant TV, and we can likely expect even more fun on this Friday’s episode.

Previously we reviewed The Official Companion to Supernatural Season Seven, a well-formatted look-back for fans of the series, with previous editions released annually.  The Official Companion serves as both a souvenir book and behind the scenes look at the creators of the show.  Many series have released works that were similar.  Doctor Who has done this in magazine form, for example.  Movies like The Hobbit released different variations of behind the scenes books, with different price points and trade or hardbound editions targeted at different audiences.  The first behind the scenes look at NBC’s hit TV series Grimm is now at bookstores, and it follows a format similar to the Official Companion concept Supernatural uses, except it contains glossy, full color images, which will be a plus for diehard fans of the show.

Looking back from the end of Season Two of NBC’s hit series, Grimm: Below the Surface–The Insider’s Guide to the Show provides plenty of information not available elsewhere.  It includes stories and interviews from the series executive producers and showrunner, each of the actors playing main characters (Nick, Monroe, Juliette, Hank, Rosalee, Renard, Adalind, and Sergeant Wu), writers, production designers, the make-up and special effects team, casting, the stunt team, and the props and costume creators.

Grimm - Season 2

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Gimli axe

This past December we discussed here at borg.com a fantasy film auction to end all auctions –Julien’s The Trilogy Collection Auction, which included the sale of an item that sold for the highest price–a screen-used axe wielded by John Rhys-Davies as the dwarf Gimli.  The final price?  $180,000.

Today, Julien’s has one Lord of the Rings prop in its Hollywood Legends auction.  It’s another Gimli axe, but this one has the fortune of the provenance of being part of John Rhys-Davies’ personal collection–one of those props that each of the Fellowship of the Rings actors was given after filming.  Considering the December sale of a Gimli axe without such a great provenance record, Julien’s has listed a conservative estimate range, $125,000 to $150,000.

Gimli axe number 2

The first bid is already in, at $95,000 plus auction fees.

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All the Muppets from Muppets Most Wanted

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

The eighth big-screen film starring Jim Henson’s wacky, lovable Muppets hit theaters a couple of weeks ago, and for lifelong fans of the franchise, it’s a big win.  The 2011 film Muppets, written by and starring Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother) was a heartwarming, family-friendly comedy, reviewed here.  We liked the 2011 movie but wished for more celebrity cameos.  Muppets Most Wanted, written by returning director James Bobin, returns to the kooky, offbeat humor of the original TV variety show and first motion picture, 1979′s The Muppet Movie.  And it delivers cameos aplenty.

In a plot somewhat reminiscent of various Muppet films past, this latest movie involves the intrepid troupe on a world tour, hot on the heels of the success of their last venture (meaning, in typical Muppets metafiction style, the 2011 film, or the reprise of the act as depicted in the film, or both, or… well, you’ll get it.  It’s the Muppets).  Along the way, no one suspects that their new tour manager, Dominic Badguy (“It’s pronounced ‘Badgey’”) (Ricky Gervais, The Office) is moonlighting as the sidekick to a criminal mastermind named Constantine–who also happens to be a dead ringer (almost) for Kermit the Frog.  Badguy books the Muppets into surprisingly sold-out gigs all across Europe, connives to have Kermit kidnapped and sent to a Siberian prison, and plots ever-more ambitious jewel heists along the way.

Gervais and Constantine

Human leads Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell (Modern Family), and Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live) turn in stellar performances that recall classic costars like Michael Caine (The Muppet Christmas Carol) and Charles Durning (The Muppet Movie).  The lively story, er, hops along, darting among Kermit and Fey in Siberia; Burrel and Sam the American Eagle as rival Interpol/CIA agents tracking Constantine; and the Muppets’ efforts to launch a successful European tour, despite lackluster direction from Fake Kermit and zany acts competing for space in the show.  Watch for wonderful classic Muppet-show-style performances like Gonzo’s “Indoor Running of the Bulls,” all featuring cameos from actors like Salma Hayek (Wild, Wild West) and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained).

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Grimm book banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

Grimm the TV series is “grim” to the extent of its various Wesen creatures—some stars of the show like Monroe and Rosalie and the villainous Adalind—as they woge into the faces of a horror movie special effects artist’s dream project.  Strange murders and other crimes from their dark fantasy world come across weekly on NBC with a footing in the reality of a Portland, Oregon police precinct.  But there is an equal balance of humor that can often make you forget the show is so dark.  The comic book spin-off of the series, reviewed here at borg.com last year, allows Nick, Hank, and Monroe to venture off to locations too expensive for a network TV series.  The tie-in Book of Lore highlights the fictional monster culture behind the series stories.  Now a new tie-in novel takes the darkest elements of the TV series even further, to more horrific places that could never make it to network TV.

Bram Stoker Award winning horror author John Passarella takes on the Grimm universe with a new criminal element in Grimm: The Chopping Block, a new paperback novel just released. It’s The Freshman meets Silence of the Lambs meets Fat Tuesday. The remnants of boiled human bones are turning up in multiple places around Portland.  And the victims have nothing in common.  It’s not long before Detectives Nick Burkhardt and Hank Griffin, along with Captain Renard and Sergeant Wu, discover that what the victims don’t have in common says all they need to know about the true nature of the crime.

Grimm The Chopping Block

Humans become livestock under the knives of a Wesen butcher.  Any reader may go along with our favorite character Monroe by book’s end and go Vegan.  Be prepared for descriptions you’d find in any meat-packing plant or Food Network series, only with an unusual meat substitute.  Food prep takes on new meaning.  And the story features a dinner event that The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover only scratched the surface with.

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Assassins Creed Ankh Of Isis Trilogy

Whether you’ve played videogames or not, you likely know something about Assassin’s Creed, the game featuring modern time travelers that are able to tap into the minds of their ancestors to seek talismans, avenge the wronged, and put the future on the right track.  The Assassins appear to gameplayers in various historical contexts, wearing variations on that familiar, oft-cosplayed hooded costume, those nifty gauntlets, and an often blood-soaked sword.  The first English translation of the comic book tie-ins of the game are now available in a hardcover compilation from Titan Books and Ubisoft, called Assassin’s Creed: The Ankh of Isis Trilogy.

French writer Eric Corbeyran and artist Djilalli Defaux piece together an epic story broken into three parts, focusing on three characters mired in a world of violence and mistrust.  First, Desmond Miles, a descendant of the Assassins who uses a mind-based time travel method to improve his “genetic memory” by reaching back to his ancestors, similar to Avatar but more like the time travel technology of Connie Willis’s science fiction novelsand Michael Crichton’s Timeline.  Next, Aquilus is an ancestor of Desmond living in ancient Rome who is odds with the men that would become the Templars, and he seeks to avenge his father’s death.  The third part features Accipiter, a deadly Assassin and leader of Barbarians advancing on Lugdunum, as Aquilus seeks the lost talisman of the trilogy, the Ankh of Isis.*

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Hundreds of years of protective rites and honor are balanced between the Assassins and the forces throughout history that oppose them.  The significance and power of names, the interspersed real historical places and conflicts, and engaging characters, make this a better than average tie-in series.  This includes an intrepid scientist in the present day named Lucy Stillman who facilitates the mind-damaging time travel process but aims to protect Desmond from those who would dismiss his value.

To one extent, Assassin’s Creed: The Ankh of Isis Trilogy reads like a simple 1980s era PC role playing game—where you’d enter new rooms, battle a foe and find the hidden relic.  Whether you’re into the more high tech versions in modern gaming or not (and eight million copies of Assassin’s Creed demonstrates there is a real market for this series), any fan of the adventure genre will find this series accessible, with an audience for older teens and up (for language and violence).

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Legenderry03CovIncenConceptSMDM

We at borg.com have been pretty excited about Bill Willingham and Sergio Fernandez Davila’s new monthly Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure.  So much so that our resident author and frequent TV and movie reviewer Elizabeth C. Bunce cosplayed one of the characters at Planet Comicon last week (and Willingham said yesterday on Twitter it may be the first time anyone cosplayed one of his non-Fables characters!).  Check out our earlier review of Issues #1 and #2 of the series here.  Call it steampunk, steam-noir, or as Willingham prefers “steampulp,” the new series is moving full steam ahead with the Dynamite Comics arsenal of licensed characters from the past and telling their story in a fun, new way.  And what’s more exciting than taking the Bionic Man in a new direction?

Last month we sneaked a peek at future marketing blurbs and knew this was coming, but the origin story of Major Steve Austin and scientist pal Oscar Goldman was even more intriguing than we could have hoped for.  The opening image of Steve Austin in a wheel chair–the result of some experimental flying gone wrong and an “uncooperative autogyro”–is just plain inspired.

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Austin’s first mission with his $6,000 worth of prosthetics comes about when Captain Victory’s dirigible encounters a disaster in-flight.  Austin and Goldman’s chummy banter is immediately believable and true to their mirror universe 1970s incarnation.

The Six Thousand Dollar Man’s design, both in this month’s Legenderry Issue #3, and the formal look on the cover, has set up a gentlemanly steampunk hero whose exploits, whatever they come to be, could take on the best of the genre–if given a chance.

After the break, check out this preview of Legenderry, Issue #3, from Dynamite Comics, featuring the first appearance of The Six Thousand Dollar Man:

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Radagast and Radagast

Radagast and Radagast

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?  Especially when it took six weeks of prep?

Above, your borg.com editor has some fun with Doctor Who and The Hobbit’s Sylvester McCoy today at Planet Comicon 2014.

More later!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Choose Wisely

Planet Comicon 2014 got off to a great start Friday, with vendors filling the venue at Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Missouri, and many celebrities appearing on the first day.  Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who, The Hobbit), Jewel Staite (Firefly), Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl), and Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13) all were greeting fans with plenty of opportunities for everyone to get photos and autographs.

In my day one garb as the knight who guarded the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I and Elizabeth C. Bunce had a great time catching up with friends and having some fun with the celebrities from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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Gates McFadden, who played Dr. Beverly Crusher on the Enterprise-D, was a great sport, jumping right in to try to get me to drink from the wrong grail.

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“Choosing poorly”, but also good sports, were Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander Will Riker…

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… and a surprise, unannounced guest at the Con, John de Lancie, who played Q on the series, also “chose poorly,” but got it right on the second try.  Happily for all, we were using a prop grail and not dabbling in any face-withering magical elements.

Gene Flaharty

The first professional make-up artist workshop at Planet Comicon was held Friday afternoon, sponsored by borg.com, and dozens of attendees learned several pointers about how Hollywood applies prosthetics, and how to make life masks, negative casts, and how to use–and not use–latex, make-up and other materials for optimal cosplay creations.  Speaker Gene Flaharty drew several questions from the crowd and everyone had a great time learning more about this exciting art form.

Come back for more from Planet Comicon all weekend.  Or better yet, come on out and experience it in person!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Wil Wheaton standing room only crowd at Planet Comicon 2013

In addition to what you might expect from a large comic book convention, from comic book creators to celebrities to vendors and panels, this weekend’s Planet Comicon 2014 has several fantasy-themed attractions to help you get your fantasy fix.

Medieval Punisher and Harley Quinn at Planet Comicon 2013

Amanda Lynn Chainmaille Creations is returning for their second year at Planet Comicon.  From their booth #1313, Amanda and Mike O’Leary will be selling original handcrafted chain mail and scale mail ensembles inspired by everything from comic books to fairies.  You can also get superhero themed items, as well as jewelry for all types of cosplay, including some great steampunk pieces.  They will also be taking commissions for custom work.  Stop by and check out Amanda and Michael’s awesome creations. And I will be modeling one of their creations on Friday, and Elizabeth C. Bunce will be modeling something on Saturday. You’ll just have to show up both days to see.

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Wildman Norse Drinking Horns is appearing for their first time as a vendor at Planet Comicon.  Stop by and ask Randy about his drinking horns, great for Viking and medieval cosplay, and just for all-out drinking grog.  Randy makes leather belt holders, too, and the horns are available in different sizes.  Elizabeth and I can be seen each year at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival sporting Randy’s drinking horns.  They are a great addition to your medieval ensemble.  Also check out his great Viking themed T-shirts, for sale at his vendor booth #1416!

ECB Valkyrie

And you can see our own author in residence at borg.com, Elizabeth C. Bunce, at Artists Alley booth #1143.  She will be selling and signing copies of her award-winning fantasy novels A Curse Dark as Gold, StarCrossed, and Liar’s Moon.  borg.com is again sharing a booth with Elizabeth this year.  Stop by and say “hi!”

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Mehron Special FX make-up

Are you ready to take your cosplay to the next level?

borg.com and Planet Comicon are excited to bring a professional make-up artist to Planet Comicon for the first time.  Make-up artist Gene Flaharty will host a workshop on make-up techniques, “Making Life Masks and Prosthetics,” Friday, March 14, 2014, at 3 p.m. in Panel Room 2505 at Planet Comicon 2014 in Kansas City, for all levels of cosplayers and any fan of sci-fi and fantasy make-up.

Gene has been doing professional make-up for TV, film, print, and theatre for more than 30 years.  He gives demonstrations across the country as Sales Manager and Makeup Artist for Mehron, Inc. in New York, one of the leading suppliers for make-up artists in Hollywood.  He has been on the Board of Directors of the National Costumers Association for 2 years and is serving on the Board of Advisors for Stage Directions Magazine.  His make-up portfolio includes work with celebrities such as David Ogden Stiers, Davy Jones, Dee Wallace Stone, B.D. Wong, Art Garfunkel, Gary Sandy, and Phyllis Diller.

This Friday Gene will be demonstrating the different steps in making a life cast using alginate and plaster.  Attendees will learn about the different types of latex used in making prosthetic pieces and how to apply them.  Gene will discuss the different supplies involved and where to acquire them.   A Q&A will follow.  Gene’s attendance at Planet Comicon is sponsored by borg.com.

Planet Comicon is being held this Friday through Sunday, March 14-16, at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall.  Check out the Planet Comicon website for more information.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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