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Category: Pop Culture


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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bionic pig

If you want to see a bit of faith that there is some goodness in humanity, you’ll want to check out a new show this Wednesday on PBS.  My Bionic Pet tracks down the efforts of some compassionate, superhero humans who have used their imaginations and energy to make the lives of several animals better through prosthetics and other means.  Ignoring the old cliché of “putting down” an animal for having a lame limb or otherwise non-life threatening malady, the show recognizes the value of animals’ lives and their contributions to those around them.

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My Bionic Pet looks at an alligator with a prosthetic tail, a swan with a prosthetic beak, as well as a pig, a pony and dogs with bionic limbs.

Check out this preview of My Bionic Pet:

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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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Mars Attacks 50th anniversary book

You’ve heard of Mars Attacks, but do you know the origin of Mars Attacks?  A 1950s serial?  A pulp magazine series?  Strangely enough, Mars Attacks was an idea created by Len Brown and Woody Gelman for a 1962 set of 54 Topps trading cards.  Those oversized-brain Martians first conquered Earth with a piece of pink bubble gum, and bridged sci-fi and horror like never before.  One of my favorite areas of collecting as a kid were trading cards, what collectors today categorize as “non-sports trading cards.”  I collected any card that came in a loaf of bread, cards that came on the backs of boxes of cereal, and cards given away at Burger King.

It’s not likely that many people actually got their hands on the 1962 of Topps trading cards, as explained in Mars Attacks 50th Anniversary Collection, the latest in Abrams Comicarts’ series of bubble gum-inspired books including Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, and Bazooka Joe and His Gang 60th Anniversary Collection, both reviewed previously here at borg.com.  The original Topps card set was not well-received by parents and teachers because of its graphic depictions of burning bodies, exploding, mutilated, and sliced-up people and animals by the vile Martian invaders.  So the card set had a limited run.  The result is a collectible that would cost you $25,000 in order to acquire a complete card set.  Which makes this new book a great way to see what we missed.

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Creators Brown and Gelman were surprised by the backlash against the cards.  According to Brown, “Our Civil War set was just as gory as Mars Attacks.  I suspect because it was historical, people just felt that kids were learning, so the violence was okay.”  Brown, Gelman, and artist Norm Saunders were told to go back to the drawing board several times even before the series was released, to correct women who were too scantily dressed, and update skeletal remains with some flesh.

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David Brenner Tonight Show

Comedian David Brenner was said to have been Johnny Carson’s favorite guest on The Tonight Show, showing up on 157 episodes.  He passed away this weekend at age 78.  Watching clips decades later reminds you how easy Carson and Brenner could fill air time with a quick chat and be able to make others laugh so effortlessly, and how much of a good guy Brenner seemed to be.  When I was a kid, I’d try to get my parents to “let me stay up to watch Carson” and they often let me, to my sleepless glee.  But I was disappointed if the show didn’t have David Brenner as a guest or as guest host.  I liked to watch him laugh as he told his jokes, and his humor, whether I understood it all or not, made me laugh.  I learned of Brenner’s passing via a nice comment by Jimmy Fallon on Monday night’s episode of The Tonight Show, where Fallon has returned to the kind of humor as the new host of the long-lived show, the kind of humor that kept audiences rolling back in the 1970s and 1980s with Brenner’s brilliant monologues.

I liked Brenner so much that when his autobiography came out before I was a teenager I nabbed it up, maybe the only autobiography I read until adulthood.  Again, some of it was outside of my understanding back then.  And here’s a strange thing.  My personal sleep habits spring from staying up late to watch Carson and Saturday Night Live, but even more so to Brenner’s own sleep clock.  I latched onto the fact that Brenner said he would only sleep about four hours each night, nothing close to the eight hours most people aim to get.  He figured if he kept it up he could live–be awake–something like 20 years longer than everyone else.  People say you need 8 hours of sleep per day, yet Brenner made it to 78.  Bravo.  It makes me wonder if he kept up that 4-hour sleep plan.  Because of Brenner I have never bought into the need for the eight-hour nightly sleep.  My own strange takeaway from this funny funnyman.

Called Soft Pretzels with Mustard, Brenner’s autobiography is a story of a kid growing up in Philly and how he picked up his sense of humor along the way.  The book became a bestseller and I count it as one of my favorites.

Soft Pretzels with Mustard

My favorite clip of The Tonight Show with Brenner is one of the funniest pieces of television you’ll ever see and I last saw it on a Johnny Carson anniversary show.  I scanned the Web for it to no avail, but found Brenner’s own recollection of the episode:

“Johnny loved to catch someone NOT watching the “Tonight Show,” especially when they were on it.  So one night I was on the show and I did my act and I came over and sat on the couch and, if you remember, sometimes the last guest would be the author of a book.

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Planet Comicon 2014

Another Planet Comicon is behind us, but we have some more photos to share, of celebrities and cosplay and other fun.

Wil Wheaton at Planet Comicon 2014

Wil Wheaton signing at his booth, returning for his second show in Kansas City.

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner attended his first Planet Comicon this year and had long lines of fans his entire stay.

Jewel Staite

For Firefly fans, the biggest hit of the show was an appearance by Jewel Staite.

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The guys with the Back to the Future Delorean asked me to pose in their car. Something about a character played by Sylvester McCoy in a time machine…

McCoy and cart

Speaking of McCoy, each day he began his day by umm… liberating a cart and taking it for a spin around the hall.

McCoy and staff

McCoy hadn’t seen the Weta replica of his Radagast staff before and really liked it, although he accidentally broke the blue jewel (oops). He said he had used only two originals of the staff in the films.

And more cosplay…

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Trektacular 2014

Planet Comicon 2014 wrapped today, bringing to close the region’s biggest and best comic book and pop culture convention ever.  The best was saved for last with the TREKtacular reunion of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members hosted by William Shatner, including a surprise visit by John deLancie.  Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Wil Wheaton, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner did not disappoint a sold out crowd in the giant ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center.  For those attending this once-in-a-lifetime event that did not purchase one of the 100 limited edition exclusive artist signed TREKtacular prints, a few may still be available.  Contact Reinke Arts on Facebook for more information.

Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis

We talked with Michael Dorn about his real-life jet fighter flying experience and Marina Sirtis said she loved today’s borg.com editor’s cosplay choice (so did Return of the Jedi’s Femi Taylor!).

Lee Majors panel

Lee Majors was a superb storyteller, catching up panel attendees on his recent TV series work, and delving into his stunt work on The Fall Guy (where he performed 80% of his stunts) and The Big Valley. He also discussed the success and appeal of The Six Million Dollar Man to fans.

Bionic Man action figure

We resurrected last year’s Convention costume of The Six Million Dollar Man action figure, which we wore meeting The Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner, at Planet Comicon 2013, complete with jumpsuit, patch, plastic hair, data chip arm tattoo, bionic eye, and trademark Adidas Dragons.

Meeting Lee Majors

A kid’s fantasy come true–meeting your childhood hero, Lee Majors, who called me his “double” and said he thought the outfit and plastic hair was cool.  He also autographed the photo that was sent out to kids in the original fan club set in 1974, signed then by “Col. Steve Austin.”

With Zoie Palmer at Planet Comicon 2014

With Zoie Palmer from the Toronto-based TV series Lost Girl, the great Syfy Channel series we have reviewed previously here at borg.com.

With Margot Kidder at Planet Comicon 2014

With Margot Kidder, Lois Lane from the 1970s Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve.

Aquaman and Mera

Aquaman and Mera, Queen of Atlantis.

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The final day of Planet Comicon 2014 is here, with a turnout as great as Saturday.  Above, your borg.com editor has some fun with The Big Valley, The Fall Guy, and The Six Million Dollar Man star Lee Majors today.

Shatner Planet Comicon

Then author and borg.com writer Elizabeth C. Bunce met William Shatner at one of his several signings.  Shatner is shown above with his security detail moving between events.

Legenderry Red Sonja

Elizabeth was sporting her steampunk Red Sonja from Bill Willingham’s Legenderry series.

More later!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Predators

Lots of great cosplay was the highlight of the second day of Planet Comicon 2014.  Tons of photos with several new friends.  Here’s a variety of the best of what we saw today.

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C.J. Bunce’s Radagast with Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth C. Bunce’s Valkyrie.

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Radagast and Barbossa also from Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Radagast and Valkyrie with Sylvester McCoy

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The staff club–with Indiana Jones.

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Darryl from Run DMC signing his new comic book at the Elite Comics booth.

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Radagast with Emma Frost.

Reading at Planet Comicon

Reading comics at Planet Comicon.

Kaylee dress

Jewel Staite, who attended the Elite Comics afterparty Saturday night, signed this cosplayer’s recreation of her famous Firefly dress.

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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

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