Category: Pop Culture


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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ComicConBox

You can now treat yourself like your birthday is every month with a subscription to one of many surprise content subscription services in the tradition of coffee-of-the-month, flower-of-the-month, and food-of-the-month clubs.  Following the successfull pop culture services Loot Crate and Nerd Block, comic book convention promoter Wizard World is launching ComicConBox, its new subscription-based premium monthly grab bag service which offers subscribers the opportunity to receive exclusive collectibles, toys, technology, games, licensed artwork, comics, apparel, Wizard World Comic Con tickets, VIP discounts and more, delivered right to their doors.  The first box will be shipped this week.

The service, priced at $29.99 per month plus shipping with no contractual commitment, will also feature “Epic Grand Prizes” in random boxes.  Differentiating the new service from other companies, Wizard World CEO John Macaluso said, “Wizard World’s unique access to leaders in the entertainment industry and some of the most popular celebrities, creators and publishers means that ComicConBox will have the best quality and variation of products possible.”

secret_wars_bw

Select boxes will include Mystery Items.  You can subscribe for only one month or set up automatic monthly shipping, and Wizard World offers premiums for those that commit to three months at once, such as the exclusive Marvel Comics Secret Wars variant cover issue shown above.

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American Dreaming artwork

Some classic car aficionados are creating a documentary about the post-War art designers behind Detroit’s big automakers, including General Motors, Ford, Packard, Chrysler, Hudson, Nash, and Studebaker.  American Dreaming: Detroit Automotive Styling 1946-1973 is a project from artist Robert Edwards and Greg Salustro being crowdfunded through Indiegogo.

The filmmakers have interviewed the university-trained art designers behind mid-century car designs, hired by the auto companies between 1946 and 1973, and take a close look at their original artwork, including designs for concept cars that never made it to the city streets.  Some of those designs are pretty stunning, and landed in collectors’ hands in a roundabout fashion.

American Dreaming concept

As in many other industries, designs created by in-house staff became the property of the car companies, and in Detroit auto designers were not allowed to even keep a portfolio of their works at home.  Worse yet, like the early days of comic books and comic strips, the companies threw nixed designs and old artwork into the trash.  It will be those few pages of art that managed to make it out of the companies, through the back door or otherwise, that will be featured in American Dreaming.  These hand-drawn designs for real-life classic hot wheels are great works of American art in their own right, yet never before seen as a unique field of fine art study.

Check out this trailer to promote the documentary project after the break here:

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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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Frank Miller The Master Race DK 3

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.  Comic book readers all remember first reading Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.  Most of the world would acknowledge it is one of the top 20 most influential graphic novels of all time and belongs on many a top 10 list for any kind of novel.  We all look ahead each week to the next good read, and can’t wait to read the next DKR.

We just don’t mean that literally.  We once thought that is exactly what we wanted, once upon a time.  Then Frank Miller delivered what we thought we wanted with his sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, or DK2.  It was pretty much unreadable, made worse because it was released on Miller’s trademark staggered “I’ll release it when I feel like it” schedule (remember All-Star Batman and Robin?).

So DC Entertainment just issued a press release late Friday announcing The Dark Knight III:  The Master Race.  Really?  The Master Race?  From the guy that wrote the offensive, bigotted Holy Terror?  What is DC Comics thinking?

DKR 2

The Dark Knight Strikes Again, DK2. Be careful what you wish for.

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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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Batman v Superman

When it rains, it pours.

It’s was a heckuva weekend for movie fans.  First a new trailer dropped for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (we revealed it at borg.com here).  Then three more:  A second Fantastic Four trailer, the first full-length Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, and today, yet another Jurassic World trailer.

But see if you agree:  Not one of these three new previews really compares to the excitement of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, or the time-bending fun of Arnold returning in Terminator: Genisys (shown here).

Zack Snyder, who we’d had hopes for after his unusual but interesting interpretation of the Watchmen graphic novel for the big screen, is just auguring in the DC Comics cinematic universe after the dismal Men of Steel and now this preview for an equally grim Batman and Superman.  Thankfully the best superheroes can be found not on the big screen but every single week with DC Entertainment’s superb TV productions: Arrow, The Flash, and Gotham.  

Dr Doom new Fantastic Four 2015

Try on for size this first full-length trailer for Batman v Superman and see if you wouldn’t rather watch Brandon Routh as The Atom fighting some bad guys in Central City with Grant Gustin’s The Flash:

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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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Star Wars Battlefront

This weekend’s Star Wars Celebration held this year in Anaheim has seen a new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which we revealed here at borg.com earlier this week, and today new previews just dropped for the coming season of Star Wars Rebels and a new video game, Star Wars Battlefront.  It makes sense that Disney and its new company Lucasfilm would be pulling out all the stops in this banner year for the franchise.

Since Disney took over the Star Wars brand, we’ve seen new canon universe novels (Star Wars: A New Dawn, previewed here, Tarkin, previewed here, and Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi, previewed here, thanks to advance copies from LucasBooks).  And we saw a record for bestselling comic book release with this year’s new Marvel Comics Star Wars monthly, discussed here.  We can only expect more from now until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December.

Star Wars Rebels clip season 2

If you’re not in Anaheim this weekend, you can still catch what’s going on via live streaming on YouTube here:

You can see new Stormtroopers (and their weaponry) on stage with director J.J. Abrams and members of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast old and new here (worth checking out):

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