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As a grade schooler I’d often smuggle to school a copy of the current mini Legos or Star Wars toy catalog, providing something to distract me from the day with my favorite things.  Harry Potter fans have it better today.  Now Insight Editions has a new take-anywhere volume for anyone needing their Harry Potter fix anytime, The Art of Harry Potter–Mini Book of Graphic DesignAvailable at $11.99 or less, it’s an inexpensive source for the visual details of the movies you didn’t get to see on the big screen.  The images were there, only barely seen on book covers, wrappers, newspapers, signs, and all sorts of paper ephemera that were on the desks, in the backpacks, and on the shelves, those thousands of items that needed to be created by designers to make J.K. Rowling’s books come to life.

In a small package you get more than 50 pages of book cover art and about 20 pages each of potion art, magazines and newspapers, Hogwarts documents, Ministry of Magic documents, maps, heraldry, Quidditch signage, food labels, Beasleys’ joke shop product labels, wanted posters, and other signage, all in full color.  At 304 pages you might expect a giant book of images.  But you’ll be surprised at what can be minimized into a 2.5 x 3.5-inch hardcover pocket-sized book that’s slightly less than an inch thick.  Prior to smart phones readers might have balked at a book with images and type font so small.  Now readers regularly read the equivalent of font sizes of 5 or smaller without thinking about it.  So the adjustment for the eyes for this new line of books in this format isn’t that bad.

Here is an 18-page preview of The Art of Harry Potter — Mini Book of Graphic Design courtesy of Insight Editions:

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A man and his dog.  Who doesn’t want to see the next Sam Elliott movie?  Finally, the 2018 independent film with the crazy title starring the #1 infinitely cool actor of all time is making its way to a U.S. release.  The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot has a title and the movie poster that belongs to a Quentin Tarentino movie.  Mask, Tombstone, The Big Lebowski, Ghost Rider, The Golden Compass.  Sam Elliott brings the tough, cool aura to everything he touches.

In this alternate history (which makes it science fiction), in the last days of World War II, U.S. operative Calvin Barr assassinated Adolf Hitler in a secret mission.  Decades later he is called upon again, this time to hunt down Bigfoot, believed to be responsible for a plague across Canada.  Charismatic younger actor Aidan Turner (The Hobbit trilogy, Poldark) plays younger Barr, and Elliott, the best Western actor who wasn’t in a John Ford movie, plays Barr years later.  Early festival awards have praised the movie’s measured-pace drama, its historical production design, and its compelling score from Joe Kraemer (Jack Reacher, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Mystery Woman).

Wise, surreal, mythic, zany, silly–few films release to such divergent first impressions.  No one can seem to agree what the movie is.  With co-stars like Office Space’s Ron Livingston and comedic actor and stand-up comic turned dramatic actor Larry Miller (Law & Order, Monk, Burn Notice, Medium, L.A. Story, The Nutty Professor)–and that title–it must be a comedy.  Right?  No, apparently freshman director Robert D. Krzykowski has something else up his sleeve.  And early reviews made clear it’s also not a movie with Elliott wreaking havoc as badass action hero or an action movie at all, although a few action scenes are said to center the narrative.

Here is the trailer for The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For fans of BBC’s four seasons of Shetland, while a fifth is in the works, a 2010 series available via Amazon and BritBox may fill in as a bit of a prequel to the Scottish crime drama.  Doctor Who fans may quirk a brow at the words The Silence, but the series villains are no relation to the tense crime drama co-starring Shetland’s Douglas Henshall and deaf actress Genevieve Barr.  The Silence is a four-episode series following Barr as 18-year-old Amelia.  Recently fitted with a cochlear implant, she is adjusting to the device during her “gap year,” the year between high school and college.  It’s a series notable for Shetland and Henshall fans because swap out the character’s DCI Jim Edwards for DI Jimmy Perez and you have basically the same British cop before he went off to Scotland.

DCI Edwards is Amelia’s uncle, and Amelia is staying with him, his wife Maggie (Doctor Who and Law & Order: UK’s Dervla Kirwan), and cousins Tom (Young Dracula’s Harry Ferrier), Joel (Doctors’ Tom Kane), and Sophie (Doctor Who’s Rebecca Oldfield), all while Amelia is attending appointments to practice use of her new hearing device.  Amelia hates it, a concept nobody quite grasps.  She sees being deaf as somewhat defining, a thing everyone else should accept, but her badgering parents, played by Gina McKee (MirrorMask, Emerald City) and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who), are the ones who don’t hear.  While staying with her cousins Amelia witnesses a murder, and soon DCI Edwards realizes the likely murderers are within his own police department.

Amelia becomes more than a tangent player to the plot when she tells her uncle she can read the lips of two cops on CCTV footage, implicating several people, and putting Amelia’s life and her uncle’s family and danger, and worse for her uncle, subjecting him to threat of imprisonment per police regulations for not disclosing his niece as an eyewitness.  All of this happens in the series’ four hours, in a story probably better suited edited down into a movie-length production.  And yet it’s all fresh and new–a police procedural unlike any you’ve seen before.

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Yes, that is a poster for Captain Marvel’s cat, who will no doubt upstage the entire cast of the upcoming film, Captain Marvel The cat, named Chewie in the comic books, apparently had a name change for the film, as shown by her new collar.  Now Goose, presumably after Anthony Edwards’ character in Top Gun, leads a new round of character posters for the March theatrical release .  It’s the last of the standalone Marvel movies before April 26, 2019, when it all comes together in Avengers: Endgame.

That cat has her own story, worth checking out in recent (since 2006) back issues of Captain Marvel comics.  And she made it onto an early poster for the film so this is really her second big debut for the movie.

The movie is primarily prequel material, as seen in the posters with younger versions of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson.  The showcased new superhero and spacesuit costumes come from the great genre costume designer Sanja Hays, who we discussed previously here at borg from her panel at San Diego Comic-Con last summer.

   

Other posters show Brie Larson in the starring role, Humans’ Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Rogue One and Ready Player One’s Ben Mendelsohn as the Kree-in-disguise Talos, Bulletproof’s Lashana Lynch as Carol Danvers’ aka Captain Marvel’s friend and pilot Maria Rambeau, Djimon Hounsou returning from Guardians of the Galaxy as Korath, Jude Law as Mar-Vell, and Annette Bening as a Kree leader.

Take a look at these ten new posters for Captain Marvel:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Marvel Contest of Champions is a 2014 mobile fighting game from Kabam, released four years ago on iOS and Android, boasting more than 100 million players.  Based on ideas generated from the 1982 three-issue Marvel Comics series Contest of Champions by Mark Gruenwald, John Romita Jr., and Bob Layton, players select superheroes from across the history of the Marvel universe to battle each other.  Both the original comic and the game key in on the scheming machinations of Grandmaster and the Collector, and if the idea sounds familiar, it may be because it was also featured in Marvel’s big screen Thor: Ragnarok, with Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster pitting Chris Hemsworth’s Thor against Mark Ruffalo’s Planet Hulk-inspired gladiator Hulk.

Initially intended to be based on Marvel’s Super Heroes Secret Wars comics, the Contest of Champions video game features more than 100 playable characters, and includes dozens of others.  The characters as realized for the game and the game environments is the focus of a new book from author Paul Davies, Marvel Contest of Champions: The Art of the Battlerealm The book represents one of the rare assemblages of so many characters from all segments of the Marvel universe.  Showcasing the story by Sam Humphries and artwork by Gabriel Frizzera, Luke Ross, and others, the book is full of great character designs, concepts, and final selections.  It even takes readers beyond the events of Infinity War, although the game does not adhere to the movies.

Readers and game players will find it difficult coming up with characters from Marvel Comics not incorporated into Contest of Champions.  In the book they’ll find updated versions of all the superheroes (and many villains) from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, plus the X-Men, Deadpool, Old Man Logan, X-23, Spider-Gwen, Ghost Rider, Howard the Duck, Hyperion, Jane Foster’s Thor, Miles Morales’s Spidey, Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel, Spawn, Dark Phoenix, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Cable, Gwenpool, Mephisto, Blade, Carnage, and the Inhumans.  Plus there’s the Netflix Marvel series characters, lesser used characters like the future evil Hulk called Maestro, Magik, M.O.D.O.K., Sentry, Sentinel, Sabretooth, Agent Venom, Morningstar, Guillotine, Karnak, Kang, Doctor Voodoo, Black Bolt, and Venompool.  Both Angela, grand-daughter of Odin, and King Groot are brilliantly realized in the game and the book (shown above).

Here are some preview pages from Marvel Contest of Champions: The Art of the Battlerealm:

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It seemed obvious from the release schedule available back in 2017–well before the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man’s drifting off into dust–but the first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home confirms what everyone figured, Spider-Man and all his teen-aged friends get out of Avengers: Endgame in one piece.  The biggest reveal?  The “Far from Home” in the title doesn’t mean Spider-Man is left stuck on the planet Titan–where he turned to dust.  Nope.  Looks like it’s just a school trip from his home in NYC to Europe–not all that far away for this Spidey.

But what will be the fifth appearance Tom Holland as Spider-Man (since this takes place right after his fourth appearance in Avengers: Endgame) looks like it has the potential of being as fun as his past appearances, more Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, more Jon Favreau as Happy, and all his school friends returning.  And audiences get their first look at Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Mysterio and a comic villain straight out of the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #212.  Marvel Studios and Sony also released a new poster from the film (below).

We haven’t seen this March’s Captain Marvel yet, but we can’t get enough of Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury, too.  Marvel calls this one a teaser, but it’s just as long as the full length trailers for most movies.

Take a look at the first trailer and images from Spider-Man: Far from Home:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Image Comics is giving the celebrated Eisner and Harvey Award-winning series Battlepug a giant hardcover collected edition this month.  Written and illustrated by Mike Norton, Battlepug: The Compugdium collects all five volumes of the brilliant webcomic.  A series of humor-filled fantasy/adventure tales with the look and vibe of One Thousand and One Nights/Arabian Nights, Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, Godzilla, and Ray Harryhausen movies, Battlepug is epic and unique.  Following stories told of the last Kinmundian as he rides his giant pug into the next town and next battle, Battlepug represents the best of the comic book and fantasy worlds.

With 336 pages in all with big 8.5 x 12 inch layouts, this is a book you’re going to keep returning to, fun for all ages.  Battlepug: The Compugdium includes Blood and Drool (the dreaded harp seal and Witch Toad!), The Savage Bone (meet Gil and some underwater types), Sit. Stay. Die! (a skull monkey and a host of giant underground beasts await), The Devil’s Biscuit (encounter a giant turtle spirit!), and The Paws of War (face the giant koala!).

Fans who have already gobbled down the five stories will still want to take a look at the Compugdium, as it includes plenty of great additional content: a gallery of 36 pages of Battlepug art from various artists, 15 pages of sketches, including some Norton layouts and early character images, plus cover art prints from the series.

Here are some great pages you’ll find in Battlepug: The Compugdium:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The writer behind the graphic novel Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes has returned with a new novel of connecting stories, sporting another great Planet of the Apes title, Death of the Planet of the Apes (believe it or not, this title had not yet been used in the franchise).  Andrew E. C. “Drew” Gaska dug into the original movie series and provides all the connective material that fans of the film series didn’t see on the big screen.  What happened to Charlton Heston’s astronaut George Taylor when he left for the Forbidden Zone in Beneath the Planet of the Apes?  What is his backstory before he lands with his crew and first confronts a strange, simian-ruled planet?  But Death of the Planet of the Apes does more than follow Taylor around.

The best new features in the POTA-verse include Gaska showing us how our favorite chimps Zira, Cornelius, and Dr. Milo make the ANSA spacecraft work again, connecting the dots between their run-in with astronaut Brent in Beneath of the Planet of the Apes and their arrival at Earth of the past at the beginning of the most fun film of the series, Escape from the Planet of the Apes.  Gaska provides some great prequel material, intertwining the ANSA space agency with the real-world NASA (something he began in his Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes).  Taylor becomes a Chuck Yeager-esque flight pioneer in one of the subplots, a man with determination, insight, and the stoic outlook of a Scott Kelly.  We follow more of Ursus, Zaius, and Nova, and meet a new gorilla and a new part human/part ape hybrid living far beyond the realm of the apes that appeared on film (a callback to an unused production concept from the films of the 1970s).

Official ANSA crew photograph.

With so many stories focused on Cornelius and Zira’s son Caesar, in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, and the latest reboot trilogy of films, it’s refreshing that Death of the Planet of the Apes returns to these core characters.  Gaska moves back and forth in time in his storytelling, weaving all the segments from the different eras into a grand-scale adventure.  More so than the original, readers will revisit concepts of science fiction’s past: the Philip K. Dick-inspired telekinesis concept from Beneath the Planet of the Apes is fleshed out, the Forbidden Zone travels and robots conjure images of Logan’s Run, and Planet of the Apes as a retelling of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine becomes even more clear.
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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s a new year.  Have you made any resolutions yet?  If you’ve ever wanted to support a cause and couldn’t figure out a practical way to actually make a difference, a new field guide will get you started.  It’s Road Map for Revolutionaries, a step-by-step approach to getting from an idea to actually having an impact.  If you’re tired of inaction and just talk, you need to know the rules of change and how to navigate them.  Pick a cause–anything you view strongly–then read through the book with an eye toward getting more involved.  Written by cause advocates Elisa Camahort Page, Carolyn Gerin, and Jamia Wilson, readers can approach their participation from any number of strategic angles.

Knowing the laws and regulations that apply is a key first step.  The authors provide an extensive section on protests and civil disobedience, where your rights extend and the limits of those rights–how to raise awareness, how to meet, lobby, and influence representatives, basics on asserting economic pressure to achieve change via boycotts, buycotts, and divestments, and understanding the role shareholders can take to influence corporate responsibility.  Roughly a third of the book keys in on how you can work to update institutions that are not keeping up with changing times.

For some Road Map for Revolutionaries will be a refresher on high school Government and Economics classes, for others it can be a first step into navigating into a more civic role personally.  Understanding the role of social media today, understanding modern terms that weren’t used even a few years ago–all of these ideas will update even those who consider themselves lifelong policy advocates.  It would make a good companion to last year’s The Encyclopedia of Misinformation (reviewed here at borg), another handbook for navigating a quick-paced, tech driven world.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A new book at last features a throwback many fans of classic TV cartoons may not be aware of.  If you watched Hanna-Barbera animated shows Jonny Quest, Sinbad Jr. and His Magic Belt, Young Samson & Goliath, or Space Ghost before you learned how to read as many kids did, you might never have made the connection that Tim Matheson was the voice of Jonny, Sinbad, Samson, and Jace.  That’s the boy who would grow up to be well-known actor Tim Matheson, who would star in Animal House and Fletch, and have key roles in shows like Magnum Force and 1941, and guest star in several TV series, from Leave it to Beaver to Burn Notice, in addition to directing even more shows, all over the past six decades.

In the new book Jonny Quest Speaks: Jonny, Sinbad Jr. & Me, author Kevin Scott Collier pieces together past interviews with creators from Hanna-Barbera, giving a background for Jonny Quest, which premiered in 1964.  He includes an interesting and informative interview with Matheson as he recounts not only voicing the various cartoon characters, but his direct work with animation legends Joe Barbera, Don Messick, and Mel Blanc.  It all amounts to a good comic-con panel worth of content from Matheson, who recalls his interactions at this time in his life with great clarity.  A big deal for Matheson was his first public appearance, flying first class into Kansas City and staying at the Muehlebach Hotel.  He signed autographs at a department store, yet his series had not yet aired on television.  Matheson illustrates how he learned how the business of Hollywood works (and why the animation pioneers had the biggest houses in town), something he picked up by paying attention to the adults working around him, all always serious about their craft.

Matheson discusses his takes on competing animated series (speaking fondly of animation pioneer Jay Ward) and goes into more detail about working with Blanc and Gary Owens of Laugh-In fame in a chapter on Sinbad Jr. and His Magic Belt, Young Samson & Goliath, and Space Ghost.  The actor has been working long enough and is lucky enough to be able to drop names he worked with including Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, and Bob Hope.

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