Archive for August, 2011


Superman has been around since June 1938, with his alter ego Clark Kent, first appearing in DC Comics’ Action Comics #1.  As we approach the restart of the DC universe with a new Action Comics #1, and the coming Man of Steel feature film beginning production, let’s run down how television and film has reflected the Man of Steel over the past seven decades.

It took ten years before Superman made it to the silver screen.  Kirk Alyn was the first actor to don the cape as the man from Krypton who could leap tall buildings with a single bound.  Here he is in 1948 in the first Superman feature film, titled simply Superman:

And here is how Superman appeared in the comic book at the time:

Not a bad match at all!  But there are two sides to Superman.  Here is Alyn as Clark Kent:

Pretty familiar?  Let’s move on to the next actor to play Superman, George Reeves, in the 1950s series Adventures of Superman:

And Superman in the comic book in the 1950s:

And Reeves as Clark Kent:

Maybe because I grew up watching reruns of George Reeves as Superman when I was a kid, I really think Reeves was the best actor cast as the Man of Steel of all the actors to take on the role.  His Clark Kent is both serious when required and slightly humorous, especially when excusing himself to change into his suit.

In the 1960s?  No Superman on TV or on film.  A sign of the times, maybe?  But here is Bob Holiday in a stage production on Broadway in 1966.*  Good casting!

Here is Superman from the 1960s comic books.

The next actor to take on the role was Christopher Reeve in 1978’s Superman and its three sequels in the 1980s:

And Superman in the comics in the 1970s-1980s:

Reeve seemed to reflect a leaner Superman in the comic books series.  And yet his Clark Kent was in step with the Kents of the past:

In the 1990s we had a successful TV series, Lois and Clark, starring Dean Cain as the Man of Steel:

And here is Superman in the comics of the 1990s:

Definitely a more “pumped up” Superman was favored in the 1990s.  But again, a hardly changed alter ego compared to past actors (maybe minus the hat and definitely Superman is younger in this incarnation):

And even younger yet, between 2001 and 2011 Smallville focused on the teen years of Clark Kent with actor Tom Welling hardly donning a cape at all (as a reflection of decade of the 2000s, is this a statement of the times–who needs a costume?):

And Superman in the comics of the day–can’t get away with no suit in the comic books!

But as Clark Kent, Welling veered far from past incarnations.  But that was the point of the show, much as Lois and Clark did,  appealing to modern, young viewers, Smallville was more of a teen soap a la 90210 than an action show:

With Superman Returns in 2006, an apparent sequel to Superman II, the studio made an effort to take us back to probably the most popular actor to play Superman, Christopher Reeve, with the young Brandon Routh, who seemed to summon Reeve in putting forth a great performance.  Overlapping the span of the Smallville TV series, Routh looks the part, too:

The heroic Superman of the comic book in 2006 still stands strong:

And Routh carries off the classic Clark Kent, too:

By all accounts, Routh was being primed to play the Man of Steel in the next feature film.  Any why not?  He nailed the character in Superman Returns.  But then the studio changed its mind and went with someone new.  The new actor must be someone far superior or they wouldn’t have moved away from someone as solid as Routh, right?

Then the studio announces Henry Cavill and reveals this photo:

He sort of looks like Adam Baldwin (Chuck, Firefly), doesn’t he?  Not really consistent with prior casting.  A darker vibe, no bright colors, maybe appealing to the Dark Knight audience, since the Batman franchise has been more successful lately? And the suit material looks like some type of mottled rubber.  Hrm.  Here is a photo of Cavill in glasses, before being cast:

So maybe there’s hope yet?  Here is a recent photo of Cavill with the “Superman curl” that has been circling the Net:

He may just look the part after all.  Of course we won’t really know for a few years.  And finally, here is Superman in Action Comics, as we approach the end of a comic book era:

Man of Steel is planned to hit theaters June 14, 2013, starring Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White.

Editor’s Note:  Hey, those of you reading this from the Facebook movie fan page, please check out Borg.com on Facebook!  And if you like this and have comments please let us know!

*Updated. Thanks for the heads up on Bob Holiday from William Alexander.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg

 

White Collar wrapped its best run yet last night with a exciting cat and mouse story guest starring Beau Bridges as Agent Peter Burke’s mentor from the DC FBI office, in town to help Burke prove a missing treasure of lost art and artifacts was stolen by his friend and confidential informant, Neil Caffrey.  The treasure served as the back story for each of the episodes in this summer run, the first part of the third season of this USA network series.  But it is the relationship between the characters, and more than that the clear chemistry between Tim Dekay (Peter) and Matt Bomer (Neil Caffrey), DeKay and Tiffani Thiessen (Neil’s wife Ellie), Thiessen and Willie Garson (Mozzie), Bomer and Hilarie Burton (Caffrey’s girlfriend Sara), and Thiessen, Garson, Bomer and Dekay together that made a good first two seasons finally catapult this year into a sharp, witty, and intriguing spy and cop show.  For finally hitting its stride and achieving the potential we knew this show had in it, White Collar has become the best TV series this year.

Highlights of the season include the episode “Dentist of Detroit,” where a feared crime boss from Mozzie’s Detroit past is rumored to have surfaced in Manhattan, and we learn the details of Mozzie’s secret past.  What kind of name is Dentist of Detroit for a mob boss?  What’s scarier than a dentist?  Mozzie’s past is traced from his youth to today, and we get to see how this strange, little paranoid fellow became the savvy thief and con man we know and love.

In the penultimate episode of the season, “On the Fence,” Matt Bomer paired up with his former co-star of Tru Calling, Eliza Dushku, in her first solidly mature, adult television role, where she proved to stand on equal ground with every other actor on the show.  She played a stylish and “spicy” Egyptologist, who may or may not be a part of a shady underworld of trade in illegal artifacts.  A stolen amulet, the possible end to Neil’s best relationship to date, Neil wrestling with holding back from Mozzie the fact he has a copy of the manifest, the return of Peter’s kidnapper (Keller) from earlier in the series, and Mozzie’s steely tough decision to put a $6 million bounty on Keller’s head to protect Caffrey, all adds up to great TV watching.

In the second episode of the season, “Where There’s a Will,” Peter and Neil followed a treasure map to uncover the kidnapper of a little girl.  The team sleuths out a dead man who forged signatures on his own wills, Mozzie introduces the idea to sell the Degas out of the warehouse treasure, Mozzie brings in Peter’s dog Satchmo to an art gallery to create a diversion, the show introduces Anna Chlumsky as an art crimes expert coming to look at the partial treasure manifest who succombs to Caffrey’s charms, and clue after clue to determine who the kidnapper is makes this a standout episode for the series.

But the most enjoyable episode so far goes to the seventh episode of the season, “Taking Account,” where a computer hacker empties the entirety of a bank’s customer accounts, causing Caffrey and Sara to track down the hacker and steal the money back.  Sara and Neil then go on a crazy extravagant spending spree, and we get to go along for the ride.  Sara and Neil get to live it up, albeit briefly, as they predictably get found out by Peter.  A rousing and funny episode with all the characters and actors in top form.  The relationship between Neil and Sara seems to have definitively replaced the less interesting relationship between Neil and Kate, and hopefully we will see Neil and Sara rekindle their partnership in future episodes.

While its first two seasons were fresh and new, more episodes than not were just not memorable and the characters and story were struggling to find their footings.  But this year the producers, writers and cast finally amped up their game.  With any luck White Collar will hopefully continue its newly found momentum when it continues the 2011 season this winter.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

I was lucky enough to meet comic book writer Jai Nitz at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego (pictured above with comics legend Stan Lee).  Jai Nitz has written for Marvel, DC, Image, Disney, and Dynamite.  He wrote Tron: Betrayal and is currently writing Kato Origins, Green Hornet: Parallel Lives, and Bring the Thunder at Dynamite Entertainment. We’re happy to welcome Jai to borg.com.

Every year longtime Comic-Con attendees comment that Comic-Con has changed with the addition of mega-panels for Hollywood movie franchises, production studios, video game companies, etc., implying a lesser focus on the “comic” in Comic-Con.  Being in the industry as a comic book writer, what is your take? 

JN:  A lot of Comic Con attendees don’t read comics.  That doesn’t bother me.  They still go to movies, play video games, and watch TV based on comics.  They pump a lot of money into the comic economy.  I don’t complain about that.  It’d be like saying we only wanted people who played pee-wee, high school, and college football to attend NFL games.  Why limit the fanbase?

What was the best part of Comic-Con for you this year?  Did you make it to any panels?

JN:  My best part of Comic Con was seeing the Grant Morrison & Deepak Chopra panel.  After the panel Grant hugged me and asked how my next project was going.  It was awesome.

Any favorite fan moments from this year?

JN:  I met one of the new actors on True Blood this season.  He put two and two together that my name was Jai, but I’m “Jai Nitz, comic book writer” and he’d read some of my most recent stuff.  He was a fan.  So that was uplifting.

Any advice for next year for fans or professionals coming to Comic-Con for the first time?

JN:  It’s tough to enjoy the con on the cheap.  It can be done, but be prepared to spend a ton of money.

Any peers in the comic book world you were able to meet up with again, or meet for the first time?

JN:  I always meet up with the wonderful Australians:  Nicola Scott (Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Torn), Craig Court, Tom Taylor (The Deep, Rombies, The Authority, Star Wars: Invasion), etc.  They’re the best people, but we only get to hang out at the big cons.

What work did you have available at the show this year?  Did you make any connections on new writing projects that you can share?

JN:  My latest writing work, Kato Origins, Bring the Thunder, and Tron: Betrayal were all out, so I capitalized on them as best I could.  I met with some producers and editors who were familiar with my work.  Who knows if any of those interactions will pan out.  It’s always a crap shoot… a crap shoot you only see the results of six months later.

Comic-Con shows off a lot of new movies, books, toys, you name it.  What was the coolest thing at Comic-Con you saw being introduced this year?

JN:  The Gestalt Comics initial launch of graphic novels.  The Deep and Torn are both awesome.

Here are some great pics of Jai with several familiar faces at this year’s Comic-Con:

Jai with wrestling legend and They Live star Roddy Piper…

And Jai and another comics fave…Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons:

Thanks for sharing your Con experience with us, Jai!  You can follow Jai on Twitter at @JAINITZ1 or find him on Facebook at Jai Nitz.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

DC Comics had another great area at the San Diego Comic-Con International this year.  DC seemed to be THE merchandising property of the 2011 event with its focus on the 52 #1 comic titles debuting in September.  Jim Lee’s cover to Justice League #1 was literally everywhere you looked.  The League was the picture on the choice swag bag, for sale on T-shirts at the DC Comics Graffix sales booth, and featured on the cover of the convention souvenir book.  Jim Lee was on panel after panel and seemed to be royalty at this year’s event.

  

The DC Comics area had plenty for everyone, including this Batman made of legos, which seemed to be modeled after Lee’s iconic Batman #608 cover that started the Hush storyline.

   

An elaborate display also allowed Lee and other DC artists to sketch with real-time display via a projected image of their sketch desk and work in progress, talking with fans in the process.

With the in-production next Batman sequel in the works, The Dark Knight Rises (see yesterday’s article announcing Anne Hathaway’s new Catwoman suit), relevant screen-used costumes were displayed in cases inside the DC Comics area.  Three major DC movie characters from The Dark Knight watched over the convention floor.  One of Christian Bale’s Batman suits showed off its stunning detail:

  

Aaron Eckhart’s (intentionally) half-distressed Two-Face/Harvey Dent suit showed off special effects make-up:

And last but not least, the late Heath Ledger’s purple Joker costume display also showed off his clown-faced, bank robbery mask:

   

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

The seventh Batman movie since 1989 and the third starring Christian Bale as the caped crusader, The Dark Knight Rises, is currently in production and scheduled for release July 20, 2012, the week after next year’s San Diego Comic-Con, which will certainly mean a lot of last minute hype and cast appearances at the show.  With an entire year to wait, Warner Brothers just released an advanced shot of the sixth actress to play Catwoman, Anne Hathaway, in the new catsuit.  She looks good so far, and here is a closer look at her goggles, frequently seen worn in the comic books by the character:

Christopher Nolan will direct this sequel to The Dark Knight, the film that won Heath Ledger a posthumous Academy Award for best supporting actor for portraying the most psychotic look at the Joker to date.

Christian Bale will don an updated Batsuit, and will rejoin much of the principal cast, including Sir Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.  Unfortunately, rumors that Aaron Eckhart might reprise his role as Harvey Dent/Two-Face did not pan out.  The original Batman with Michael Keaton featured Billy Dee Williams (Empire Strikes Back) as Harvey Dent, and Batman Forever featured Tommy Lee Jones in the role.  Eckhart’s role seemed to possibly pave the way for another film but the production confirmed Dent will stay dead for this movie.  Marion Cotillard will also appear in this sequel.

Earlier the studio revealed this creepy photo of Tom Hardy (Star Trek Nemesis, Layer Cake, Inception), playing the larger than life villain Bane:

It is difficult from the Hathaway photo to learn much about the new Catwoman, other than the suit seems practical, and without the cheesy glossy vinyl used with Michelle Pfeiffer, without the bizarre almost steampunk look of Jim Lee’s more modern incarnation in his successful Hush storyline, and without the cat ears of the old Catwoman comic book series.  The costume doesn’t seem to scream out “feline” so it will be interesting to see how the cat mythos is revealed.  More of her costume can be seen in other photos released from production–each of Hathaway’s stunt woman riding the Batcycle downstairs in some type of firefight:

This is the first time since Michelle Pfeiffer played the character in Batman Returns that audiences will see Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in the Batman film franchise.  Other actresses to portray Catwoman over the decades in movies and TV include: Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Halle Berry.

By C.J. Bunce

Yesterday, Elizabeth C. Bunce began Part 1 of our list of the best TV series that started off great but were ended too soon by the networks.  So far that list includes Life, The Riches, Tru Calling, Eleventh Hour, and The Dresden Files.  What is the right number of episodes for a series, the right number of seasons?  One of the best series of all time, the BBC’s Life on Mars, lasted only two seasons, but as with a lot of British series, and unlike a lot of U.S. series, we got a complete story, wrapped up with a solid conclusion.  Veronica Mars lasted three seasons, but as much as we’d like to see more of Veronica, her dad, and her friend Mac, the series didn’t seem to have anywhere left to go, so it probably had the right amount of seasons for its story.  I felt like the Dead Zone could have had more seasons but it actually had a full six seasons, but a lack of a clear ending means we never know what happens to the evil senator-turned president and Johnny’s fate–the goal the story was driving toward in the last seasons.  And then there are series that started out as TV phenoms, but lost momentum from production theatrics, unresolved major plotlines, or writing that just couldn’t keep up with the initial successes.  In this category we put Heroes, Everwood, and Twin Peaks, shows we adored, but ultimately they had their chance and just blew it.  The following series, however, kept up their momentum to the bitter, but premature, end.

Wonderfalls (2004/Fox/14 episodes)

I missed Wonderfalls in its initial run and only learned of it when borg.com contributor Jason McClain loaned me the series several years ago.  I don’t know how I missed it the first time around as it had a lot you want for a good series–good characters, unique story, fun circumstances and a great cast.  Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas plays Jaye Tyler, an unmotivated college graduate stuck in a dead end job working as a sales clerk under some dim-witted, high school manager-types in the gift shop at Niagara Falls.  She is like  a grown-up cynical, smart, feisty, but frustrated version of Daria from the Daria MTV series.  Jaye is an underachiever, smothered by her well-meaning but overbearing brother, sister and parents.  We get to see Jaye meet up with a love interest (who comes to Niagara Falls with his fiance) and hang out with her best friend in a local bar.  And then souvenir animals in the gift shop start talking to her.  Great fantasy, the animals, including a deformed make-it-yourself orange lion and a talking wall trout, among others, serve as muses to Jaye, giving her cryptic directives that she initially will not listen to.  But they are persistent and the result is light-hearted, endearing, and funny.  

Cupid (1998-1999/ABC/15 episodes)

Before Cupid we only really knew Jeremy Piven from a small role as an annoying friend of Emilio Estevez who gets shot by a young Denis Leary in Judgment Night, and as Spence Kovak, a character that migrated between TV shows like The Drew Carey Show and Grace Under Fire.  His deadpan delivery that helped form his success today in Entourage was only brewing when he starred as Trevor Hale, a psychiatric patient who believes he is the one and only Cupid, sent down by Zeus from Mount Olympus to help 100 couples get together, but without his trademark bow, taken by the Gods as punishment for his wrongdoing.  I remember watching the show eager to see how he would make his love connections over the course of the series.  A premature thought since he only made it through a little over a dozen connections.  Here we also got to know Paula Marshall (Spin City, Veronica Mars, House, M.D.) as his friendly but concerned psychologist.  Was Trevor actually Cupid or just a guy in need of some medical help?  We’ll never know, but we think he really was Cupid.  A remake was tried, but it couldn’t come close to this series.

Journeyman (2007/Fox/13 episodes)

Not many science fiction series take place in the real world and Journeyman‘s genre bending and lack of a niche probably led to its short life.  Journeyman appeared as a standard drama but with a great twist.  Kevin McKidd plays journalist Dan Vasser in an updated Quantum Leap-type role.  Vasser has a wife and a kid, and a nagging brother played by Reed Diamond.  One day he steps into a taxi and finds he is transported to the past–like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim he is unstuck in time.  We soon learn he can travel back and forth, and he is guided in his travels by the past version of his thought-to-be dead ex-girlfriend.  An early version of the Burn Notice formula as well, Vasser tried to fix the past, learn from it and use it to make the world better, all the while struggling with the trials of everyday life.  Journeyman was a fun ride each week, and then it just vanished.  The bitter wife and brother seemed to detract from the story, and made us hope Vasser could stay in the past.  With only Vasser as a likable guy, it was probably hard to keep viewers coming back despite the idea’s great potential.

The Flash  (1990-1991/CBS/22 episodes)

It can’t be emphasized enough, the importance of good writing can make or break a show.  But even with a comic book favorite writer like Howard Chaykin, The Flash couldn’t make it work.  John Wesley Shipp, an ex-Guiding Light soap actor with the build for a superhero, to this day is the only actor in a series to successfully pull off the look of a comic book superhero (Lou Ferrigno’s The Incredible Hulk excepted).  The production used lighting, unusual camera angles and quick motion photography to document the comic book look to the story of Barry Allen, a scientist trying to discover the truth behind his amazing power of speed.  Every kid loved the show, it filled a niche that  no other show filled at the time, and is still a fan favorite.  We even got to see Mark Hamill as the Trickster, a post-Star Wars role, but early stage of Hamill in his later long career of voice-over work.

The Lost Room (2006/SciFi/3 episodes)

The Lost Room is a bit difficult to categorize, because it was intended as a mini-series, but the third episode left open the possibility of a full series, and what a great series this could have been.  The Lost Room of the title is in a motel along Route 66, a room that has no place in the normal timeline.  A mysterious “event” takes place in 1961 that causes all the Objects in the room at the time to take on powers of their own.  Peter Krause plays detective Joe Miller, who loses his daughter in the room.  Joe tries to find Objects to help him learn about the mystery of the room, and he encounters Kevin Pollak, a keeper of certain Objects.  The SciFi channel crafted the show well, with the hapless star guiding the viewer through the various puzzling Object encounters.  Peter Jacobson (House, M.D., Law and Order) is especially funny as the keeper of a ticket–tap someone with the ticket and they then appear falling from the sky to a highway in the middle of nowhere.  There was so much that could be done with this series, you wonder why no one gave it more of a try.

Do you have any TV series you would include on this list?  Share your favorite lost series–we love to check out new series we may have missed!

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Our DVR broke this week.  I won’t go into the trauma of missing the last installment of Zen on Masterpiece Mystery, or of losing the final three (still unwatched) episodes of the now cancelled Men of a Certain Age.  The upside of this technological crisis, however, was that it spurred us to unearth old TV favorites on streaming video from Netflix and break out some DVDs.  There’s always something kind of bittersweet about that, though, especially running across old friends that were cancelled well before their prime, and in some cases even before they quite hit their stride.  And so, in memoriam, tonight borg.com will spotlight a few of our genre favorites that were cancelled too soon.

Life (2007-2009/NBC/21 episodes)
NBC’s short-lived quirky police procedural about a mild-mannered homicide detective wrongfully convicted of murdering his partner’s entire family starred English actor Damian Lewis (Assassin in Love, Showtime’s new series Homeland) and Sarah Shahi (USA’s Fairly Legal).  Its offbeat mix of gruesome murders and weird-but-lovable cast members was probably a little too offbeat for most viewers, but we loved Lewis’s Zen-meditating Charlie Crews and his efforts to fit back into his life and job after eleven years in prison and an undisclosed multimillion dollar settlement with the LAPD.  An intriguing series-long mystery plot (who really killed Crews’s partner?) might have made it more difficult for new viewers to join mid-season (although we had no trouble getting hooked after just one episode), but was thoughtfully resolved in the series finale.  Standout performances by Donal Logue and Adam Arkin only compound our sense of loss for this series.

The Riches (2007-2008/FX/19 episodes)
Before the days of Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, FX broke every rule of tasteless TV in this outrageous series about a family of Travellers trying to make it as “buffers” in an upscale suburban neighborhood, after assuming the identities of a family killed in a car accident.  Starring standup comic Eddie Izzard as title character “Doug Rich,” and Minnie Driver (Phantom of the Opera), The Riches featured scams, drug abuse, murders, robbery, and a host of other illicit goings-on–and that’s just by the heroes!  Alternately appalling and hilarious, ultimately The Riches just couldn’t hold on to its early impressive ratings, and was cancelled after only 19 episodes, leaving loyal viewers without even a semblance of closure to the Riches’ compelling storyline.

Tru Calling (2003-2005/Fox/26 episodes)
Eliza Dushku’s first starring vehicle of her post-Buffy days, Tru Calling had an excellent sci-fi premise, sort of Medium meets Groundhog Day.  Medical student Tru (Dushku) gets a part-time job in the morgue and discovers that the recently deceased can ask for her help, causing her to relive their final days, in the hopes of saving their lives or solving their murders.  Co-starring The Hangover‘s Zach Galafianakis in a wonderful role as Tru’s morgue mentor, and White Collar’s and Chuck’s Matt Bomer as Tru’s love interest, Tru Calling was gearing up for great things, the mysteries surrounding Tru’s power only building, just as the series was unceremoniously axed by Fox.

Eleventh Hour (2008-2009/CBS/18 episodes)
This American adaptation of the even-shorter-lived BBC medical thriller (with Patrick Stewart) starred accomplished English actor Rufus Sewell (Zen, Knight’s Tale, Pillars of the Earth) as Dr. Jacob Hood, FBI consultant solving baffling scientific crimes.  Not an outstanding series by any standards, Eleventh Hour was nevertheless competent and entertaining, and one had the feeling that the performers were better than the material they had to work with.  I firmly believe the show could have gotten even better, but it was trapped in a dead-end timeslot (Thursdays at 10 pm) and ultimately failed to interest the CSI viewership the network hoped would bolster ratings.

The Dresden Files (2007/SyFy/12 episodes)
I’m still stinging from the cancellation of this great adaptation of Jim Butcher’s bestselling urban fantasy series. Starring the always-solid Paul Blackthorne (guest appearances in Burn Notice, Monk, Leverage, Warehouse 13, and others), the show featured excellent writing, engaging paranormal storylines, and an absolutely winning cast, but wasn’t given the same network or fan support of later SyFy hits like Warehouse 13 or Eureka. Fortunately, all twelve episodes are currently available via streaming video on Netflix.

Tomorrow, C.J. Bunce will continue the list with the rest of our list of TV series that ended too soon.

You could probably count on one hand successful comic strip writers that then move on to their own comic book titles and also become known for their powerhouse cover work.

I met Frank Cho at Comic-Con in 2008 and have never met a more mild-mannered artist at a Con.  I went all fanboy on the guy and he responded as a pretty humble guy.  Probably what you get when you thank someone “on behalf of a grateful nation and all men on planet Earth” for his work (or something like that).

Along with Terry Brooks of Echo and Strangers in Paradise fame, Frank Cho is among the best artists ever to draw one subject superbly: women.   But he also writes hysterically funny stories.  His compilation of his early comic characters featuring a pretty college student and her animal friends in University² The Angry Years!  is one of the only pass-out-from-laughing-too-hard books I have ever read.

DW and I caught up with Frank this year at the San Diego Comic-Con International and it was a real treat.  As I have found at Comic-Con, you can spend a lot of time with any of the creators on Artists Alley if you hang out there and drop by at the right time.  Even to see the best of the best.

 

I think we talked with Frank for well over half an hour, about his super feature in the Washington Post Magazine (he gave us his copy–talk about cool swag!), his gallery show in France, selling original art, moving into a new home from a cramped apartment, a sneak peak at his new Brutal comic book series with Image comics coming out next year, a pitch for a brand new series he’s been working on for years, and last but not least, that his rights to Liberty Meadows are now safely back in his hands so we may yet see more issues of that bestselling series.  And we could have chatted with Frank for the remainder of the Friday afternoon.

Frank said he was selling original art pages via a gallery in France, and lucky for us he had them under the table and let us flip through them–sci-fi chicks in space, superhero sketches including trial pages he decided to start over with–you name it.   Something I think Frank has in common with other creative people is that he says he is a perfectionist–no page is ever quite perfect in his eyes.  Blaspheme, I say!  Frank said he never sells any Liberty Meadows pieces and he generally does not do commissions.  I liked the fact that he was sentimental about his characters from Liberty Meadows.  He will draw you sketches of his animals from that series, however, if you get him at the right time. 

Now he is busy with several projects, and he said he is looking forward to a new series he was going to pitch to some people the very next day.  He showed us his pitch book–with most people this would include pre-inked sketches and plot summaries, but Frank’s pitch book read like (as you’d expect) a stunningly professional, finished, comic book!  We were definitely sold on it and hope it does well.  Shanna fans will be happy to see a paleontological theme to this new project. 

Frank appeared at his booth with the new writer for Brutal, Joe Keatinge (sorry, Joe, for the photo of you looking like you’re about to sneeze).  He showed us this preview image the day before it’s public release at his panel.  Expect some good action out of this new series.

Check back soon and we’ll run down the top covers and images of Frank Cho’s brilliant career so far!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Anovos Productions displayed some high quality licensed Star Trek franchise and Battlestar Galactica costumes at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.  These costumes aren’t just great replicas, Anovos says they made these based on information from the studios using the best available replica materials.  In person you would be hard pressed to spot the difference between a production made season 3 blue original Star Trek series tunic and the one on display at Comic-Con.  Here is the Spock style and the Kirk style on display:

   

And better yet, they make the costumes to order, so it is ideal for cosplayers.  The prices are a lot more than you’d pay for an off the rack Halloween costume ($280, for example, for a season 3 sciences tunic), and definitely more than the old Rubies replicas Star Trek fans used to rely on.  But the quality of these replicas will make you look that much more like you’re straight out of the TV series.

Anovos TOS poster anovos-st-2009-poster.jpg

I had seen Anovos costumes on the Internet at their website before.  The website does not do justice to these costumes, so it was nice to see how they look in person.  I think their best re-creation is the female cadet from the 2009 Star Trek movie.  That is shown below along with the Uhura style, which you could compare to a real Uhura costume his year by walking across the floor to the Prop Store booth.  (It may be the choice of mannequin display, but I am not sure the sunburst style dress is exactly right–the seams seem a bit thick).

   

If you missed previous Battlestar Galactica auctions, or auction prices were outside of your price point, the replica BSG costumes also look great.  Here is one of the Adama style duty blues:

And their poster advertising the new line:

anovos-bsg-poster.jpg

Check out Anovos’s website for ordering information and to see other costumes they plan to introduce to their new line.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

The Prop Store (formerly the Prop Store of London) had a great booth at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, with a wall full of production-made and screen-used props and costumes.  The most recognizable to sci-fi fans is probably this nice condition Uhura dress from the original Star Trek season 1 or 2.  (I am assuming they have good provenance for this one as a real Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura costume or they wouldn’t have it on display, but you couldn’t see any tags from its display to tell just by looking).  It also has appropriate arm rank braids and William Ware Theiss’s unique sunburst design.  A pretty costume in person!

 

Uhura costumes of any variety are rare, as they didn’t change her wardrobe throughout the series and movies as much as her male counterparts.  This piece was not for sale at Comic-Con but on display from a recent buyer.  Here is a close-up of the delta patch:

The Prop Store representatives told me they try to sell a shirt at their booth that matches something on display, and this year’s shirt is appropriate and clever (see top of article above)–“Comic Khan 2011”.  And here is the Khan vest on display from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, one of my favorite films I saw in the theatre as a kid:

Definitely a rare and a sought after style because of Khan’s position as the best villain of the Star Trek universe.  But if you can afford the $30-35,000 for this vest (I heard two different sale amounts), you can afford to wait for the studio to sell off its studio pieces one day, or for the buyer from a previous Profiles of History auction to put his/her more complete costume set on the market again.  For this kind of money a buyer should examine the piece in person and make certain he/she knows what he/she is getting.  My concerns with the jacket at this price level:

  • I think the Prop Store piece is a back-up piece that may not have made it to filming.  The piece is incredibly clean compared to screenshots, as if it was a back-up that was not used, and not completely distressed with singe and wear marks from early scenes (the character was supposedly wearing this for years in the story) or blood and battle damage from later scenes, or it has been extensively cleaned.  Yes, it has the cut marks that match both the screencaps and other costumes that have surfaced, but other details of distressing are missing.  My money is on it being a back-up, since, for example, you can see from handling other outfits from the same scene–the Khan crew outfits–that the distressing used for even background pieces is not something that could just be washed off.  Those marks are painted or dyed and they are permanent.  
  • The Prop Store piece includes no typical indicia of a hero piece.  Is it rare and clearly identifiable for the character of Khan?  You bet.  But my understanding is this piece has no sewn tag stating Ricardo Montalban’s name, indicating to me you cannot unquestionably state it is more than a stunt Khan piece.  Every Khan crewmen costume I have seen has a clear sewn in tag with the name of the actor or actress.  This has a paper tag (with name misspelled, which can be found on even confirmed costumes from time to time), but these are easily created, and do not establish provenance.  Still cool and rare, just no proof offered of it being a “hero” piece worthy of such a hefty price tag. 

This Prop Store piece is the fifth Khan costume lot we’ve seen publicly.  The studio owns two versions it uses for its Star Trek tour, and Profiles in History sold one in 2002 that appears from photos to match closer to movie screencaps, and contains the several collateral decorative pieces–key pieces that in my view make the outfit, including the necklace made from a destroyed Starfleet belt buckle–the coolest part of the whole costume.  (I haven’t seen these close enough to know whether these are real, replicas, heroes or stunts, but believe at a minimum the Profiles sale lot is the real thing).  Here is the 2002 sale lot:

Here are the two from the Star Trek tours:

Profiles in History sold a different Khan costume last year, a neat mask and turban set from Khan’s opening scene (notably with clear labels stating “Ricardo Montalban” and “Kahn” (sic).  This Prop Store vest makes number five.  Are there more Khan pieces out there?  Could be.  But more items surfacing should drive the price down, not up. 

The Prop Store would do well to have someone like Tom Spina make a creative display for it as he did with the recent Profiles in History opening scene Khan mask and turban set, which although not used for the entirety of the movie, displays much better compared to the piece on display at Comic-Con.  On its simple black half form, the Prop Store vest looked sort of like an old, yellow, velour consignment shop piece from the 1970s compared to how cool it should display. 

The Khan piece I’d like to get my hands on?  Khan’s necklace or his slick metal accented gloves, one of which sold through Profiles in History in 2002 with the mask and turban set that sold last year without the glove:

Ultimately, I think Khan is univerally the best Trek villain because of Ricardo Montalban’s voice and charismatic acting, not his costume.  I don’t think this costume is intrinsically cool, especially after viewing this in person, as are so many other costumes in the Star Trek universe.  And for the asking price, you could buy a whole bridge crew of Klingons or Romulans.  More bang for the buck, in my view.

But Prop Store had more than just Star Trek on display (although that would have been enough).  They also had this superb Abe Sapien latex mask from Hellboy II: The Golden Army:

Abe Sapien is one of the best creatures in one of the best comic book film franchises, created by the great Mike Mignola.

They also displayed several other pieces such as prop weapons, a lot from Gladiator, and pieces from Pan’s Labyrinth, the Terminator series, the Raiders of the Lost Ark series and Superman II.  And last but not least was this beautiful, recognizable head of our favorite golden protocol droid, C-3PO from The Empire Strikes Back.  A great mask no matter how you slice it.

 

The Prop Store sells props and costumes from its Los Angeles and UK offices, via its website at www.propstore.com   I look forward to seeing what they have on display next year!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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