Archive for March, 2012


Hardly an artist on Facebook or anywhere else today isn’t talking about the influence of Moebius on comics, and sci-fi and fantasy art.  French artist Jean Giraud, who went by the moniker Moebius and created innovative designs for movies and comic books alike for more than 50 years, passed away this weekend at the age of 73.

Moebius became famous in France early in his career for his Western anti-hero Blueberry.  He went on to being awarded the Eisner Award for his work on Silver Surfer with Stan Lee.

His futuristic designs for the films Alien, Tron, The Fifth Element, Willow, Dune and The Abyss allowed his work to reach an even wider audience.  Ridley Scott credited his contribution to The Long Tomorrow to inspire the look of Blade Runner and master anime artist Hayao Miyazaki said his work influenced his work Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

His influence on Miyazaki is unmistakable.  Check out this piece by Moebius, which looks like it could be found in any number of Miyazaki’s anime films:

His cocenpt art for the original Tron was innovative as seen in his solar sail:

… as well as his image of Tron himself:

His concept art for The Fifth Element helped define the look of the future, merging elements of past and present, for director Luc Besson, and his aerial Chinese junk boat made it near verbatim to the screen:

His imagery for Alien merged science fiction and horror:

His fantasy influence can be seen in his art for George Lucas’s film Willow:

Ultimately his comic book fans will remember his work for Marvel Comics, and his legacy from that work will continue to inspire legions of comic book artists young and old and designers of the look of the future:

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

Since the wonderful CJ Bunce mentioned Comic-Con last week, I figured I would work in a mention of its “wonder”ful cousin.  Next weekend marks my first time attending WonderCon (March 16-18 at the Anaheim Convention Center).  Last year, I planned to go in San Francisco, but I needed to move out of my apartment fast (never, ever, think that you can get a guitarist and a drummer to stop playing music at 3 am in the apartment below you) and it happened on WonderCon weekend.  So, now that it has moved to Anaheim, in my comparative backyard, I’ve already started to plan everything. I’ve found my train ticket.  I’ve alerted my hiking buddies that I won’t be available.  I’ve told people hosting a party on Saturday that I may be late due to a “wonder”ful engagement.  (I’ll stop that now.)

The next step: figure out which panels to see.  I know one that is easy.  Sunday at 3 pm is the Community panel.  I haven’t been able to catch it at Comic-Con due to long, long, LONG lines.  I missed PaleyFest.  Now, I hope that I get my chance to just sit back and enjoy sixty minutes and a movie-like clip.  (FYI–PaleyFest has a few days left).

Then I found Ruby and Spears and it looked pretty obvious as a must attend.  At first I saw the name and thinking of mash-ups (Have you seen The Charming Man-Video Games one?)  I thought it would be a Wizard of Oz, Game of Thrones mash-up and that would be awesome.  It turned out to be even more so.  This is a panel for Joe Ruby and Ken Spears.  I’m just going to quote most of the panel description so that you can jump up and down in place like I am doing:

“Since the sixties, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears have been the most successful writing, creating, and producing team in Saturday morning television. Among the shows they brought you were ‘Scooby-Doo,’ ‘Wacky Racers,’ ‘Jabberjaw,’ ‘Dynomutt,’ ‘Thundarr The Barbarian,’ ‘Plastic Man,’ and dozens of others.”

Raise your hand if you had Dynomutt or Plastic Man comic books?  I’m sure that if I had them, so did CJ Bunce, because I knew as soon as he mentioned Laff-a-Lympics that we were buying the same titles when we were comparative tykes and probably watching those same Saturday morning cartoons from this panel.

Next comes the “20th Century Fox: Prometheus and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter…in 3D” panel.  You might think I’m going to see this because I’m a movie buff.  Well, that’s a little bit of it.  Mostly though it’s because of Damon Lindelof is the co-screenwriter of Prometheus and I’ve seen how well he did promoting Lost at Comic-Con.  So, I have high hopes for his performance at WonderCon.

Lastly, there’s this brief hint from DC Comics in the description of their panel.  “DC Comics: All Access Special Edition— Don’t miss this panel about the sure-to-be most talked about project of 2012!”  You had me at “DC.”

But, that’s all I have so far. I need help. Do you have any suggestions for any panels that I should add? I know if I can get over to the Marvel one at 4 pm on Saturday (after the DC one) that would be a good one as well.  The J. Michael Straczynski Writing Workshop could be cool – if I can find a late night train after it ends at 7 pm.  But, I know from going to Comic-Con that trying to cram in everything is just an exercise in frustration.  It never works that well.  The beautiful thing, it will be around next year.  These conventions are too big to go anywhere.  Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, relax and just take it all in.  Talk to a stranger.  Look at art.  Buy some new comics you’ve never seen before.  It’s all part of the fun.

Still, if you know of anything really cool, please let me know.  Rushing around to something cool is worth a little frustration.

Just in time for the new Avengers movie premiere, Marvel Studios and Profiles in History will be auctioning off screen-used Captain America costumes and shields, an Iron Man suit and Thor’s hammer at its Captain America: The First Avenger auction on April 14, 2012 at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.

Profiles in History is offering the catalog for the auction for sale for $39.50 and a digital auction catalog is also available online at the company’s website.  The auction will also be available live to online bidding.

Featuring primarily props, costumes, and set pieces from the 2011 release Captain America: The First Avenger, the auction also will be featuring a few lots from Iron Man 2 and Thor.  The auction features four recognizable Captain America supersuits, as well as several other costumes worn by Chris Evans and 11 shield variants.

Supersuits

The key item up for bid is Lot 154, the Steve Rogers Captain America hero costume and shield worn by Chris Evans in the movie, which served as his final superhero suit in the film and is the suit used in all the Marvel posters and marketing. It carries an auction estimate of $20,000-$30,000.

Chris Evans’ Captain America USO costume and shield has an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

The Captain America costume worn by Evans in the POW rescue scene has an auction estimate of $6,000-$8,000. The lot includes a early style Cap shield.

Evan’s Captain America distressed rescue suit also has an auction estimate of $6,000-$8,000.

Shields

One early style Cap shield from the Hydra factory scene carries a $2,000-$3,000 estimate.  A separate shield of the same design is estimated to sell at $2,000-$3,000.  A similar shield with distress marks from the “Invaders” scene has the same auction estimate.

An unpainted silver prototype shield from Howard Stark’s laboratory has an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

One shield offered is the frozen in ice version, which has an auction estimate of $4,000-$6,000.  Lot 177 is a classic, traditional Captain America shield, expected to sell for $4,000-$6,000.  Yet another battle damaged shield from the final showdown with Red Skull carries an auction estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

A distressed stunt shield of the same type from the show’s final showdown carries an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

Motorcycles

Do you need a Cap-cycle?  Steve Rogers’ hero modified Harley Davidson motorcycle has an auction estimate of $12,000-$15,000 and a second hero motorcycle from a different scene has an auction estimate of $10,000-$12,000.

Red Skull and Hydra

Various Hugo Weaving’s Johann Schmidt/Red Skull SS costumes are expected to fetch $6,000-$8,000 each. Weaving’s bright red “Red Skull” facial prosthetics—3 in all—are expected to sell for $2,000-$3,000.

A Hydra non-functional mini-tank is expected to fetch $12,000-$15,000. Various Hydra motorcycles carry an auction estimate ranging from $3,000-$6,000. Several Hydra soldier uniforms have an auction estimate of $1,000-$1,500.

Iron Man

The original full-scale Mark II silver Iron Man suit from Iron Man 2 is incredibly detailed and impressive. It has an auction estimate of $60,000-$80,000. Despite its incredibly realistic paint detail, it is not actually made of iron, but it is composed primarily of fiberglass resin.

Thor

Finally, two stunt Thor Mjolnir war hammers are offered at the end of the auction from the Kenneth Branagh movie Thor, each expected to sell between $3,000-$6,000.

As with most Profiles in History auctions, expect the actual hammer prices to exceed the auction estimates.  Usually for entertainment memorabilia auctions of late the hammer prices vastly exceed the estimates.  The bonus of this auction is that there are plenty of costumes, shields, props, heck–even motorcycles–to go around for the die-hard Marvel Avengers fans.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

With the Before Watchmen series announced last month “coming soon to a comic book store near you,” now there is more reason than ever to catch up on the current exploits of one of the characters that inspired Doctor Manhattan himself, Captain Atom.  Of all the 52 of DC Comics New 52 series, Captain Atom is one of the titles I am still reading after 6 months, up there with All Star Western, Batgirl, Batwoman, Justice League Dark, and Wonder Woman.  Yes, I like it better than all the Batman titles I tried on for size and the much praised Animal Man.  Captain Atom has probably gotten lost a bit in the shuffle between umpteen Bat-titles and all the Justice League headliner superheroes.  So if you are someone whose pull list hasn’t dabbled yet into the rest of the DC universe, this is the first book you should grab to get caught up.

The trade paperback to be published later this year will compile the first six issues, written by J.T. Krul with art by Freddie Williams II, plus it will include additional materials.  Spoilers ahead!

In Issue #1 we meet the New 52 Captain Atom in a story along the lines of those found in some other New 52 titles–we fear that which we do not understand–as Captain Atom is attacked by those he wishes to protect.  Captain Atom can absorb energy in great amounts but to protect the eastern seaboard he must harness the energy of both a volcano and a nuclear reaction.  Uncertain of his abilities, neither he nor his supporters know what can happen.  As to comic book intrigue factor, Captain Atom’s abilities offer a “Wonder Twins” meets MacGyver brand of problem solving–and decisions that could result in his own destruction.

Of course with unprecedented devastation, including natural and man-made disasters, society does what it does best, cast blame, and Captain Atom becomes a target in Issue #2.  We learn his back story–that of a Captain, Nathaniel Adam, a volunteer in an experiment gone wrong–and that his new “condition” was inadvertently created by a Stephen Hawking-level genius named Dr. Megala.  Where some New 52 titles offer no origin story or bombard you with back story, Captain Atom gives readers just what they need to push the story forward.  If you liked the superhero-themed TV series Alphas, you will see Captain Atom exhibiting a “seeing” ability much like Gary, the autistic character on the show (for me the best character on Alphas).  One of Freddie Williams’ best images to-date is in this issue, an incredible multi-layered splash page of Captain Atom reaching between two worlds, into this new realm of being, laid out over the shadow of the mere mortals mocking him.

Captain Atom struggles with similar, but different, conflicts as Superman in Issue #3–you have all the power but not all the time to fix everything and a superhero must make choices.  Honing in on a boy with cancer, Captain Atom moves from volcano blast to Fantastic Voyage–battling an equally large war but on a microscopic scale and moves on to try to literally take on everyone’s problems.  In his first team-up, with Barry Allen’s Flash, possibilities of JLA partnerships are opened up for future issues.  Behind the scenes there lurks a grotesque abomination in the streets that surfaces in the background of each issue.  Unlike the grotesque art in the pages of Animal Man (where I just couldn’t continue moving forward with the series because it looks so…ugly… and I can hardly wait to read how Jeff Lemire takes on Justice League Dark), here the grotesque is more stylized and nuanced–less off-putting for the average reader.

In Issue #4 the inevitable surfaces as the “Captain” in Captain Atom takes front stage and we see that Atom must face similar pressures as Steve Austin in Phil Hester and Kevin Smith’s Bionic Man series–the influence of the military industrial complex surfaces with questions harkening back to 1930s science and the ethics of mass destruction.  Captain Atom is a classic superhero in every sense, only he has more than the one-note power you find with other superheroes, such as the Flash with merely fantastic speed. Atom here could take on the Earth’s mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel, because of the enormity of his power, and yet he suffers a social fate similar to Rogue from the X-Men, he can change matter, he can absorb energy, he can be everywhere.  But can he fix everything?

With the end of Issue #4 and the beginning of Issue #5, Atom becomes scarier and the reader joins the naysayers on the question of whether Atom should continue on unimpeded when he’s unable to control his power.  In Issue #6 Atom faces himself and his biggest threat, and a double-page spread shows the mirror reflection of Atom and his enemy.  Both villains who were initially typical baddies: a pain in the ass general and would-be Jack McGee/Ross archetype (from Marvel’s Hulk) and a monster of sorts, are written to be somewhat sympathetic in the end.

J.T. Krul writes a complete story in the pages of Issues #1-6 with the creativity seen in his Fathom and earlier Green Arrow work that eclipses his work on the current Green Arrow series that he also has been writing (I chalk that up to a Green Arrow character at a stage in its history where there is not much exciting that can be done by anyone).  There is plenty of character development in these first six issues.  The climax of this first Captain Atom story involves another team-up, a surprising one at that–that forecasts and unleashes endless possibilities for future issues.  And we are left with a great cliffhanger to boot.

Williams’ illustrations are refreshingly unique in the New 52.  He varies his styles and drawing and painting techniques in way I have not seen anywhere else.  He doesn’t just draw panels like he is getting directions from a script and plodding ahead.  The pages are nicely balanced, employing what reminds me for lack of a better phrase as “special effects”–bubbling imagery of  dematerializing hands, edges that are almost undefinable for Captain Atom himself to give the feel of heat and energy, panel borders that converge in a way similar to what J.H. Williams is doing on his Batwoman series.  And kudos to Jose Villarrubia for his coloring, which really draws out Williams creative effects and highlights Captain Atom in particular.

One last thing–although it is neither targeted to young readers nor a mature title, Captain Atom could be recommended for every age.  Compared to other New 52 titles, you won’t find here pole dancers (Voodoo), human skin removed and used as a mask (Detective Comics), rivers of blood (Animal Man), or T&A overload (Red Hood and the Outlaws).

I am looking forward to the continuation of this series with Freddie Williams as series artist and J.T. Krul as writer.  Their contributions combine for a solid series and these first six issues, with one complete story from beginning to end, will make a good read for those who pick up the trade paperback when it becomes available.

When she last left us at the end of last season’s finale of the USA Network TV series Fairly Legal, Sarah Shahi’s character Kate Reed shouted defiantly “I’ll be back!” challenging the network to not renew for another season.  Luckily for all of us, she was right, as the series continues Friday, March 16.

Fairly Legal was a great series all season long last year, and here are 5 reasons why you should catch up on episodes online or on demand and get ready for the season two premiere:

(1) Sarah Shahi.  So many actors and actresses get boring over the course of a weekly TV series.  Likely the brutal production schedules wear people down, especially for leading roles such as the one Shahi plays as lawyer Kate Reed where Shahi is in pretty much every minute of production.  This often makes it to the screen.  Not so for Sarah Shahi.  She is like a bottle of pure energy.  She has an infectious smile and sells the role as a put-upon, modern lawyer trying to juggle professional duties and private life in the modern world.  If you want to see Shahi in another great series, check out the two seasons of Life, co-starring the brilliant Homeland star Damian Lewis.

(2) Gerald McRaney.  Not since he starred in Simon & Simon has McRaney played such a likeable character as his decidedly unlikeable Judge David Nicastro. McRaney drove Kate relentlessly through the first season not for the sake of keeping Kate in line, but to bring out her best.  McRaney’s Judge is very real–practical in his needs and not the textbook black and white executioner type that appears in so many legal dramas.

(3) Good writing.  Kate Reed is probably the most realistic depiction of a working lawyer that has ever appeared on a TV legal drama.  Unlike district attorneys Jack McCoy and Ben Stone from the original Law and Order, who, to be sure, were characters that all lawyers aspire to, Kate doesn’t deliver perfect advice her first time out.  She does not come off as polished.  She deals with hostile conditions.  She has to be both juggler, policeman, and fire fighter.  And that means prioritizing, and like most lawyers she over-commits her time, resulting in the need to make quick decisions.  Kate illustrates that the number one of job of any lawyer is problem solving, and like most real lawyers, she doesn’t spend the day arguing in court, but instead trying to settle disputes, attempting always to reach the coveted “win-win.”

(4) San Francisco.  Let’s face it, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities to film a TV series.  Over the years countless stories have been filmed there, including Bullitt, Streets of San Francisco, Dirty Harry, Monk, Sneakers, Star Trek IV, Vertigo, and So I Married an Axe Murderer, and the bustling but sunny and vibrant downtown with iconic filming locations make San Francisco come off as not a big city full of dangers, but a place you can see Kate making her mark.

(5) Supporting cast.  If you are a fan of the reboot Battlestar Galactica, you will remember actor Michael Trucco, who plays Kate’s on again-off again husband on Fairly Legal.  He plays the typical lawyer you’d see in any other legal drama, which, in contrast to Kate, allows us to see how exceptional her skills really are.  Baron Vaughn’s character Leonardo Prince is Kate’s also-put-upon assistant.  He is hilarious as a legal assistant who behind the scenes is a big pop culture junkie, and over the course of the first season showed that Kate, even as chaotic as she seems, may very well be a good mentor.

So what’s the series all about?  Kate Reed’s father died, living his law firm to Kate and his second wife, Lauren, played icily by Virginia Williams.  Kate decided not to be a traditional lawyer, but instead be a mediator–here a lawyer hired by two parties to a dispute to resolve their differences, much like a dual agent.  Kate and Lauren barely tolerate each other, and Lauren actually fires Kate from the firm at the end of season one.  Once Kate takes a case she is fiercely passionate and is willing to tear up her own personal life to get to a happy result for her disputing clients.  In one superbly crafted scene last season, Kate encounters a bicyclist and a taxi driver in an altercation.  Although she is a mere bystander, she bends the world to fit her logic, practically strong-arming both of them to resolve their differences and move along.  And she lives on a boat.

Fairly Legal airs this spring along with the equally brilliant In Plain Sight Friday nights on USA Network.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, R2-D2 and C-3PO all would look differently if not for artist Ralph McQuarrie.  McQuarrie died this weekend at the age of 82 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Fans of Star Wars knew McQuarrie by name, thanks to the great access Lucasfilm gave to fans over the years of the making of the original Star Wars trilogy.  Even before many had seen Star Wars for the first time back in 1977 they could flip through 21 prints by McQuarrie that inspired the sets and costumes for the original Star Wars in the Star Wars Portfolio compilation.  For many kids, this was their first access to science fiction fine art.

The images created by McQuarrie were not his alone.  George Lucas had created his ideas behind Star Wars over several years, but to get a pictorial representation of Lucas’s vision, he turned to McQuarrie.  “Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision ‘Star Wars,'” Lucas said in a statement. “His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy…. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph’s fabulous illustrations and say, ‘Do it like this.'”

McQuarrie’s style for the original Star Wars trilogy was often Art Deco influenced, with his original vision of C-3PO very similar to the robot of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

McQuarrie created images for many productions, many that would influence the final production and some that would not, including images for Star Trek and E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial.  In Raiders of the Lost Ark, McQuarrie created this biblical image to explain the power of the lost ark of the covenant that Indiana Jones used to show the feds what they were up against:

In this image, McQuarrie included an image of Mark Hamill for what would be the original Battlestar Galactica series, when Hamill was offered, and ultimately declined, a leading role as Commander Adama:

One of McQuarrie’s most reproduced images is of Yoda for an early Lucasfilm Christmas card:

McQuarrie had a cameo appearance in an ice planet Hoth scene in The Empire Strikes Back.  For the 30th anniversary of Star Wars Hasbro produced an action figure of McQuarrie as that character.  Over the years Hasbro did something else that was unprecedented: creating action figures of the Star Wars characters based on the original paintings of McQuarrie.

   

The original Star Wars Portfolio is difficult to find these days, but several books that have chronicled the original Star Wars trilogy contain these images, including The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, the rare The Art of Ralph McQuarrie, and many old Star Wars calendars.

There is no doubt McQuarrie left an indelible mark on the artistry of classic science fiction.

(All photos above Copyright Lucasfilm Ltd).

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

One of the newest comic book artists to break-out from the pack with the DC Comics New 52 re-launch is Mikel Janin.  Mikel has updated the look and style of several familiar characters in the new series, Justice League Dark, featuring Zatanna, Deadman, Constantine, Shade, Madame Xanadu, and the Enchantress (all shown above).  With the series’ current issue #6, Mikel saw the release of his first published cover, and where some covers feature a separate penciler, inker and colorist, Mikel did it all for this cover.  His past DC Comics work includes the 2011 JLA 80-Page Giant and Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons.  Mikel has created illustrations based on J.R.R Tolkien books that have been exhibited throughout Europe.  He also created the graphic novel “Les aventures d’Antonin Phylifandre” for Éditions Akileos, among other works.  We’re happy to welcome Mikel to borg.com.

Mikel, are you from Spain originally?  How accessible were comic books to you growing up and what did you read as a kid?

Mikel: Hi Chris.  Yes, I was born in Spain, and it’s where I live.  Comic books have been part of my childhood since always.  Actually, I learned to read with comic-books of Mortadelo, a very popular Spanish character.  As a kid I remember Tintin and Astérix books, then I was an avid reader of American comic-books: Spider-Man, Secret Wars, X-Men, Teen Titans and Conan were my favorite books.  I discovered later the European graphic novels, and became a fan of Hugo Pratt, Manara, Vittorio Giardino, Moebius…

Mikel's interior art for the 2011 JLA 80-Page Giant includes some trick arrow work by Green Arrow.

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?  Was there any specific turning point in launching your career to where you are today?

Mikel: When I was a child it was sure for me that I wanted to be comic artist.  But I studied Architecture and formed a Studio in 2000.  Things were well in Architecture until 2009, when I finally left it.  I never stopped drawing and I even had some gigs for Akiléos (in France) and was published by Heavy Metal Magazine in the USA, and I was part of a Lord of the Rings based exhibition too.  In 2009 I started an active career in comics, and in 2011 I got my first gig at DC Comics.

What artists have influenced your style?  

Mikel: Too many!  Ibáñez, José Ortiz, Bernet, Manara, Moebius, Giardino, Pratt, Buscema, Kirby, Byrne…

Mikel's first DC Comics cover, an image slightly modifying Zatanna's original new look from a print Mikel offered in a limited edition at NYCC last year.

I understand you are currently working digitally.  What are the pros and cons of using that medium?

Mikel: Yes, I work almost 100% digitally. I come from Architecture, as I said, and computers were my main tool to think, design and draw buildings, so it’s a natural step using the same tools to think, design and draw comic-books!  The pros are you don’t need to buy supplies, you don’t have accidental ink drops or paper broken and so, you don’t have to scan pages and you always can have a safe copy of your work if you have mistakes.  It allows much more experimenting, too, because you aren’t afraid of ruining the page because of it.  The cons are you don’t have an actual original page to offer to collectors, but this is not enough to keep me off of digital.

In the States, for a long time it was viewed that you need to live in New York City or Los Angeles to break into any kind of publishing.  This has of course changed as technologies have changed.  Are there any challenges of working so far from your current publisher?

Mikel: It’s a very confortable way to work.  You work at home, so you don’t expend money in transport or even phone.  An internet connection is enough.  But this means you rarely interact with other people in the business, except by e-mail. Seeing the faces and hearing the voices is important too, for us human beings, so I try to go to conventions and say hello and shake hands with editors, publishers and other artists.  It’s a need.

In addition to the slate of Justice League Dark characters, Mikel has drawn the New 52 updated versions of Cyborg, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman into his series.

Are there any creators you particularly would like to work with someday?

Mikel: Yes! I’m very happy so far, because I had the chance of drawing scripts from so talented guys like Peter Milligan, J.T. Krul and Adam Glass.  And I’m currently working with Jeff Lemire, whose Animal Man I’m very much in love.  But of course I’d love to work with lots of creators, like Ed Brubaker, Gail Simone, Scott Snyder or Geoff Johns, to say a few.

What is the local reaction to your work and your exclusive contract with DC Comics?  In the States the New 52 has been big news this year, appearing in the press even outside the comics industry and traditional fan base.  Has there been a similar reaction back home?

Mikel: Yes, fans in Spain are excited too.  I think many of them are skeptical about the relaunch, but there’s a lot of buzz and excitement.  The New 52 will be here in May, so let’s see how they take it!  I’m happy with the reaction to my work and my exclusive contract too.

With Justice League Dark how did you approach the creation of new looks for characters, in particular the new look for Zatanna and her new costume?

Mikel: My first designs were the classical look for them, just minor tweaks. Then editors told me that they were looking for something new, and they wanted Zatanna to be more sexy, between Catwoman and Emma Frost, so I came with the corset and fishnets in her arms and they liked it a lot.  We decided to play with corsets, jackets, leather pants and fishnets, with variations from issue to issue.  The idea is it’s not a costume.  She has her costume for stage, as a work uniform, but these are her clothes.  See, you don’t have your McDonalds shirt when you’re going to save the world!

You attended the New York Comic Con this year.  What was your reaction to NYCC? Did you get to meet any creators who you personally are a fan of?

Mikel: It was HUGE.  I was so happy, it was a dream for me.  Being in the DC offices, saying hello to people that I just knew for the comic blogs was so satisfying.  Everyone there was so kind!  I had the chance to meet J.T. Krul and Adam Glass, my first writers in DC, and my friends and talented artists Mahmud Asrar, Yildiray Cinar, Joe Prado, Rafa Sandoval, and my old buddies Vicente Cifuentes, Pepe Caldelas or Will Ortego.

What should we keep an eye out for in future issues of Justice League Dark?

Mikel: It has already been announced that Jeff Lemire is taking writing duties since issue #9, with new characters joining the League and lots of action and magic all around!  I’ve read what Jeff has for next issues and I’m super-excited about it, so JLDark fans should definitely follow us in this new run!

Thanks for chatting with us today, Mikel!  Follow Mikel as a featured illustrator at DC Comics website, at his own website www.MikelJanin.com, at his blog, and on Facebook and Twitter!

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg

This year San Diego Comic-Con International began planning early to remedy multiple day registration errors last year and an all-day Saturday of waiting and uncertainty.  The first step was allowing registration at Comic-Con in person last July.  A well-thought out new EPIC registration process resulted in a big success today for those not buying tickets in person last year, although SDCC has one more technical link issue to fix for next year to make registration a completely smooth process.  For most, showing up online at 8 a.m. Pacific resulted in the desired tickets.  Entry to the online “waiting room” was still available at 8:40 a.m. although the 4-day passes were sold-out by then.  Many fans had tickets purchased within 20 minutes–a big difference from 5 or more hours of waiting last year.

SDCC started this year by requiring interested participants to sign-up for a Member ID.  This was available for several months and announced at last year’s Comic-Con.  The ability to get a Member ID ended in February, so those who wanted to buy badges had plenty of time to get the Member ID but if they didn’t then they were not allowed to attempt to register today. SDCC included both a video and a 4-page step-by-step guide to ensure smooth registration.  Individuals with Member IDs received emails earlier this week about this Saturday’s morning registration.  Access began with an online waiting room and a number showing the registrant’s order in line which ticked downward very quickly, refreshing every 120 seconds.

Some people reported link issues from the email, but several websites identified a fix that involved merely re-typing the link in the browser which fixed the problem.

This year is expected to again house more than 130,000 comic book, genre, film, TV, and video game fans for the annual four-day pilgramage to San Diego in July.  Featured comic book names this year include Sergio Aragones, Klaus Janson, Jim Lee, Jeff Lemire, Marc Silvestri, J. Michael Straczynski, Herb Trimpe, and Mark Waid.

With big studios gearing up the marketing for Star Trek XII, Man of Steel and The Hobbit, and The Dark Knight Rises premiering the week after Comic-Con, fans can also expect some surprises and possible appearances on behalf of these films this year.  And it’s no time like the present to start your write-in campaign to try to get The Hobbit and Star Trek XII star Benedict Cumberbatch to make his first big Comic-Con appearance!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

It’s been a little over two weeks and I’m already jonesing for another Skyrim fix.  You heard that right.  Over 200 hours already played over two months and after only two weeks, I’m thinking of playing again.  (That’s a lot of twos.)  Not just picking up with my old character, but starting all over again.  (Maybe I’ll name my character “Two.”)  This time though, when I play, I’m going to specialize.

You see, the first time through, I did it all.  I hacked.  I slashed.  I cast fire and ice out of my hands.  I snuck in people’s houses and I killed them in their sleep.  I stole valuables and I planted stolen goods.  I became a werewolf, I watched as people feasted on human flesh, I lured people to their deaths and I did the bidding of the Daedric princes.  I was a fighter / thief / bard / assassin / magic-user, which as far as I know in the world of Dungeons & Dragons is impossible.

Maybe it’s cool that this game can keep track of all of that and let you do all of those things at once and advance you up in the levels appropriately.  There’s something to be said for experiencing as much of the game as possible.  It is pretty nice that no matter what you choose, you can still try different aspects of the game.

It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel weird.  I think of it like being a MMA-Fighter / Accountant / Actor / Senator / Physicist.

Real-life WWF fighter / USNavy Special Forces / Actor / Governor

Yes, you can be all of those things and maybe there are people that can do all of them at once and can be elite at each of them.  However, I have yet to see or meet that person.  (If you are all of that and you are a 5’11” redheaded woman (or blonde or brunette or taller or shorter, I’m open), feel free to contact me on Twitter and I will take you to as many sushi dinners as you want so that I can hear all about it.)  Editor’s Note:  Hey, Jason, I didn’t know this was your personal dating site. 

Scarlett--graduated law school with honors, skilled in martial arts and acrobatics, has advanced military training... and she's a redhead

Now that I put it like that, maybe that’s why I like this game so much.  A jack-of-all-trades and master of all is a pretty cool thing to aspire to being.  To combine the brain of physicist Brian Greene with the fighting skills of (insert MMA fighter here as the only one I know is Brock Lesnar and he’s retired now) along with the political savvy of Barack Obama (check back here in nine months for that – if he doesn’t get a second term against the Republican candidates that are out there, I hate to say it but I’d have to replace him with George W. Bush or Bill Clinton), the charisma of George Clooney and the Oscar tabulating ability of the accountants at Price Waterhouse Coopers, you’d be better than Frankenstein’s monster, you’d be Frankenstein’s best monster.  (Maybe I’ll name that character “Apex.”  Nah, I still like “Two.”)  As long as the scars didn’t show, you’d also easily be at the top of all the beautiful people lists in the grocery store magazine shelves.

Strangely enough, combining Brian Greene, any MMA fighter, Barack Obama, George Clooney and a PWC accountant makes Willem Dafoe

However, we all have to make choices as our time and life is finite.  I think a review from Michael Shermer from “eSkeptic” says it best:

“If you read a major newspaper such as the New York Times or Wall Street Journal cover to cover every day for a week you will have consumed more digital information than a citizen in the 17th century Western world would have encountered in a lifetime. That’s a lot of digital data, but it’s nothing compared to what is on the immediate horizon. By comparison, from the earliest stirrings of civilization thousands of years ago to the year 2003, all of humankind created a grand total of five exabytes of digital information. An exabyte is one quintillion bytes, or one billion gigabytes. That’s a one followed by 18 zeros, and from 2003 through 2010 we created five exabytes of digital information every two days.”

So, we eventually have to choose. Which choices will I make? When you stray into a dungeon, a crypt or even walking around outside, you see a red dot and there’s no talking involved, all there is a mass of spells, claws, teeth and swords all trying to tear you into pieces. Within that framework, I grew accustomed to dealing death because that seemed to be the only way to survive. I didn’t see the possibility of going through the game as peacefully as possible (which you can through spells like “Calm” or letting your follower do your dirty work, which still seems not to be particularly peaceful but rather the exploitation of an exception.)  For my skills it may not be possible and as I aspire to be lawful good, maybe my hand-eye coordination won’t allow me that possibility.  Then maybe I’ll rationalize and say that part of being lawful good, like the beliefs we hold dear now, is to put an end to the ideals of those that are chaotic and evil. In the game, it is to kill the thieves, assassins and no-good-niks of the world. Here, in real life, it seems to be to shout down those who don’t believe what you believe, whether it is in a paper, a television program or a blog.  Maybe that is the way to be lawful good.  Thinking about that and about Andrew Breitbart who just passed away (and who James Poniewozik gives an eloquent eulogy) and I don’t think that is me.  I don’t want to yell down someone else.  I don’t want to grind other ideas into a pulp.

Maybe that means I’m more of a neutral person.  (Until you start to threaten science education and then I’ll yell at you for that though it may just be under my breath.)  Once I start the game again, I’ll see where specialization and my choices take me.  Looking in the mirror though, I expect it will take about five hours to realize that I still want it all and fighting against everything is a losing battle.  But, I promise I’ll still try to be nice.  Until you appear as a red dot.

NASA released some interesting information this week for fans of all things space related.

First off, the space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to fly its final mission April 17, 2012 on the back of a Boeing 747 to land at Washington Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC.  The transfer of the shuttle’s title to the Smithsonian Institution will include a four-day celebration by the National Air and Space Museum, although the Discovery will end up not on the National Mall at the National Air and Space Museum building but instead at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia (useful to know in scheduling future vacation trips to DC).  The Udvar-Hazy Center currently houses the prototype space shuttle Enterprise, which will be flown to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City at a later date.  The Museum expects that Discovery will be available for public viewing but the final display will not be finished until approximately two weeks after arrival of the shuttle.

In the “truth is stranger than fiction” category (a maxim that usually proves not to be true if you hang around with creative people) this week NASA also released some great video footage of Earth from space.  Check out this video of Earth taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station:

Despite all the efforts in movies and TV to show what it would be like to travel in outer space, Hollywood has yet to create footage that matches the real thing seen above.  They’ve come close for sure, but think of how much it would cost to mock-up this type of visual for a motion picture.

This video is a great reminder that despite the fact that we have no current space shuttle program, thankfully scientific research continues with humans in outer space.  Check out more updates on what’s happening with research by NASA at www.space.com.

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