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Archive for July, 2018


When you think of iconic with respect to genre films from Hollywood, what first comes to mind?  The Wizard of Oz?  Star Wars?  Jaws?  James Bond?  Raiders of the Lost Ark?  Forbidden Planet?  Planet of the Apes?  Star Trek?  Terminator?  Maybe superhero movies?

Maybe your tastes are after less of the big franchises.  Like Edward Scissorhands, Spaceballs, American Graffiti, or Power Rangers?

Costumes and props representing all of these franchises made their way to booths of auction houses showing off their lots for fans of San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend.  Just how long is too long to become transfixed at the golden birds atop the actual Lost Ark (okay, one of the actual Lost Arks seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark)?

President Joe Maddalena and prop expert Brian Chanes from Profiles in History–the biggest auction house of Hollywood entertainment memorabilia–were on hand to walk visitors through some truly iconic props and costumes featured in its next big auction.  Nearby, The Prop Store (formerly The Prop Store of London) had COO Brandon Alinger and its Los Angeles staff and some members from its London branch onsite show off select pieces from this week’s Power Rangers auction and future auctions.

Some of the finest Star Wars props and costumes are coming to auction soon, including production models, Imperial helmets–including Darth Vader–multiple lightsabers, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story costumes including one worn by Felicity Jones as the film’s heroine Jyn Erso.  A jacket purported to be one of those worn by Harrison Ford as Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back was at The Prop Store display (they expect it to sell for $1 million or more).  One of the biggest sellers will no doubt be an original series command tunic worn by William Shatner in Star Trek and a Type 2 phaser, both with good provenance.  One of the hats used in the greatest fantasy film classic, The Wizard of Oz, for the Wicked Witch played by Margaret Hamilton, will be sold by Profiles in History.  And a full supersuit worn by Christopher Reeve in the original Superman films will be auctioned by Prop Store.

A weapon used by Leslie Nielsen in Forbidden Planet, Johnny Depp’s Edward Scissorhands outfit, a full-sized Terminator, props from Spaceballs, an Indiana Jones fedora, a director’s clapperboard from Jaws, a license plate with a familiar number from American Graffiti, a special effects doll used for James Bond in For Your Eyes Only, an original ape costume from Planet of the Apes, and an original Spider-man supersuit.  They are all coming up for auction soon.  Check out these photos from the Prop Store and Profiles in History booths:

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After almost a week of rumor, the showrunner of a series that will continue the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer confirmed the series isn’t merely a rumor today.  Monica Owusu-Breen, a writer on popular genre series including Charmed, Fringe, Lost, Alias, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has been working with Buffy creator Joss Whedon on a new story, and she has been tapped as showrunner for the new series.  Today Owusu-Breen confirmed the project is real, while also clarifying a new slayer is on her way, but not Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy from the original seven-year series.  Whedon will again serve as executive producer of the series, with returning producers going back to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, Gail Berman, Joe Earley, Fran Kazui, and Kaz Kazui.  “For some genre writers, it’s Star Wars.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my Star Wars,” Osuwu-Breen posted on Twitter today.  “Before I became a writer, I was a fan.  For seven seasons, I watched Buffy Summers grow up, find love, kill that love.  I watched her fight, and struggle and slay.  There is only one Buffy.  One Xander, one Willow, Giles, Cordelia, Oz, Tara, Kendra, Faith, Spike, Angel … They can’t be replaced.  Joss Whedon’s brilliant and beautiful series can’t be replicated.  I wouldn’t try to.  But here we are, 20 years later … and the world seems a lot scarier. So maybe, it could be time to meet a new Slayer … And that’s all I can say.”

Fans will recall that a new Slayer took the place of a Slayer that had been killed–at least in the early seasons of the show.  Kendra, a fantastic and charismatic killing machine played by Bianca Lawson, was a Jamaican potential slayer who replaced Buffy Summers’s Slayer for three episodes after Buffy’s first death on the show (Buffy was quickly revived with CPR).  Early word from the production is that the slayer to lead the new show will also be played by a black actress.  Upon Kendra’s death, we were introduced to her Slayer replacement Faith, played by Eliza Dushku, who would co-star in the series for 20 episodes.  At least sixteen other Slayers of various backgrounds were portrayed in the series following the episode “Chosen,” including one played by Felicia Day.  At least 1,800 new Slayers were discussed in the series, 500 of whom worked for Buffy Summers’ organization which deployed Slayers globally into ten separate squads.  Countless others were featured in Seasons 8-12 of the comic book series.

The idea of taking the Buffy-verse forward was discussed more upon the show’s 20th anniversary in 2016, and with so many series getting reboots it was inevitable Buffy’s time was coming.  Unlike all those other shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is in many fans’ list of top 10 television series of all time, so the producers will no doubt take careful steps with the franchise.  The brilliance of the Slayer storyline is actually perfect for continuation.  Like the five decades of Doctor Who, Buffy always has had a built-in mechanism to allow the transfer of lead actors over time, while keeping the series fresh and surviving as a long-term franchise.  As with the Doctor Who regeneration that has allowed for the latest new thirteenth lead actor to take over that series after some five decades, the replacement mechanism of a new Slayer for each dying Slayer has always been a make-ready key to ensure a going-forward show.  Few would disagree that Buffy, Kendra, and Faith were fantastic characters, fantastic Slayers.  No doubt the next in line can be just as exciting.

Here is Owusu-Breen’s Twitter post today clarifying the vision behind the new show:

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We didn’t want to pass up the chance to remind you there is still plenty of time to dive into this year’s Shark Week.  And incredibly enough this year is the thirtieth year of the annual week of shark viewing excitement.  Shark Week 2018 began Sunday and runs through this weekend on the Discovery Channel.  So you can still catch up with shows like Tiger Shark Invasion and Shark After Dark Live tonight, and tomorrow night watch a special edition of one of the best game shows ever on television, as host Ben Bailey takes his riders on a trivial pursuit of nautical terms on Cash Cab But there’s much more coming, plus lots of content from past years online.  Find all the listings for the remainder of the week and online shows (even a Guy Fieri appearance) at the Discovery website here.

And even though the biggest day to watch Steven Spielberg’s Jaws every year is on Fourth of July weekend (when the story is set), Narragansett Beer–the beer Quint drinks and crushes in the famous scene from the movie, the oldest beer company in New England, and the beer Dr. Seuss drew ads for early in his career–is back again this summer expanding on Shark Week, with plenty of Jaws viewing parties and related seaside activities over the next few weeks.  Check out their entire schedule at their website here.

‘Gansett has released again its award-winning lager beer in replica vintage 1975 cans, as seen in Jaws–you’ll want to get them before they sell out.  Then “Crush it like Quint,” and post photos on the company’s Facebook page.  They also have giant Quint and shark standees in their distribution area where you can get a photo and upload it to their social media sites.  “Gansett has gone all out, issuing a great Summer Guide (check it out here) with summer recipes, activity schedule, and summer fun ideas.  And make your own Shark Week Viewing Kit at the ‘Gansett shop here, where you’ll find anything and everything with your favorite salty sailor in action.  Here is just one of the locals checking out one of the standees:

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Last weekend San Diego Comic-Con spotlighted women costume designers and the creations of more than a dozen women designers created for actresses for some of the decade’s biggest genre films.  The Costume Designers Guild presented a panel Saturday featuring members Sanja Hays (costume designer, Captain Marvel, Star Trek: Beyond, Star Trek: Insurrection), Amanda Riley (costume designer, Supergirl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Laura Jean Shannon (costume designer, Iron Man, Titans, Black Lightning, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) who provided highlights and anecdotes about their careers designing costumes for some of the most popular current and recent productions on television and in film.  A big high point for attendees was Hayes, whose new Captain Marvel costume will be the next benchmark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to be worn next year by Brie Larson in Captain Marvel–the first Marvel film with a woman in the title role.  Hayes commented that she found working on Marvel movies  different from past projects in that many details of design and even minor changes require extra levels of approval from Marvel’s continuity side.  Each of the designers stated they have arrived at a stage in their careers where they now have the power to cherry pick costumes to personally dive into from their projects and assign other production team members for the rest.  They also stressed the value of having close-knit and exceptional artists on their teams that can work together to meet the requirements of production.

   

At the giant Marvel Studios area on the convention floor, attendees could get up close to several key screen-used superheroine costumes from the past ten years, from Anna B. Sheppard‘s World War II Agent Carter uniform worn by Hayley Atwell from the beginning of the franchise to Evangeline Lilly‘s armor from The Wasp from this summer’s Ant-Man and The Wasp, created by Louise Frogley.  Eight other costumes bookended one side of the Marvel stage, including another four costumes opposite them in glass display cases–twelve heroines in all: Lupita Nyong’o‘s Nakia, Danai Gurira‘s Okoye, and Letitia Wright‘s Shuri costumes from Black Panther, created by Ruth E. Carter, Tessa Thompson‘s Valkyrie armor created by Mayes C. Rubeo for Thor: Ragnarok, Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow costume from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Zoe Saldana‘s Gamora costume, Karen Gillan‘s Nebula costume, and Pom Klementieff‘s Mantis costume from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, all created by Judianna Makovsky, Elizabeth Olsen‘s Scarlet Witch costume from Avengers: Age of Ultron, created by Alexandra Byrne, and Jaimie Alexander‘s Sif armor from Thor: The Dark World, created by Wendy Partridge.

A separate giant display elsewhere was created for Karl Urban‘s Skurge armor created by Mayes C. Rubio for Thor: Ragnarok.  DC Entertainment displayed Leah Butler‘s Shazam! costumes for Asher Angel‘s Billy Batson and his superhero alter ego, played by Zachary Levi.  And Lucasfilm presented David Crossman and Glyn Dillon‘s costumes from Solo: A Star Wars Story (a little more out of reach than the rest, posed high at the top of their exhibit), including screen-used costumes from Alden Ehrenreich‘s Han Solo, Joonas Soutomo‘s Chewbacca, Emilia Clarke‘s Qi’ra, Donald Glover‘s Lando, Erin Kellyman‘s Enfys Nest, and Paul Bettany‘s Dryden Vos.  And it wasn’t just about costumes, as many displays included the corresponding screen-used prop weaponry for the character.

Costume designers Laura Jean Shannon, Sanja Hays, and Amanda Riley at the costume designers panel at San Diego Comic-Con Saturday, July 21, 2018.

The following are photographs of all 22 costumes.  The lighting and glass displays limited the clarity of some of the images, and the Star Wars display was too high for our equipment to get any detail.  Yet some of the detail is better than you find in many behind the scenes books on the market today showing the costumes of DC, Marvel, or the Star Wars films–nothing beats seeing these close-up.  Take a look:

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Synthesizing and consolidating 30 years of X-Men lore, writer/artist Ed Piskor surprised everyone last year with his first issue of a groundbreaking new series X-Men: Grand Design With a retro look only he–or several of the best classic artists of the past coming together–could create, Piskor brought to a new generation of comic book readers a way to catch up on a lifetime of Marvel Comics.  All in a single mini-series.  It’s all coming together in six issues.  The first two issues, discussed here at borg.com and available in a new trade compilation at Amazon here, were successful sell-throughs, immediately going to second printing.  The middle chapter (Issues #3 and #4) subtitled Second Genesis begins tomorrow with Issue #3.  Take a look below at some preview pages from tomorrow’s issue.

The series is printed on a classic newsprint type of paper stock with unique inks and trademark white inks that really pop on the page.  What Piskor has called a love letter to the medium of comics as much as a love letter to decades of X-Men comics, the series was inspired by several artists, including the obvious ones:, Robert Crumb and Jack Kirby, but also Jim Steranko, John Byrne, Alan Silvestri, Jim Lee, Katushiro Otomo, and Moebius.  When you flip through one of these issues it brings back sitting on the curb reading when you were a kid.

Elite Comics will have plenty of these available tomorrow in case you forgot to add them to your pull list.  If your nearby comic book shop doesn’t have it you may have a long wait, as the trade X-Men: Grand Design–Second Genesis Treasury Edition isn’t coming until October.

Here’s the preview:

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Our San Diego Comic-Con coverage continues with Fox’s television series The Orville, which had both a panel and signing this year, along with featuring The Orville shuttle-themed PediCabs to cart visitors around the Gaslamp District and waterfront.  We have the panel video below, as well as the preview shown at the panel for Season 2.  Series star and executive producer Seth MacFarlane said fans can look forward to a Season 2 where “Every episode feels like a movie.”

Thanks to The Orville concept artist Lex Cassar, we (I and my wife, author and borg.com TV reviewer Elizabeth C. Bunce) had one of our best experiences at meeting the crew of a show.  Seeing that the standby line for The Orville signing had no hope of making it to the Fox booth (events often can run long and subsequent events get behind at SDCC), Cassar came out to hand out some of the SDCC-exclusive Planetary Union pins to those at the back of the line–a very kind and classy gesture to those standing for an hour and half.  Seeing me and Elizabeth in the Orville uniforms she created for the Con, he came back with a screen-used resin phaser for us to pose with.  He went back to the booth and brought back Jason Roberts, unit production manager, who brought Bortus’s egg from the series, plus another hero resin light-up phaser and light-up scanners, and we were able to get more photos with the crew and these great props (gorgeously detailed, realistic, and heavy!).

The Orville production crew and borg.com staff with screen-used props at San Diego Comic-Con.

Despite not getting the lottery for the signing, we got up close and Seth MacFarlane (Capt. Ed Mercer) said we looked great, Scott Grimes (Lt. Gordon Malloy) gave me a fist bump and had a quick chat with Elizabeth regarding the comfort of the uniform, J. Lee (Lt. Cmdr. John LaMarr) gave us a thumbs-up, and Penny Johnson Jerald (Dr. Claire Finn) blew kisses from the balcony.  Peter Macon (Lt. Cmdr. Bortus) chatted it up with everyone at the Fox booth.

Seth MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki signing at the Fox Booth at Comic-Con.

Emmy-winning producer and The Orville executive producer and director Jon Cassar (and 24 series executive producer and director of Continuum and The Dead Zone among other things) and producer and film editor Tom Costantino were especially gracious and gave us some of the Union logo pins and a Union hat after The Orville interview show.

C.J. Bunce and Elizabeth C. Bunce at San Diego Comic-Con (photo by SDCC official staff photographer).

All a great payoff for Elizabeth’s time in interpreting and deconstructing the costumes with only photographs in The World of the Orville book as a guide, sourcing fabrics, creating patterns and sewing the final uniforms!  Comic-Con cosplay is in part about feedback to the studios. It’s also about showing your support for what you like–the driving theme of borg.com, too.  We loved Season 1 and want to see more of it, and want these creators to know.

The real McCoy–an Orville screen-used resin phaser.

So check out the new trailer for Season 2, plus footage from The Orville panel, followed by the interview at the Fox booth at the show:

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Consider this your moment of San Diego Comic-Con zen.

This weekend I got a chance to visit Weta Workshop’s booth at the San Diego Convention Center.  Lucky for me I was there the same time as Mythbusters and Tested’s Adam Savage.  I got to marvel at Adam while he got to marvel at one of the many incredible artisans from New Zealand’s Weta Workshop, presenting at their booth before one of Adam’s panels (the Weta folks gave him his own sword of Boromir from The Lord of the Rings).  This is what genuine curiosity looks like.  Adam often attends the show incognito, so actual sightings are a bit rare, and he was quite fun to watch being another one of us at the Con.

Then a funny thing happened.

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One of the under-the-radar previews at this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con was for the new James Cameron/Robert Rodriguez/Jon Landau sci-fi film, Alita: Battle Angel.  If you compare the trailer previewed Friday night at Horton Plaza’s Regal Theater to the earlier teaser from last December (see both below) you will see a stark difference, with clear improvements made in the interim in post-production, especially with the CGI face and movements for Alita the lead borg character in the film, with motion capture performance by Rosa Salazar.  Director Robert Rodriguez and producer and Oscar-winner Jon Landau headlined the panel Friday with Salazar and Keean Johnson, who plays Hugo.

WETA featured an Alita display at their booth. Hundreds of WETA Digital creators worked on the film.

Based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga comic Battle Angel Alita, the adaptation follows a doctor, played by Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz, whose character is the latest Geppetto, creating Alita, a cybernetic girl.  The screenplay, written by James Cameron, takes the common borg origin sub-genre of science fiction (Frankenstein, Pinocchio, Edward Scissorhands, Ghost in the Shell, etc.), to make the next sci-fi warrior heroine.  The film co-stars Michelle Rodriguez, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, and Jeff Fahey.

Check out the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel:

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Named for legendary comics creator Will Eisner, the Eisner Awards saw their 29th presentation this weekend.  2018 Will Eisner Hall of Fame inductees included Carol Kalish (pioneering direct sales manager for Marvel Comics), and Jackie Ormes (first black female newspaper cartoonist, for the strip Dixie in Harlem featuring the character Torchy Brown).  Sixteen others were considered for the honor this year, and Charles Addams, Karen Berger, Dave Gibbons, and Rumiko Takahashi were inducted.  Joye Murchison Kelly and Dorothy Roubicek Woolfolk were awarded the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing.

Tom King (Batman, Batman Annual #2, Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1, Mister Miracle) and Marjorie Liu (Monstress) tied for Best Writer, with Liu the first woman awarded in the category.  “Monsters” was the dominant theme of this year’s awards with Monstress (Image) and My Favorite Thing is Monsters (Fantagraphics) taking the most wins.

We congratulate all the winners and nominees.

Here are the winners awarded at the ceremony, in bold, along with the nominees by category:

Best Short Story

  • ”A Life in Comics: The Graphic Adventures of Karen Green,” by Nick Sousanis, in Columbia Magazine (Summer 2017)
  • “Ethel Byrne,” by Cecil Castelluci and Scott Chantler, in Mine: A Celebration of Liberty and Freedom for All Benefiting Planned Parenthood (ComicMix)
  • “Forgotten Princess,” by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Antonio Sandoval, in Adventure Time Comics #13 (kaboom!)
  • “Small Mistakes Make Big Problems,” by Sophia Foster-Dimino, in Comics for Choice (Hazel Newlevant)
  • “Trans Plant,” by Megan Rose Gedris, in Enough Space for Everyone Else (Bedside Press)

Best Single Issue/One Shot

  • Hellboy: Krampusnacht, by Mike Mignola and Adam Hughes (Dark Horse)
  • Barbara, by Nicole Miles (ShortBox)
  • Pope Hats #5, by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books)
  • The Spotted Stone, by Rick Veitch (Sun Comics)
  • What Is Left, by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (ShortBox)

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DC Entertainment had previously announced this year three movie adaptations in the works: Wonder Woman 1984, Shazam, and Aquaman.  Jason Momoa’s unique take on Aquaman was no doubt the highpoint of last year’s big-screen Justice League, so it’s no surprise to see the first big trailer for Momoa’s return this week at San Diego Comic-Con.

The first trailer shows some largely CGI scenes and features some well-known genre actors playing key roles, including Orm (Patrick Wilson), Vulko (Willem Dafoe), Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), and Black Manta (David Kane), who really looks good in the preview.

Check out the trailer for DC’s next Justice League film, Aquaman:

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