Category: Comics & Books


On the Big Wheel.  On the bedroom wall.  On the Trapper Keeper.  On the toy box.  On the dresser.  Everywhere your parents didn’t want you to put ’em.  If you were a kid in the 1970s and 1980s and you collected Topps Star Wars trading cards, your sticker collection might look like this today:

Because the stickers that came one per pack ended up going anywhere kids are going to think they should go.  Or you might have kept your stickers intact–maybe you even made a complete collection of the trading cards–but, because of the nature of random inserts, your sticker collection looked like this:

If this describes you, then this new throwback book is just for you.

As a supplement to the series of books chronicling the original Star Wars trilogy trading cards (reviewed previously at borg.com here), the stickers are now available in a single volume from Abrams, Topps, and Lucasfilm, Star Wars: Topps Classic Sticker Book.  Reprinting a selection of the original sticker images from these card sets as removable stickers, kids young and old can use them anywhere or place them on one of five double-sided pullout posters included.

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Gary Gerani, Topps editor for hundreds of classic trading card series returns with a new book in Abrams ComicArts’ unprecedented series of hardcover books recounting the  classic Topps “non-sports” trading cards.  This time Gerani looks at the entire collection of Planet of the Apes images featured throughout three series chronicled on cardboard by Topps in Planet of the Apes: The Original Topps Trading Card Series.

In nearly 500 pages Gerani includes the fronts and backs of all 44 cards from the original 1969 Topps set documenting the original film starring Charlton Heston, all 66 cards based on the 1975 television series (featuring Roddy McDowell and Star Trek’s Mark Lenard), and all 90 base cards, 10 sticker cards, and 44 chase cards from the 2001 reboot film directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg.  If you’re a Planet of the Apes fan, a fan of either of these incarnations of the several adaptations of Pierre Boulle’s 1963 science fiction novel Monkey Planet, or a POTA completist, you’ll learn something new about the franchise now spanning nearly five decades.

    

Although you’ll get exactly what you’d expect–full color images of the fronts and backs of the cards, Abrams’ trademark bubble gum cover and wax pack wrapper jacket, and promotional images–the real insight is found in Gerani’s knowledge as a Topps and Hollywood insider.  Working directly on the second and third series and working with the creators of the original series, Gerani provides an understanding of the business of designing a trading card series, the challenges (like celebrity image licensing restrictions), and high points (like finding that perfect image for a card that fans will love).  Many cards use photos taken on the shooting set, so they give different vantage points to the actors and sets than found in the films.

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rotj-title-1    1983-star-wars-return-of-the-jedi-133

The latest volume from the partnership of Abrams ComicArts and Topps Trading Cards as they document some of the greatest non-sports trading cards ever released is now available.  Star Wars: Return of the Jedi–The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume Three reproduces–for the first time–all 220 cards and 55 stickers in a single deluxe hardcover volume.  And like the first two volumes in the series, it includes the image of the classic bubble gum stick inside the classic wax pack style cover jacket.

It’s the next book in the now long line of great trading card books from Abrams.  It includes four bonus trading cards made exclusively for this edition, including both title cards for the two Return of the Jedi card series, and is similar in design to the previous trading card reference books Bazooka Joe and His Gang reviewed here at borg.com, Mars Attacks 50th Anniversary Collection reviewed here, and Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series reviewed here.  Abrams ComicArts and Topps released the first compilation of Star Wars trading cards last December–Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One, reviewed here at borg.com, and this April we reviewed the second volume, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Two, here.

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Star Wars insider and trading card editor Gary Gerani returns to give fascinating insight and a behind-the-scenes look at Topps as it coordinated with Lucasfilm to create and market these licensed images.  Gerani was the original editor of the three Star Wars Topps series who worked with Lucasfilm to select the photographs for the card sets and wrote the card titles.

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Art Imagery vol 2 a

Star Wars’ first live-action TV series, The Mandalorian was created by fans for fans, and every frame tugs at the nostalgia the franchise’s fans hold for the original 1970s and 1980s trilogy.  With those films the most fans could hope for were magazines and books, often ordered via Scholastic book orders at their schools, each showing a few images from the films that could take us–in a snap–back to the movies.  It’s something fans of the franchise have gotten excited about now for nearly 44 years running.  From the first publication of Ralph McQuarrie’s earliest concept art, fans wanted more.  We’ve seen several books on The Mandalorian, including Abrams Books’ The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (reviewed here).  The first of the behind the scenes books we reviewed in October here at borg was Titan Magazines’ The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery, covering the first four episodes of the first season.  Now The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery Volume 2 is available, and you can order it here at Amazon or find it at any brick and mortar bookstore.  Take a look inside…

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Topps Empire Strikes Back Abrams

Coming next week is the latest volume from the partnership of Abrams ComicArts and Topps Trading Cards as they document some of the greatest non-sports trading cards ever released.  Complete with a photo of the famous stick of bubble gum on the cover, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back–The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume Two reproduces–for the first time–all 352 cards and 88 stickers in a single deluxe hardcover volume.

It’s the next book in the now long line of great trading card books from Abrams.  It includes four bonus trading cards made exclusively for this edition, and a wax pack-style book jacket like the similar excellent releases Bazooka Joe and His Gang reviewed here at borg.com, Mars Attacks 50th Anniversary Collection reviewed here, and Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series reviewed here.  Abrams ComicArts and Topps released the first compilation of Star Wars trading cards just last year–Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One, reviewed here at borg.com.  An introduction and commentary throughout Volume Two is provided by Gary Gerani, the original editor of the Star Wars Topps series who worked with Lucasfilm to select the photographs for the sets and wrote the card titles for The Empire Strikes Back series, too.

Yoda Topps card    ESB Topps title 2 card

Gerani recounts reading the script for Empire in advance of the release, and learning the real #1 secret that Lucasfilm was trying to keep under wraps.  And it wasn’t about Luke Skywalker’s parentage or a bounty hunter with little actual screentime.  Hint: It may be related to a certain spectacular new “muppet from space”.

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Ten years after Return of the Jedi, Topps trading cards editor and writer Gary Gerani was tasked once again to meet fan demand for more Star Wars trading cards.  Many years before he would create photo cards for a new trilogy of prequels, he would team up with Lucasfilm’s Steve Sansweet to showcase Star Wars as interpreted by some of the best artists that contributed to the films or would re-imagine the “Star Wars Galaxy” in their own styles.

The three resulting trading card series have been released in the 2016 addition to Abrams ComicArts successful hardbound series featured here previously at borg.comStar Wars Galaxy: The Original Topps Trading Card Series includes the works of more than 170 artists in more than 200 card reproductions, plus commentary by Gerani and an afterword by notable poster artist Drew Struzan.  Unlike the prior volumes in the series, only the obverse image from the cards, which featured the artwork, is included.

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You’ll find an incredible array of imagery by a surprising combination of artists, including rare images you will have seen only if you collected the original cards.  So you’ll find the work of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Ralph McQuarrie, Moebius, Drew Struzan, Dave Dorman, Al Williamson, Howard Chaykin, Mike Grell, John Eaves, Mike Zeck, George Perez, Jim Starlin, Dave Stevens, Walter Simonson, Gene Colan, Rich Buckler, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mark Schultz, P. Craig Russell, Dave Gibbons, Sergio Aragones, Boris Vallejo, Charles Vess, and Gil Kane.

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The volume includes the entire run of portraits created for Star Wars Galaxy specifically for the Topps cards by Joseph Smith–the original art was later bought by George Lucas for his personal collection.

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Star Wars The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume One

Review by C.J. Bunce

Abrams ComicArts and Topps have released the first compilation ever of the original 1977 and 1978 Topps Star Wars trading cards–Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One.  Reprinted in its entirety are all five series of cards in their original size.  The deluxe edition contains the fronts and reverses of all 330 cards and 55 stickers, including movie facts, story summaries, actor profiles, and puzzle cards featuring scenes from the one and only original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  It seemed like every kid from 5 years old to high schoolers picked up at least a few sets of these back in the 1970s.  In years a galaxy far, far away from VHS tapes, DVDs, or Blu-rays, these cards were a fan’s only window into that world experienced in the theater.  With these trading cards you could refer over and over to key scenes, and use the images as resources to discuss film details with friends.

The book includes four bonus trading cards made exclusively for this edition, and a wax pack-style book jacket like the similar excellent releases Bazooka Joe and His Gang reviewed here at borg.com, Mars Attacks 50th Anniversary Collection reviewed here, and Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series reviewed here.  An introduction and commentary throughout the volume is provided by Gary Gerani, the original editor of the Star Wars Topps series who worked with Lucasfilm to select the photographs for the sets and wrote the card titles.  An afterword is provided by Robert Conte, discussing the well-known Wonder Bread Star Wars trading cards, also reprinted for the first time in this edition.

Ben with sabre    Kenobi Wonder Bread card

You might recall that Topps recently reintroduced an edition of Topps Star Wars cards in the style of the first edition of trading cards from 1977.  Those cards were released with images from all seven Star Wars films including preview cards for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, discussed here at borg.com.

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Arnold Terminator Genisys

Well it’s been one long year, with plenty to do and see, plenty of good and not-so-good to read and watch, and as with last year we’re certain we reviewed more content this year than ever before.  This year was a big year for borgs in TV and film, so we had some difficult decisions to make.  All year long we sifted through all that Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre TV, films, comics, and other books we thought were worth examining.  We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our annual Best of the Best list.

Today we reveal the entire list–the best genre content of 2015–with our top categories Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Fantasy Fix, Best Superhero FixBest Animated Fix,  and Best Borg selected regardless of medium.  A dozen properties garnered multiple mentions.

We hope you agree with many of these great creations of the entertainment industries, and wish everyone a great 2016!

Killjoys

Best Sci-Fi Fix – Killjoys (Syfy).  Surprised?  Killjoys pulled together great worldbuilding, characters and actors in a year of a dozen new sci-fi shows to provide us the closest thing to the next Firefly we’ve seen in a long time.

Galavant

Best Fantasy Fix – Galavant (ABC); Runner-up The Librarians (TNT).  It aired early in 2015 but nothing surpassed Galavant’s medieval high adventure and all-out Princess Bride-style fun.

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Best Superhero Fix – The Flash (CW).  Of all the Marvel movies and TV series from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Agent Carter and from Arrow to Supergirl, nothing had us coming back for more each week like the superhero world in The Flash.

Rebels season 2

Best Animated Fix – Star Wars Rebels (DisneyXD).  Compare it to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and see if you think this animated Star Wars galaxy had an even better story and characterization, along with the return of its own group of original trilogy actors, compelling visuals and rousing music.

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Best Borg – Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Terminator Genisys (Paramount).  Schwarzenegger created yet another borg that could stand up against his prior successful characters from the series.  A cool, moving character in a big year for borgs on screen!

Ava from Ex Machina - borg

Best Borg Movie –  Ex Machina (DNA Films).  Incredible storytelling and a small cast of talented actors provided a classic science fiction story and Oscar-worthy film about our favorite subject.

Humans series

Best Borg TV SeriesHumans (AMC).  On television the most in-depth look at life as a borg and among borgs has never been portrayed more dramatically than on this year’s surprise sci-fi hit series from AMC.

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Best Kickass Genre Movie Heroine – Rey (Daisy Ridley), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney); Honorable Mentions: Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), Terminator Genisys (Paramount); Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Mad Max: Fury Road (Village Roadshow)

Liv Moore

Best Kickass Genre TV Heroine – Liv Moore (Rose McIver), iZombie (CW); Honorable Mentions: Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), Killjoys (Syfy); Helena (Tatiana Maslany), Orphan Black (BBC)

Want to know who we picked for best villain and best comic books of the year?  Take a look after the cut…

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Mars Attacks 50th anniversary book

You’ve heard of Mars Attacks, but do you know the origin of Mars Attacks?  A 1950s serial?  A pulp magazine series?  Strangely enough, Mars Attacks was an idea created by Len Brown and Woody Gelman for a 1962 set of 54 Topps trading cards.  Those oversized-brain Martians first conquered Earth with a piece of pink bubble gum, and bridged sci-fi and horror like never before.  One of my favorite areas of collecting as a kid were trading cards, what collectors today categorize as “non-sports trading cards.”  I collected any card that came in a loaf of bread, cards that came on the backs of boxes of cereal, and cards given away at Burger King.

It’s not likely that many people actually got their hands on the 1962 of Topps trading cards, as explained in Mars Attacks 50th Anniversary Collection, the latest in Abrams Comicarts’ series of bubble gum-inspired books including Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, and Bazooka Joe and His Gang 60th Anniversary Collection, both reviewed previously here at borg.com.  The original Topps card set was not well-received by parents and teachers because of its graphic depictions of burning bodies, exploding, mutilated, and sliced-up people and animals by the vile Martian invaders.  So the card set had a limited run.  The result is a collectible that would cost you $25,000 in order to acquire a complete card set.  Which makes this new book a great way to see what we missed.

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Creators Brown and Gelman were surprised by the backlash against the cards.  According to Brown, “Our Civil War set was just as gory as Mars Attacks.  I suspect because it was historical, people just felt that kids were learning, so the violence was okay.”  Brown, Gelman, and artist Norm Saunders were told to go back to the drawing board several times even before the series was released, to correct women who were too scantily dressed, and update skeletal remains with some flesh.

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