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Category: Backstage Pass


Review by C.J. Bunce

Both Neil Gaiman (Sandman) and Kevin Eastman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) tried it, but didn’t complete it in time.  Professional comic book writers and artists and especially the combination writer/artist most likely have all heard of the 24-hour comic challenge, but not everyone has given it a try.  Twenty-seven years ago comic book writer/artist Scott McCloud came up with the idea to improve his skills and speed in creating a 24-page comic book complete with story and art, which normally can take about 30 days.  The result was not so much a contest but a personal achievement challenge like running a marathon or climbing a mountain.  A new documentary titled 24 Hour Comic, directed by Milan Ercig, screened for attendees Saturday at the Marriott Grand Ballroom at San Diego Convention Center as part of San Diego Comic-Con.

Eight participants.  24 hours.  Gravitas Ventures’ 24 Hour Comic follows an event hosted at my old local comic book shop, Things from Another World, in Portland, Oregon.  24 Hour Comic is both a celebration of the Portland comic book creator scene and a close-up look at eight individuals of differing levels as they each try to meet the challenge.  Not everyone makes it to the end.  Four-time Harvey Award and Eisner Award winner Scott McCloud appears in the film, describing the origin, process, and history of the 24-hour challenge, which is hosted by comic book shops, schools, and art studios around the world, often following a designated annual 24-Hour Comic Day.  Eisner and Harvey Award winner McCloud wrote the useful guide to sequential art Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art and several other comic book art texts.  He also compiled several attempts at the 24-hour comic in his book 24 Hour Comics, where he showcases the efforts of Neil Gaiman, Steve Bissette, Alexander Grecian, and others.

The rules can be found here, and are detailed in McCloud’s book.  The biggest surprise having read about the contest and several 24-hour comics over the years was that I assumed the artists used standard comic book pages, those full-sized 11×17-inch art boards.  In the film each artist uses what appears to be paper half that size, splitting each sheet into two full pages, which would seem to take less time to fill.  Ercig introduces us to his eight subjects, each in different phases of skill, from a 13-year-old girl to a 16-time participant, a web creator, a design professional, independent creators, and an ex-creator returning to give the process another try.  The final works for those who completed the challenge?  We don’t get to read the entirety of the final books from any creator in the film, but the excerpts given are surprisingly polished. Far from the frantic scribbles you might expect from anyone missing a night’s sleep to work round the clock, the comics appear professionally done, clever, and humorous, reflecting each artist’s creativity and talent.  The film is dotted with interviews by several well-known faces, including Dark Horse Comics president Mike Richardson, Dark Horse Comics editor-in-chief Scott Allie, cartoonist Batton Lash, and graphic novelists and digital creators Arnold and Jacob Pander.

The hour-long documentary provides a fair look at a cross section of a profession where the median income for a full-time comic book artist is about $38,896, according to the film.  Although the challenge is not a competition per se, a few participants throw about some contrived and good natured trash talk to keep the film light-hearted.  One participant had some interesting insights into the comic book profession, a bit of a creators’ quagmire: “You work on a project you don’t care about, but make good money, but you work on a project you do care about, and don’t make any money on it”–something reflected in many fields, no doubt.  This is not a time-compressed look at the 24-hour period of this challenge, but provides interviews with subjects about their status at intervals throughout the day, night, and following morning.  So to fill some of the time Ercig follows two subjects on a quick trip to Stumptown Comic Con, other subjects are interviewed at local studios or homes, and another is followed on a side trip to Seattle to discuss a commission project.  The majority shared how difficult it is to succeed in the comic book industry, and one tried and left the industry after initial success because it couldn’t pay medical bills.

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The first instinct of diehard fans of any classic book, song, TV show, film, or anything else, is to flinch at the notion of a remake or reboot of a beloved original.  For years we here at borg.com have included The Watcher in the Woods as a favorite recommendation of a ghost story.  It’s a Disney film unlike any other Disney film–the rare instance of a movie being stronger than its source material (the novel by Florence Engel Randall), a Gothic ghost story (or is it?) that may be the creepiest and scariest story the studio released, certainly the spookiest of the 1980s.  So a remake that is being released this year for the Lifetime channel being previewed at San Diego Comic-Con this year is going to hit our radar.

As a kid, the film bridged being surprising enough to get you to jump out of your seat without being an adult horror movie. As an adult, I have recommended The Watcher in the Woods to friends for children’s Halloween parties, and it’s proven still to be a hit for kids into their pre-teens.  Melissa Joan Hart, known best for her Sabrina, the Teenage Witch series, is directing the remake, and as with the original, she enlisted one of the best to ground the film, Anjelica Huston, who takes on the role made famous by Bette Davis.

The result?  Hart has at a minimum completely nailed the trailer.  In an interview below she discusses concepts kept and concepts updated.  But when you get to the trailer, any concerns for the remake pretty much vanish, like the key image of the trapped, blindfolded girl in the film.  And the creepy woods as a singular character.  In the original, “Bond girl” actress Lynn-Holly Johnson (For Your Eyes Only, Ice Castles) and Kyle Richards played the sisters with Richards at the height of her child-actor career between Halloween and Little House on the Prairie.  In Hart’s new movie, these roles are played by young actors Tallulah Evans and Dixie Egerickx.

Even if you don’t agree Hart gets this one exactly right, you’re going to watch it because it’s on cable, and why not?  Check out this nicely spooky trailer from Comic-Con:

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We saved the best for last: Netflix’s full trailer for Stranger Things, Season 2.  If you thought the trailer previewed earlier here at borg.com for Ready Player One didn’t provide an adequate 1980s retro fix, then you’re in store for something awesome.  Dragon’s Lair!  Vincent Price and Thriller?  A nicely creepy vibe from The Sixth Sense, only here, “I see Demogorgons.”

The cast from season one is all here, plus some new.  At Hall H today at San Diego Comic-Con creators The Duffer Brothers, and returning cast Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), David Harbour (Chief Hopper), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), and Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), were joined by new cast members Sean Astin as Bob, Paul Reiser as Dr. Owens, and Dacre Montgomery and Sadie Sink, as two siblings.

Wait no longer, check out all the great 1980s vibes, John Carpenter and Stephen King style, with the next Stranger Things trailer, straight from Comic-Con today:

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The new sci-fi comedy Orville is coming soon from Emmy Award-winning executive producer and actor Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy) and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) premieres Sunday, September 10.  It’s a parody, but has so many creators from Star Trek (like directors Jonathan Frakes, Brannon Braga, and Robert Duncan McNeill) it looks like the real McCoy.  It’s the next science fiction series on our watch list.

This afternoon, Fox showcased the creators and stars at a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, including the reveal of a second trailer for the series.  It features more aliens, and more humor.  Panelists MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Peter Macon, Halston Sage, J Lee, Mark Jackson, and Chad Coleman, and producers David A. Goodman and Brannon Braga were introduced to the crowd in Room 6A of the San Diego Convention Center.  The big surprise was the news Charlize Theron will make an appearance in the first season.

Seth McFarlane returns to outer space, playing Captain Ed Mercer, newly tapped commander of The Orville, an exploratory vessel 400 years in our future.  Its crew, a mix of alien and human–and better yet, non-humanoid–races, encounters all those trials of space life found only in the lower decks of past sci-fi series.  Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retribution, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is the X.O., Captain Mercer’s ex-wife Kelly Grayson, Scott Grimes (Family Guy, Band of Brothers, Star Trek: The Next Generation) is Ed’s best friend Gordon Molloy, Penny Johnson Jerald (Deep Space Nine, Castle) is Dr. Claire Finn, Peter Macon (Supernatural, The Shield) is Bortus, newcomer Mark Jackson is Isaac, J. Lee (Family Guy) is John Lamarr, Halston Sage (Goosebumps) is Alara Kitan, and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) is the voice of Yaphit.

Check out the official Comic-Con trailer for The Orville:

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At San Diego Comic-Con this afternoon, CBS revealed another trailer for the next Star Trek television series, Star Trek: Discovery.  Stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Mary Wiseman, Anthony Rapp, and James Frain were introduced to the crowd at a panel hosted by new Harry Mudd actor, Rainn Wilson.  Series co-star Michelle Yeoh was not in attendance.

The panel also featured production team members Alex Kurtzman, Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, Heather Kadin and Akiva Goldsman.  It’s been a year since we first got a look at the new Star Trek ship Discovery. 

More plot points, and a dark vibe for the series, are revealed in the trailer.  In case you missed it, check out the costumes on display in San Diego discussed yesterday here at borg.com.

Straight from Comic-Con, check out this latest trailer for Star Trek: Discovery:

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In the other big hall at Ballroom 20 at San Diego Comic-Con today, CW’s Riverdale returned to Comic-Con after the cast’s early appearance at the convention last year.  In one of those strange quirks of Hollywood, Season Two is actually coming quickly–fans will see it in the same year as Season One premiered.

Main cast members KJ Apa, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Luke Perry, Madelaine Petsch, and executive producers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Sarah Schecter provided hints at out how much darker the 22-episode sophomore season will appear.

The trailer provides a look at an early scene taking place just after the events in the season one cliffhanger.  Check it out: Continue reading

We first mentioned the movie Ready Player One six years ago in our review of the Ernest Cline novel here at borg.com.  Warner Bros. kicked off Comic-Con Saturday today at San Diego Comic-Con with director Steven Spielberg, a few cast members, and the author showing the first trailer for the movie.  The audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton and currently available free here at Amazon with an Audible sign-up, has been a huge hit with fans, almost taking on a life of its own.  But how does the first preview compare to expectations?

Start counting the Easter Eggs now: Iron Giant, Freddy Krueger, the Back to the Future DeLorean.  What else did you find?

Ready Player One stars X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan, Killjoys’ Hannah John-Kamen, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Ben Mendelsohn, Star Trek and Star Wars’ Simon Pegg, and Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke.

Here is the official HD version shown at Comic-Con, Warner Bros.’ first trailer for Ready Player One:

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Named for legendary comics creator Will Eisner, the Eisner Awards saw their 29th presentation last night.  Celebrities including Community star Danny Pudi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Heroes’ star Greg Grunberg, and game show host Wayne Brady among several comic books greats were on hand to present awards for the past year’s best works in comics at San Diego Comic-Con 2017.

We previewed the nominees earlier this year here at borg.com.  One of our favorites, artist Jill Thompson, took all three categories she was nominated in this year–for Best Painter/Multimedia Artist for her Wonder Woman: The True Amazon and Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In, for Best Graphic Album-New for Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, and for her Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In for Best Single Issue/One-Shot (with Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer).

    

Sonny Liew and his The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (Pantheon), was the big individual winner, for Best U.S. Edition of International Material–Asia, Best Writer/Artist, and Best Publication Design.  Saga also took multiple awards, earning its creators four awards.  Archie Comics received multiple wins for Erica Henderson and Ryan North for Best Publication for Teens for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and Best Humor Publication for Jughead.

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Even after 121 episodes, from 2006 to 2015, Psych fans couldn’t get enough.  Earlier this year USA Network announced a reunion show and it will air in December.  The cast was featured in a panel at San Diego Comic-Con yesterday, generating great buzz and fan excitement for the holiday show, titled Psych: The Movie.  The only down beat is that co-star Tim Omundson, who played Lassiter on the series, suffered a stroke and so it looks like he will only have one scene in the show.  But if all goes well, there may be more made-for-TV movies down the road.

Corbin Bernsen, Kirsten Nelson, Maggie Lawson, and Kurt Fuller will be back, and big news: somehow Jimmi Simpson will return as Mary.  Look for Zachary Levi as a villain, and Jazmyn Simon, Ralph Macchio, and Charlotte Flair are also set to appear in the special.  Psych creator Steve Franks co-wrote the movie with James Roday and will direct.

Check out this great teaser with James Roday and Dulé Hill for Psych: The Movie:

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Visitors to San Diego Comic-Con this weekend have a chance to view screen-used costumes from three popular sci-fi franchises.  Disney, CBS, and the Prop Store have each created displays to showcase movie costumes for fans.  Three Star Wars characters from Star Wars: The Last Jedi are represented in the Star Wars pavilion at booth #2913 inside the convention hall.  The Prop Store is featuring one Serenity costume set to sell at auction at a later date, on display at booth #3845.  And CBS gives those not attending SDCC 2017 an opportunity to check out a dozen new Star Trek: Discovery costumes at the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery in San Diego.

Inside the convention center, the Star Wars display features Resistance pilot uniforms for Poe Dameron, Nien Nunb, and Dameron’s wingman, Abednedo alien C’ai Threnalli, as well as one of the film’s BB-8 droids.  At the Prop Store display, several costumes from various movies and TV series are on display, including one of the Malcolm Reynolds costumes used in the Firefly TV series sequel Serenity, worn by Nathan Fillion.

 

At the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery, Star Trek fans can see a display of new Starfleet, Klingon, and Vulcan costumes and props from Star Trek: Discovery, and get a photo sitting in one of three originals of the captain’s chair used in the new series.  Costumes include a new Starfleet EVA spacesuit and one of James Frain’s costumes worn as Sarek in the series.  New Starfleet props of the tricorder, phaser, and rifle echo original series props, where Klingon bladed and disruptor props are entirely new, reflecting a more ornate design scheme than fans have seen before.  Intimidation is clearly key to the new Klingons, who still sport their cloven-toed boots and familar tradition–small etched lettering on the knife blade on one d’k tagh blade states in Klingonese, “There is honor in death.”

Binderup trek 3

Check out a few photos:

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