Category: Backstage Pass


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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Since Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House was first published in 1992, kids have clamored for the series’ 62 books, and tie-in TV shows, films, and other spin-offs.  R.L. Stine’s stories have spooked a decade of kids in the 1990s and a generation since.  Visually all those books had one thing in common:  the stylized brand-defining cover artwork of Tim Jacobus.  Dark imagery, bright colors, shocking monsters, and drippy gore previewed what kids were going to find inside the pages–if they dared.  Now Dynamite Entertainment has created a large format, hardcover book to showcase Jacobus’s art, including sketches and concepts leading up to his famous covers.  Written by Sarah Rodriguez and designed by Mark McNabb, The Art of Goosebumps is now available for pre-order here at Amazon.  Check out our first look inside the book for borg readers, courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment:

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Every new technological creation seems to eventually arrive at a point where you can buy it at 99 percent off its original price.  It’s the classic 99% off sale.  And while it’s not true for everything, we can see it in many ways across the decades.  Look at something like the simple calculator, once a giant machine costing thousands of dollars, ultimately it came down in price (and size) to fit in your wallet as a free giveaway as businesses all over stamped an advertisement on the back as a marketing tool.  Today it’s a free feature on nearly every personal computer and android phone.  In the 1990s Connie Willis focused on the emerging technology of animating dead people in films in her groundbreaking novel Remake (discussed here at borg back in 2012).  It happened and it’s only getting better.  As recently as December Star Wars fans saw Mark Hamill reprise a young Luke Skywalker via imaging software in The Mandalorian, and probably the best use so far can be found by the de-aging of Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movies. 

In basements (and governments?) across the world software designers and users dabble in “deep fake” imaging, attempting to push this technology to defraud (or prevent the defrauding of) others by digitally replacing faces in all kinds of video recordings.  Imagine making such video images by uploading a static image and simply pressing a button.  Guess what?  Now anyone can.  Look to an unlikely source to visit the future, thanks to a genealogy company’s new software program that costs its subscribers… nothing.  Quietly slipping in its own add-on free to its pay subscribers, a surprisingly good “artificial intelligence” turns any photograph into a short animation.  Yes, you, too, can re-animate the dead, maybe not as Mary Shelley envisioned more than 200 years ago, but take a look for yourself…

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Of all the attributes of Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine series, my personal favorite is the art direction.  Because it is a visual account of the production of the show, the new Deep Space Nine Illustrated Handbook is a celebration of the work of key creative visionaries and futurist art designers Rick Sternbach, Michael Okuda, and Doug Drexler, and more.  Reprinting key components from more than 8,500 mail order Fact Files cards published between 1997 and 2002, this attractive, hardcover, coffee table book will provide insight into Star Trek’s outlying, groundbreaking series for a new generation of fans now watching for the first time via Netflix and other streaming platforms.  In this chronicle expect to find everything but a self-sealing stem bolt.

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The next over-sized hardcover, deep dive into the artwork behind a successful comic book run focuses on the X-Men artwork of Jim Lee.  Before he rose up the corporate ladder at Marvel Comics, along with Scott Williams he created the art for what would become the single biggest bestselling comic book issue of all-time, the October 1991 first issue of the new X-Men series (Written by Chris Claremont).  Selling more than 8 million copies, it rivaled everything that came before or since (for comparison, next place went to Star Wars #1 in 2015, which netted more than 1 million copies with no other comic book rising above six figures in sales).  The entire 37-page issue consisting of the original black and white pencils and inks is being reprinted at its 1:1 scale original size as drawn by Lee, 12×17 inches.  It’s all coming together in Jim Lee’s X-Men Artist’s Edition, available now in a deluxe hardcover format.  But the book has much more than that popular issue inside.  Check out a sneak peek below.

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You may have thought Age of Resistance was only the subtitle of The Dark Crystal television series, but no.  It’s a new identifier for the third Star Wars trilogy, and those films are part of a new behind-the-scenes book arriving in two weeks.  Star Wars: Age of Resistance–The Official Collector’s Edition, available in hardcover and trade paperback editions, the book for the first time chronicles all three films in the final Star Wars trilogy: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker.  Beginning with a 17-page timeline of the entire nine-film Star Wars Skywalker saga, the book showcases photographs and behind the scenes concept artwork, schematics, costume designs, and close-up images of props.  Executive producer and director J.J. Abrams, key production personnel, art and effects department creators, and stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Joonas Suotamo–and more–dig into their characters, discussing key scenes, and the importance of each film to the entire Skywalker family story.

Here’s a first look inside the book, plus three variant edition covers, courtesy of publisher Titan:

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It’s been more than 18 years since we first met Mal Reynolds and his (usually) loyal crew of the Firefly class ship Serenity.  Fans of the Firefly series and 2005 film Serenity, will never stop loving their travels around the ‘Verse, and are always looking for more adventures and tie-ins.  The next will be a celebration of artwork in the pages of Firefly Artbook: A Visual Celebration.  We’ve taken a look at multi-artist tribute concept books before at borg, including the excellent Alien: 40 Years/40 Artists, The Thing Artbook, Star Trek: 50 Artists/50 Years, and The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute.  Any time we showcase a major benchmark in comic book titles, like Detective Comics 1000th issue, Wonder Woman’s 750th issue, and The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #800, or charity projects like the Wonder Woman 100 showcase, we see a great new spin on favorite characters from a new vantage: a variety of artists interpreting an icon of popular culture.  In Firefly Artbook: A Visual Celebration, Browncoats everywhere will get to see the next artists’ interpretations.  The new tribute arrives in March, but you can pre-order a copy now here at Amazon, and check out a preview below:

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Fans of the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine have a new chronicle of the show to look forward to, a guide book in the style of the Rick Sternbach’s classic technical manual book and the layouts in decades of Star Trek fan magazines.  Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Illustrated Handbook is an in-universe guide detailing the inside and outside of the former Cardassian space station led by Captain Benjamin Sisko, as well as the USS Defiant and the runabouts.  The book is available this month here at Amazon.  Take a look at the preview below.  

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You can’t fully appreciate science fiction without a grasp on natural science, one of the categories of “real science” we look at from time to time here at borg.  We’ve delved into dinosaurs, and trees, and yes, birds (oh, my!) and we’re back again today with a striking tie-in to a 2019 board game that has become even more popular thanks to the increase in game sales due to sheltering at home for the pandemic.  The game is Wingspan from Stonemaier Games, a celebration of birds where you are a bird enthusiast and your goal is to attract birds to your aviary.  The game is so popular it has prompted a market of custom deluxe scoreboards.  But it’s often difficult to play a board game outside–and this is about the natural world–so a new book from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the artists for the board game have come up with an outdoor version that doubles as a gorgeous interactive field guide, called Celebrating Birds. 

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Milla Jovovich’s badass superheroine Alice in the Resident Evil franchise, from 2002’s first film through five sequels–Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)–has given us the 21st century version of Ellen Ripley and Sarah Conner.  The tie-in to the Japanese survival/horror-themed video game Biohazard (renamed for the U.S. market) is a staple in the action movie genre–not only one of the world’s bestselling game series since arriving in 1996, it’s the world’s most successful video game tie-in movie franchise ever.  But Alice wasn’t a character in the Capcom Resident Evil games, and 14 years is a long run for any franchise, so it’s finally getting a reboot, and that yet-to-be-titled reboot is coming later this year with a great slate of some of our favorite genre actors.  This new film (from Sony Pictures) will be in addition to an eight-part Resident Evil live-action television series and an anime series (titled Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness), both coming to Netflix.

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