Category: Backstage Pass


Review by C.J. Bunce

When I was a kid in school, periodically we were given book orders, full of discount versions of books, but also posters and popular magazines like Dynamite, and lots of tie-ins with the latest news on current movies and TV shows.  Anything Star Wars was quickly added to our book order form, and that’s what Titan’s latest tie-in reminds me of most.  Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes looks at 16 of the biggest heroes of the franchise from the creators and actors behind them.  But after nearly 45 years, the book allows a greater opportunity for even more people behind the scenes to offer their commentary on fan-favorite characters, with something for every Star Wars fan.

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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.  And speaking of Connor, the trailers for the next chapter of Resident Evil, a prequel called Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, looks a lot like Terminator 3–plus lots of zombies.

Check out the first trailer and a profile on Hannah John-Kamen’s character Jill Valentine, below:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The thing about being a kid in the 1970s and 1980s was that your view of television history is skewed by the advent of reruns.  Ron Howard and Clint Howard are much older than me, and yet because of reruns of The Andy Griffith Show and Gentle Ben, and the original Star Trek, I feel like I grew up along with, or maybe only a little bit behind the characters these actors played at a young age.  So for anyone who grew up with the Howards on television or those that only think they did by way of reruns, you’re in for a fun insight into the life of these brothers behind the scenes in their new book The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, available now here at Amazon.  Long before Ron would direct Solo: A Star Wars Story and Apollo 13 and Clint would populate all of Ron’s movies and act in most of the Star Trek series as characters from Balok to Muk, a young couple in New York tried to make it in the movie biz.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

One of writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby’s most famous creations is the subject of a new coffee table book from Abrams ComicArts.  Reprinted at nearly 9 inches by 12 inches, Fantastic Four No. 1 Panel by Panel, a new hardcover edition of The Fantastic Four, Issue #1, is going to be one for big fans of the characters.  Unlike 2005’s book Maximum Fantastic Four, which included one panel per page in a 9″x12″ format with re-colored and enhanced artwork, Fantastic Four No. 1 Panel by Panel features color, blown-up scans of each page in its original context with all its Ben Day halftone dots jumping off the page.  The book is out this week and available here at Amazon.  And it has much more than a close-up look at this seminal issue in the history of comics that is worth checking out.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re a fan of Charles Vess or Neil Gaiman–or both–chances are you’re familiar with their award-winning series and four-part illustrated book, Stardust Twenty-two years later Vess has compiled dozens of in-process sketches, paintings, and preliminary creations and along with images of Gaiman’s original notations fans will find them all in the new book, The Art of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’s Stardust: An Informal History, available now here at Amazon.  It’s not every day fans of fantasy artwork get a chance to look inside the creative process of one of the genre’s favorites.  Take a look inside, in our preview below.

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Fan Fiction book cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

First off, “fan fiction” refers to the drivel that fans of a franchise write to either show characters in situations the actual writers of the characters would never embark upon, or it’s a self-published or otherwise self-distributed book written by wannabe writers, which tends to demonstrate why the creator is not–and should not be–an actual, legitimate, published author.  For Star Trek: The Next Generation–and now Star Trek: Picard–actor Brent Spiner, the title of his new book Fan Fiction seems intended as a play on words, a nod to his fans.  Unfortunately it’s written as a piece of meta-fiction and dark comedy intended to blur the lines between fact and fiction, and it does it in a way that lands as more fan fiction than providing insight into the actor. 

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20th century fox cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

For a century, 20th Century Fox was a production machine, churning out volumes of motion pictures annually, but never achieving the greatness seen by the likes of MGM and Paramount.  Yet its key movie star assets, its box office successes, and award-winning films were few and far between.  In 20th Century-Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Creation of the Modern Film Studio, writer Scott Eyman takes movie fans back to the beginning and introduces readers to sometimes successful, sometimes not successful businessmen who built theaters and the movies to screen in them, keying in on the mergers that brought William Fox, formerly immigrant Wilhelm Fuchs, to build a corporation that Darryl F. Zanuck would take through important decades of the 21st century.  Both film buffs and historians of the era of film’s Golden Age will find a history in Turner Classic Movies/TCM’s latest film production chronicle, connected by memorable films from its first Oscar-winner, 1927’s Sunrise, to its last, 2019’s Ford v. Ferrari, telling a story of the rise and fall of a movie empire.  TCM’s 20th Century-Fox is just out from publisher Running Press and available here at Amazon.

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A brand-new Victorian mystery will have you singing “Deck the Halls” in October, while you hunt for clues alongside twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle, her unflappable governess Miss Judson, and their opinionated cat, Peony.  My wife, borg contributor, and Edgar Award-winning author Elizabeth C. Bunce has been writing her Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery Series for a few years now.  Prompted by a quick mis-utterance of “premeditated murder” and a chatty cat that showed up one night in the rain, a character and an idea took hold and before we knew it she had created and sold the first four books in a new series of mystery novels.  The first book, Premeditated Myrtle, an Indie Next Pick named to Amazon’s Top 20 Children’s Books of 2020, arrived in bookstores last year along with the second installment, How to Get Away with Myrtle, a #1 Amazon New Release.  Not only did Premeditated Myrtle win this year’s Edgar Award (the Mystery Writers of America award recognizing the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue genres, in its 75th year), it was named an Honor Book by the 106 years and counting Society for Midland Authors, it was named to the Library of Congress’s annual Great Reads from Great Places list, and it was nominated for the Agatha Award and Anthony Award. Tomorrow readers can follow Myrtle’s next sleuthing adventure in Cold-Blooded Myrtle, available in bookstores everywhere and here at Amazon.

Premeditated Myrtle introduced readers to Myrtle Hardcastle, an aspiring sleuth who can’t read enough about the new science of criminology, and hopes to one day work for Scotland Yard.  Her first case was the death of her neighbor, an expert on breeding rare flowers who dies under mysterious circumstances.  Premeditated Myrtle is a blend of To Kill a Mockingbird and A Secret Garden, as Myrtle tries to enlist the aid of her father, the town prosecutor, to help solve the case after she points to the wrong man.  In the second novel, How to Get Away with Myrtle, Myrtle, her curious cat Peony, and her intrepid governess Miss Judson embark on a seaside vacation on an excursion train.  But the vacation is cut short when a rare tiara is stolen and someone is murdered before the train arrives at the station.  It’s an Agatha Christie style mystery that finds Myrtle on the case as she’s stuck in a vacation town that is nothing like it was advertised, and everyone, including her aunt, is a suspect.

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In Cold-Blooded Myrtle, winter arrives and as Myrtle prepares for a hopefully uneventful traditional Dickensian Christmas, notable locals are found dead in ways that seem to mimic the murders of historical figures.  Soon Myrtle discovers her late mother was close to the victims, and Myrtle hopes secrets from her past and a famous archaeologist may lead to the truth.  A local newspaper reporter is digging into the case of a secret society and a missing student at nearby Schofield College, but is she getting too close, and why does she know so much?  And why is the reporter so chummy with family friend and legal clerk Mr. Blakeney?  What is the secret behind the long-closed bell tower?  Cold-Blooded Myrtle brings together The Watcher in the Woods, Phantom of the Opera, and The Goonies, as Myrtle, Judson, and Peony investigate an early Cold Case File. Industry reviewer Kirkus provided the novel a starred review, saying,

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main-the-last-tycoon-lily-collins-matt-bohmer-kelsey-grammer

Review by C.J. Bunce

That’s showbiz.

It sums up every feature on the brilliant Amazon Studios series The Last Tycoon, a loose adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s incomplete final novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon With a nine-episode first season only touching on the threads of Fitzgerald’s original ideas, just as the characters begin to fall apart in the season’s cliffhanger finale, Amazon Studios does what studios do–tightens it belt and cancels the series.  It helps to know this before you watch this one-season-wonder (we’ll add it to the list), because you will get pulled into the world of 1936 Hollywood in a way you could only be reeled in by a genuine 1930s picture.  Even if it was all filmed in Canada in an unthinkably short 65 day production.

The Last Tycoon does it all differently and gets it all right–it’s the series we hoped the film Mank would be.  It’s not an exact adaptation of Fitzgerald’s work, but the bones are there, and creator/writer/executive producer/director Billy Ray (The Hunger Games, Terminator: Dark Fate) creates something perfect, probably better than any Fitzgerald adaptation you’ve ever seen, with some of your favorite genre actors.

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Fraggle Rock BANNER

To celebrate 35 years of the Jim Henson fantasy TV series Fraggle Rock, Insight Editions is taking a look behind the scenes of the show in Fraggle Rock: The Ultimate Visual History.  It follows in the footsteps of three previous chronicles of Jim Henson’s creations, and his family’s prequel series, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Labyrinth: the Ultimate Visual History, and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance–Inside the Epic Return to Thra.  Take a look at a preview of Fraggle Rock: The Ultimate Visual History below.

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