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Category: Comics & Books


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A Monster Calls explores the death of a parent by a young child, how a child might deal with death, and the death of daughter from the perspective of a mother.  It is a film with a complicated past.  The story originated with author Siobhan Dowd, who died before the idea for the book was very far along.  Writer Patrick Ness was given her notes and created the novel in 2011, illustrated by Jim Kay, that would go on to win the Carnegie Medal.  For the movie adaptation the story was further revised by Ness as screenwriter, and again by director Juan Antonio Bayona who added an art focus for the film’s little boy, an element reflecting the director’s own youth.

In A Monster Calls: The Art and Vision Behind the Film, approximately a third of the book is devoted to interviews with the cast and crew, a review of the film’s heartbreaking story of loss and an Ent-like monster accompanying a boy on a difficult journey.  The interviews reflect a vast array of views and approaches to the story–everyone involved with the film has a surprisingly different twist on the story and its meaning.  We hear from director J.A. Bayona, author/screenwriter Patrick Ness, actors Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, and the young star Lewis MacDougall, as well as director of photography Oscar Faura, producer Belén Atienza, line producer Sandra Hermida, editors Bernat Vilapalana and Jaume Martí, sound designer Oriol Tarragó, and composer Fernando Velázquez.

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Along with its serious topic, the book and movie have fantastical elements, and A Monster Calls: The Art and Vision Behind the Film accordingly provides insight into the creation of the titular monster, Liam Neeson’s first foray into motion capture acting as the monster, concept art, site location selections, animated sequences, model work, make-up, costume renderings, and CGI.  We learn how the miniature work came together, and how the visual and sound effects were created for key scenes, including trial work for effects that did not make it into the film.

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A secret project nearly three years in the making was shared this month with the announcement of a tribute to the artist who created the fantasy comic book series Tellos.  Artist Mike Wieringo, a friend of many, died from a heart attack in 2007 and the industry banded together as the “Secret Friends of Ringo” led by Tellos writer Todd Dezago to create a heretofore undisclosed tribute project and give something to one of Wieringo’s favorite causes in the process.  The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute is a giant 500 page, original graphic novel to be released in two over-sized, hardcover volumes.   It features the artwork of more than 200 of the comics industry’s most popular and talented artists, dedicated to the memory of Wieringo, with all proceeds from this project being donated to the ASPCA.

The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute continues the adventures of characters in the original Tellos series created by Wieringo and Dezago and published by Image Comics (and briefly by Gorilla Comics): Jarek—a young hero with “magikal” abilities, Koj—a tiger-warrior who is Jarek’s partner and protector, Serra—the swashbuckling pirate queen, and Rikk—the fox-thief bent on finding his fortune.  The original comic book series of ten issues ran from 1999 to 2000.  Three one-shot issues followed:  Maiden Voyage, The Last Heist, and Sons and Moons, followed by a three-issue mini-series, Tales of Tellos, in 2004.  Not long before he passed away, Wieringo had talked about working on a new Tellos.

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You can only order the books at this link.  Because of they way the group is providing the proceeds to the ASPCA, these books will not be available through any other source.

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We’ve been raving about the three and three-quarters inch scale Kenner-style action figures from Funko’s ReAction line here at borg.com for a few years now.  If style and nostalgia are your jam but not necessarily screen-accurate sculpts, it’s hard to beat the myriad of licenses that Funko has secured.  What you may not have seen is that Figures Toy Company has been producing a similar series of figures reflecting the larger, eight-inch Mego action figure line also popular in the 1970s.

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Like Funko, Figures Toy Company has secured licenses of brands, movies and TV shows you’d never think would surface again, like Evel Knievel, Dukes of Hazzard, DC Comics, KISS, Shazam, Batman TV series heroes and villains, Super Friends, Scooby Doo, Tarzan, Dallas, The Monkees, The Three Stooges, Gilligan’s Island, and most recently Jonny QuestAlso like Funko, don’t expect Sideshow Toys’ level of detail.  The appeal of these lines is pure nostalgia, and packaging is half of the value.  The company also didn’t forget accessories and playsets, like a great set of Batman weaponsthe Batbus and Batlabclassic style carrying casesGotham GCPD bus, professional wrestling accessories, the Teen Titans bus, and the classic Batcave.

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Your editor with the original Mego Robin figure, and at right the new Figures Toy Company version.

The toy company has also stepped ahead into more recent licenses, creating a line of Mego-style Harry Potter action figures.  Some of Figures Toy Company’s action figure lines are also offered in a 12-inch and 18-inch version.  Many lines were released in limited editions and exclusives, and some can only be found on Amazon and eBay, and many are still available with new figures released frequently.  Not only do many have the Mego-style retro packaging, others have the Kresge Stores-style packages your parents could pick up in the 1970s as point-of-sale purchases at checkout in local dime stores across the country.

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The next noir crime drama may come as a surprise: It’s Dynamite Entertainment’s new throwback series Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys.  Inspired by recent noir comic book series like Ed Brubaker’s Fatale and Darwyn Cooke’s Parker series, writer Anthony Del Col (Assassin’s Creed, Kill Shakespeare) and artist Werther Dell’Edera (Detective Comics, House of Mystery) are bringing the classic books and 1970s team-up television series into the 21st century.  It looks to have the vibe of CW’s new Riverdale television series update to Archie Comics, including that show’s Twin Peaks aura.

The Hardy Boys stories and Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series were first published in 1927 and 1930 respectively and continued for 75 years.  Created by Edward Stratemeyer, but ghost written by Mildred Wirt Benson and hundreds of writers over the decades, the books followed teenaged brother sleuths, Frank and Joe Hardy, and a young heroine detective, Nancy Drew, whose strong character has been cited as a personal influence by Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotomayor, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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In the new series, Frank and Joe Hardy are accused of murdering their father, a detective, and they enlist Nancy Drew to help prove their innocence–and find the real murderer.  The series promises a “twisting, hard-boiled tale, complete with double-crosses, deceit and dames,” keeping with the noir crime setting.

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IDW Publishing writer Mike Johnson continues to take Star Trek where no one has taken Star Trek before.  As he did successfully in Star Trek Countdown and Star Trek: Nero, Johnson continues the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew in the Star Trek “Kelvin” timeline–the new timeline begun by J.J. Abrams beginning in 2009.  Johnson is breaking new grounds along with artist Tony Shasteen in Star Trek: Boldly Go, a monthly comic book series featuring a standalone story issue hitting comic book stores tomorrow.

In the first four issues of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Johnson and Shasteen take readers beyond last summer’s hit movie Star Trek Beyond.  Kirk and his crew are divided now, serving aboard separate vessels.  Kirk leads the USS Endeavour, with Bones as second rank under another medical chief.  Chekov serves with them.  Spock and Uhura are on sabbatical on New Vulcan with Sarek.  Scotty is teaching at the Academy back on Earth.  Commander Sulu is serving under Captain Terrell (played by Paul Winfield in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) aboard the USS Concord.  And then a nemesis encountered much later in the Prime Universe pursues the Concord.  Why? Is resistance truly futile?  Find out when The Borg seize Spock.

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Fortunately instead of being merely a gimmick to bring the key villains from Star Trek: The Next Generation into the realm of the original series, the change-up in the timeline is nicely tied to a logical occurrence in Kirk and Spock’s past, while further binding the ex-Enterprise crew together.

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Tomorrow with Issue #5 Johnson and Shasteen set their focus on Jaylah, the heroine from Star Trek Beyond, and our nominee for the most kickass heroine of all the Star Trek films.  It’s a great, personal story, providing backstory showing how Jaylah ended up where she encountered the Enterprise crew at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond, and where the character is now.  Here is a preview of Star Trek: Boldly Go, Issue #5, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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As the old song goes, “It’s a pirate’s life for me.”  If you can imagine Popeye the Sailor Man and Yosemite Sam as a pirate and a dwarf of the classic fantasy variety, then you’ll have a hint at what’s coming in Grimbeard: Tales of the Last Dwarf, a new fantasy-comedy novel written and illustrated by Samwise Didier.  Didier is senior art director for Blizzard Entertainment, where he became known to fantasy gamers for his work on Warcraft, StarCraft, and Heroes of the Storm.

Captain Grimbeard is a salty old pirate who leads up a crew of two (a foodie TV-watching cook and the severed head of a formerly massive fellow) on his sea vessel, the Ol’ Girl, a ship that incorporates the aura of both a dragon and a dog.  He is also the last dwarf, resulting from a genocide caused by the worst of the fantasy races, the detestable, betraying, “traitor-ious” elven race.  Thrust a thousand years into the future he balances life as a cantankerous drinker of ales, a tough and hardy carrier of the great dwarf legacy, and a bawdy rogue finding his way among the worst part of today’s world… social media.  What is a dwarf to do?

Grimbeard shares in first person his exploits: how he missed out on the destruction of his race because he was breaking up a frost giant wedding, how he assembled his noble crew, how he started (and abandoned) his own Friday night boxing event, how he landed a (pretty-ish?) troll by consuming too much Taroellpiz, and how he ended up the centerpiece of his own surreal reality show.

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Adventure Time fans, and fans of bawdy comedy shows like Ted, Family Guy, and South Park, will appreciate the humor here.  Grimbeard will also appeal to fans of the lighter, comedic side of fantasy roleplay.

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infinity-war-clipA decade of preparation is coming together at Marvel.  Kevin Feige, the #2 executive behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, conceived the idea of expanding Marvel via an investment in The Avengers, dolling out individual films that would be interconnected, and, in return, build a tremendous financial enterprise.  A decade after Robert Downey, Jr. first played Tony Stark in Iron Man, we’ll see it all come together in the first part of Avengers: Infinity War in summer 2018.

This will wind up the third act (Phase 3) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with possibly one more Avengers film inserted in 2019) and its anyone’s guess what will come next.  Here is the rollout schedule:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, May 5, 2017.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming, July 7, 2017.
  • Thor: Ragnarok, Nov. 3, 2017.
  • Black Panther, Feb. 16, 2018.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1, May 4, 2018.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp, July 6, 2018.
  • Captain Marvel, March 8, 2019.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2, May 3, 2019.

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Of all these films, Captain Marvel seems the most likely to be the first spark that prepares fans for a Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4.  Unlike Phases 1 through 3, it’s the first film that takes a step outside the classic comic books, featuring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a version of the character created in the pages of Marvel Comics as recently as 2012.  It seems an obvious step to reboot the universe at this point with other, modern versions of the comic book superheroes.

This weekend Marvel released a first look at the commencement of production on Avengers: Infinity War.  The key person surprisingly not in the opening images is Chris Evans’ Captain America.  No doubt fans want to see scenes of Evans and Starlord actor Chris Pratt going head to head.  And the roster of actors in the film will be unprecedented as superhero movies go.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is expected to appear, among many others, hinted at in Avengers: Civil War, which excluded Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.  Check out this first look from Avengers: Infinity War:

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In a year with Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, only one really knocked our socks off beginning to end with no caveats.  Doctor Strange, our pick for last year’s best superhero movie, began with a hotshot medical whiz played as smartly as ever by Benedict Cumberbatch, who embarked on an intriguing story arc with the help of a mystic brilliantly played by Tilda Swinton.  Along the way Cumberbatch introduced us to the next great character of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a dead ringer for the classic comic book character who sports the coolest cloak ever, and wields otherworldly special effect powers that really look great in 3D.  Plus, we had a great villain in Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius, humor, and a solid supporting cast.  Next week Doctor Strange makes its way to online streaming services with the 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD release scheduled for February 28, 2017.

Doctor Strange includes the best recent use of 3D in the theater, so if you have the 3D player and compatible TV the 3D Blu-ray will be the way to go.  Viewing it in 3D in the theater was a must, from Doctor Strange’s spell weapons to a world colliding with an amped up Spirograph meets Kaleidoscope-infused reality, from conflicts on Salvador Dali paintings come to life and M.C. Escher and Labyrinth-inspired battlefields, to journeys through distant outer space and beyond time.  Crisp clarity and beautiful cinematography reveals modern effects at their best thanks to the production of Kevin Feige–who has coordinated everything Marvel for both Disney and Twentieth Century Fox–and director of photography Ben Davis (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kick-Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake).

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Look forward to some great costume work from Academy Award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne (Hamlet, Elizabeth, The Phantom of the Opera, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy).  And Michael Giacchino is finally back with a superb musical score more on par with his work on The Incredibles than more recent soundtrack efforts.  Giacchino really hedged his bets last year, producing soundtracks to 2016 releases Star Trek Beyond, Zootopia, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.   Giacchino really justified his place as an Oscar-winning composer with his brilliant score for Doctor Strange, a score we think was on par with his superb work on The Incredibles.

After the break, check out all the extras for the home edition release and an unusual–unusually cute–trailer for the home release of Doctor Strange:

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Not every new television series needs to be the next five-time Emmy winner.  NBC’s new comedy series Powerless doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and the content is as lighthearted as you’ll find anywhere today.  And unless you’re a Scrooge, prepare for a fun half hour every week of positive, clean, silly humor.  The kind we all could use more of.

Lead actress Vanessa Hudgens (Sucker Punch, High School Musical) plays Emily, and in the week’s season opener she was energetic and expressive.  You believe she’s trying to bring together a group of R&D workers in her new job for Wayne Security, because Hudgens looks like she believes in what she’s doing.  Alan Tudyk, star of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Firefly–plays the office boss for all it’s worth.  Fan favorite Community’s beloved Danny Pudi is one of Emily’s new employees and he and the rest of the cast (Christina Kirk, Ron Funches, and Jenny Pierson) are like a sketch comedy troupe ready to dish out the next laugh.  It’s not a riot, but it’s all good-natured fun–a show with a little bit of heart, and something appropriate and accessible to all ages.

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The DC Comics tie-ins are sprinkled across the half hour of humor, and the clever bits produced some out-loud laughs, especially the last line of the first episode.  And the opening credits clue viewers in upfront that this is not a show featuring the superheroes, but those civilians in the background of key superhero scenes across time.

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On February 1, 1992, comic book creators Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino came together to form a new comic book company.  The founders emphasized creator-owned comics throughout the years and today Image Comics is celebrating the 25th milestone anniversary with its “Image Day.”

At comic book stores across the country you’ll find Image Comics promotions, giveaways, creator signings, social media events, and more.  One of those is in the Kansas City metro at Elite Comics in Overland Park, KS, where everyone is invited to help celebrate with big sales, The Walking Dead Fundraiser for “KC Zombie Walk for Hunger,” Wednesday’s new comic books, and a special appearance by Image Comics creators Steven Sanders and Megan Levens who will in the store from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.  And there’s cake.

You won’t want to miss out on all the festivities, including a new 25¢ issue of The Walking Dead.  Here is a list of 25¢ comics coming your way from Image this month, all from Robert Kirkman, and the U.S. and international events scheduled for today:

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