Category: Con Culture


To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek Voyager, the bridge crew of USS Voyager (NCC-74656) will be making an online appearance this week.  Together virtually, an online panel will feature Captain Kathryn Janeway, Commander Chakotay, Lt. B’Elanna Torres, Lt. Tom Paris, Neelix, the EMH, and Ensign Kim, along with Seven of Nine, who recently joined Captain Picard in the Star Trek Picard series.  That’s right, the actors that portrayed these characters are reuniting for charity.  And it’s all happening via YouTube.

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Wizards of the Coast is bringing together some top genre names for what they promise to be the most star-studded Dungeons & Dragons event ever assembled to raise money for the Red Nose Day charity. D&D Live 2020: Roll w/Advantage hopes to bring gamers together online and reveal the latest D&D storyline.  And it expects to feature Doctor Who and the Marvel Cinematic Universe star Karen Gillan and Stranger Things and Black Widow star David Harbour, among others.  And it’s all happening next month, available to everyone from the comfort of their homes.

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The sestras are returning.  BBC America’s sci-fi drama Orphan Black ran five seasons, wrapping in 2017, but the key cast members and creators will be back Sunday, this time online for a table read of two episodes of the series.  Tatiana Maslany, who earned an Emmy for her role as several clones, is leading the effort, along with actors Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jordan Gavaris, Kristian Bruun, Kevin Hanchard, Dylan Bruce, Evelyne Brochu, and more.  Based on the episodes selected, expect some great scenes with fan-favorite couples Donnie and Alison and Delphine and Cosima.  And it’s all to raise money for charity.

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When my wife bought me the six seasons of Community I secretly wondered if she was trying to kill me–because I’d laughed so hard watching episodes of the show before I frequently thought I was going to pass out.  I hadn’t seen an episode when I watched their big panel at Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012, but since became a fan.  “Six seasons and a movie” was their mantra, and they almost made it.  We’ve seen no sign of a movie yet, especially with the success of Donald Glover (Solo: A Star Wars Story, Spider-Man: Homecoming), and ongoing rise in the careers and clashing schedules of Alison Brie (GLOW, BoJack Horseman), Ken Jeong (Magnum, PI, Scoob!), Jim Rash (The Descendants, Harley Quinn), Yvette Nicole Brown (Avengers: Endgame, Mom), Joel McHale (The X-Files, Stargirl), Gillian Jacobs (Love, Come Play), and Danny Pudi (Powerless, The Argument).  But then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and now many of our favorite creators and performers are bringing a full-on assault against isolation via podcasts and other online videos.  And it’s not a movie, but it is a welcome surprise: A table read of a classic episode of Community with the main cast is coming your way–with The Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal, as a guest.

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We watched them get the band back together the first time with Muppet Guys Talking, a fun documentary we discussed two years ago here at borg.  Now not even sheltering at home will hold back the fun-loving Muppet Guys, who are returning once again to share some more about Muppet creator Jim Henson, and the incredible creative process and their experience as Muppet performers, all while earning some money for front-line COVID-19 workers.  Part in honor of Jim Henson, who passed away 30 years ago, and part reason to get some of our favorite people back together virtually, it’s all happening this Saturday, and everyone is invited.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Gears Tactics is only the latest in the universe of Gears of War games, and Titan Books has just published a look inside the concept artwork and development of the story in their latest tour backstage into a popular sci-fi/fantasy franchise.  A partnership of The Coalition, Splash Damage, and Xbox, Gears Tactics: The Art of the Game brings players and fans up to speed on the return of fan-favorite central character Gabriel Diaz.  The key challenge for the designers?  How to update and refresh the universe and still make everything look and feel as fully “Gears” as the past games in the catalog.

In the game, players create and operate a team of heroes and regular troop characters, who occupy a mobile base called The Convoy.  A prequel set 12 years before the first Gears of War game, the campaign is a 40-hour excursion to defeat the villain called Ukkon.  But you must get through the Locust Horde first.  It’s a mix of fantasy monsters of the J.R.R. Tolkien realm and sci-fi troops of the Aliens variety.  The development of the game, as seen in Gears Tactics: The Art of the Game, is as complex as any major movie project.  Readers will find all the try-ons and also-rans in the development of character faces, stances, uniforms, and vehicles as you’d expect from any fully-realized, visual fantasy world.

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COVID Sesame Street

Your favorite characters from Sesame Street will be featured in a special town hall episode this weekend to help kids and parents discuss questions and concerns about the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  This pandemic can be scary for kids, so The ABCs of Covid 19: A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Parents will tackle issues including education, anxiety, screen time, and playdates.

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At first look “The Child in a cooler” doesn’t sound like something anyone should be selling at all.  But context matters!  Originally The Child–who the world has dubbed Baby Yoda–was couriered around in what looks like a modified Hamilton Beach ice cream maker (which, not coincidentally, has been selling out since the debut of the series).  Our secret sources tell us it is called a Camtono, a prop that made its first appearance in the Star Wars saga on Cloud City in Return of the Jedi.  Igloo–the company you’ve probably bought coolers from your entire life–has issued a new tie-in product available until April 20 only, inspired by the floating pod container (not the ice cream… er… Camtono…) the Mandalorian used to transport The Child after the bounty hunter discovered the truth of his bounty.

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One of the best artists around has shut down critics of his past works with his latest–and possibly most enduring–project yet.  The artist is the celebrated Italian painter Milo Manara.  Known as much for his brilliant depictions of women as superheroines–sometimes idealized, often powerful, and in countless fantasy scenarios–Manara from time to time is the target of naysayers maligning him for his talent (even labeling him sexist), specifically with respect to his depictions of beautiful women.  In many ways Manara’s latest project is more of the same, only his superheroines with capes have been replaced with real-life masked superheroines, further demonstrating why he is the real deal.

On his social media Manara has shared these stunning paintings as an homage along with notes of thanks for those countlesspeople who have created a broad, worldwide new “front lines” superteam in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In so doing Manara joins artists like Bill Sienkiewicz as one of the 21st century iconic artists who takes a break from the business craft from time to time to picture for his fans and followers the beauty and truth that lies around us in places both familiar and unfamiliar.

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Beginning March 15 and continuing into this weekend, Manara has depicted essential, indispensable, risk-taking women on the job in his native Italy, one of the most ravaged of nations by the virus, including a truck driver, an emergency response technician, a grocery store clerk, a delivery service worker, cleaning workers, a police officer, security/traffic guard, and a doctor confronting the virus head-on in a multimedia video (all viewable on his Facebook page here).  He added to his collection this weekend with the image of a postal carrier.  The biggest surprise that many haven’t noticed?  A fascinating response to his paintings can be found on Facebook, where people have been tagging his artwork with the names of their own real-life friends and family reflected in the drawings.  His own comments on his works include simple thanks in many ways, including, “Thank you to those who work putting themselves in danger for our safety,” “Thanks to the invisible, hoping we’ll remember them even later,” and “These days, if Italy keeps working, it’s also thanks to them. — Milo.”

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Dark crystal exhibit

Today only, the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA, is offering a free virtual tour of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: World of Myth and Magic, an exhibit scheduled at the Atlanta facility through June 28, 2020, but is now temporarily closed to foot traffic because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Museum director Jill Nash Malool will be presenting the tour online at the Center for Puppetry Arts page on Facebook here.  It all happens today, Friday, April 10, at 2 p.m. EST/1 p.m. CST.

The exhibit revealed on the virtual tour features more than 50 props and other artifacts from 1982’s classic fantasy film The Dark Crystal, including the actual Jen, Podlings, Skeksis, and Aughra used in the movie.  Original Brian Froud artwork, animatronic prototypes, and other props, artifacts, and ephemera from the film are part of the exhibit.

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The museum invites fans of the film and last year’s groundbreaking television series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, into the imaginative world of Thra.  The exhibition discusses how the movie was a passion project for Jim Henson and how he needed the fantastical work of Brian Froud to make it come to fruition.  It explores the intricate artistry that went into the creation of the world brought to life in the 1982 film that would become a lasting influence on the fantasy genre, including films like the Star Wars franchise, Jurassic Park, and more.

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