Category: Fantasy Realms


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Whether you use it as the perfect stocking stuffer, for an office party gift swap, or you just want some convenient content to carry around in your backpack, publisher Insight Editions has the right book for you.  For Harry Potter fans we reviewed the detailed MinaLima-designed treasure trove The Art of Harry Potter–Mini Book of Graphic Design a few years ago, and for superhero fans we looked at two volumes of the history of Wonder Woman in comic book covers.  These are jam-packed books that literally fit inside your pocket, and the content spans the scope of pop culture and genre.  Love Batman?  Check.  Mickey Mouse?  Check.  Beauty and the Beast and other Disney favorites?  Check.

Today we have previews from four of Insight Editions’ books featuring Star Wars, one with the artwork of Ralph McQuarrie, a two-volume collection of Marvel comic book covers, and another with famous poster artwork that spans the 11 films.  Typically available at $11.99 or less, it’s an inexpensive source for the visual details of the movies, production, and marketing that you’ve never seen before, and a quick gift idea for your favorite Star Wars fan.

Here is a comparative look at the size of the books in the series:

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Check out these previews from The Complete Star Wars Marvel Comics Covers Volume 1 and Volume 2, Star Wars: The Concept Art of Ralph McQuarrie, and Star Wars: The Poster Collection:

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Only two years ago the #1 top selling issue of Vampirella arrived at comic book stores to celebrate the character’s 50th anniversary (with sales surpassing 130,000 copies).  This week the seventh Dynamite-era Vampirella-centric comic book series begins as multiple incarnations of Vampirella arise in the all-new Vampiverse Publisher Dynamite again has pulled out all the stops for the character, scheduling several cover variants by a variety of creators.  

Check out a preview below of the first issue and several covers from the first three issues of Vampiverse.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For both film buffs and a new generation of a movie fans, a definitive guide to the most influential film directors–spanning a century of Hollywood creativity–will soon be a fixture in libraries everywhere.   Turner Classic Movies/TCM and film writer Sloan De Forest, author of TCM’s Dynamic Dames (reviewed here) and TCM’s Must-See Sci-fi (reviewed here), chronicle 58 directors, their works, and influence on the filmmaking in TCM’s The Essential Directors: The Art and Impact of Cinema’s Most Influential Filmmakers.  From Charlie Chaplin to Steven Spielberg, these are the directors that film aficionados will be unlikely to quibble with.  Some made their marks as household names, others are legendary auteurs, while others provided a singular film or image that has made them synonymous with Hollywood royalty.  From epic dramas, to laugh-out-loud comedies, readers will find TCM’s Essential Directors as the go-to source for the heavy-hitters behind the biggest movies in history.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The latest from Dungeons & Dragons following Candlekeep Mysteries and Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft takes players back to Feywild and an adventure about a carnival that appears every 8 years.  The Wild Beyond the Witchlight is D&D’s next big adventure storyline that “brings the wicked whimsy of the Feywild” to the 5th Edition for the first time.  Wizards of the Coast promised and delivered new characters, monsters, mechanics, and story hooks suitable for players of all ages and experience levels.  It also allows a game without combat where you can use your wits to get to the end.  It’s layered and complex with several tie-in components, and you can pre-order The Wild Beyond the Witchlight with the standard cover here at Amazon now, or order the alternate “soft-touch” edition from your local game shop.

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A Heart Divided

Review by C.J. Bunce

How often do you read a series that makes it to four volumes and each entry gets progressively better?  That’s exactly what awaits you in Gigi Chang, Anna Holmwood, and Shelly Bryant’s landmark English translation of Jin Yong′s Legends of the Condor Heroes novels.  This series, originally a serialized novel written and first published by Yong aka Louis Cha between 1957 and 1959, is in fact the worldwide best selling novel of all time, with a billion copies in print.  A 38 volume manhua comic was issued in 1998, and countless film and TV adaptations followed, including my favorite in 2017 (reviewed here).  In the spirit of Homer, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R. Tolkien, Akira Kurosawa, and George Lucas, the series is among the world’s greatest fantasy novels and you should think of the fourth and final installment, A Heart Divided, as the Return of the King of the series.  Only it’s better than Tolkien’s finale–incredible subplots, powerful historical fantasy, dozens of major, important key characters, who, because of the stunning translation and Jin’s literary characterizations, will be easy for Western audiences to keep track of.  It doesn’t fall into the trap of many major fantasy series: losing the steam built up in the earlier installments.

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Living Dead cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Oddly, creepily, Tor Books had readied a virus story that was supposed to land in bookstores early in 2020.  I reviewed an advance copy here at borg in March 2020.  Writer Daniel Kraus had picked up a story begun by zombie guru George A. Romero decades ago, a story about a zombie virus that leveled our world, a behemoth 654-page follow-up to his movie series called The Living Dead: A New NovelIt was delayed, but made its debut in hardcover in August 2020, and this month it’s available for the first time in paperback.  It’s the kind of story you either gravitate toward in a pandemic, or you duck away from.  Multiple scenes from the novel have played out over the past two years.  If that sounds like something for you as you head into Halloween season, you probably have enough time to fit this book into your reading schedule.  It’s big, and it could stand an edit, but if you’re a fan of horror and zombies, you’ll probably want to check this one out.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

While you me, he, her, them, and we are waiting for Bruce Campbell to launch a reboot of The Rockford Files (if you say it out loud enough times, it might just come true), you get to see Campbell’s image as Ash Williams–our favorite cyborg horror hero–in a new comic book series with the laughs and tone of the great Ash vs. Evil Dead television series.  Get ready for Army of Darkness 1979, written by Rodney Barnes and artist Tom Garcia, with colorist Dinei Ribero and letterer Troy Peteri These creators take Ash back from his current attempt to work in the great Pacific Northwest as a logger way back 42 years in pursuit of killing Deadites and laying his hands on the Necronomicon.  A strange new/old gang in the Bronx is standing in his way.

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Last year here at borg we previewed the first issue of Dungeons & Dragons: At the Spine of the World.  At last the compiled trade edition is available in book stores and via online retailers.  A never-ending winter’s night is slowly driving an isolated town in the depths of Icewind Dale to the brink of insanity.  To save them all, a perilous journey awaits a band of adventurers as they battle a furious icy god and uncover the plot of an ancient primordial evil.  Writers AJ Mendez (Crazy is My Superpower) and actor Aimee Garcia (star of Lucifer and Dexter) take readers back to the freezing temperatures of Icewind Dale and Ten-Towns in this journey, a must for fans of the roleplaying game.  

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Sometimes you wish you could go back in time, to decades past where life was simpler and you could grab a magazine at the local bookstore or grocery store rack to get a fix from your favorite movies or TV series.  Back in the 1970s and 1980s sometimes that meant Starlog, Starburst, or Space Wars, Fantastic Films Magazine, or even mags aimed at the younger set, like Dynamite.  Then publishers targeted fandoms with The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine for Star Wars, and Star Trek Communicator all sprouting out of fanzines.  Titan Magazines has been publishing both Star Wars Insider and Star Trek Magazine–soon to become Star Trek Explorer–for decades, and it’s the articles from the Star Trek mags that fans can “read again for the first time” as Titan launches its best magazine-sourced overview yet from the big franchises, Star Trek Villains, now available for pre-order here.  What is your favorite Star Trek villain?  Check out a preview below courtesy of Titan.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Last month I reviewed TCM’s Summer Movies: 30 Sun-Drenched Classics, the eighth volume reviewed here at borg in the TCM library.  TCM is busy with new releases this year, and its look at film noir takes a different approach.  Written by Noir Alley host Eddie Muller, The Art of Noir author and proclaimed Czar of Noir, Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (available now in bookstores and at Amazon here) is actually an update of his 1998 look at film noir of the same name.  It’s an essential look at the genre for both novices and diehard fans, providing just enough about the key films to entice readers to add several movies to their DVR, and giving long-time noir audiences new ways to think about some classic films.  Whenever I hear someone referred to as an expert in genre, I make notes.  Here I made a list of what those essential and important obscure noir films should make any book on film noir.  Muller includes discussions of all of them except one, from Laura and Shadow of a Doubt to DOA, from Sorry, Wrong Number, Sunset Boulevard, and Call Northside 777, to The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and Chinatown.  So the book by all counts is the real deal and worthy of its accolades for both its original and new edition.  Unlike some of the other TCM books I’ve reviewed here at borg, Dark City: The Lost World of Film is not only an annotated guide to a list of recommended movies.  What film noir movies would you expect to find inside?

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