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Category: Retro Fix


Review by C.J. Bunce

If Turner Classic Movies says that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then the discussion is over finally, right?

It’s that time of year again and Turner Classic Movies is back showing some of the best Christmas movies from across the decades.  This year host Ben Mankiewicz is interviewing author Jeremy Arnold before and after the screening of movies Arnold has selected to feature in his new book, TCM: Christmas in the Movies–30 Classics to Celebrate the Season.  And yes, Arnold’s list includes Die Hard.  So as the British say, “end of.”  Most readers and movie fans will likely agree with at least twenty of the selections discussed in the book, and the rest are there ready for some good discussions with friends over some egg nog this holiday season.

It’s also likely this bucket list of movies has several films that even avid movie watchers may have missed.  I set up my DVR to pick up a few in the book I hadn’t seen yet and was surprised at how superb a selection Holiday Affair is.  It stars Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum, Wendell Corey, Henry Morgan, plus young Gordon Gebert in what must be the best-ever performance by a child actor in a Christmas movie.  This is exactly the kind of value you get with a book like Christmas in the Movies–this movie will now be added to my own favorite Christmas movie list.  For each entry Arnold discusses the actors, plot, audience reception and the impact of the film, and why it’s a good Christmas season film for audiences today.

Along with Die Hard, which is smartly defended by Arnold, you’ll find the usual suspects like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Elf, plus some lesser known gems, like Remember the Night, the first of four films that would pair Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, plus Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten in I’ll Be Seeing You, and Humphrey Bogart in We’re No AngelsArnold picks up genre films Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and even a few Westerns, including 3 Godfathers starring John Wayne.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A new encyclopedic view of Firefly rounds out a big year for Firefly fans.  First there was the release of two in-universe books, The Serenity Handbook followed by the Hidden Universe Travel Guide, then more recently we saw the first novel in the series, Big Damn Hero Rounding out a year of great books for Browncoats is Firefly Encyclopedia, by Monica Valentinelli.  Fans of past books for Firefly and the Firefly Loot Crate magazine will be familiar with the tone and design of this series overview.  From the cover to the layout of Polaroid-inspired snips, the book is part scrapbook, part in-depth look into the story in an in-universe style, part behind the scenes photographic essay.  You’re likely to find new images of the ship and crew, even if you’ve amassed all the previous Firefly books.

If this isn’t the biggest assemblage of ships, weapons, props, and sets, it comes close, plus the large photographs makes this the best designed look at the production so far.  The concept artwork for several characters is something we haven’t seen before, and here many designs for each character are showcased.  And at long last, fans have a Chinese-English translator tailored to the extensive use of the Chinese language in the series.

Part one of Firefly Encyclopedia presents the Firefly story, the complete in-world tale seen in the series, as you may find in an encyclopedia.  Next is a look at the characters, each crew member–both in-universe and the actors behind the character, followed by a brief look at secondary characters.  The next section is a geography of the ‘verse, comparative looks at planets, tables, astronomy, and ships along with an interview with artist Ben Mund.  A table looks at the technobabble of the show, followed by a treatment of futuristic medicine in the series.  A wider chapter looks at even more costume designs.  A final chapter digs into the scripts for the series, including analysis and commentary.

Here is a brief view inside the Firefly Encyclopedia:

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The sale of a rare, screen-used television prop continued the upward trend in values of Star Trek props at an auction this weekend held in California and online.  Auction house Prop Store offered nearly 400 props, costumes, set pieces, models, and other memorabilia from the collection of television prop private collector James Comisar.  Many of the lots did not receive bids that met the reserve price set by the seller, but a key, rare, Klingon disruptor from the 1960s Star Trek series sold strong, at $40,000 plus buyer’s premium, for a total sale price of $48,800.  One of the pieces that did not git a bidder to meet the reserve price was the tunic worn by William Shatner as Captain Kirk in one of television and pop culture’s most significant milestones, the first interracial kiss, between Shatner’s Kirk and Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura in the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” which aired 50 years ago.  That tunic had a minimum reserve price set at $40,000, but only received $20,000 in bids.

Referred to in the series as “phaser” and “disruptor,” and used as a weapon by both Klingons and Romulans in the series, the Klingon disruptor hand prop that sold this weekend joins a small list of significant pieces sold at public auction, but it isn’t the highest price paid for a Star Trek hand prop.  That was $231,000, for the 2013 sale of a phaser rifle famously held in marketing images by William Shatner as Captain Kirk for the original Star Trek series, produced specifically for the retooled pilot episode, but never used afterward in the series.

The Klingon disruptor, also used by Romulans in the series, which sold this weekend at Prop Store’s auction.

Other key sales past sales of Star Trek hand props include the 2011 sale of an original series Starfleet phaser for $78,000, and a 2001 sale of a Starfleet phaser from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where the winning bidder paid $57,500.

Find out more about the Klingon disruptor at this detailed look at the prop here.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Sometimes you ask for something and it magically appears.  Like the new Dark Horse Comics’ graphic novel Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Once and Future Tarzan I originally reviewed a one-shot initial version of this story here at borg way back in 2012.  I liked the retro adventure vibe and thought that it begged for an expanded story.  At last writer Alan Gordon has taken Tarzan into the distant future in a full 15-part epic, as a 300-year-old survivalist who encounters a future world right out of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes, Nolan and Johnson’s Logan’s Run, or Richard Matheson’s I am Legend.  Tarzan and Jane join a tribe of warrior women on their quest–Tarzan is a well-educated leader who communes with the animal kingdom, and Jane brings her own special skill set to this adventure.

Readers will find a densely written graphic novel with many literary references and a thoroughly researched, thoroughly faithful look at Burroughs’ Tarzan, with the building of a great expansion world for the character, loyal to the spirit of the original stories.   It’s a mix of fantasy and James Bond action, as the Tarzan of the past confronts a future world reeling from decades of mishandling.  Tarzan has been secretly protecting animals, species other humans failed to protect, and Tarzan brings them into this future.  It’s a story of the past catching up with mankind, and a glimmer of hope via the legend of Tarzan.  Can the future still be saved for all of life on Earth, before nothing is left of the natural world?  Gordon’s story suggests the possibility and the story itself serves as its own sci-fi warning to take care of what we have before it’s gone.  The story isn’t dark and daunting, but it has that fantasy adventure tone of the age of serial adventures, peppered with humorous dialogue, too (some of the callbacks to Tarzan’s past are particularly funny).

The imagery of artists Thomas Yeates (Prince Valiant, Conan) and Bo Hampton (Viking Glory, Batman) is gorgeous, and it wouldn’t succeed so well without the complimentary color palette used by colorists Steve Oliff and Lori Almeida.  It has the nostalgic look of Illustrated Classics, but with more movement and action, something that will appeal to fans of Matt Kindt’s Dept.H and Black Badge, Phil Noto’s retro styled art, P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Wagner’s The Ring, and the imagery of The Hobbit artist David Wenzel.  Parts feel like a voyage of Captain Nemo, Captain Blood, Conan the Barbarian, or Red Sonja.  All of these fantasies share the common quest, the world outside of a present day reality, stocked with nicely fleshed-out legend and lore.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Let’s face it.  The “turn of the century” was eighteen years ago.  Are you happy with the styles that define this decade?  Why not re-define what the new ‘twenties are going to represent, and why not start with how you want to look?  Timeless, a new book by fashion makeup artist Louise Young and film industry hairstylist Loulia Sheppard, provides readers with a step-by-step guide in photos and instructions to recreate the most memorable styles from the silent screen era forward.  So not only is it an obvious tool for cosplay and theater, it’s a way to bring the golden age of women’s fashion to everyday lifestyles.

Young and Sheppard also recreate actual style icons, and provide the steps for anyone to follow suit.  Readers will find not only how they can recreate styles, but what materials were available for contemporary women to make the look they are after.  Models reflect many memorable looks in Timeless, including Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, Ginger Rogers, Myrna Loy, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Gene Tierney, Grace Kelly, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Farrah Fawcett, Julia Roberts, and many more.

Timeless is not your typical makeup and hair book.  The creators have decades of experience in film creating any and every look imaginable.  Louise Young has created makeup designs for celebrities in movies including Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spectre, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Wonder Woman, Murder on the Orient Express, Pride & Prejudice, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Clash of the Titans, Jack the Giant Slayer, and The Avengers.  Loulia Sheppard has created hairstyles for several award-winning productions, including Gosford Park, The Phantom of the Opera, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Last Samurai, Jane Eyre, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, RED 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Victor Frankenstein, and Murder on the Orient Express–and most recently the looks of Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson.

Take a look at some of the designs featured:

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WKRP Nessman reporting Thanksgiving stunt

Pull the TV dinner out of the oven.  Throw some butter on those peas.  It’s time again for your annual tryptophan coma.  And another annual tradition.

Yes, it is time again for your annual viewing of one of the two best Thanksgiving episodes that ever graced the small screen.  Finish this phrase: “As God is my witness, I thought…”

What?!?  You don’t know how it ends?

Then watch and enjoy our traditional viewing of the greatest Thanksgiving episode of TV ever (note: no actual turkeys were harmed in the making of the show):

It’s hard to believe for those of us who watched the series when it aired for the first time that this is the fortieth anniversary of the airing of this episode!

And in between your seconds and thirds of tofurkey, this epic roasted cabbage (we tried it, it’s actually good), mashed potatoes, corn casserole, bean casserole, pea casserole–and don’t forget the gravy–and PIE, then check out other Thanksgiving blasts from the past here.

And don’t forget the cranberries.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The BORG Staff

  

You may not remember it, but if you were a kid in the 1980s you probably heard of GoBots before you ever heard the word Transformers.  The Tonka transforming machine toys hit the shelves in 1983, a year in advance of Transformers, although Tonka (the classic truck toy company) was unable to give its characters and toys the success Transformers would achieve.  GoBots only were available as toys for a few years in the States, plus some book and animated series offerings.  With the legal rights to the toy designs later reverting back to the Japanese toy company Bandai, the character names and stories were assumed by Hasbro, merging with the Transformers family after business consolidation in 1991.

The return of GoBots for the 35th anniversary of the release of the toys was announced by IDW Publishing executives at the retailer panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.  IDW’s Transformers vs GI Joe writer-artist Tom Scioli has created a new five-issue series, and the first issue arrived Saturday for the annual Local Comic Shop Day.  It will get a wider distribution everywhere this Wednesday.  The new Go-Bots series (now with the hyphen) is both written and drawn in that “neo-Golden Age” style of comic books like those created by Matt Kindt and Ed Piskor.  The artwork has that blend of retro styling that rejects the latest comic book capabilities, a de-evolution from modern artistic mainstays and tropes built over the past 50 years.  It also reflects a bit of the style of the 1980s animated series.

 

As kids would see with Transformers, Go-Bots in the States were sentient robots, as opposed to the human-operated machines as seen in Japan.  Familiar characters Cy-Kill, Turbo, Scooter, and Leader-1–and more–make a return in the new series.  Go-Bots have some 1980s “cartoony” backstory bits to overcome, but in Issue #1 Scioli uses them to update the character origins and begin to forge a 21st century comeback for this 1980s franchise.  For many, the vibe of the series will reflect their favorite Transformers and GI Joe animated series from the 1980s.

Take a look at some interior pages and variant covers from Scioli, Dash Shaw, Ben Marra, and Diego Jordan Pereira (and a blank sketch variant) for the first three issues:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s the first time in print since 1968.  Erle Stanley Gardner‘s The Count of 9, sixty years after its first printing, the 18th novel featuring the crime detective agency Cool & Lam is back thanks to the Hard Case Crime imprint.  Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason, penned a classic crime mystery of stolen rare artifacts and murder.  Featuring protagonist Donald Lam, the low key sleuth who ends up a punching bag by the bad guys as often as not, is joined by the trademark brief encounters of the brash, hard-boiled Bertha Cool, simply the best female detective in all of noir crime novels.

Cool tries to promote the agency, trying to get its name out there to establish a reputation for serving a higher brand of clientele.  She personally takes on the security for a wealthy world traveler, when her idea goes bust.  So why not bring in Lam and hand off the clean-up to him?  This time Lam is left to dodge two sultry art world dilettantes, both accused of the thefts, but only one will be his client.  When one of their husband’s is murdered, Lam must double back and solve both cases.  But first he must also dodge some hired thugs and worse, the local cops.

 

Will Donald Lam ever get a break?  Favorite noir secretary Elsie Brand is also back, but this time the office picks up a new file clerk, who can’t stop attracting the roaming eyes of the men who stop by the agency.  More Cool losing her Cool, more bruises for Lam.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For the fifth time, writer, editor, and researcher J.W. Rinzler has gone behind the scenes of pop culture’s biggest films for an in-depth look at the creative process.  Following his “Making of” books for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the Indiana Jones films, Rinzler has tackled one of the most iconic of all science fiction franchises in The Making of Planet of the Apes, released this month from Harper Design books.  At last fans of the 1968 film Planet of the Apes, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, have a definitive, exhaustive look at the film from interviews with the cast, creators, and everyone else involved with the movie from its source in a Pierre Boulle novel to film idea to Rod Serling draft script to casting Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson in lead roles, then switching to Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, and Roddy McDowall.  Readers will get an immersive, inside account of studio politics and deal making leading to the ultimate production of the film, and from marketing the film to its enduring legacy.  We’ve included a 16-page preview of the book below, courtesy of the publisher.

Planet of the Apes is best known for its surprise ending and the groundbreaking makeup work by John Chambers.  Both topics are thoroughly covered in Rinzler’s account.  Through initial sketches, concept designs, storyboards, and rare photographs, readers will see the building of the climactic finale from the ground up, as executives, producers, and cast struggled to determine what would be the final scenes of the film.  Heston’s character Taylor did not survive in many of the draft screenplays (and he wasn’t called Taylor).  And Rinzler reaches back to film archives to trace the steps that led to John Chambers’ final designs for the chimps, the orangutans, and the gorillas–and why baboons were ruled out.  Beginning with techniques used to create the animated facial characteristics for the Cowardly Lion in MGM’s 1939 epic fantasy film The Wizard of Oz, Chambers expanded his own methods and created several iterations of the prosthetic masks and makeups before arriving at the designs we saw on film.

The Making of Planet of the Apes includes a spectacular two-page, detailed image of the specifications for the “ANSA” spacecraft that the three astronauts crash at the beginning of the film.  Perhaps the most eye-opening information about the film came from the late Charlton Heston’s personal archives.  He made detailed diary entries that reflect events during the filming process including scenes, discussions, concepts and people that he approved of and those he didn’t.  His entries, contemporary and recent interviews, and information from Fox and Warner Brothers’ studio archives, and records at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences fill-in the blanks, building a meticulously complete account of the production.

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Two new comic books are taking Battlestar Galactica, the 1978-1979 series and the 2003-2009 series into new territory, as Dynamite Comics released two books tomorrow commemorating 40 years of Adama, Starbuck, Cylons, and the sci-fi world of Battlestar Galactica.  Whether BSG for you means Lorne Green, Dirk Benedict, Anne Lockhart, Herbert Jefferson, Jr., John Colicos, and Richard Hatch, or Edward James Olmos, Katee Sackhoff, Michael Hogan, Tricia Helfer, Mary McDonnell, and… Richard Hatch, you have two ways to get your fix of a classic series that would reboot later into one of the 21st century’s most acclaimed sci-fi stories.

First up is Battlestar Galactica Classic, Issue #1.  Star Wars and Star Trek novelist John Jackson Miller teams up with Red Sonja artist Daniel HDR as classic TV’s Commander Adama must decide between an unlikely partnership for a decisive end to the Cylons or a continued pursuit to find the mythical planet called Earth.  Several variant covers will be available for this issue, including work from artists Kelley Jones, Marco Rudy, Sean Chen, Daniel HDR–plus a classic cover using the artwork of Walt Simonson.  Many of the covers evoke the classic, original Marvel Comics BSG series.

  

Next is the trade paperback compilation of the monthly series Battlestar Galactica vs Battlestar Galactica.  Star Trek novelist and comic book writer Peter David joins fan favorite artist Johnny Desjardins and Edu Menna in a book that features scenes fans will love, as two different Adamas meet each other and even stranger, two very different Starbucks.   A wormhole has opened creating two parallel ships, and worse, an ancient being claiming to be the source of the Cylons.

Check out these previews, courtesy of Dynamite:

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