Tag Archive: COVID-19


Review by C.J. Bunce

While most of the comic book industry is on hold resulting from the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, we’re looking back to some recent books you may want to give a try while you’re sheltering at home or recuperating from work and in need of some good distractions.  One of those books continues a series bellwethered by one of our favorite artists, J.K. Woodward, known for his beautiful illustrations in the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover miniseries Assimilation², the IDW adaptation of Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever, the covers of the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover miniseries, the jaw-dropping, photo-real paintings bringing the crew of the USS Enterprise-D into the mirror universe in Mirror Broken, and Star Trek 20/20, a tale of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in his USS Stargazer years.  Continuing his expanded universe of Star Trek’s mirror realms is the winter release Star Trek Voyager: Mirrors and Smoke, where Woodward partnered with writer Paul Allor (Clue, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe) to at last bring the characters of Star Trek Voyager (my own favorite Star Trek television series) into Trek’s infamous mirror universe.

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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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Leverage cast b

The rich and powerful, they take what they want.  We steal it back for you.  Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys.  We provide… Leverage.

Some television series work because the cast has a chemistry that drives viewers back for more each week.  Even if they have a repeat framework, it doesn’t matter, and even if you swap out a character or two (or more) along the way, it still works.  If you watch police procedurals or crime dramas, it’s why you come back for more, whether it’s Law & Order, Castle, or Without a Trace, all the way back to The Equalizer or Dragnet, and even earlier… the list goes on and on.

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We have a cover reveal today for borg readers!  Take a look at this great cover by Brett Helquist, artist for A Series of Unfortunate Events and other great covers and picture books.  It’s for Elizabeth C. Bunce′s second novel in her Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries series, How to Get Away with Myrtle.  As a result of prioritization by distributors and national shipping companies of food and other staples due to the pandemic crisis response, How to Get Away with Myrtle will now join the first book in the series, Premeditated Myrtle, to launch together as Fall 2020 releases, debuting October 6 (both are now available for pre-order here at Amazon).  “I didn’t think I could love a cover more than Brett’s first for the series, and then… Wow!  Here we are with the cover for Book 2 already,” said Elizabeth.  “We shared some ideas back and forth through the Algonquin publicity team.  I love the complimentary color orange following that purple theme from Book 1.  Putting that great locomotive out front sets the stage for this adventure, along with the image of the seaside resort as if it were pulled right off the brochure for the excursion service referenced in the novel.  And, of course, Peony the Cat sneaked her way onto the cover again!  Now that we have two paintings from Brett, it’s really fun for me to see both covers side by side.”

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A little bit Robocop, a little bit Bionic Man, a little bit of every Marvel solo character origin story, and very Vin Diesel, the movie adaptation of the 1990s Valiant Comics Harvey and Eisner Award-nominated sci-fi/superhero Bloodshot was the first movie industry collateral damage from the pandemic because it arrived March 13 in theaters, the same weekend the U.S. federal government began responding and theaters began to modify their rules and ultimately close.   Which also made it the first for a studio to release at theatrical prices via the new “theater-at-home” option from Vudu and Amazon Prime.  The good news is it’s well worth full ticket prices, and would have been even better on the big screen.  It has all of the right beats we’ve seen in the past decade in the better movies adapting comics beyond the traditional superheroes of DC Comics and Marvel.  It also introduces fans of all things borg to the next squad of cyborg warriors worthy of sequels.

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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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Swamp Thing ad

When people with creativity and skill have their grasp on the reins of DC Comics properties, great things can happen.  Unfortunately it’s a rarity.  Although its Arrowverse on the CW Network were good efforts, DC at the movies hasn’t shown much promise until last year’s Shazam!, although Aquaman was another good effort.  But the big win of live-action DC Comics adaptations was last year’s Swamp Thing (above) featuring the titular creature and other Justice League Dark characters Xanadu and the Phantom Stranger.  The series was our own selection here at borg for top superhero series last year.  Shazam! and Swamp Thing prove that with good writing, production, and acting talent both movie and television adaptations truly worthy of the comic book source material are possible.

New streaming provider HBO Max announced this week its own team-up.  It will join J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions to produce a new live-action Justice League Dark series with Warner Brothers Television (in addition, a project related to Stephen King’s The Shining called Overlook was also announced).

Justice League Dark is, as the title suggests, a band of superpowered characters from the shadows of the DCU.  Spanish artist Mikel Janin was tasked with re-imagining the look of these more offbeat and occult characters from their earlier individual series and appearances for the New 52 launch in 2011, and for us Justice League Dark is synonymous with Janin’s designs, shown above and below (we interviewed Mikel about the new look here at borg back in March 2012).  The JLD then included Zatanna, Constantine, Deadman, Shade, Madame Xanadu, Swamp Thing, the Phantom Stranger, Frankenstein, and the Enchantress, and more as they would emerge throughout the series’ short 40-issue run.

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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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In a matter of two days, parts of the entertainment industry have been significantly carved back in their ability to reach audiences because of the rapid movement of coronavirus/COVID-19 and new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control recommending social distancing to stave off further spread of the disease.  While publishing, whether books or comics (hard copies, ebooks, other digital, or online), music (except live events), and TV and movies at home (it’s still debatable whether theaters are safe spaces or not) become safe alternatives to turn to, live sporting events are out, as are most pop culture events like comic book conventions and Renaissance faires–at least for the immediate future.  So this will be a time where creativity must lead the way.  “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  Creators will need to come up with new ways to reach consumers, and the better that businesses–large or small–are able to solve novel problems and innovate quickly, the better they will be able to get through the next few (or several) months.  We’ve seen two new great ideas that arrived right away worth checking out.

The first is Faire Relief 2020, a Facebook group that turned from nothing to nearly 3,000 members within its first day yesterday.  You can find the group at this link (there are no requirements to join).  From the group’s page: “Due to the COVID-19 outbreak a lot of events have had to be cancelled.  For those who make their living doing Renaissance Faires and Festivals this can be a devastating blow.  This group is to help aid those Merchants, Artists, Performers and the like by allowing them to put their Wares up for sale or sharing their contact information and Facebook pages so that people may purchase from them.”  You’ll find anything and everything there, from custom wood designs, jewelry, candles and incense, food and drink, and leatherwork, to custom cosplay like chainmail and other clothing (historical and modern fashions), pottery, and even gifts and collectables like wax seals, sculpted dragons and dragon egg statues.

Wood, Willow, and Whatknots–one of the Renaissance faire small businesses–offering jewelry, oils, fragrances, and wood burning. Find them at http://www.woodwillow.com.

At the same time, Wizard Entertainment, the company behind many nationwide comic conventions, distributed a press briefing previewing its new Wizard World Virtual Experiences, an attempt to bring pop culture conventions online.  For more than 20 years Wizard has produced “Wizard World” events where attendees meet celebrities, participate in Q&A panels, collect autographs and chat with their favorite celebrities, writers, and artists in gatherings at convention centers across North America.  Now Wizard wants to bring that experience to fans at home.

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