Tag Archive: Harper Design


Review by C.J. Bunce

Timed for release as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, fans of Close Encounters finally get one of the most eagerly awaited, behind the scenes looks at the quintessential UFO film as Harper Design releases its hardcover chronicle this week, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History.  And it’s everything fans of the film could hope for.

Known for his work as a publicist on more than fifty films, author Michael Klastorin worked with Sony Pictures and Amblin Entertainment to unearth rare and never-before-seen imagery from their archives.  The book is a stunning collection of on-set photography, concept art, storyboards, and recollections of the cast and crew to create a visual narrative of the film’s journey to the big screen and through the entire production process.  First created as a story idea by Spielberg in his twenties, Close Encounters is still considered by Spielberg as one of his most personal projects.  Spielberg recounts his efforts to sell the film, his attempts to get a known screenwriter to write it only for him to finally decide to write it himself, and his original story synopsis, which remained hardly altered.  Spielberg initially wanted to reflect Watergate in his film to reflect the current zeitgeist, something of a government trying to cover up the aliens like Project Blue Book, but by the time the film was far along in pre-production it was determined audiences were tired of conspiracies as the sole defining theme.  Spielberg’s discussion of his early vision seems very similar to what Chris Carter would develop more than a decade later in his television series The X-Files.

Except those who are no longer with us, all of the players you’d expect provide contributions in the book.  Actor Bob Balaban provides some of the most interesting stories from the set, including his casting process for the film and development of his working relationship with internationally known director and film co-star Francois Truffaut.  Richard Dreyfuss’s recollections focus on his campaigning Spielberg to be cast for the role, the difficulty in the Nearys’ location shoot for the family home, and his realization from his very first discussions about the project with Spielberg that Close Encounters would stand up as a noble film pursuit.  Melinda Dillon’s role changed throughout the shoot, cutting one scene for financial reasons and adding the scene where she has the revelation that Devil’s Tower is the image in her dreams.  She also filmed much of the movie with a broken toe, followed by another leg injury caused on-set jumping from a helicopter.

The most fascinating behind-the-scenes effects discussion comes from Doug Trumbull.  His UFO storm development effect work was extraordinary.  You’ll find location photographs, visual effects explanations and process development discussions, photos of the Mother Ship model and other set models, concept art from Ralph McQuarrie, and many views of the film’s extra-terrestrials.

Continue reading

With all the celebration activities earlier this year for the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind hasn’t received all the love it deserves as it also celebrates the big 4-0.  But Star Wars and Close Encounters were each iconic, appealing to different facets of similar fandoms, with Star Wars as the space fantasy and Close Encounters as brilliant science fiction (and then Spielberg would make E.T.!).   Later this year fans of Close Encounters finally will get an eagerly-awaited, behind the scenes look at the quintessential UFO film as Harper Design releases its hardcover chronicle, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History.

Known for his work as a publicist on more than fifty films, author Michael Klastorin explores the production and legacy of the fan-favorite flick, coinciding with the anniversary of the movie and a return to the theaters in a restored 4K version coming your way the first week of September.  Klastorin worked with Sony Pictures and Amblin Entertainment to unearth rare and never-before-seen imagery from their archives.  The book promises a stunning collection of on-set photography, concept art, storyboards, and more to create a visual narrative of the film’s journey to the big screen.  It will also feature commentary from every key player involved in the film, from Spielberg to the film’s stars and the key department heads, including model maker Greg Jein and composer John Williams, who brought Spielberg’s vision to life.

Look for special inserts and interactive elements including script pages, call lists, and concept sketches.  Check out the below 11-page spread, providing a great preview of what will be included in the book’s nearly 200 pages:

Continue reading

Micronauts banner

Our borg Best of 2016 list continues today with the Best in Print and a bonus wrap-up of other year’s bests.  If you missed it, check out our review of the Top Picks and Best Movies of 2016 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2016 here, and the Best in Television here.

Without further ado, this year’s Best in Print:

berserker_wolverine_old_man_logan_2016_tome_1

Best Comic Book Series – Old Man Logan (Marvel).  With just enough backstory from prior series focused on the future world version of Logan/Wolverine, writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino took us through the struggle of the superhero that survived all his contemporaries, only to be plunged into a parallel world where everything is familiar but nothing is the same.

wonder-woman-jill-thompson-cover

Best Graphic NovelWonder Woman: The True Amazon, Jill Thompson (DC Comics).  Writer/artist Jill Thompson is probably the best creator in comics today.  Her origin story of Wonder Woman is vibrant, and she presents a flawed, complex, and ultimately strong and fearless heroine.  The best Wonder Woman book we’ve ever read.

Batman TMNT 1 Williams

Best Comic Book Limited Series/Best Crossover Comic Book Series – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC Comics/IDW).  James Tynion IV and Freddie Williams II pulled together an impossible team-up of characters that ended up working great together.  An action-packed, nostalgic fun trip.

DeptH cover 1

Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Kindt, Dept.H (Dark Horse).  Kindt pulls together an incredibly nostalgic assemblage of the best action concepts: classic science fiction of the H.G. Wells variety, G.I. Joe Adventure Team-inspired characters, and a fun character study and whodunit that will have you searching out your old game of Sub Search.  We just hope he makes a prequel at some point so we get to see a similar quest with an old fashioned copper-helmeted deep sea diver.  A fun read month after month and the best writing comics have to offer.

After the cut we continue with the best in comics, books, and more from 2016:

Continue reading

st-e

Review by C.J. Bunce

It will take fans of the earlier editions of The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future, Revised and Expanded Edition less than a dozen pages of browsing to realize the enormity of the material–and the effort–required to update the previous 1999 edition for this 50th anniversary boxed, hardcover, two-volume reference published this week.  Enterprise–the series that has been virtually ignored in Star Trek reference publications, finally gets its due, as does the later seasons of Voyager, the last season of Deep Space Nine, and the films Star Trek Nemesis, Star Trek (2009), and Star Trek Into Darkness. 

An invaluable reference until the creation of the online fan-run Memory Alpha, the original three editions of the The Star Trek Encyclopedia were the only place for fans to get quick Star Trek data with the last update in 1999.  The advent of the Internet seemed to have spelled certain doom for any hope of a revised and updated edition.  Memory Alpha has more than 40,000 pages of detailed Star Trek reference data.  How could a 1,056 page two-volume edition compete?  For one, long-time fans of all or many of the Star Trek series likely appreciate the ability to pull a reference book off the shelf.  Memory Alpha’s recent updates make the website difficult to navigate and website TrekCore’s value is very much in its screen captures.  Star Trek reference works have been very sporadically released in the past 20 years, so fans are always clamoring for a new book.  The Star Trek Encyclopedia is very much an encyclopedia, and many may not remember the days of pulling a volume of an encyclopedia off the shelf and reading it through for entertainment.  This is a great set of books to do just that.  And the detailed content is what fans want.

Excluding this summer’s release Star Trek Beyond, original edition creators (and former Star Trek art department creative gurus) Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda craftily and seamlessly weaved the J.J. Abrams’s movies–called the Kelvin timeline now– into this work as explained in their foreword (only Star Trek (2009)’s villain Nero’s entry, for example, bridges both the Prime timeline and the Kelvin timeline in The Star Trek Encyclopedia).  The Star Trek Encyclopedia is also the first publication that thoroughly addresses the nuts and bolts of Star Trek Into Darkness. 

okuda-excerpt-b

I came up with a list of my favorite items: references, characters, objects, and places that did not turn up in the past editions, to see if they all were now included.  They were, except for entries and images of certain key alien weapons, uniforms, and artifacts from the Kelvin timeline (like John Eaves’ beautifully designed Klingon weapons, Romulan disruptors and rifles, or the new Klingon uniforms and helmets).  These types of updates are present across the board for Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.  Artist Ian Fullwood updates Doug Drexler’s artwork quite well, adding to his work updates with the same look and feel as Drexler’s original creations.  Don’t expect past entries to be updated other than some have updated photographs–the research and preparation was clearly all about the new series and movies, also what the fans want and expect.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: