Solo: A Star Wars Story, the latest Star Wars feature film and Disney's fourth, offers something new even as it stays connected to the old. I have a few gripes, but Solo is a nice side chapter to the ongoing Star Wars mythos.
Set roughly a decade before A New Hope, the original Star Wars film, Solo chronicles the journey of a 20-something Han Solo from an orphan looking for a brighter future to the swaggering but lovable scoundrel originally portrayed by Harrison Ford.
Standard backstory fare includes Solo meeting the Wookiee Chewbacca and fellow miscreant Lando Calrissian. We find out where he grew up and how he came by his surname. He acquires the Millenium Falcon and his biggest claim to fame: making the Kessel Run in a record-breaking twelve parsecs. Solo brims with action and humor—I think it's a great stand-alone film.
Cindy Wilson of the B-52s has dropped a solo record called Change, and as the name suggests, it's nothing like what you'd expect from the founding member of a band best known for the one-of-a-kind, frenetic party sound of songs like "Rock Lobster" and "Loveshack."
On Change, gone are Wilson's lusty wails about fish and candy, limberger or tin roofs rusted. Nowhere does she shriek like a sea creature, bang on her bongos or belt out the soaring harmonies heard on B-52s' songs "Roam" or "Juliet of the Spirits."
Instead, Wilson's new effort is an ethereal dream-pop album featuring a subtle vocal performance of quiet harmony whispering and dancing over layers of pulsing synths, rolling rhythms and indie-rock guitars. From the low tempo "Sunrise" to the upbeat "Mystic" the songs on Change are quite wonderful--all the more so because Wilson's new direction is unexpected.
Wilson is touring small clubs with her band comprised of fellow Athens, GA musicians Ryan Monahan, Lemuel Hayes, Suny Lyons and Marie Davon--all decades her junior--in support of the music they've created together. (She'll also be on the road in 2018 with the B-52s, who are celebrating their 40th anniversary and still going strong.)
This snippet of the song "Corporeal" from a recent show in Washington DC perfectly captures Wilson and her band's celestial live performance:
Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 has come to a close. For my husband and me, both Celebration virgins, the event did not disappoint. Sure, there were ridiculously early mornings trying to get wristbands for key panels, crowds of jostling people, long lines and the fact that one can only humanly do a fraction of what is offered--but the things we got to see and experience were totally worth it. Read the rest
Stop what you’re doing and buy the new omnibus graphic novel of Teri S. Wood's 1990s comic series Wandering Star. It's amazing. Splendtacular, even.
Set in the future, it is the tale of Cassandra Andrews, daughter of the President of Earth, and how she became embroiled in a galaxy-spanning war for freedom from tyranny. Wood takes what could be a generic science fiction trope and creates something new and different by weaving in hard, realistic racism, xenophobia, religion and philosophy (which are shockingly and sadly relevant to current world events) paired with well-defined and incredibly likeable—and hateable—characters. In fact, the characters and story are so strong and relatable the scifi setting becomes a simple backdrop, the room in which the tale unfolds. The plot is tight, marching forward chapter by chapter, without excess or unnecessary tangents. It is humorous, horrific, endearing, and heart-crushing all in equal measure.
The art is just as good as the story. Wood is a master cartoonist who has a command of human anatomy and understands how to bend, squash and exaggerate it to create visually charming characters, both human and alien alike. Her lines are fluid and alive and playful. I marvel at the stippled, hand-drawn pen and ink effects she puts into every page that make the art in Wandering Star so unique. What’s more, Wood knows how to use sequential art and camera angle to deliver both side-splitting comedy and emotional gut-punches. (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the rad 90’s pop culture and indie comics references hidden in the background details of the art.)
While the series has been collected into graphic novels in the past, those editions are long out of print and nowhere near the quality of this new omnibus. Read the rest
A child of the 80s, I recently rediscovered my love of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoons and toys. So naturally, I've done everything in my power to hook my five-year old niece and three-year old nephew too.
My campaign is working so well that they asked me to draw them pictures of He-Man and their most favorite character, Skeletor—a fact which makes me love them even more. Then they made some googly-eyed enhancements to create the genius-level art you see above.
In my spare time, when I'm not protecting wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation or guest-blogging for Animal Planet and here at Boing Boing, I'm also the co-host of a podcast called The Elfquest Show, about one of America's longest-running fantasy series, with my fellow uber-geek Ryan Browne.
I was lucky enough to sit down with series' creators Wendy and Richard Pini to record this interview for the show. We talked about the events of the latest Elfquest story arc called The Final Quest, the difference in fan reactions today versus 36 years ago when the series premiered, and a lot of other juicy tidbits.
If you're an existing Elfquest fan, or are just curious about the series, give it a listen.
Zack Giallongo is an illustrator and comics artist. His graphic novel Broxo is full of adventure, and his original comic Ewoks: Shadow of Endor is a must-read for Star Wars fans. He's also done an issue of Adventure Time and illustrated the comic version of Ian Lender's The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review does MacBeth.
Here's a sampling of some of his sketches.
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It doesn't get cuter than Benjamin the baby goat. This BBC video has been making the rounds on social media, and you can practically hear the collective "SQUUUUUUEEEEEEE!" Read the rest
I'm totally going to own that the homoerotic undercurrent of the History Channel series Vikings is one of its biggest draws. But the series is more than just Viking beefcake. It's informed by what modern archeology and anthropology tell us about Viking culture. The details in everything from clothing and hairstyles, to weapons and ship-building, to deities and gender roles--while not perfectly historically accurate--are just awesome.
It also does a great job at presenting the alienness of now-extinct warrior culture, both to the Christian Europeans they encountered, as well as to the modern American viewer. Mostly, though, the series has complex characters and a strong storyline. And thankfully, there are no horned helmets.
The world of Bigfoot is no stranger to shysters and hoaxers. In fact, the entire phenomenon could be nothing more than a mix of chicanery, misidentification and gullibility.
Yet the subject is enormously popular, with internet forums, YouTube channels, numerous television programs, and even conservation groups focusing on the possibility of the existence of an undescribed, bipedal, North American ape (or demon, alien, or interdimensional being, depending on your point of view).
Enter Todd Standing, a self-avowed bigfoot researcher. Standing has purportedly had multiple encounters with these creatures and has even published photos and videos of them. Standing's footage aired during an episode of Les Stroud's Survivorman series, and shows a bigfoot peering through the vegetation. The creature even blinks its eyes in the footage (and has become known as "Blinky" as a result). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and in the eyes of many, Standing's is not only insufficient but downright (and laughably) fake.
Phil Poling, photography expert and former law enforcement official, and Daniel Falconer, a special effects expert, have written a paper refuting Standing's evidence. In it they analyze Standing's photos and video footage, and make some pretty compelling points and discoveries using stills from the video and photos of Standing himself.
It's a fascinating read if you're interested in the subject. If you're a believer, it's a good guide to critically thinking about the subject and how to NOT go about trying to convince others that bigfoot is real.
After you've learned the Disco Garbage Can (if you've watched the video above, you'll know what I'm talking about), give a listen to my hands-down, all-time favorite holiday song: Teddy and Betty Yeti, from The Superions' album Destination Christmas.
That's Teddy Yeti on the album cover. Everything about it is pure Christmas genius.
Grant Gould is probably most well known for his Star Wars trading card art and illustrating two Star Wars books, Draw Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Draw Star Wars: Rebels. He's also the creator of the original comic series Wolves of Odin and has done awesome art from just about every fantasy and scifi series out there (and even some pop culture characters too). Read the rest