Posts tagged Star Wars
Comic Review: The Star Wars by Rinzler, Mayhew, et. al
Review by Prof. Jenn
So this is a comic trade that is based off of George Lucas’ original-original rough draft of the screenplay for The Star Wars. That is, Star Wars before it got edited for quality and way before it got re-purposed for less quality and more busy unnecessary additions.
I have my opinions, more as a literature expert than an old-school Star Wars nerd, though I must confess I am equally both. It’s important that Han shot first, but I can actually explain to you literarily why. The scene at the Millennium Falcon added in w/Jabba? Completely unnecessary. But I’ve got the literary chops to explain why, beyond my nerd rage.
Now, it seems that several geek-culture favorites these days tend to fall into the trap of the fan-service. The fan-service is the thing that happens in the story of a new episode of a thing that does nothing for the actual plot except show a thing that will make fans squee. See: the entire movie Phantom Menace. See also: the ending of Doctor Who episode “Deep Breath.” (We can talk about this later if you like.)
This comic story is based on Star Wars before it was Star Wars: we’ve got snippets of images of all three of the older movies (Tatooine, betrayed youg’uns, snippets of Yavin and the Wookiees very similar to the Ewok uprising in RotJ, a Leia and, well, Annikin romance but he’s really the Luke character in this story), some themes and dreary plot points from the newer movies (politics, trade embargoes, wily and lying politicians, overly ornate headgear for the Princess/Queen), and all the art smacks of the concept art all us Star Wars nerds know and love from the pen of Ralph McQuarrie. The oddly androgynous C-3PO, the Luke Starkiller with the buzzcut mullet, the green-skinned amphibious Han Solo, and the oddly bug-eyed Chewbacca all come from McQuarrie’s illustrations we all know and love.
Thing is, when you read this, you can really appreciate the changes made to Episodes 4-6. You really can. You can appreciate the available charm of its characters, its streamlined Hero’s Journey of an action-based plot, and its iconic tropes buffered to a new sheen. The story of this comic is tired, too complex, too wordy in ways no one speaks (okay well all the movies are like this too) and, well, basically, nothing really…happens.
What this is is fan service: for those of us who were obsessed with this epic series and who wanted more from the prequels, those of us who appreciated the streamlined storytelling before Lucas got the tech and was allowed to add in extraneous whatever-he-wanted, this is a window into the writing process and indeed the creative process itself.
It’s not a great comic.
Bottom line: I don’t recommend this to anyone but the most completionist collector or the most die-hard Star Wars fan. It’s a dreary, plodding, clunkily-drawn peek into an early draft of a movie series we’re glad got edited from it. It’s fun to see McQuarrie’s creations in a sort of action, though.
San Diego Comic Con International 2013 has been over for a few weeks now. Attendees have finally recuperated from the chaos and excitement that is SDCC. As exhausting and chaotic as the pop culture convention is, the experience is also an extremely rewarding one for many. One of my favorite aspects of SDCC is the sense that not only are you part of a massive geek/nerd community, but you can also create your own world within that community. Whether you love steampunk cosplay or consider yourself the ultimate TV geek, there are different experiences for any fan at SDCC, you just have to make it. This is the first post in what I hope to be a couple of interviews with women who helped create their own personalized mini-universe within the zeitgeist that is SDCC.
Lady Steam (aka Dina Kampmeyer) is a co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Ladies and a self-described steampunk aficionado. This year Dina moderated two panels on steampunk at SDCC, The Witty Women of Steampunk and Steampunk 101, in addition to cosplaying as a steampunk Luke Skywalker. If you are interested in hearing more about Dina’s involvement with the League of Extraordinary Ladies, you can read her thoughts in a previous interview NiB had with her (and other LxLers).
1) How did you first get interested/involved in steampunk?
Dina Kampmeyer (DK): I started dating someone that was a steampunk and I had absolutely no idea what it is, but I was instantly drawn to the aesthetic. I jumped in with both feet and wanted to meet other people in LA that were into the same thing. The community was a bit disorganized, so I started volunteering my time to start planning occasional events and moderate the two FB pages that were already up and running.
2) What was your first steampunk costume?
DK: It was a pseudo-military look. I bought this great jacket online and went crazy modifying it. I cut off the sleeves, laced up the sides and added a ton of trim, buttons, epilets, etc. Then I added a bunch of ruching to this old skirt I had from college. Added a straw hat from the Renaissance Faire and boom, (not so) instant steampunk.
3) One thing I particularly love about SDCC is the feeling of belonging while at the same time creating your own reality/dream. Steampunk seems to fit into this idea perfectly. Why do you think steampunk has gained so much interest/traction at SDCC and other conventions?
DK: I think there are a lot of reasons why steampunk has become so popular in general, but in terms of conventions, I would say people just love the aesthetic. It’s so playful and it really allows costumers and cosplays a degree of freedom that they don’t usually have in other areas. Most cosplayers are looking to recreate an exact costume, but with steampunk, you don’t do that. You’re not dressing up as someone else’s character (in general), but rather creating a brand-new work of art. I think more people are getting into the genre now through this new trend of steampunking out existing pop culture characters. This is an easier way for them to explore steampunk while working with an existing product, but with an amazing degree of
creativity and freedom.
4) What kind of advice can you give someone who is looking to create their first steampunk cosplay costume?
DK: Try not to be intimidated. I hear so many people who are interested in steampunk worry that they don’t have the “right”
clothing or accessories. There is very little right and wrong in steampunk and we LOVE to help out new people, give them advice and heck, even loan them clothes. Come to steampunk events even if you’re just starting out, take a look at outfits that you like, and ask people how they created things. Go to local thriftshops and try and use your imagination. You’ll be surprised at how much you can create with an old dress and a sewing machine (or some safety pins and tape if you don’t sew).
5) You recently moderated a panel at SDCC called “The Witty Women of Steampunk.” Can you give a general synopsis of the panel for those who were unable to attend SDCC (or the panel)? What was your favorite moment of the panel?
DK: I was very lucky to have this panel accepted by the lovely folks at SDCC for the 2nd year in a row. Basically, I put together an incredible group of female creators and just let them talk about why they love steampunk and what about the genre appeals to them as a creator. We talked comics, alternate history, video games, costuming, multiculturalism and more.
6) Why “Witty Women” of Steampunk?
DK: Part of what is so appealing about steampunk is a return to the Victorian ideals of the pursuit of knowledge and civility. People were very interested in improving both themselves and the world around them. I think we all long to return to a time when wit was a prized possession and my panelists all fit that bill.
7) You also moderated a panel entitled, “Steampunk 101.” Based on discussions at that panel (and of course your own thoughts), what do see for the future of steampunk in popular culture?
DK: Excellent question. The popularity of steampunk has positively exploded over the past couple of years and we expect to see more and more of it in popular culture. It’s been huge amongst the convention crowd for a long time, but Hollywood is slowly starting to take notice. Fox just gleenlit a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TV-pilot, so we’ll see if we finally get a big steampunk series. There has yet to be a big steampunk movie and the panelists (and audience) were all interested in seeing one. Steampunk-literature is popping up all over the NY Times bestseller chart, so I think it’s only a matter of time before we see a big film coming out. Until then, we can keep ourselves occupied with all the fantastic literature and webseries that have directly explored the genre.
8) This year you cosplayed as Steampunk Luke Skywalker. What prompted you to do a gender-swap steampunk cosplay?
DK: Well, I have wanted to do a steampunk Star Wars group for several years and I finally managed to do it. I always intended to be R2D2, but time snuck up on me and we were missing a Luke from our core group, so I thought, why not? He was quite a challenge to find a way to make him distinctive since his outfit isn’t that unique and I was already going to confuse people by crossplaying. I hope that I succeeded and we’ll be building up this group for future conventions and adding some new characters.
Chrissy Lynn is a CA native who began costuming at a very young age. With a major interest in comics and scifi growing up she attended her first comic convention in 2004. She’s always had a passion for the arts; be it charcoal, make-up, costume design or music. She’s used her talents and skills to help fundraise for many non-profit charity organizations and enjoys cosplaying, especially her signature cosplay, Catwoman. Since her first Cosplay at Comicon in 2010 she’s been involved in 6 Cosplay groups, two of which she organized including the DC Steampunk group which debuted at SDCC in 2012. She was introduced to Steampunk in 2007, being a fan of HG Wells, Jules Verne and other scifi authors during the turn of the century she adopted the Victorian science fiction motif and made it apart of her daily style and Cosplay medium of choice. This year at San Diego Comicon she was invited by a good friend to join a Steampunk Star Wars group which turned out to be a hit and will be back at this year’s Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.
1) Your DC Steampunk cosplay group is amazing! How did that come together?
Chrissy Lynn (CL): It all started with having a passion for both the DC Comics universe and Steampunk Culture. I simply started piecing together the idea shortly after Comicon 2011 and thats when I called upon my very good friend Johnny Bias (Steampunk Riddler), from there we reached out to our close friends who we knew would be interested,and could all work together to make these costumes cohesive and photograph well. We all have a hand in something on everyone’s costumes, it’s a team effort that has grown into a family, some cosplayers retire their character and are replaced with other awesome cosplayers. I couldn’t be more proud of this group, we all did this together.
2) Did you all work together on your costumes? If so, which costume did you find the most challenging to put together?
CL: We all came from different skill sets, some of us are tailors and seamstresses, leather workers and some of us are FX and prop fabricators, or geniuses with industrial glue guns. So far what characters you haven’t seen in the group yet are our most challenging. But I’d say, my occasional challenge is doing our Two Face’s makeup because he is unfortunately allergic to latex, so next time I may need to work with silicone!
3) If you had unlimited resources, what would be your ultimate steampunk cosplay (group or individual)?
CL: I’ve been in talks with several individuals who want to do Disney Steampunk, I was honored to recently be a part of this year’s Star Wars Steampunk group with Dina, and I have to say I’d stick with the DC group, only make it BIGGER. 😉 However I wouldn’t mind doing a Steampunk X-men group, just sayin’!
4) Any advice to anyone else trying to put together a cosplay group (steampunk or otherwise) for a convention?
CL: YouTube is filled to the brim on HOW-TO’s and DIY videos, if you are a visual learner check those out, otherwise do what we all have done, trial and error. If I knew 5 years ago what I know now with today’s skill set I would have made ALL the things, at least better. But like any other trade it can take years to master, you don’t always need a sewing machine or unlimited funds, I have a gift for deconstructing pre-existing materials into other objects to fit my cosplay needs. So I encourage everyone to try and remember cosplay is just that, it’s costume play, so play and have fun no matter what!
DC Steampunk Photos by Mike Rollerson
Star Wars Steampunk Photo by Jerry Abuan
Steampunk Malificent Photo by Justin Davidson
July 26-28, 2013 marked an awesome time for many Star Wars fans in Europe. It happened right in the center of Europe, in Germany’s Ruhr valley, in Essen, the European Cultural Capital of 2010. Fans from around the globe gathered to celebrate a unifying cultural and intergalactic phenomenon: Star Wars.
Three days after the con and I am still on adrenaline. Surely many convention attendees know this feeling, the mix of exhilaration and exhaustion that follows you around for days after an amazing con. I was lucky to be there as a fan, a stormtrooper and a crew volunteer. My ‘work’ started on Thursday: before any visitors had the chance to even see the exhibition halls, I was able to take a first look, and I was speechless, blown away, stunned. This was going to be awesome. Apart from loads of merchandise, the Celebration Stage, the Autograph hall, and other show and exhibition locations, there were many fan-built props and sets, like Jabba’s Palace, Vader’s TIE fighter, a part of the Millennium Falcon, a huge AT-AT, the Endor Bunker with a Speeder Biker to climb on, and the part of the Cantina where Han shot first (yes, I know). I spent my first day just walking around, gazing in awe at all the amazing things I was going to see.
I guess a lot of people, celebrities and exhibitors included, hadn’t had the slightest idea how much the people of Europe, and Germany in particular, love Star Wars. I helped with line management for the main stage and it was amazing to see the vastly different people who attended. We were an international team, and we had international, and probably intergalactic, visitors to deal with. I was glad to be able to communicate in various languages and happy that my still-not-fluent Klingon wasn’t needed.
Most Main Stage events were hosted by Warwick Davis, and I had the chance to see him preparing for the shows. A perfectionist, he is smart, witty and nice. His ‘assistant’ was an R4 unit built by Dan Sczudlik, one of the R2 Builders.
All the panels had a lot of spectators but there were of course some highlights. The first one was Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, who announced that legendary composer John Williams will return to score the highly-anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII.
Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine/The Emperor) was surprisingly funny on stage. During the panel, which was more of a talk show, Warwick Davis – aka Wicket – and McDiarmid re-enacted the fight between Yoda and Sidious. Guess who played Yoda! It was hilarious, and could have been entitled “Sidious vs. Yoda and the vicious swivel chair”. McDiarmid even mentioned that Seth Green wasn’t exaggerating when he staged the swivel chair scene in Robot Chicken. The panel ended with a lot of, perhaps evil, laughter.
Anthony Daniels was great too, as was Carrie Fisher. Dave Filoni, the Executive Producer of Star Wars Rebels, talked about the genesis of the upcoming animated series and a lot of young German fans loved to see him, though there was no interpreter helping those who got lost in translation. Overall, I don’t think there was any panel that wasn’t worth visiting.
My personal favorite panel was Mark Hamill’s, who took the stage on Sunday. He was very relaxed and talkative and his imitation of Harrison Ford was really funny. He told a lot of stories from behind the scenes and enjoyed the cheering crowd in the almost packed hall of nearly 7,700 superfans.
In the end though, the Celebration Stage was just one part of the whole Celebration experience and I must admit that even though it was great to see and meet the celebrity Star Wars heroes, my true heroes were to be found among the fans, fan groups, staff and crew – all the people who made this happen and put a lot of energy and time into this event. It was great to see the 501st Legion in attendance, with garrisons from various countries, and so many ‘bad guys doing good’. It was also fun to see all the cosplayers and the kids admiring them. It was awesome to be a part of such a great event and meeting many wonderful and awesome people from all over the world.
If you want to have a look at more of what CEII offered, go to the official webpage (http://www.starwarscelebration.eu/Home/) or check out #starwarscelebration on Twitter.
Hope to see you at Star Wars Celebration VII in Anaheim, CA in 2015.
May the Force be with you, always!
Petra B. Schubert
In my many journeys through the internet, I stumbled across something awesome, and thought it deserved to be shared. Catherine Gretschel with Aisha Voya Creations makes these intricately glittered geeky shoes by hand.
Not only are they very expertly done, but she has such a fun geeky collection. Take a look:
All of those pics lead to the actual shoes, and it looks like she has a ton of sizing options. Take a look at her shop for other fun geekness: http://www.etsy.com/shop/aishavoya
The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman by Vic Armstrong (with Robert Sellers)
Review: Jenn Zuko Boughn
Chances are, you have never heard of Vic Armstrong.
But you probably have heard of: Indiana Jones, James Bond, Superman, Rambo, the Terminator, Flash Gordon, Han Solo, Henry V, The Green Hornet, and Thor.
And since you are reading a site called Nerds in Babeland, you must have heard these names: Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Spielberg, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Christopher Reeve, Tom Cruise, Richard Attenborough, Kenneth Branagh, Angelina Jolie, Will Smith…
Vic Armstrong is the recipient of many accolades and awards for stunt performing and stunt coordination, including the Guinness World Record for Most Prolific Stuntman. Keeping in mind that this above list is a mere fraction of the people Armstrong has doubled, worked with, or directed as Second Unit Director, you can see why. The man is a legend among stunt performers, and his family is following in his footsteps. Armstrong’s new memoir details his early life as a horse lover (and expert) on through stunt performer and, later, stunt director. He gives a behind-the-scenes look at many stages of his epic life in the field of stunts.
This is not the autobiography you read for its scintillating prose. This is an autobiography you read for the amazing stories of the amazing events throughout an amazing, long career. The book begins with a recounting of Armstrong jumping from a moving horse to a moving tank, as Indiana Jones. The harrowing near-miss is delivered with the wry humor typical of a stuntperson, with the dry reality that he would have to reset it and do another take. The book is an immensely entertaining combination of a “special features” behind-the-scenes narration of a staggering number of favorite films (and characters), and chatting with a chummy mentor over a pint, recalling the good times of back in the day.
One of the most engaging things about Armstrong’s narrative is his genuine respect and even awe for his fellow professionals, not only in the stunt field, but everyone who’s worked hard in the movies he’s been involved with, and those that came before. He speaks with true joy about his excitement at starting a new project, and with not too much modesty about his skills and setbacks as a professional. Peppered throughout his personal narrative are brief bold-fonted paragraphs penned by some of the more famous folks he’s worked with. These magazine-article-blurb-like interruptions range from delightful (Harrison Ford avers: “If you learn to talk, I’m done for”), to slightly repetitive (many of the paragraphs start to sound like a ping-pong game of vague praise), but all in all the book reads like a snappy, exciting…well, action sequence!
As a stage combat professional myself, what I appreciated most was his consistent stress on the safety of the techniques used, from the earliest movie he appeared in (You Only Live Twice!) to a lovely farewell as he puts down this book to go work on Thor. He makes it clear what technology was available for each movie, what stunts he did that were foolish-young-man stuff and which he butted heads with the director with over safety. He also has interesting things to say about actors that want to do their own stunts, which is food for thought for those movie-goers that may think an actor doing his own stunts is a “cool” thing.
The bottom line: Vic Armstrong has been involved with the stunts for a dizzying number of films that we at Nerds in Babeland regularly nerd out over, and more than that, and more. The man is a legend, and continues to be so. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the world of the stuntman, or indeed any movie buff.
 Unless you’re a stage combat nerd, like me.
 The Second Unit director is the guy who directs the action sequences.
Guest post written by T. Johnson. T. Johnson is a blogger, au pair, and part-time tutor who has been obsessed with science fiction and comics since roughly first grade. One of her life`s big revelations was discovering Wonder Woman comics-another milestone was starting to read the works of Heinlein and Aldous Huxley. She has always been convinced that girls can be as truly nerdy as any fanboy.
A blog post on Wired.com assets that the female characters of Cartoon Network`s Clone Wars are “over-sexualized” by their “scanty” attire, especially Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano and the older mentor Aayla Secura. The author admittedly makes a good case for this in some ways. Male Jedis of Clone Wars tend to wear long monk-like robes and/or practical cropped pants. Ahsoka and Aayla do wear somewhat less.
But I`m not sure if their clothing can be construed as scanty in the extreme. Consider Ahsoka`s costume: it consists of a leather halter top worn wth a short brown skirt and leggings. I never thought of it as particularly sexy or revealing. This is reinforced by the fact that AT is a character who is concerned with becoming a better Jedi, not dancing in a cantina. We usually see her in full-on action scenes, running,leaping, and wielding her light saber.
In fact, most costumes worn by comic book heroines are far more “scanty” (gasp)! Look at the stuff foisted on Supergirl. Everyone draws her with her navel front and center,regardless of what kind of shirt she wears. She and cousin Power Girl (to name but two examples) are also renowned for their amazing displays of cleavage. Marvel`s Emma Frost always sheds her snow-white or gray cloak to expose a white sports bra and miles of shapely legs. Next to these fan-boy favorites, Aayla and Ahsoka look amazingly modest.
Now, I’m no prude – showing skin (male and female) in comics and cartoons is a long-held tradition. Male heroes have always dressed to show off their chest and leg muscles, even in the fashion-conservative 40`s and 50`s. I’m sure many straight and gay folks enjoyed seeing them this way, and I do as well. But it`s interesting that no one worries about, say, Anakin Skywalker`s pants “over-sexualizing” him. This is something that is applied far more to female characters, as if they are somehow more vulnerable-even if they have good light saber skills or super strength. In fact, fretting about their attire sometimes seems to be a politically correct put-down.
A few months ago, the artists who draw Clone Wars modified Ahsoka Tano`s costume. She`s now wearing a long brown tunic and gray pants-like leggings (funny how this trouser option has never gone away, even in fiction). I`m not sure if fans will take her more seriously with covered legs. She never had much of a problem fighting in her other attire. It remains to be seen whether Aayla will suddenly cover her cleavage with a high-necked blouse. As noted above, I guess I did not notice clothing implications because I was far more interested in these women as valid people. Whether they rock short skirts or full body armor, the women of Clone Wars are competent and powerful.
A portion of this post can also be found at Nerd Society.
Special Episode 2/4 – Guest Directors – Stephenie Meyer, J.K. Rowling & George Lucas – Mad Dog McGillicuddy and his Rabid Band of Howler Monkeys
I asked people on Twitter and Facebook what they thought of the possibility that JK Rowling will do another two or three Harry Potter books. We got tons of great responses but one follower, HowlerMonkeys, shared this wonderful cartoon with me.
Good little entertaining way to end the weekend 🙂
We have an upcoming interview with the boys from Down in Front: Teague Chrystie, Brian Finifter, Michael ‘Dorkman’ Scott, and Trey Stokes. We’ll be posting that soon but in the meantime, check out their movie commentaries. They aren’t really your traditional MST3K commentaries or the ones you would typically hear on DVDs. They dissect movies and give their praise or their own nerdy suggestions as to how they might have fixed certain plot problems. Seriously, they’re awesome. Check ’em out. Down in Front.
Three of the boys from Down in Front have films on Our Favorite Star Wars Fan Films – Movies Feature at IGN. They are “Injured Stormtrooper” by Brian Finifter (#6), Ryan vs. Dorkman (#5), and The Pink Five Saga by Trey Stokes (#4). Check out their work below (I linked RvD2 instead of the first one just b/c it’s my personal favorite of the two :))
This won’t embed but you can click on it to go to youtube OR the whole saga can be found on Atom films (pinkfive.com) so go check them all out there 🙂