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<<August 2014>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Star Wars, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 150
1. Video Sunday: “Luke, I Am Your Father” (in a manner of speaking)

I’m a chick who loves Star Wars.  I’m not ashamed of the fact.  Feminist icon Princess Leia?  I can get behind that (gold bikini or no).  So when I saw a galley for that AMAZING Star Wars children’s book coming out with art from the original concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, I was blown away.  Here, Tony DiTerlizzi (who did the writing in the book) talks about the film and the art.  Geeks unite!

I love that he mentions that moment with the two suns.  For me, that was undoubtedly the most iconic scene in the original film.  I just loved the realism of it.  I am SO reading this to my kids.  P.S. For a fun time read the rants about the “Luke, I am your father” line.  Or, better yet, don’t.

Now until about a day ago when my niece did it, I didn’t actually know what the Ice Bucket Challenge was.  Dav Pilkey takes it on using Flip-o-Rama.  Good man.

Ball’s in your court now, CeCe.

I think it’s safe to say that I have never seen an author promote a cinematic adaptation of their award winning book as much as I’ve seen Ms. Lois Lowry talk up the latest film of The Giver.  Here she does it again:

How famous is J.K. Rowling?  So famous that when she writes an incidental character, NBC News is willing to report on that character getting her own song.  According to Salon this is an original song written for Pottermore starring Celestina Warbeck, Molly Weasley’s favorite singer:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And speaking of all things Potter, the thing about learning that there’s a documentary out there called Mudbloods is that you can’t believe you hadn’t seen a film of that name before.  It’s an awfully good idea to make a movie about the rise of the real world Quiddich movement.  It’s not the first Harry Potter documentary of course but it’s a cute idea.  Here’s the trailer:

Man.  It would weird to be J.K. Rowling and see this, wouldn’t it?  Here’s some additional info.

A little me stuff.  I conducted a talk with Mara Rockliff and Eliza Wheeler for Bibliocommons in honor of their latest book The Grudge Keeper.  It was recorded, but rather than show our lovely faces the video shows some slides of what we’re discussing.  In case you’ve an interest you can take a gander at it.  A lot of talking about the process of writing picture books can be found here:

As for the off-topic video, this one’s been making the rounds.  It’s one of those videos where you go, “Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh? Ooooooh!”

Thanks to Steve Bird for the link!

share save 171 16 Video Sunday: Luke,  I Am Your Father (in a manner of speaking)

2 Comments on Video Sunday: “Luke, I Am Your Father” (in a manner of speaking), last added: 8/24/2014
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2. Review: The Star Wars Tries to Soar


By Matthew Jent

The Star Wars


Script: J.W. Rinzler

Art: Mike Mayhew

Colors: Rain Beredo

Lettering: Michael Heisler

Cover Art: Nick Runge

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Movie Tie-In

Star Wars the film — the original film, whether you call it “Episode IV” or “A New Hope” or just “Star Wars” — is a religious text. There’s barely been a time since its 1977 release when it wasn’t being enjoyed, debated, worshipped or deconstructed. In a world of reboots, remakes and restarts, it is hard to imagine Star Wars doing anything except continue.

And yet. Star Wars was created by a mortal mind. It did not spring fully formed from the head of some god. Dark Horse’s The Star Wars is a graphic novel collection “based on the original rough-draft screenplay by George Lucas.” It takes place among the stars. It concerns an evil empire being fought by a rebel alliance. There are words herein such as “Skywalker,” “Darth Vader,” and “Jedi.”

But in place of lightsabers, we have “lazerswords.” Instead of The Force, we have “the force of others.” There is a moon-sized space station called, not the Death Star, but “The Space Fortress.” There are echoes and mirror images of familiar characters and designs, such as a familiar group of bounty hunters we encounter about halfway through the story.

It’s long been rumored that the original Star Wars screenplay had enough content for what became the entire saga, and you get a sense of that here. The plot moves at a breakneck pace, which leads to some welcome between-panel jumps that modern comics tend to overexplain. But the downside is that The Star Wars lacks the quiet character moments needed to humanize and soften the space-fantasy archetypes the characters have become. There’s no time taken for quiet character moments or smalltalk over the dejarik table, and there’s no winning smirk when Han espouses his preference for a good blaster. This is just plot, plot, plot.

Mike Mayhew’s art relies on frozen, exaggerated facial features, but it was the charisma and sass of Carrie Fisher that made Princess Leia rise above the cliché and lazy stereotype of a thinly drawn damsel-in-distress. Here, Princess Leia’s character is thinner than cheesecloth. Young hero Annikin Starkiller punches her in the face to keep her from arguing against their escape from the Empire, and a few dozen pages later she proclaims her love for him. The cast of the original Star Wars film is beloved, but they don’t get enough credit for bringing humanity and charm to a screenplay so devoid of it.

It’s not clear in this adaptation how much of the dialogue is Lucas-original, and how much is created by writer J.W. Rinzler, but someone really likes numbers and mumbo-jumbo space coordinates. Quad-tristation configurations, south axis point three-nine-four, point five-seven on the axis — it’s meaningless jargon that makes the story feel militaristic and unengaging, causing the eye to scan nearby word balloons for a familiar name or phrase as an anchor point.

Another Star Wars legend is that the Ewoks of Return of the Jedi were originally going to be Wookiees. This proves true here, but again the process feels rushed. Two-thirds of the way through the story, the Wookiees start talking in translated word balloons instead of unintelligible, roaring vowells. Did we not need to know what they were saying previously? Were they literally just yelling wordlessly? Why is it important that we know when one of them says, “No problem, boss. That hunk of lifeless metal is in big trouble”?

The only nice surprise in the narrative of The Star Wars is the late reveal that the Jedi and the Sith are not so much ancient enemies-to-the-death as much as they are rival clans, capable of working together if it suits their interests. But again, this is treated as a plot device and not a character choice. There is no follow up or second beat to this development, and with the exception of a tiny panel detail on the last page, you are left to wonder what, exactly, becomes of Sith Prince Vallorum.

Likewise the twin boys Biggs and Windy, so important to the plot earlier in the book, are put into artificially-induced comas and lugged around in metal containers when their use as plot devices are over.

The art and color by Mike Mayhew and Rain Beredo make this volume a worthy exploration of Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept designs. Mayhew’s faces are fun and expressive, and Beredo’s colors are softly lit but bold. A late-story splash of Annikin and Leia’s romantic embrace is the highlight of the volume.

The Star Wars is an ambitious and fun concept — taking the rough draft script and original designs and re-imagining a beloved franchise — that fails to rise above expectations. It’s not quite a fiasco, but its story and dialogue do a disservice to the gorgeous art between the covers.

The book’s backmatter contains design sketches and notes on the adaptation process. Regarding the diminished role of the spaceship pilots from script to comic adaptation, it says, “there is always less room on a page than you imagined.”

But should that be so? Isn’t a benefit of the comic book page that you don’t have to build sets, hire actors, or stitch costumes? An artist can draw a space armada with the same tools and time it would take to illustrate a quiet forest glen.

Of course, there are production schedules to be concerned with. Another backmatter page espouses the importance and necessity of having an entire concept art team on hand to flesh out this rough draft, then goes on to say that interior artist Mayhew started drawing issue one before any of those concept artists created a single design. This belies a troubled and rushed production process. Obviously, this collection is one of the final Dark Horse Star Wars publications before the license moves to Marvel, so the behind the scenes reasons for a rush can be presumed.

But that doesn’t make the final product any more enjoyable. It feels like a rush job, because it is one. I won’t go so far at to call it a cash grab, but I’m forced to wonder if The Star Wars is simply a decent version of a once grander plan.

5 Comments on Review: The Star Wars Tries to Soar, last added: 8/14/2014
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3. Gaming the system

By Robert M. Geraci

2014 is the year of role-playing…November marks the 10th anniversary of World of Warcraft, the first truly global online game, and in January gamers celebrated the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, the fantasy game of elves and dwarves, heroes and villains, that changed the world.

Photo of Dungeons and Dragons

When Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) became popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, many commentators lambasted the game as a gateway to amorality, witchcraft, Satanism, suicide, and murder. Of course, such accusations were no more substantive than the claim that vicious tricksters put needles in Halloween candy, and eventually everyone saw through them. In fact, the only thing that D&D’s detractors got right is that D&D competed against the conservative religions that attacked them.

Those original D&D books were and remain sacred texts. Finding an out-of-print copy of Deities and Demigods was a religious experience in the 1980s. It was impossibly rare, appearing once a year behind the counter at the comic book shop and with a plastic bag protecting it from the mundane dust, dirt, and fingerprints that could sully its sacred value (and it’s high price). The magic of Unearthed Arcana could inspire the spirit, renewing a love of the game through new rules and new treasures. Like any good sacred text, the handbooks of D&D enthralled the players and gave them dreams worth dreaming. In doing so, they gave them opportunities to be more than anyone else had ever hoped. Dungeons & Dragons made heroes of us all.

As the devoted fans of D&D grew up and, more often than not, gave up the game and its requisite all-night forays against evil, fueled by junk food, soda, or beer, they nevertheless carried it with them in their hearts and their minds. Dungeons and Dragons never changed people into Satanists and murderers, but it did change them. All of those years carrying a Player’s Handbook or a Dungeon Master’s Guide couldn’t help but reshape the bodies that lugged them around or the minds that fixated upon their contents. Those books encouraged adventure, and a desire to go one step further, even in the face of cataclysmic danger. Let the mysterious be understood, for there is always another mystery to uncover.

Dungeons & Dragons was a revelation. It didn’t come—as far as we know—from any gods, but it revealed the future. Today more than 90% of high school students play videogames and the demographics just keep getting better for the manufacturers. Every time a new Marvel comics-themed movie hits the theaters, it goes radioactive, raking in many times over its enormous cost to film. The religions of Star Trek and Star Wars have played a part in this cultural turn, and they get most of the mainstream credit. But it was the subtler impact of D&D that really re-shaped the world. Dungeons & Dragons provided the intellectual and imaginative space that has produced many of today’s great writers, technology entrepreneurs, and even academics. The game is a game of imagination, and its players—whether they gave up when they graduated high school or college or whether they play now with their friends and their children—never forgot what it means to imagine a world. They’ve been re-imagining this one into their image of it and we should all be thankful for the opportunity to play in their world.

Robert M. Geraci is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Manhattan College.  He was the principle investigator on a National Science Foundation grant to study virtual worlds and the recipient of a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Award (2012-2013), which allowed him to investigate the intersections of religion and technology at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He is the author of Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual RealityVirtually Sacred: Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life; and many essays that analyze the ways in which human beings use technology to make the world meaningful.

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Image credit: Dungeons and Dragons (meets Warhammer…) by Nomadic Lass. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

The post Gaming the system appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Comic Con International Recap

I’ve attended San Diego’s Comic Con International off-and-on since the 1990′s and I’ve watched it grow to become the daddy of all geek conventions. Despite the long airplane flight, long lines and 200k+ crowd, it is a fun four-day ride.


I’ve always felt that I am a bit of an odd puzzle piece as a participant in the programming for Comic Con. Compared to other massive conventions, like BookExpo, there are far fewer kid’s lit author/illustrators present–and many that do attend are either current bestsellers or their book is Soon to Become a Major Motion Picture. I suppose my books fall somewhere in this category and I am thankful for that.


As Angela and I shuffled past the decorated booths, I was reminded that Comic Con is a grab-bag cross-section of pop culture in media. Film, television, nerdy apparel, toys, games and books were all featured prominently. About the only thing that wasn’t front and center were good ol’ comic books, which seem relegated to the outer fringes of the convention floor.

But, because there was such a mix, I bumped into all sorts of creative types: like fellow artists and writers, sculptors and film-makers.


Next to me are Vicki and Allen Williams, director Kirk Thatcher, and artist Travis Lewis sits front and center.


HBO’s ubiquitous Game of Thrones series dominated the con. Here, I met the book’s author (and the winner of the Game of Thrones) George R.R. Martin at the Weta booth (there’s Weta Workshop founder, Richard Taylor, right behind us). After stalk-chatting with George for several minutes, he had some of his characters remove me from the premises:


But I was remembered by my old friend, artist Donato Giancola–who used my likeness as one of the Night’s Watch in the 2015 Game of Thrones calendar. Scratch that one off of my bucket list.


I participated on a couple of panels, including “Fairy Tale Remix” moderated by the award-winning author, Shannon Hale (who may, or may not, be part of a crime-fighting duo).


The conversation on the influence of fairy tales in modern storytelling was lively and the audience’s questions were thought-provoking. (Lytherus.com has a nice, detailed write-up on the panel).


Above are authors aplenty (from left to right): Katherine Harbour, Shannon Hale, Cornelia Funke, Marissa Meyer, Danielle Paige, Ben Tripp, T-Dog and John Peck.


Friday was “Star Wars Day” at the con (in DiTerlizziland, every day is “Star Wars Day”) and I presented the upcoming picture book The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight (featuring illustrations by the legendary Ralph McQuarrie). Along with Exec. Editor of Disney Publishing, Michael Siglain, and Lucasfilm historian and author, Jonathan Rinzler, we talked of how this book came to be and offered up inside stories of the development of the first screenplay as well as Ralph’s place in Lucasfilm history as the visual genius who presented the first glimpses into a galaxy far, far away.


I had a moment when Jonathan told me that he thought Ralph would have liked how this book turned out. That meant a lot to this ten-year old kid and I am still beaming from his comment.

The Star Wars fun continued when Ang and I reunited with film effects dungeon master, Phil Tippett, who was not only responsible for bringing to life childhood cinematic moments (like the AT-AT attack in The Empire Strikes Back or the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park) but goblins, trolls and Hogsqueal in The Spiderwick Chronicles.


After my authorial duties were completed it was time to spend some hard earned royalty money. For many nerd collectors, Comic Con has become a one-stop-shop of the weird and rarefied. In fact, there were one-of-kind props from some of my favorite films, like Marty McFly’s hoverboard from Back to the Future II. (price tag: $30k):


…or one of the puppets from Beetlejuice:


If your a 70′s kid trapped in a man’s body (like me) then you’ll love these Kenner-styled Alien figures. Sure, they’re about 30 years too late, but you know what they say…(in 1979 no one can hear you scream…for Alien action figures?)


Speaking of toys, Sideshow toys melted my brain with a new line of incredibly detailed creeptastic ghouls and demons called “Court of the Dead”. If you were a fan of McFarlane Toys or Wayne Barlowe, you’re gonna love these. Take a look:



Lastly, I nabbed a few limited edition artist’s sketchbooks. By far, this is my favorite sort of thing to hunt down and purchase at the con. Fortunately, booksellers (like Stuart Ng Books) had many to choose from like this reproduction of Claire Wendling’s sketchbook.


…and, yes, I dropped off a handful of signed The Battle for WondLa: Sketchbook III to Stuart who should have them for sale on his site very soon. I’ll share a link once they’re up. In the meantime, “Stay classy San Diego. I’ll see you next time.”

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5. SDCC 2014: Watchtower Thursday: Surfing the Tsunami Online

*  We’ve won!  Politicians officially open Comic-Con!

On Thursday, to mark the official opening of Comic-Con International 2014, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria harnessed their inner superheroes and flew through the air on a zip-line near the downtown Convention Center.

Gloria was the interim Mayor after the Filner scandal.  Faulconer won the special election.  Faulconer has strong ties to Comic-Con: he worked PR on the second convention center expansion before he ran for public office, and supports the expansion of the convention center.  His hobbies: yachting and biking.

* Google Glass banned from Comic-Con screenings.

 Not that surprising.

*For the wrestling fans out there… Sting appears at the WWE panel. [No, not the musician.]

Is this bigger than JR Jr. working for DC?


Well, yes; corporate synergy is another explanation—ESPN, like Marvel, is owned by Disney. The three spots feature former SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne introducing Marvel’s latest super team as new ESPN employees brought in to ensure the safety of the new SportsCenter set.

How soon before we see “ESPN: The Sports Comic Magazine”?  What?  Sports fans are geeks, too!  T-shirts, who-would-win fantasy leagues, arcane statistics and knowledge, objectified athletes and cheerleaders…

 * This year’s economic profile of Comic-Con.

 *  We discover Stan Lee’s one weakness…  Get well soon, Stan!   

*  OH NOES!  Girls are ruining Peanuts too!

“With their youthful, ingenious, and fashion-savvy sensibility, Snoopy and Belle are a perfect fit with the We Heart It community, and we’re looking forward to a terrifically successful partnership,” said Dave Williams, President of We Heart It. “Peanuts has always offered a fresh and original world view, which is exactly what We Heart It fans crave. This will provide an outstanding opportunity for our fans to find inspiration and engagement with this legendary brand.”

It’s like an electronic greeting card.  You can like and share pictures online.

* A Comic-Con Virgin, from Japan:

* The Boston Herald profiles how Wired used their “Wired Café” to best effect.

* Reed Elsevier, owner of NYCC, announces earnings.

 * Some Star Wars VII tidbits.

Movie Wars

DC wins on a quiet day (so far, as of 7 PM EDT/4 PM PDT), getting great publicity for their “All Hat, No Battle” Batsuit reveal. 

* MTV plots how DC can beat Marvel in Hall H.

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6. Comic Con 2014 Schedule

For those attending next week’s Comic Con International in lovely San Diego, California, here is my schedule of events:



Thursday, July 24th
10:00 am -10:30 am
Booth 1119
Book signingMysterious Galaxy Book Store presents Tony DiTerlizzi. Many of my titles will be available for purchase or bring your books and cards to be signed.

12:00 pm-1:00 pm
Room 32AB
Fairy Tale Remix — Toto, I’ve a feeling these aren’t your typical fairy tales… From cyborg Cinderellas to swashbuckling pirates, fairy tales are just full of possibilities for retelling and reimagining. A fantastic line up of authors will discuss how they take very well-known stories (such as Rapunzel, The Wizard of Oz, Tam Lin) and remix them for a new audience, and how they create their very own fairy tales! Moderated by Shannon Hale (Ever After High series), this panel featuring Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles series), Katherine Harbour (Thorn Jack), John Peck (Charming Series), Cornelia Funke (Mirrorworld Series), Tony DiTerlizzi (Search for WondLa), Ben Tripp (The Accidental Highwayman), and Danielle Page (Dorothy Must Die) will give insight to the fairy tales of old, and new!

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Autograph Area AA09
Group Signing: Fairy Tale Remix
*I’ll have the FREE WondLa III sketchbooks on hand for the signing after the panel discussion.


Friday, July 25th
3:00 pm-4:00 pm
Room 7AB
Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight — Ralph McQuarrie’s art for the original Star Wars trilogy is introduced to a new generation of young readers in Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Join New York Times bestselling author Tony DiTerlizzi as he talks about the conceptualization of this project and the process, challenges, and privileges of writing to the works of a legend; along with Troy Alders (Art Director, Lucasfilm), J.W. Rinzler (Executive Editor, Lucasfilm), and Joanne Chan (Children’s Book Editor, Lucasfilm).

*We will have a promotional postcard wallet of amazing McQuarrie art that we will be giving out at the panel, so stop on by!


PS –For those not attending this year’s comic con who wish to nab one of the limited edition The Battle for WondLa sketchbooks, fear not. Stuart Ng Books (on of my favorite places to spend my royalty checks) will be selling them after the convention.

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7. Best New Kids Stories | July 2014

We have quite the variety of books to share with readers this month. We're featuring picture books all the way to popular teen books. Jeffrey Brown returns with the highly anticipated sequel to the NY Times Bestseller Star Wars: Jedi Academy! There is fun stuff for picture book and puppy fans; as well as great chapter books for older readers.

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8. Best Selling Kids Series | June 2014

Best Selling Books for Kids This month, DK Readers: Star Wars are on top of The Children’s Book Review’s best selling kids series list.

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9. STAR WARS Book Trailer

Lucasfilm has released a trailer for my upcoming picture book adaptation of the original trilogy, title The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Take a look:


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10. Report: Star Wars comics going to Marvel in 2015

201212201054 Report: Star Wars comics going to Marvel in 2015
Well the other power converter has dropped, as respected Disney site Blue Sky Disney has some inside poop on the Star Wars comics license, which everyone assumed would be moving from Dark Horse to Marvel once Disney purchased Lucasfilm:

One of the things that many people wondered after Disney bought Lucasfilm was how long will this relationship continue? Especially since the Mouse owns Marvel, the largest comics publisher in the world. Well, it appears we now have the answer. The Suits in the know have determined that no new contracts will be given to Dark Horse after the current ones expire. So all new projects after 2013 will be handled internally by Marvel.

It’s not known yet if titles will be worked into the regular line up, or will Marvel create a special branch of the company that deals with Star Wars. It’ll take a couple of years for the old deals to work there course, but the stories that Dark Horse have coming down the pipeline will be the last. And you can expect anything new from Marvel dealing with Star Wars to arrive around 2015.

While totally expected, the move will still necessitate some changes at Dark Horse to plug the holes in their line—luckily they have some time to get things rolling and I’m sure they did the day the Disney deal was announced.

Meanwhile, what do you think of SECRET JEDI ACADEMY by Brian Bendis and Leinil Yu? What creators from Marvel’s lineup would you like to see on a Star Wars comic?

15 Comments on Report: Star Wars comics going to Marvel in 2015, last added: 12/20/2012
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11. Wrap This! Holiday Gift Guide 2012.

from the Christmas Quiet Book

Click a link to go directly to a post!

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12. Art Wall: Cubist Thing, them Mighty Morphin’ kids and Batman- lots of Batman

TweetHello and welcome! We are starting a weekly art thingy and have -rather thoughtfully- set it for Friday, that interminable day where the weekend is within touching distance and yet you still have to be at work. Hence, pretty and cool stuff that will help tide you over- forget words, just feast your eyes. This [...]

1 Comments on Art Wall: Cubist Thing, them Mighty Morphin’ kids and Batman- lots of Batman, last added: 2/10/2013
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13. If Pixar Made “Star Trek”…

After Pixarifying (is that a word?) the universes of Marvel/DC comics, Doctor Who and Star Wars, cartoonist Phil Postma has directed his attention toward the characters of Star Trek. In a post on his blog, Postma explains that he didn’t render any of the images:

“Yes, these are characters from Pixar films and it is just a photo mash-up of images I find on the Internet using Photoshop. No, they are not meant to be a caricature of the actors who played them. Rather a character from the Pixar universe that resembles in some small way the character I am doing. It is just a fun simple project I picked to help me learn more about Photoshop since I am far from an expert at it.”

Reimagining “X in the style of Y” isn’t necessarily a groundbreaking venture, but it’s a common creative exercise done by artists to help better perceive the design tropes of certain styles and studios. In that light, Postma’s exercises are fun to look at. Incidentally, the best reimagining by Postma has nothing to do with Pixar—it’s a Fleischer-ization of Spider-Man.

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14. Process: Jeffrey Brown’s Vader’s Little Princess

Following up on last year's bestselling Vader and Son, Jeffrey Brown is back this April with Vader's Little Princess a series of gags based on Vader as dad to little Leia, from toddler to teen. Art Director Steve Mockus has a process post on putting together the book's cover; since it covered an age range the idea wasn't immediately apparent.

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15. How Disney Bought Lucasfilm

Good long-read in Businessweek about how Disney bought the Star Wars franchise and Lucasfilm. The article is short on major revelations, but contains some cute stories, like an overview of the meeting in which Disney CEO Robert Iger first asked George Lucas if he’d be interested in selling Lucasfilm:

In May 2011, Iger flew to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for the opening of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, an upgraded Star Wars ride offering patrons the illusion of traveling through space to visit planets like Tatooine. Lucas was deeply involved in the attraction, personally reviewing its progress every two weeks for several years.

On the morning of the Star Tours opening, Iger met Lucas for breakfast at the Hollywood Brown Derby, one of Disney World’s restaurants. It was closed for the occasion so the two men could speak freely. Fresh from his daily workout, Iger ordered a yogurt parfait. Lucas treated himself to one of the Brown Derby’s larger omelets. The two exchanged pleasantries. Then Iger inquired whether Lucas would ever consider selling his company. Lucas replied that he’d recently celebrated his 67th birthday and was starting to think seriously about retiring. So perhaps the sale of his company was inevitable. “I’m not ready to pursue that now,” he told Iger. “But when I am, I’d love to talk.”

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16. “Epic” Artist of the Day: Sang Jun Lee

Sangjun Lee

Continuing our week of looking at artists who worked on Epic, we focus on Sang Jun Lee.

Sangjun Lee

Sangjun Lee

Sang Jun has designed characters and concepts for many blockbuster movie franchises including Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Men In Black. After a stretch of working in California on these live-action films, he moved to New York to work on Blue Sky features such as Horton Hears a Who, Rio, and most recently, Epic.

Sangjun Lee

Sangjun Lee

Sangjun Lee

Sang Jun’s website has a generous amount of drawings and digital paintings to explore. He also keeps a blog here.

Sangjun Lee

Sangjun Lee

Sangjun Lee

Sangjun Lee

Sangjun Lee

Sangjun Lee

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17. 2014 Is Shaping Up To Be The Year of Cartoon Crossovers

Considering that three crossover events have already been announced for next year, 2014 may just become the year of the cartoon mash-up.

With still three weeks left Phineas and Ferb join forces with Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk and Thor in Phineas & Ferb: Mission Marvel, it was announced at Comic-Con that the angle-headed stepbrothers would star in an hour-long episode that relocates them to the desert planet of Tatooine, living next door to a popular sci-fi figure named Luke Skywalker. When plans for destroying the Death Star accidentally fall into their hands, they are recruited into the Galactic rebellion, and…well, you know the rest.

In addition, there have been recent announcements that The Simpsons will be rubbing shoulders with not just one, but two sets of their ‘toon contemporaries when they team-up with both Futurama and Family Guy. Serving as either The Simpsons season 25 finale (May 2014) or the season 26 premiere (fall 2014), Futurama’s Bender will travel back in time with the intention to kill Bart before his actions negatively affect the future. While a date to-be-determined The Family Guy episode will feature the Griffins becoming fast friends with Homer and his family after a road trip leads them to Springfield.

While these episodes are guaranteed to be fan pleasers, they would also appear to be carefully coordinated gambits for ratings. As less and less media companies own more and more entertainment properties, expect to see these kinds of crossovers with greater regularity in the future.

0 Comments on 2014 Is Shaping Up To Be The Year of Cartoon Crossovers as of 7/24/2013 10:48:00 AM
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18. StarWars: Jedi Academy, by Jeffrey Brown

I am a child of the 1970s, so of course I saw Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the movie theatres right when they came out.  What kid didn't?  I did not, however, keep up with the series and see the other movies.  As my neighbor Nick (14yo) always points out, "Stacy, why do you keep saying you saw the first three?  You really didn't, you know.  You saw Episodes 4, 5, and 6!".  Yes, I know.  I put this out there to let you know that even though I am not particularly well versed in the new/old Star Wars movies, I got a tremendous amount of enjoyment out of this graphic novel/ illustrated novel hybrid.

Roan Novachez has always known that he is "destined to attend Pilot Academy Middle School and become the GREATEST star pilot in the GALAXY." (p. 1)  But destiny seems to take a wrong turn for most of us in middle school, doesn't it?  Roan's friends all start receiving their acceptances to the academy, but his letter seems to be taking longer than everyone else's.  Instead of following his brother Dav's footsteps into the pilot life, Roan receives his rejection letter from the school.  He is devastated.

Soon, however, he receives a letter from the Jedi Academy.  Complete with a hand written note by Yoda himself, Roan is invited to attend the school even though most kids are accepted when they are toddlers and Roan himself didn't even apply.  It seems rather curious.

When Roan gets to the academy, he really feels like a fish out of water.  The other kids been there for a while, and they all seem to be able to use the force in controlled ways.  Roan is working on figuring out not only the force, but how to navigate the typical middle school things that all kids deal with no matter what planet they are from.  Things like dealing with bullies, figuring out where to sit in the cafeteria, opening his combination lock, and navigating a dance!  There are some things unique to Roan's situation as well - trying to understand what the heck Yoda is talking about, wielding a light saber, surviving a camping trip involving Wookies!

This is a fun and laugh-out-loud look into middle school that happens to be situated in a Star Wars culture.  Readers needn't be super well versed in Star Wars to enjoy Roan's adventures.  The cover will definitely attract younger readers, but I do think that the audience that will get the most enjoyment out of the story are 4th-6th graders who are wading into similar waters.

1 Comments on StarWars: Jedi Academy, by Jeffrey Brown, last added: 7/29/2013
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19. The Children’s Book Review’s Top Ten Hot Spots | September 2013

Here’s the scoop on the 10 most popular destinations on The Children’s Book Review ... Read the rest of this post

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20. Best Selling Middle Grade Books | March 2014

Our latest list of current popular middle grade books features Lego books and multiple Newbery award-winning titles. The hand selected titles from the nationwide best selling middle grade books, as listed by The New York Times, feature titles by super-talents Kate DiCamillo, Kevin Henkes, Katherine Applegate and R.J. Palacio.

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21. The Book Review Club - The Martian

The Martian
Andy Weir
Science Fiction - Adult

Pop quiz:
1) Do you ever stare at the night sky wondering if there is life out there?
2) Ever tried to levitate something with your mind?
3) Have you ever secretly (or not so secretly) watch Star Trek?

Houston, we have lift off. You like science fiction!

Science fiction has been fascinating readers from the moment Mary Shelley brought Frankenstein's monster to life. And writers of science fiction have been working to keep their edge ever since that first breath of life into their genre. Today, they're getting a little help from actual, real life physicists. Science fiction has become your basic rocket science.

How can this be? Some brilliant people at Tor had the great idea to pair up science fiction writers with NASA scientists. The result is a new list of science fiction titles, headed up by Andy Weir's, The Martian.

Basic premise: Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

More details: Mark Watney, a member of the Ares 3 Mars crew, accidentally gets left on Mars during the middle of a sandstorm. He has a habitat. He has oxygen and water. He has some food. But he doesn't have enough to last until the next Ares mission arrives. Cue creativity. How will Mark survive? Will NASA be able to help?

Weir's characters are wonderfully diverse and wickedly smart without being so smart they become inaccessible. The plot is scary believable. Accidents can happen, especially on a mission to a place as far away and foreign as Mars. The scientific does not way down the story, but rather, enhance it. Admittedly, there were moments when I did zone a little. Then again, that could have been the elliptical machine getting the better of me. I have books I "save" for work outs only. This was one. But I found myself sneaking more of The Martian whenever I could, like a secret stash of chocolate. And more than once that I had to remind myself this is NOT REAL. It's "just" a story (so stop crying!).

Tor has more books in the line up. One is about an elevator from earth to the international space station. Finally, a true fix for my science fiction addiction. I can't wait to see what they imagine up next. And...um...if it's not too much to ask, does anyone know how to get in the super secret society of writers who get to work with these amazing scientists?

For more April fling reads, check out Barrie Summy's website!

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22. Here is your guide to the Star Wars VII cast


Over on FB Star Wars FINALLY announced the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII via a black and white photo of them sitting around director JJ Abrams. The ODC secretive Abrams had kept everything under wraps but since it’s beginning filming soon, they had to make an announcement. The photo is of a table reading for the new script with player old and new.

Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.

Director J.J. Abrams says, “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”

Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer

We’re excited to know that Abrams saw Inside Llewyn Davis, our favorite movie of 2013, with both Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac in the cast.

For a closer look:

John Boyega is a Briitish actor who starred in Attack the Block.

Daisy Ridley is so little known I could barely find any pictures of her! She’s English of course, and had supporting roles in several UK TV shows. She definitely fits the Keira Knightly/Natalie Portman role.

Oscar Isaac was amazing in Inside Llewyn Davis which boosted his acting cred so you’ll be sick of him by the time Star Wars VII comes out.

Adam Driver is the wacky boyfriend in Girls and in every other indie movie you see these days.

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Andy Serkis is the maestro of mocap so I doubt we’ll see his face.

Domhnall Gleeson is Irish and was Bill Weasley in Harry Potter.
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Max von Sydow is a grand old man who gets to play old man roles. Jedi? New Dooku?

Please remember these faces so you recognize them when you see them at Star Wars Celebration XVIII.

I’m still not enthused for JJ Abrams take on Star Wars, but that is a great photo at the top, and I love how Harrison Ford got shotgun.

8 Comments on Here is your guide to the Star Wars VII cast, last added: 4/30/2014
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23. Star Wars Interviews

Patrick Day of the Los Angeles Times interviewed me while on the road promoting The Battle for WondLa last week.

The interview focuses on the production of my upcoming picture book with Lucasfilm, STAR WARS: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. You can read more here.


As well, I spoke with the fellas at TheForce.net on their weekly podcast, ForceCast. We had a great in-depth discussion about the legacy of these beloved films and the impact they’ve had on the 1970-80′s generation of kids. You can listen to the complete podcast here.

Lastly, while on tour I sat down with Corey McPherrin on Good Day Chicago to chat about WondLa, imagination and Star Wars. Take a look:


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24. Star Wars Stuff

Well, Episdoe VII is officially under way. Principal cast has been announced and shooting has started. As a life-long fan, I have much confidence in JJ. Contrary to many, I totally enjoyed what he did with Star Trek and thought Into Darkness was better than his first one. To me, it seems Mr. Abrams is a fan first and a businessman second. I hope that he makes my beloved universe his own, acknowledges the fans and makes something not only for kids, but also those of us who never really grew up.

Star Wars Weekends 2007

I have my hopes for what I would like to see in the new trilogy; characters like Mara Jade and events like the death of Chewbacca. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to see Chewbacca die. Jar Jar heads that list. Chewbacca's death was an epic moment and a great sacrifice. He swore a life-debt to Han and it should be a necessary moment, even if it does not occur as it did in the Expanded Universe novel.

The cast consists of a young group of relative unknowns. Sound familiar? Still, there is one Harry Potter alum, two from Coen Bros and one that endured Attack the Block. One of the biggest treats for me is to see Max Von Sydow join the ranks of Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In case you are not familiar with this legendary actor, he starred in the classic Strange Brew.

I could rant about how great the original trilogy was, everything wrong with the prequels and what they musn't ruin in the new movies. I won't do that. We all have our own opinions and own hopes. Isn't that what Star Wars is really about...hope? It is adventure, humor, mystery, love and good conquering evil. On top of all that, it gives us hope...hope that there is something bigger, greater out there - something that binds the universe together. It gives us hope that we can revisit our childhood and remember the things that made us happy.

Star Wars remains one of the earliest inspirations for my own writing. The Hero's Journey is a universal map that applies to my first novel, The Fourth Queen. I even tried my hand at some SW Fan Fiction (which might end up on this blog some day).

"They're for sale, if you want them."

As I continue my training in the Jedi way, I find that I can part with material things. To that end, I have created a Facebook album featuring over 300 figures collected since 1995. Feel free to make me an offer on any or all of them.

As always, thank you for reading my blog. 
Please be sure to visit me on FB: www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor

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25. Vader’s Little Princess

Vader's Little PrincessJeffrey Brown has cemented himself as a firm favourite of mine for a bunch of reasons, not least:

  • his genius in coming up with an idea for some clever books and seeing them through to fruition
  • because he’s gotten me out of many a gift-giving bind (especially for friends with children, as being a child-friendly but child-free person, I’m not overly familiar with what appeals to kids these days)
  • his books manage the holy-grail feat of impressing both adults and kids.

I’m writing, of course, about Brown’s Vader series. The first, entitled Darth Vader and Son ( I have to say I think Vader and Son would have been a stronger title), I’ve blogged about previously. It’s based on the premise that instead of not encountering Luke until he was an adult, Vader instead raised him on the Death Star.

The follow-up, Vader’s Little Princess, is the daughter-themed equivalent, with Vader experiencing all the love and enduring all the quirks that come with that gig.

The scenarios are recognisable to parents and non-parents alike, but given a peculiarly fantastic Star Wars-themed twist. Let’s be honest, these books are pretty much the best thing nerds and nerds who’ve become parents could ask for (and that’s not even including how much these books appeal to kids).

Some favourite Vader’s Little Princess moments include:

  • when Vader embarrassingly insists on dropping Leia right to the front door of school in an At At Walker rather than, as she requests, around the corner
  • a dad-and-new-boyfriend ‘bonding’ moment when Vader introduces Han Solo to a carbon freezing chamber
  • when Vader lectures Leia, dressed in the barely there outfit famous from the Jabba the Hutt scene, that she’s ‘not going out dressed like that’
  • when Leia pours her heart out about (and implores Vader to help dissect the meaning of) saying ‘I love you’ to Han Solo and all he said back was ‘I know’
  • and when Leia takes Vader to the ballet featuring—wait for it—Jar Jar Binks (it wouldn’t be a Star Wars spoof without a Jar Jar Binks joke).

Vader and SonI don’t find Vader’s Little Princess quite as entertaining as I do Vader and Son, although whether that’s because Brown understandably used up his best material in the first book or because the element of how-cool-is-this surprise was gone the second time around.

But I do find it great enough to warrant reading occasionally and recommending and gifting to friends more often than that.

I’m not sure if there’s room for a third book in the series—maybe a Vader as grandparent title?—but I truly hope so. In the interim, these two are going to remain my parents-and-kids gift-giving staple.

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