I Just Finished – Star Trek New Visions Special: The Cage

Back in the days before most of us could afford a video recorder, and before there was such a thing as a DVD, a BluRay, or an MP4 file, there was no easy way to view a favorite TV show or movie between the times it was running on television. A few collectors could afford 16 MM film prints, but that was a very few. Star Trek fans had such a voracious hunger to experience and re-experience their favorite TV show that, in 1977, a company called Mandala Productions decided to cash in. They produced “Fotonovels”— composed of screen captures from Star Trek episodes, with dialogue and narration added comic-book style using boxes and word balloons. Bantam books published these monthly for one year, and I was all over them. Not only did they let me relive a TV show I couldn’t get enough of, they were also great photo reference. I was a budding artist in my teens, and later an illustrator for fanzines. Fotonovels were indispensible aids.

So when John Byrne of X-Men fame launched a series of new, larger format fotonovels a couple of years ago, I was immediately in for the long haul. Using photoshop technology and screen caps from the 79 original hours of Star Trek, Byrne has so far created 17 new Trek episodes in this nostalgic format.

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Heroes we can believe in? Superheroes – Capes, Cowls and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor

pPBS3-16400338dtI got this book as a Christmas gift. It’s a beautiful work, developed as a companion to the PBS film (which I’ve not seen) Superheroes – A Never-Ending Battle. It’s chock-full of gorgeous shots of comic covers, comic artists at work, rough sketches and unfinished pages of famous characters, and photos of many of the actors who brought superheroes to life on screens big and small. It does a wonderful job of chronicling the genesis of a genre, starting with the pulp magazines which date back to the turn of the 20th Century, and including insights on the industry and the people who made it that I’ve never come across before. That says something, because I have read a lot about comics history. Continue reading