Rocking out with a Millennium Falcon guitar
February 20th, 2012
12:24 PM ET

Rocking out with a Millennium Falcon guitar

After kittens and squirrels became Jedi Knights, dogs were made to resemble things found on the planet Hoth, and a Stormtrooper cake was brought into existence, it was only a matter of time before someone created a Millennium Falcon guitar.

In fact, there are quite a few of those people out there. One of them is Brian Fisk, who designed the guitar after Han Solo and Chewbacca's famous ship as seen in the original "Star Wars" trilogy.

CNN Geek Out spoke to Fisk about his homage to an unmistakable symbol for "Star Wars" fandom:
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Filed under: Fandom
Publishers want you to know: Manhwa is not manga
Dark Horse Comics' "Bride of the Water God."
February 17th, 2012
01:57 PM ET

Publishers want you to know: Manhwa is not manga

Editor's note: Danica Davidson is a writer whose articles have appeared on MTV.com, Publishers Weekly and the Los Angeles Times. She also writes English adaptations of Japanese graphic novels. She has recently finished her first young adult novel and is seeking a publisher.

In recent years, the licensing and distribution of Korean comics — called manhwa — have increased in the United States, but retailers don't provide much of a distinction between it and its Japanese counterpart, manga.

Manhwa is sold right beside manga in bookstores, which some industry insiders view as inevitable (because manga is better known, and such a close association could help manhwa sales).  But others think that manhwa should be recognized for its own merits in America.

Manga and manhwa read in different directions (manga is read from right to left, and manhwa is read in the traditional Western style of left to right), and the art style is different, though not overwhelmingly so.  They often delve into similar subjects in their stories: action, romance (opposite- and same-sex) and Asian mythology.

Whereas manga often turns to Japanese mythology for background and stories, manhwa naturally turns to Korean mythology.  There are definite similarities, and modern manhwa has had some influence from manga, but it’s certainly inaccurate to say that manhwa only exists because of manga, as some people have come to believe. FULL POST

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Caught between popularity and authenticity
February 16th, 2012
01:58 PM ET

Caught between popularity and authenticity

Steven Molaro's workspace is filled with paraphernalia familiar to any geeky fan of science fiction.

"In my office, I’ve got a lot of robot paintings," he said. One of Molaro's co-workers, Bill Prady, often fiddles with a "Star Trek" phaser and will occasionally "shoot" some of his colleagues.

When he and his co-workers gather, they are surrounded by a statue of Spock, a massive painting of DC Comics' "Justice League of America," and a Cylon standee from "Battlestar: Galactica."

All of this is actually quite appropriate for their office, because Molaro is an executive producer for "The Big Bang Theory."

Now in its fifth season on CBS, the show is more popular than ever, airing in reruns on local TV, as well as on TBS (owned by Turner, which also owns CNN). It has recently boasted of beating "American Idol" head-to-head in the coveted 18-49 demographic.

This means that new people are discovering the show all the time, some of whom may originally have been hesitant to watch a show about a bunch of science nerds who collect comic books. FULL POST


Filed under: Brainiac • Fandom
New Comic Wednesday: February 15, 2012
“Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1” cover. Writer: John Ostrander; penciler: Jan Duursema; inker: Dan Parsons; colorist: Wes Dzioba; cover artist: Gonzalo Flores.
February 15th, 2012
11:31 AM ET

New Comic Wednesday: February 15, 2012

Hello again, fellow comic readers!

Dark Horse Comics and writer John Ostrander are teaming up again for “Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1.” While the recently released MMO “Star Wars: The Old Republic” is set long before the events in the “Star Wars” films, “Dawn of the Jedi #1” is set earlier still (long, long ago, if you will), dealing with the very foundation of the Jedi order and the events that helped shape their philosophies.

You can easily see a direct line between this story and story of Luke eventually finding Obi-Wan Kenobi in the deserts of the planet Tatooine. Our friend Daniel Dean from Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, has high hopes for the book.

“My store sees a lot of ‘Star Wars’ fans. It seems like every week, I have five new ‘Star Wars’ comics come out and I have customers who not only buy them all, but who would also buy more. My love of ‘Star War’s isn't quite as oceanic, but the waters do run deep.”

I'm a fan of new releases like comics, novels and video games that take thematic elements from the original “Star Wars” story but divorce them from the so-called “Expanded Universe” that acts as a sort of official timeline.

It allows developers and writers to tell an engaging, multidimensional story using elements so familiar that even people who haven't seen "Star Wars" will recognize them - but without the audience feeling like they have to track down random other bits of “Star Wars” lore to understand and enjoy it.

“I had a teacher who liked to say the reason ‘Star Wars’ was such a hit was because it was about good and evil, and everybody can appreciate good and evil," Dean said. "I don't think that's true. I think if you go back to that first movie, “Episode IV A New Hope,” it is an individual's capacity for good or evil, and the fact that they aren't mutually exclusive, which makes the characters and trappings really stick with people.”

“Dawn of the Jedi” takes readers back to a time when adherents to the Jedi order learned this lesson the hard way. It shows how early events shaped the views, and future actions, of the order.

This book offers a lot of good lore, a couple of “Expanded Universe” nods, an ominous antagonist and a big bad-guy throw-down.

And of course we get John Ostrander, who has been writing “Star Wars” titles for Dark Horse for more than a decade. So, yeah, I think those five-a-week "Star Wars" customers might have just added a sixth book.

So, until next week, go forth and read, my people. And the reading will be good!

Is there a comic out there that you really love? Let us know in the comments. We’re always looking for tips on good comics!

Here are some of the comics scheduled to hit the shelves on February 15, 2012. Your local retailer will probably have these and others, so make sure to check with them for more details.

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Where data meet diction: Science and sci-fi's dialogue
Rowena Morrill's painting depicts a plethora of ideas flying out of Isaac Asimov's typewriter.
February 15th, 2012
10:32 AM ET

Where data meet diction: Science and sci-fi's dialogue

When the U.S.S. Enterprise or Millennium Falcon glides by the camera, we take an odd comfort in the signature “whoosh” sound that follows.

Our friend, the stickler for scientific fact, usually points out that sound can never be possible in space. But don’t let the same be said for warp drive and tricorders, or even Starfleet Academy and the “Force.” Science and science fiction follow an intricate dance that toes the line between fantasy and fact. It is, in fact, a love story – a partnership full of symbiosis and reciprocity.

“They’re partners - science is the foundation of imagination,” said Bernadette McDaid, executive producer of the “Prophets of Science Fiction” series on Science Channel. “Science gives sci-fi credible underpinnings, and sci-fi imbues science with imagination.” Scientists and sci-fi authors weigh in on “Prophets of Science Fiction with Ridley Scott.” The series, which returns Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT, takes a question posed by a well-known science fiction author, and investigates the angles, innovations and possibilities through current research.

“Sci-fi is fiction. It’s about entertainment and telling stories, but it has always been trying hard, not necessarily to predict the future accurately, but to explore the implications of what the future might bring,” said astrophysicist and theoretical physicist Sean Caroll. “Science and sci-fi, they have very different toolboxes. Scientists use experiments, theories and data. Sci-fi uses the imagination, spurred by the physical world in which we live.” FULL POST

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