8/31/2011

Jim Shooter, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, recently wrote about the origin of G.I. JOE on his blog. It's a great read and most of it was unknown to me, and might be to you. Here are the ten most surprising parts of the story.

1. G.I. JOE started in a men's room - According to Shooter, the collaboration between Marvel and G.I. Joe started in 1981 when Marvel President Jim Galton and Hasbro CEO Stephen Hassenfeld met in a men's room at a charity fundraiser. Their conversation went towards their respective companies, and they decided to collaborate, which led to another surprising fact...
2. Marvel Comics created G.I. JOE, not Hasbro - I always thought the G.I. JOE comics were inspired by the TV show, but according to Shooter, it was the other way around. In the aforementioned men's room, Hassenfeld mentioned how they wanted to revive their popular G.I. Joe action figure, but couldn't figure out how. Galton proposed that Marvel take a crack at it. Everything from the action figures to the vehicles to the animated TV show were based on the Marvel comic book series that followed. Which takes us to this next fact...
3. G.I. JOE was inspired by S.H.I.E.L.D. - At the time of the G.I. JOE pitch, Marvel writer Larry Hama had been working on reviving the WW II hero, Nick Fury and his secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D.* A lot of what he was working on for S.H.I.E.L.D. ended up in the concept for G.I. JOE. Since he had a military background, he was able to polish and develop the idea, along with equipment, vehicles, characters, etc.
4. All Hasbro had to start with was the logo - When Marvel came in to pitch their ideas for G.I. JOE, Hasbro showed them what they had come up with...a logo. It said "Real American Hero." That was it.Yeah, so much for the marketing geniuses at Hasbro.
5. G.I. JOE almost became G.I. Joe, G.I. George, G.I. Fred... - Just to show how far Hasbro was from a solid concept for G.I. Joe, they weren't even sure who or what G.I. Joe was. One executive pitched the idea of multiple G.I. figures, like G.I. Joe, and G.I. George, and G.I. Fred. Thankfully, that's not the idea they went with.
6. G.I. JOE almost had no villains or women - Shooter and Hama had some great concepts for female characters like Lady J and the Baroness, and great concepts for villains like Cobra Commander and Destro. There was only one problem; Hasbro didn't want them. They had market research that claimed female and villain action figures don't sell, so amazingly they only wanted action figures of G.I. JOE. Marvel managed to talk them into doing two villain action figures - Cobra Trooper and Cobra Officer. Well, technically "Cobra Trooper" didn't even have a name. The figure was just called "Cobra - The Enemy" on its filecard. As for the ladies, Shooter proposed including female action figures with the vehicles, and Hasbro agreed. Of course, Hasbro was wrong. Shooter says "villains became 40% percent of the volume." As for the female characters, they were so popular that many of them like Lady J and the Baroness ended up in the recent movie.
7. Writer Larry Hama created most of the vehicles and characters - A further point emphasizing the impact of Marvel on G.I. JOE is that the comic series' author created a lot of the vehicles and characters, not Hasbro. Here's how Shooter described the process. "Sometimes they’d show us naked gadgetry—the mechanical underpinnings of something that would hop, spin, flip, crawl or whatever—without a clear notion of what it might be used for.  Larry would create an appropriate vehicle or weapon to use the technology, usually on the spot.  Hasbro would explain some new marketing tack or characters it intended to introduce and Larry would find a way to make it work." That's amazing.
8. The commercials for the Marvel comics were really commercials for the toys - I always loved the old commercials for G.I. JOE comics. They were like an epic mini-series on their own, independent of the TV show. Sometimes they were actually better than the TV show. It turns out they were also mini-ads for the toys. There were a lot of restrictions on ads for toys, like having to show kids playing with the toys for a certain amount of the ad. But comic books? Fair game. So Hasbro produced a lot of ads for the "comic books," which were really about advertising the toys, instead. (BONUS: If you haven't seen them or want to see them again, here's an awesome video compilation of the commercials.)
9. Marvel comics' GI JOE was a huge success - Not that I didn't know G.I. JOE was a popular comic, but I didn't know it was Marvel's number one subscription title. In May 1985, it sold 15,000 copies more than Marvel's second most popular subscription series, The Amazing Spider-Man, and almost twice as many as the third most popular subscription title, X-Men.
10. The G.I. JOE animated series was a financial disaster - The G.I. JOE comic book and G.I. JOE action figures were a huge success, financially. The cartoon, however, was not. Marvel produced the show and spent too much, apparently, with had no share on the back end. Personally, I think it was worth it. That was a pretty good show.

* The way this was originally written implied that Fury's role in S.H.I.E.L.D. was created in the 1980's. As our commenter Drees pointed out, the original Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. comic was created in the 1960's. We apologize for the confusion.

Do you have any fond memories of the GI JOE comics, TV show, or action figures? Leave them in our comments.
There's a great opportunity to watch your favorite television shows online for free using Amazon!

If you connect your Twitter account with your Amazon account you can get a $5 credit. With that credit you can get one of several "Video on Demand" shows from Amazon. I haven't used it much, but free is free right?
To get your credit, connect your Amazon.com and Twitter accounts and you will automatically follow @amazonvideo and @amazon_movies. The following message will then be automatically tweeted from your Twitter account: “I just got a $5 credit for instant movies and TV shows @amazonvideo. Click http://amzn.to/oWmBFy to get yours. #get5″.

You can then use your $5 credit to rent a new release movie, catch up on recent TV seasons, or even watch your favorite TV shows the day after they air. Browse over 100,000 movies and TV shows on Amazon.
Here are the best sellers in the science-fiction category.
Are you going to get a free Amazon credit? Which show are you going to watch?

Via Couponing 101

8/30/2011

She's over six feet tall. She has green skin and hair. She can tear a car in half with her bare hands, and would probably rip your head off just for looking at her sideways. So why do guys find She-Hulk so hot? All of the above.

Now, if you're like me, friends, you don't just want to read about She-Hulk. You want to make-out with her on a regular basis, am I right? But you can't make out with She-Hulk! That's crazy talk! But you can do the next best thing by getting your wife or girlfriend a set of these awesome She-Hulk pajamas. If she doesn't feel like she has the body for it, show her how the print is narrower than the shirt, giving her a nice illusion that makes her look like she has a narrow waist and ripped abs. She won't need to get an irradiated blood transfusion, and you can drool to your hearts' content and not feel bad about it. Everybody wins.
 
Would you get a She-Hulk pajama set? Or wear a She-Hulk pajama set?
[Image Source: Spencers Online]
Here are today's news about freaked out space men, comic book masks, sexy old ladies and scared spiders.

8/29/2011

You love Star Trek and want to set your wallpaper as an homage to your favorite show. Here are the top five sites to get your wallpaper\backgrounds from.

1. Star Trek Desktop Wallpaper
It doesn't matter which version of Star Trek you love, you'll find your favorite background here.

Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, or the whole Star Trek universe. While it's more of a hosting site for a lot of different wallpaper sites it's pretty comprehensive.


Favorite Image: "Four Captains" by James Fazar


2. Star Trek Movie
If you're a fan of the new Star Trek 2008 movie, check out the official Star Trek Movie Wallpaper site. A lot of these are based on the movie posters, so they're pretty nice. The only drawback is there aren't that many of them. Nice interface though.


Favorite image: Enterprise beauty shot

3. Startrek-Wallpapers
This is a good site since it has the usual ones, but a nice feature is showing ratings. It also seems to be updated more regularly than others. The bad thing is some only have one size image. Plus, I couldn't find any record of who created the images.


Favorite Image: "USS Enterprise NCC 1701 E Schematics"


4. StarTrekOnline
The Atari video game Star Trek Online has some good wallpaper. Very nice, but only a handful. All CGI.


Favorite Image


5. DesktopStarships.com
Again, a small number of images, but they're all good. The nice thing about this site is you can get backgrounds for a bunch of other sci-fi ships as well. Everything from Star Wars to Farscape.


Favorite Image: "V'ger Explosion"


Are you going to check any of these out? Do you have a favorite background site that you go to?
You hardcore Trekkers may already know this, but I didn't: Brent Spiner, the actor who played Lt. Data on Star Trek: TNG does a spot-on impression of Patrick Stewart. I stumbled across this video at the Mary Sue and it floored me. I didn't even know Spiner did impressions at all! But doing a search revealed that Spiner's done this impression many times for fans. Still, I don't think it will ever get old.


[Via Mary Sue]

8/28/2011

A bromance goes too far...

8/26/2011

Why is a bear mauling a cardboard R2-D2? That's the question I found myself asking when I saw the viral video "Grizzly Bear gets an R2-D2." Oddly enough, most of the links never mentioned where, when, and why the video was taken. I managed to track down Katie Borremans, Public Relations Manager at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, who filled in the details as follows:
Indeed, the video is from here at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo! Two staffers, Ashton and Kirsty Strobridge, shot the video during a special robot-themed enrichment night for zoo members in July.

In the wild, animals would spend many hours a day trying to find, collect and eat food. They don't have to work quite as hard at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to earn their living, but they still have a lot of adaptations and energy to exert. That's why we give our animals enrichment daily; enrichment is any activity that engages the animals mentally and physically, and stimulates natural behaviors.

During that members-only night in July, all enrichment activities centered around robots. The elephants, mountain lions, gibbons, hippos and grizzly bears all had "destructible" robots placed in their exhibits. As you saw, Emmett and Digger the grizzlies came face to face with a cardboard R2-D2 stuffed with a few of their favorite snacks (peanut butter, peanuts, fruit and bear chow).
Now we just need an Ewok and Jar-Jar Binks enrichment night.



[Video via the Mary Sue]
Kathryn Romany Beckinsale was born in London, England, UK in 1973 and has been thrilling geeks since 2006.

She has acting in her blood. Her mother, Judy Loe is an actress, and her father, Richard Beckinsale, was famous as a comedy actor.

Besides appearing as a vampire werewolf hunter in the Underworld series, she played a vampire hunter in Van Helsing (2004) 

But, she hasn't just been doing geek roles. One of her early dramatic roles was in Kenneth Branaugh's adaptation of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (1993). She appeared in Click wih Adam Sandler and Serendipity with John Cusack.

Consistently named in FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" since 2006, her smoky eyes and trademark legs have captured the heart of many men. Not just geeks.

She just finished filming the fourth installment of the Underworld films Underworld: Awakening (2012) and is currently filming a remake of the 90's hit Total Recall (2012).

Favorite Quote: "No one is more enslaved than a slave who doesn't think they're enslaved."






What do you think of Kate Beckinsale? Is she a woman geeks love?
Vote below






[Image Source: Watika Lemon]
UPDATE: Fixed typo

8/25/2011

Star Trek has been parodied by everyone from Saturday Night Live to Family Guy, but no one has done it better than the web serial Voyage Trekkers.

Most Trek parodies involve making fun of red shirts or having Shatner say something lame. That or they drone on and on about how stupid the show was.

To me Galaxy Quest is the best Star Trek parody because it was done with love. Voyage Trekkers is like that. The serial takes it further because it makes fun of all goofy sci-fi team shows like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

Even though the show is set in space, the humor comes from normal everyday stuff. Playing practical jokes. Racial humor ("Is it wrong that I can't tell one from another?"). Blogging ("No comments? Hunh.").

There are six episodes in all and they're all funny. It doesn't hurt that they're in Arizona too.
Project Synopsis
Voyage Trekkers is a sci-fi comedy web series that follows a captain and his crew during the very worst moments of their space adventures. The episodes are the terrible events that would otherwise be deleted from the official records. "These are the voyages that don't make the captain's log."

From Squishy Studios and Inside Creative Minds Media, the episodes are two to three minutes long in length, with ten weekly episodes starting on Monday July 18th, 2010. The videos will available through the Squishy Studios website and our YouTube channel.

Who Are The Characters?
Adam Rini portrays the cocky Captain Sunstrike, Gabrielle Van Buren plays the exasperated Doctor, and Logan Blackwell is the unfazed Commander Powell

Check out the YouTube channel for the full list of episodes.

Links
Inside Creative Minds Media - http://www.phoenixartspace.com/icm/

 What do you think of Voyage Trekkers and Star Trek parodies in general?
[Thanks Nathan!]

8/24/2011

Watch every episode of Doctor Who in five minutes with this video compilation. With the British sci-fi show Doctor Who returning this Saturday in the episode "Let's Kill Hitler" you may want to get caught up. If you don't have time or a short attention span (Squirrel!) why not watch this video?

Titled "Previously on Doctor Who," the creator vampiremonkeyonspeed describes it this way:
Doctor Who, the series so far. Every story from 1963 to 2011.
Its got everything. Every major villain. Every Doctor. Every Doctor regeneration. Every goofy special effect.

If you watch closely, it's also a timeline of every hairstyle from the 1960s to the year 2000.



If you're a fan this is a gold mine. If you're not a fan its a confusing bunch of images of people running and weird costumes.

How awesome is this video? Did you see anything that caught your eye?
Via HeroPress

8/23/2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an amazing film that almost makes you root for CGI apes and hope they conquer humanity. Several personal experiences made the movie especially moving.

James Franco pays a scientist, Will Rodman, desperately trying to create a cure for schemers. His motivation is his father, Charles Rodman (John Lithgow), who's living with him despite being in the late stages of the disease.

This is the point that moved me the most. My own mother suffers from the early stages of Alzheimer's and I can imagine the desperation he must have felt.

An early mishap in the lab shelves the project despite five years of trials proving that it works. The project is canceled and he takes home an ape to save his life. In desperation he starts giving his father the drug. Overnight his father recovers meanwhile the chimp becomes smarter and smarter while becoming part of the family. Over the course of eight years events take a dramatic turn and Caesar becomes more than anyone could possibly imagine.

The acting if good, but sporadic. Franco is effective, but not engaging. Freida Pinto is charming, but clueless as Will's girlfriend and veterinarian. Lithgow is touching as he wavers between being normal and childlike.

The real breakout actor is Andy Serkis as the intelligent ape Caesar. Through body language and facial expressions he communications a full range of emotions and really makes us care. The special effects are good since the CGI rarely takes away from the film.

As Caesar is mistreated by one human after another, especially the sadistic guard of the Ape Sanctuary, he slowly realizes he can't trust the humans including his former friend. After establishing dominance and compassion he plans to free the other apes from their sanctuary prison. By this end, not one human character in the film is likable while the animals look like heroes. The breakout scene is dynamite and really moving as they make their way across San Francisco to freedom.

You actually find yourself rooting against the police trying to protect the citizens from a rampaging hoarde of simians. "Yeah, take that policeman protecting the baby out!" Ok, it's not that bad. I do feel a little guilty though.

Not surprisingly, the ending opens it up to a sequel.

After a string of disappointing blockbuster moves this is the best I've seen all year. Engaging and moving with great special effects this is a great film and I only hope the sequel lives up to it. After all, the planet belongs to the apes anyway.


Will you see Rise of the Planet of the Apes? If you've seen it what did you think? Comment or give it a rating!

Vote below!




There's a new scifi novel called Ready Player One that's been getting a lot of buzz. On the surface, it seems kind of clichéd - it's set in a dystopian future where everyone lives in an online computer-generated reality called OASIS, yada, yada, yada. The twist is the story about a massive treasure hunt being conducted in OASIS to find its creator's vast fortune, where players must follow clues based on the creator's childhood. The novel centers on one disaffected player who stumbles across a major clue, and becomes the target of various groups trying to find the treasure. The novel is a tribute to videogames and 1980's pop culture, often described as Willy Wonka meets The Matrix. As a child of the eighties, this novel really strikes a chord, but it's also really fun. I'm not alone. One editor at Boing Boing called Ready Player One the best science fiction novel he'd read in a decade. I admit, I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I've done more than I usually do - I've read the first three chapters. Boing Boing has posted a PDF of the first three chapters, so you can check it out for yourself.
There's been a lot of buzz on the Net about a "steampunk Robocop" statue made of scrap metal. While it's a nice statue, I strongly disagree. Anyone who would call that a steampunk Robocop knows nothing about steampunk. Steampunk is supposed to be a retro-Victorian approach to modern technology. There's nothing steampunk about this statue, except for a few gears. It's just a regular statue of Robocop. In the words of Crocodile Dundee, that's not a steampunk Robocop.

That's a steampunk Robocop.
(from sykomonkey on deviantART)










Or that (by choubaka360). "Living or deceased, you shall accompany me...creep." You can actually get this one as a T-shirt.

This concludes today's lesson on steampunk. Class dismissed.

8/22/2011

 Star Trek has some real testosterone junkies in the future, but here are the top ten manliest men of Star Trek.

Seinfeld said it best, "Big chair, nice screen, remote control. That's why Star Trek really was the ultimate male fantasy. Just hurling through space in your living room, watching TV."

That said, it's no surprise that the shows were filled with manly men. We now present the top ten manliest manly men of Star Trek.

5. Chancellor of the Klingon High Council Gowron (Robert O'Reilly)

Imagine being the leader of the meanest toughest group of aliens in the galaxy. Now, imagine being the leader of the Klingons. The Klingon Gowron fought tooth and nail to become leader of the planet of warrior Klingons. That alone makes him the toughest man on the planet. Add to that he's faced down multiple assassination attempts and the wily attempts of the Duras sisters to usurp him, and he's up there.

Then he decided to fight the Federation. This guy has guts.


4. Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy)

The ultimate ideal for a man: no emotions. No crying. All logic. The Vulcan Spock fought Captain Kirk and won the battle. He killed himself to save hundreds of people. He can kill a man just by touching him on the neck. Truly a manly man. Besides all that, he's the coolest member of Star Trek hands down. But he's not the manliest man...

3. Kahless the Unforgettable (Kevin Conway)

Kahless is the spiritual leader of the Klingons. He brought peace to the warrior race and became the first leader of the Empire. He created the Bat'leth, the legendary Klingon weapon, using his hair dipped in lava. He fought his brother, Morath, for twelve days and twelve nights because he brought shame to the family. Forget 300. He fought off an entire army single-handedly at Three Turn Bridge. Plus, he knows how to please a lady. After fighting five hundred warriors at Qam-Chee, he and Lady Lukara (with the Great Hall ankle-deep in blood) made passionate love.

He did all that at five-foot six inches. Now that's what you call "Short Man Syndrome."

BONUS: Listen to the epic Klingon Anthem "Hear! Sons of Kahless"
Sing along!
Qoy qeylIs puqloD Qoy puqbe'pu' yoHbogh matlhbogh je SuvwI' SeymoHchu' mayu' maSuv manong 'ej maHoHchu' nI'be' yInmaj 'ach wovqu' batlh maHeghbej 'ej yo' qIjDaq vavpu'ma' DImuvpa' reH maSuvtaH Qu' mamevQo' maSuvtaH ma'ov

2. Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán)

The ruthless conqueror Khan took over a quarter of the Earth during the "Eugenics Wars" during the 1990s (It was all over the news. You didn't hear about it?). Bred to be a superhuman, he has none of the physical and mental limitations of normal men. He survived the destruction of an entire world, Alpha Ceti V, and went on to fight Kirk to a standstill.

The Associated Press called him "one of sci-fi's great villains." In 2002, the Online Film Critics Society's voted Khan as the 10th Greatest Screen Villain of all time. Emmy Magazine voted Khan "TV's Most Out-of-This-World Character," beating out other science-fiction characters such as The Doctor and Commander Adama.

A fiery Latino, Ricardo Montalbán is an amazing manly man in his own right. Add to him the moniker of Khan, and you have an epic manly man.

1. Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner)


A lover. A fighter. A leader of men. Captain Kirk is all that and more.

He's loved more women than I've had hot meals. Including the green ones. He's fought every type of alien in the universe and dispatched them all with his trademark two-handed punch. A man who refuses to accept defeat, he sabotaged the Kobayashi Maru training exercise to change it from a "no-win" scenario to a "win."
He fought the ferocious Klingons, the predatory Romulans, the villainous Khan and every other evil in the universe, all with his trademark smile.

In the annals of Star Trek, men sing folk songs about Kirk in hills. Most involve large amounts of beer.

Honorable Mentions:
Montgomery Scott (James Doohan)
The ultimate space mechanic. Not only did he have all the best tools and lines, he also knew how to handle his liquor. A whiskey man, of course. Every man's dream is to spend all day working on cars. He got to live the dream working on space ships.

Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew)
Yes, she's a woman, but she's more of a man than half the captains of Starfleet. She led the first crew to explore the Delta Quadrant. She fought the cyborg villains, the Borg, and even had one as a member of the crew. Add to that, her crew had members of the Maquis, a terrorist organization. They had little resources and zero help from Starfleet. Not only did they survive the encounter and return to the Federation, but she went on to become a Vice Admiral at Starfleet Command.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Captain Picard is the ultimate gentleman. He's also the only man to be assimilated by the Borg and then return. He's faced down the toughest guys in the Galaxy, all while sipping his Earl Grey tea. Hot, of course.


This post is part of the Star Trek As We Know It blogfest by Ellie Garratt. Check out the rest of them today!

Who's the manliest man in Star Trek? Any we missed?

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