STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE Comics!

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Back when I edited Star Trek for IDW, I put together a proposal for a series of reprint collections that I called Star Trek Archives, culling the best stories from 40+ years of Trek comic books  and re-releasing them in a deluxe format. Most of the comics in the “Trek oevre” appeared prior to the current industry trend of omnibus editions, so most had never been republished, and entire series–like some great titles from the second Marvel run of “Paramount Comics”–were at risk of falling into total obscurity.

I pitched an entire range of collections, not just “Best of Star Trek” but editions that focused on creators, characters, storylines and even villains. The project would also create the opportunity to collect special issues that had been scattered across the years, such as film adaptations, as well as dig through a few older, scandalously forgotten series to give them new life.

Star_Trek_Archives_vol01_BestOfPeterDavidcvr_largeI had wanted to put more Trek books on the shelves to coincide with the new film–the reason the Archives began appearing near the end of 2008, to coincide with the movie’s original December release date–but it would also let us tip our hats to some of the marquee Trek creators whose work had appeared throughout the years; such as fan-favorite Peter David, writer/creator of the Fallen Angel series I edited for IDW, and John Byrne, whom IDW recruited to do the first-ever Trek series of his long, iconic career after he tested the waters in the Alien Spotlight series.

And so, in October 2008, fans began seeing Archive editions like The Best of Peter David, with stories that Peter and I hand-picked from his DC Comics run, as well as The Best of Gary Seven, to go along with  Byrne’s IDW series showcasing the character, which would see its own collected volume hitting the stands at around the same time. Readers also received The Best of the Borg–a favorite of mine, obviously–collecting both Marvel and DC issues but which had the good fortune to feature cover art from the Borg Alien Spotlight I had written for IDW.

Star_Trek_Archives_vol02_BestOfTheBorg_largeSome of the collections I developed for the Archives series eventually became the roster for the spinoff Omnibus line that IDW now publishes, including the entire reprinted run of the gloriously bizarre first Marvel series, along with its later Star Trek: Early Voyages title that recounted some exceptionally well-crafted tales of Captain Pike. It also included a Trek Movie collection, to feature a new Wrath of Kahn adaptation that Risa Kessler of Paramount and I had conspired to schedule for quite some time as the only TOS film–thanks to a quirk in Trek licensing history–that never received proper comics treatment.

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Last Generation #4, by Gordon Purcell, which featured Sulu in command of the Excelsior.

It’s been tremendously gratifying to watch those projects come to pass, first under my successor Andy Schmidt and now with the talented leadership of Scott Dunbier, along with other projects I originally developed plans for at IDW, such as the second Alien Spotlight series showcasing the Klingons, Tribbles and the Q, or the upcoming Captain Sulu miniseries, featuring his command of the Excelsior. (Did I just mention a new Sulu-Excelsior series to be published by IDW? Why, yes I did…)

But though these are good reasons one and all to launch the Star Trek Archives, even that conceals my true motive for the project, and for recruiting my already busy IDW cohort Clydene Nee (of San Diego Comic-Con fame) to help me out. The true reason that I conceived, pitched, negotiated and developed the entire Archives project is:

I wanted to publish Deep Space Nine.

The problem with DS9 has always been that, as has been widely discussed, IDW’s initial Trek license covered only TOS and TNG, with simply an option to pick up ancillary series like DS9, Voyager or Enterprise. And, just like with the TV ratings, comic sales for spinoff series have always been the bastard stepchild of the flagship franchises. So the question becomes: If you have only a handful of Trek titles available on the schedule, will you slot them with Kirk and Picard, or with Sisko and Kira, when you know one is likely to make reliably less money than the others?

But, again, like the TV show, DS9 has nothing if not an insanely dedicated and loyal following, and was easily the most consistently, heavily-requested Trek franchise among IDW’s readers whenever we’d ask what they wanted next. If I could test the waters for a DS9 series–some way to gauge fan support, without a full commitment to the schedule and the license–I’d find out if we could still make the Deep Space Nine numbers work.

ST-Archives-Vol4new-cvrAnd thus: Star Trek Archives: The Best of DS9.

I had known the guys from Malibu Comics, the original DS9 publisher, from way, way back in the day, when I worked as a founding writer for Wizard Magazine, and I thought they had produced some great DS9 stuff–it had even featured art by Gordon Purcell, now one of my artists on Trek at IDW, and who would go on to pencil my series Star Trek: The Last Generation. It also featured standout scripts by Mike W. Barr, who had written Trek for virtually every publisher to hold the license (minus the early Gold Key), and who I had met back during his Ultraverse days.

All of which represents an extremely lengthy and self-indulgent preamble to the news that, after years of discussion and massive fan requests–dating back to the days of my predecessor Dan Taylor in the Trek editor’s seat–it looks like IDW will now finally pick up the Deep Space Nine license.

Keep in mind, however, that like all projects not yet officially announced, this could all be the result of inside information gone frighteningly haywire, that there are infinite possible outcomes in an infinite universe, and as the saying goes, it’s not canon until it’s canon.

idw_logo2But, take note, IDW has played it extremely close to the vest about its upcoming  Trek lineup, apart from a nuTrek movie tie-in slot, the finale of John Byrne’s Romulans saga and an occasional Alien Spotlight one-shot scattered sporadically across the schedule. The runaway success of the film has propelled Trek back into the pop culture stratosphere, and IDW will be coordinating its upcoming schedule to reflect that.

I can’t say whether the DS9 Archives played a decisive role in this development, or if it’s simply the fact that the nuTrek franchise has momentarily sidelines Shatner-era TOS titles; perhaps a combination of the two, along with IDW’s longstanding posture of soliciting reader input and being responsive to what fans want. In that respect, it’s got one of the best reputations in the business.

So, what shape will new DS9 comics ultimately take? I’m speaking now from personal experience as the Trek editor and my years in the comics biz, and not from any additional inside info; but I would speculate that they will not interface with the DS9 Relaunch novels from Pocket Books. IDW has always been quite independent in its Trek storytelling, and I would expect that it will pursue its own creative path without the obligation to proactively incorporate the prose-novel efforts.

Avatar,_Book_One_coverIDW will probably do what it can to avoid actively contradicting such stories, but keep in mind that both producing comics and novels remains acutely work-intensive, and it’s difficult enough already to keep in mind 168 episodes of the TV series, let alone what happens on every page of every novel that Pocket Books has ever published. Add to that the fact that Senior Editor Marco Palmieri has been laid off from Pocket without replacement and Paramount recently lost the encyclopaedic knowledge of  Trek guru Paula Block, and you can start to imagine the difficulties involved.

That said, it seems unlikely that IDW would examine the post-TV era anyway–major characters exited for parts unknown during the series finale, and it would be counterintuitive for IDW to pay license for those characters,  only to not make use of them; moreover, Pocket has already re-examined their fates, so retreading such recently familiar ground would only invite unnecessary comparison.

Instead, what you’ll probably see, much as IDW has done for TOS and TNG, are stories set during the arc of the TV show; perhaps the Dominion War–by far and away DS9’s most popular contribution to Trek lore–and, more specifically, stories that feature Worf’s presence on the station, since that would allow IDW to integrally market a major TNG character and remedy concerns that a DS9 series might not sell as well.

comiconIDW will most likely unveil its DS9 plans at the San Diego Comic-Con next week–so, if the universe unfolds as it should, you would begin seeing new DS9 comics by either the end of this year or early 2010. I’m led to believe that a writer has already been hired, with an interior artist to follow shortly (if not already); and, if it is indeed slated for a Comic-Con announcement, then promotional artwork will already have been produced, so we may see the first new DS9 images even before the end of this month.

I’ve moved up and on to other companies and projects since IDW, but even still, it’s the one announcement I’m going to be paying closest attention to at the show next week.

Now about that Sulu series…


Related posts:

LAST GENERATION Original Artwork for sale!

last-generation-logoHeya! Just wanted to post a note that my buddy and inker extraordinaire, Bob Almond, whose work made Star Trek: The Last Generation look so incredibly polished, has put original artwork pages up for sale online for the entire miniseries.

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Bob Almond

If you’re a collector of original comic book art, or just want a cool-as-Kahn Star Trek collectible, you should definitely check it out. Bob makes regular convention appearances where you can pick up his Last Gen pages and stuff from other titles  (Marvel Comics, etc.), but a number of spankin’ pages from the Trek series have already sold, so you might want to look into it now before all the best ones are gone.

Bob’s so notable in the industry that he runs the Inkwell Awards (the comics biz’s premiere awards for inking work), so I was incredibly lucky to have him rock my world on The Last Generation. He’s also about as nice a guy as you’re likely to meet, so if you do run into him at a show, chat him up and he’ll tell you a couple of cool stories.

There are a number of great pieces still up for grabs, but I’ve reproduced a few of my favorites from the series below. Click on the link above to go to the Comic Art House site, which handles sale of Bob’s work.

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STAR TREK: THE LAST GENERATION collection out now!

last-generation-logoJust wanted to make quick mention that the collected edition of Star Trek: The Last Generation hits the stores today! The individual issues sold out in a lot of locations, so if you missed a chapter or just want to have a cool ominibus edition of the entire story, you can pick it up now. It was written to be a single continuous story arc, so reading it in one sitting is definitely the way to go.

Let me take the opportunity to give a special shout-out to Gordon Purcell, who turned in some devastatingly awesome art for the series, along with his inking cohorts Bob Almond and Terry Pallot and colorist Mario Boon.

The collected edition also features the entire cover gallery for the series, including works by X-Factor veteran Pablo Raimondi, G.I. Joe penciller Robert Atkins, colorist John Hunt, cover artist extraordinaire Joe Corroney, stunning painted illustrations from my pal J.K. Woodward and even piece from Gordon himself.

You’ll also find the X-Men #141 tribute cover that J.K. delivered for the first issue’s limited edition, as well as Nick Runge’s cool-as-hell homage to the movie poster for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, on which events from the series are based.

You can of course find it at your favorite Friendly Neighborhood Comics Shop, but it’s also on the shelves in bookstores around the country as well as online from Amazon.

STAR TREK: THE LAST GENERATION Collected Edition.

STAR TREK: THE LAST GENERATION Collected Edition.

WordPress Top-100!

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Wow, I just wanted to say that the Star Trek movie script review that I published this week has easily become one of the most heavily-trafficked posts in the short history of this site–literally thousands upon thousands of visitors during just a few days. It even charted in the Top-100 posts for all of WordPress (#54, see above–click for full size), with this site itself hitting #78 on the Top Blogs of the Day.

In fact, according to my metrix software, this site actually ranked considerably higher for the week than the blog for the entire company of Radical Publishing, where you can find my most recent work. That just blows my mind, and let’s hope my friends and colleagues there don’t hold it against me. 😉

Thanks to all of you for reading, and hope you like the film.

Pax,

ASH

Len Wein and Christine Valada

Christine and Len.

Christine and Len.

Just wanted to post a quick note about the terrible turn of events for comics writer Len Wein and his amazing wife Christine Valada. An old piece of wiring inside their bathroom walls sparked and set their house afire. (Christine had been at work; Len and their son Michael, asleep.) As the fire began to crown, Len and Michael awoke and escaped — but Sheba, their dog, ran back inside to her usual hiding spot in the bathroom, and never made it out again.

I knew Christine when we were both in law school (me in my first year, she in her last), and we would often commiserate about the experience; like me, she eventually lost interest in a law career, and has now instead become a top-notch photographer and university professor. Len, meanwhile, remains a legend among comics writers, having created Wolverine and the new X-Men, and much that was lost can never be replaced — such as original artwork from Giant-Sized X-Men #1, the first appearance of the new team that would go on to become the most popular franchise in modern comics history. It utterly breaks my heart to find out what happened here, and how it quite literally could have happened to anyone, without warning, at any time.

The Wolverine movie opens in about a month; it’d be great if Fox steps in to help. And though it will be quite some time before they as a family can retrospectively look at the events rather than continuing to experience them, the final, essential truth will be: Len is OK, Christine is OK, and Michael is OK; Sheba is in their hearts, and everything else is just paper.

LAST GENERATION: Coverama II

With the grand finale of my Star Trek: The Last Generation miniseries hitting the stands last week,  I thought I’d give s a bit of cool background on some more great Last Generation covers previewed during my blogging absence–this time from the recent past, and therefore not so tragically behind the curve:

Star Trek The Last Generation #4, by Gordon Purcell.

Star Trek: The Last Generation #4, by Gordon Purcell.

Gordon Purcell has been one of the premiere Star Trek comics artists of his generation. Known for his spot-on and yet remarkably expressive likenesses, it’s virtually impossible to think about Star Trek comics in the ’90s without his signature style coming to mind. (He’s such a vet of the franchise that his first Trek work was actually for DC’s first TOS series, in 1988.) Since then, Gordon’s worked on the second DC Trek series, their TNG series, Malibu’s Deep Space Nine and even Wildstorm’s Voyager efforts. (And that just about covers it, yah?)

Gordon Purcell

Gordon Purcell

So, when a fill-in issue opened up in our IDW schedule, it was a no-brainer for us to hire him on. We liked his work so much on that issue that we phoned him up again to wrap up the first Star Trek: Year Four miniseries, and then draw the entire run of the second Year Four series, from Trek grande dame D.C. Fontana and noted TV scribe Derek Chester. Gordon’s one of the most professional, steady and reliable artists I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with as an editor, so it was great to finally have him draw a series for me that I had written.

It was also well past due that Gordon finally drew a cover for us, so I called up Last Generation editor Andy Schmidt, my successor at IDW, and he thought it was an excellent idea. Since Gordon was already handling the interiors, this cover didn’t require much participation on my part, other than to tell Gordon, “JK’s already doing the space battle, so maybe you’ll want to do the mano-y-mano between Sulu and Worf.” (Yes, I know, a moment of breathtaking art direction.)

Gordon then turned in an image so perfectly suited to the story that it can practically be inserted directly into the comic, between pages 15 and 16, and have it make the climax of his epic fight scene somehow even more dramatic. That’s quite an accomplishment, considering that the cover was probably drawn months before he tackled the interiors of the issue.

Star Trek The Last Generation #5, by JK Woodward.

Star Trek: The Last Generation #5, by Nick Runge.

Nick Runge did some fantastic cover work for me when I edited the new Badger series for IDW, featuring the inestimable Mike Baron’s classic indie character from the 1980s. Here, he pulls off a ripping homage to the movie poster for The Undiscovered Country, this time with the Last Generation characters in place of the original Enterprise crew, since issue #5 involves the Last Gen cast traveling back in time to the climax of Star Trek VI . (There’s even Worf’s menacing gaze in place of Chang’s, complete with riveted eyepatch. Nice!)

Movie poster for Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country.

The original movie poster for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

You will notice one essential difference between the two images–the explosion’s a bit bigger, colored with a more limited palette. That’s actually intentional, to accommodate a very cool placement for the trade dress (series logo, etc.), since the composition of the original image wouldn’t have allowed for its usual location across the top.

But, as inspired as this cover is, I also can’t take any credit for it–it was kept secret, as a complete surprise for me, by my wily Last Gen editor Andy Schmidt. When I first laid eyes on it, that immediately became one of my favorite moments working on the Last Generation project. It was simply a stroke of genius to execute a second homage cover (after JK Woodward’s cool-as-hell rendition of Uncanny X-Men #141 for the first issue), and have them both serve as bookends for the completed series.

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Star Trek: The Last Generation #5, by JK Woodward

My pal JK Woodward served as the main cover artist for the entire Last Generation series, including this incredibly atmospheric image that harkens back to–and, really, surpasses–some of the best covers of the classic 1980s and ’90s DC Comics run.

Strangely–perhaps because JK served as the main cover artist for the series–the Internets credited him, rather than Nick, for the Star Trek VI homage cover when it was first released. Obviously, if you read it on the Internet then it must be true, so people were pleasantly surprised when JK later unveiled this stellar (no pun intended) painted work.

HARVEY AWARDS 2009: My Nominations

harvey_nominee_logoUnlike the Eisner Awards–the comics industry’s version of the Oscars, given out every year at the San Diego Comic-Con–the Harveys get nominated and awarded not by select committee, but by the community of working comics professionals at large. That doesn’t make them more or less legitimate, but it gives them a range and opportunity for dark-horse surprise that you might not find from the more refined Eisners.

Nominations from comics pros for this year’s Harveys were due Friday, and you could actually make up to five nominations per category, but I’ll just focus here on my top picks who I hope will win. They really all deserve it.

Joe Hill

Joe Hill

WRITER: Joe Hill (Locke & Key)

The first series, by the son of Stephen King, was easily the best thing published during my time at IDW. It’s one of the reasons that my Star Trek: The Last Generation has no chance of winning the Roundtable Award for Best Series that both are nominated for.

ARTIST: Marko Djurdjevic (Thor)

Marko has done some great covers for projects at Radical, but he’s an artist who can also pull off consistently astonishing sequential interiors. His stuff on Thor was majestic and stunning.

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Chris Ware

CARTOONIST (writer/artist): Chris Ware (Acme Novelty Library)

Longtime friend and BOOM! Studios Publisher Ross Richie turned me onto Chris Ware’s stuff more than 10 years ago–I’m not sure if he knew Chris in college, I don’t recall–but Ross has always had the ability to spot edgy, out-of-the-box talent.

LETTERER: Richard Starkings (various titles)

INKER: Danny Miki (various titles)

COLORIST:Dave Stewart (various titles)

COVER ARTIST: Dave Johnson (100 Bullets)

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Me and Sam, working the Radical booth at WonderCon 2009.

NEW TALENT: Sam Sarkar (Caliber)

Okay, yes, it’s Radical, but this was published months before I started there. Sam heads up Johnny Depp’s production company, but made the transition from film to comics with extraordinary skill. His first comics work, Caliber, a retelling of the King Arthur legend in the Old West, helped launch Radical’s entire comics line, and the finale (#5) is as good of an issue-long action sequence as I’ve ever read.

NEW SERIES: All-Star Superman (DC Comics)

As if this one’s not going to make the list.

CONTINUING or LIMITED SERIES: Umbrella Academy (Dark Horse)

SINGLE ISSUE or STORY: Y: The Last Man #60 (Vertigo)

COMIC STRIP: Dilbert (Scott Adams)

[OK, I’m a nerd, so sue me.]

scorchy-smithDOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT: Scorchy Smith & The Art of Noel Sickles (IDW Publishing)

Kudos to IDW for resurrecting one of the tragically unsung greats. Noel Sickles played a huge role in the early development of the comic arts, from storytelling style to the incorporation of classic art techniques like chiaroscuro, unprecedented for the form at the time. If you’ve never heard of him or Scorchy Smith, and you’re interested to see how the art form developed, you need to check this out.

ORIGINAL GRAPHIC ALBUM: The Joker (DC Comics)

GRAPHIC ALBUM (previously published material): The Grendel Archives (Dark Horse)

For sentimental reasons. (Sentimental about a masked spirit of vengeance? Um, yeah!)

mateki_cover_080214AMERICAN EDITION OF FOREIGN MATERIAL: Mateki: The Magic Flute (Radical Publishing)

Another Radical book that predates my time with the company. A truly stunning adaptation of the Mozart opera, by the legendary artist, translated here from its original Japanese.

WEBCOMIC: PVP: Player Vs. Player (Scott Kurtz)

Scott will actually be hosting the Harvey Awards at the Baltimore Comic-Con. And then he will do a PVP strip about announcing his own name as the winner.

Arie, by Arie.

Arie, by Arie.

BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL/ JOURNALISTIC PUBLICATION: From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books (Arie Kaplan)

This book by my pal Arie actually originated as a series of articles in Reform Judaism magazine–one issue of which featured an interview my wife conducted with presidential candidate John Kerry, long before I met Arie through his work at IDW. His book has garnered all sorts of awards and recognition, all deservedly so. Check it out when you get the chance.

SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR: Brian Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim)

EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION/ART DIRECTION

Yeah, I left this one blank, since I subsist largerly on comps and didn’t spend a lot of money this past year on the kind of high-ticket items that earn this nomination. But there are probably a good dozen or so exemplary projects out there that would easily earn this award.