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.


LAST GEN #5 On Sale — UPDATE: Selling out!

last-generation-logoWent to my Friendly Neighborhood Comic Book Store at 5pm to pick up Star Trek: The Last Generation #5, and… it had sold out, on the very first day. So, I drove 20 minutes to another, larger store, and–sold out!

For the first time in a long time, I actually felt thrilled to drive home empty-handed.

Colorist John Hunt, who worked on part of the issue along with Mario Boon, told me he had a similar experience, in which he went to his comics shop and found the very last copy available. I’ve even had a reviewer contact me looking for a copy, since it was gone on the first day at his shop, too.

It’s not a question of retailers ordering fewer copies–the numbers for issue #4 actually went up from #3–which almost never happens for a miniseries (and it didn’t have any Retailer Incentive covers to increase orders, either).

Issue #4 appeared in the retailer order guide the same month that #1 hit the stands, so rack sales and customer reaction to the first issue must have been unusually strong. And, based on these sales for #5, it looks like it continued through the entire series.

If you can’t find #5 on the stands, ask your retailer put in a reorder and it’ll show up in about a week, usually the next Wednesday or Thursday. Or, pick up the collected edition, which hits both comics shops and book stores in July, just in time for the San Diego megashow.


INTERVIEW: Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek

With the sudden collapse of the Czech government this week and the impending exit of Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek–currently the president of the European Union, in fact–I thought I’d repost an interview I conducted with him shortly before his ascension to the PM post.

He struck me as decent, candid, and unafraid to make controversial statements about positions he genuinely believed in. He also commanded an exceptional fluency in English, without even the need for a translator on standby. Ultimately, his government’s handling of the current economic crisis gave rise to the current “no confidence” vote, though likely a couple of other issues came into play as well.

With his forced resignation, the EU presidency post could pass to Czech President Vaclav Klaus, founder of Topolanek’s party and whose reputation for euroscepticism we actually discuss during the interview. Oh yeah–and U.S. President Barack Obama is slated to visit Prague in just a few days. It will be, as they say, an interesting week.

Click on the images to read the article; photos are by Stephanie Peterka. And you can check out more of my non-comics writing in the Published Works section–just scroll down.

Page One:

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Page Two:

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Page Three:

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STAR TREK: THE LAST GENERATION #5 On Sale!

Q’plah! The time-warping series finale of Star Trek: The Last Generation hits the stands today, with the climactic issue #5! Art once again by Gordon Purcell and Bob Almond, with colors by Mario Boon and John Hunt and covers from the brushes of JK Woodward and Nick Runge.

I hope you all had as much of a blast reading it as I had writing it, and special thanks go out to Paula Block, late of CBS/Paramount, and Marco Palmieri, late of Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books, for their help in getting it all off the ground. Look for the collected edition to be out in July, just in time for the San Diego Comic-Con.

Here are the covers and solicitation text again, just in case you missed them from a few days back:

“The time-shattering conclusion! In an alternate history in which the Klingons have conquered Earth, Jean-Luc Picard and his Resistance travel back to the past in a daring, final gambit to restore the timeline and liberate the planet. But what awaits the rebellion may not be what it expected at all, and the fate of the Federation itself hangs in the balance.”

startreklast5b

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LAST GENERATION nominated for Best Series of 2008!

chronic-riftYow! Since I’m back to blogging, it’s time to announce that “Star Trek: The Last Generation” has been nominated for Best Series of 2008 by the legendary and longest-running SF/comics talk show, The Chronic Rift!

The ‘Rift started out as a cable TV chat show in New York City in 1989, and now 20 years later can be heard worldwide through its podcast edition thanks to the magic of the Internets. Its annual recognition of science fiction, fantasy and horror storytelling, The Roundtable Awards, tips its hat to the top genre films, comics, TV shows and prose fiction of the year.

last-generation-logoLast Generation has been named a “Best Bet” and “Pick of the Week” by Wizard Magazine–sort of the Rolling Stone of the comics biz, for the uninitiated–as well as received stellar reviews from Wizard, Ain’t It Cool News, TrekWeb, Roddenberry.com and a wide array of other top SF and comics sites, but this is the first time that it’s actually been up for an industry award.

From the official blog of the show:

We release the list of nominees for this year’s Roundtable Awards ceremony…

Best Comic Book
All-Star Superman
The Amazing Spider-Girl
Locke & Key
100 Bullets
Star Trek: The Last Generation

OK, let’s see. All-Star Superman is from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Amazing Spider-Girl is the cult hit written by former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Tom DeFalco. Locke & Key is the breakout series from Stephen King’s son Joe Hill. And 100 Bullets is from WonderCon Guest of Honor Brian Azzarello. So, yeah…I think you’d need a degree in quantum physics to chart the likelihood that Last Generation will take home the trophy. (Maybe in an alternate universe… *rimshot*)

Joe Hill

Joe Hill

No, seriously, I’ll say it right now, and mean it, that it’s an honor just to be nominated. IDW, which publishes Last Generation, had been developing Locke & Key during my time as an editor there, and even though I had no involvement in producing the series, I thought it was far and away the most impressive thing we had published. Joe Hill himself is an incredibly fertile creator, able to rattle off story pitches like the gavel dude at a farm auction, and yet hold your attention rapt as if he’d already written the entire story in his head.

Tom DeFalco

Tom DeFalco

At the same time, I’d love to see Tom DeFalco get the nod, since an interview I did with him back in 1987 had been my first professional comics work while I was still a cubling journo in college, shortly after he became editor-in-chief and took me on a personal tour of the fabled Marvel offices in New York City.

(Regrettably, I no longer have any copies of the interview myself; though if I have a chance to sort through my parents’ old storage unit next time I’m on the East Coast, I’ll try to track it down. I think it was headlined, “An Interview With Captain Marvel”–oh, so clever.)

Marvel Masterworks, Vol. 1

Marvel Masterworks, Vol. 1

After our conversation, which lasted very nearly all day, Tom even gave me a special thanks in the Acknowledgments of the very first edition of Marvel Masterworks (Amazing Spider-Man) that came out at the end of the year–my very first professional comics credit. He also put it into the concurrently-produced second and third volumes, The Fantastic Four–which reprinted the issues that launched the Marvel Universe–and The X-Men, which became the Marvel Universe’s top-selling blockbuster franchise.

Coincidentally, one of the other names in the Acknowledgments, also just a fledgling creator at the time, will soon be taking the reins at one of the publishers I’ve worked for. (I can’t say who or which, since it hasn’t been announced yet, but you’ll hear about it soon enough. It’s a pretty big deal.)

Is that--can that be?--Yes, it's our beloved KRAD, fresh from his date with Molly Ringwald.

Is that--can that be?--Yes, it's our beloved KRAD, fresh from his date with Molly Ringwald.

Also coincidentally, the very first episode of Chronic Rift two decades ago featured my future pal and celebrated author Keith R.A. Decadido, who I would eventually hire to write Star Trek for me at IDW, but here looking as fresh-faced as the day he cracked open his first comic.  Manscaping advice, Keith: lose the beard that you’ve now treasured for so long–DeFalco and Hill already have you beat.

None of which has anything really to do with being nominated for Best Series of 2008–except to say that being 21 years old, still in college, touring the Marvel offices and interviewing the editor-in-chief, then seeing my name in the credits of a series of deluxe hardcover books that reprinted some of the most seminal issues in comics history…I sure as hell felt like a winner.

It does feel great to be nominated in such prestigious company, so a huge thanks to those involved in the process who held my series in such high regard. For everyone else, the Roundtable Awards get announced at a ceremony April 6, so be sure to send me your condolences. 🙂

LAST GENERATION #5: Five-page preview!

The fine folks over at Comics Contiuum have posted an exclusive five-page preview for the epic finale of Star Trek: The Last Generation, hitting the stands this coming Wednesday, March 25, at your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Book Store.

From the solicitation:

“The time-shattering conclusion! In an alternate history in which the Klingons have conquered Earth, Jean-Luc Picard and his Resistance travel back to the past in a daring, final gambit to restore the timeline and liberate the planet. But what awaits the rebellion may not be what it expected at all, and the fate of the Federation itself hangs in the balance.”

Sounds exciting? It is! Any issue that has the words “shatter”, “gambit” and “balance” in its solicitation text has got to be good, not to mention “daring”, “fate”, “liberate” and “timeline”.  Plus bedazzling work by penciler Gordon Purcell and colorist Mario Boon. Will Picard manage to save the future? Will Shatner’s stunt double manage to save the president? Will Wheaton’s Wesley return from exile? Pick it up Wednesday and find out!

Meanwhile, here’s the new, previously unreleased official versions of the both covers, with their finalized trade dress:

startreklast5b

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