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.
I 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.
Some 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.
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.
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.
But, 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.
IDW 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.
IDW 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…