Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Interview: Rob Caswell on the art of Seekers

Out now are the first two books in the new novel series, Seekers. The books are written by the same team that brought us Vanguard (and indeed it follows on from that series), with novels alternating between David Mack, and Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore. But now there's another member of the creative team, Rob Caswell, the artist that inspired the series with his brilliant fan art book cover designs, and is now creating real covers for the published books. Rob spoke to me about his work on the new series (interview continues after the jump):


The original and Caswell version of Blish's Star Trek 6
So Rob, you inspired an original Star Trek book series, that's quite something! For those not familiar, can you remind us how you got from Blish-book homages to the books on our shelves today?
I guess the condensed version of the story goes like this. As a personal project I decided to create new book covers for all twelve of the original James Blish “novelizations”, updating the imagery with details of what we were then seeing in the “remastered” version of TOS, which was airing at the time. I had so much fun with that I wanted to do more, so I created a fictional Star Trek spin off TV series – The Seekers – and popped out about five well-weathered covers, posting the results on my Deviant Art site.

Years passed and I was unaware that, behind the scenes, the writing team who handled the monumental “Vanguard” TOS novel series was looking for some new direction to take their work. They ran across my Seekers treatments and got excited with the idea of making this series idea become real, using me as the cover artist and keeping my ‘70’s Blish cover graphics treatments. To “Trekkies of a certain age” those big, bold book numbers below the Star Trek name hits a nostalgic sweet spot.

So that’s how I got pulled in – ye olde cycle of inspiration. It’s a testament to how the internet has changed our creative pursuits. Twenty years ago I may have done these images and just stuck ‘em in a drawer where no one else would ever see them. The internet offers all kinds of new ways for creative people to share their work and inspire one another.
Two of Rob's covers for the imagined series, The Seekers:


City on the Edge of Forever #3 preview

New this week from IDW is part three of their comic book adaptation of Harlan Ellison's original teleplay for City on the Edge of Forever. The halfway mark in the series sees Kirk and Spock doing their 20th century thing, as you can see in the five-page preview below (continues after the jump):


Compendium rebate

Out next month is Star Trek: The Compendium, the new bluray release of both nuTrek films, which will include the IMAX version of Into Darkness, and all the extra features that were previously sprinkled around different retailer exclusive releases (plus a couple of new ones).

If you already have these films, you might be a bit perturbed at having to buy them again to get the complete Into Darkness experience, which is why Paramount have set up a rebate. If you go, here, and download a form to mail in, Paramount will reunite you with five dollars, as long as you've bought a bluray version of either of the films before.

It appears this offer is only open to US residents, and indeed The Compendium is only going on sale in North America. The rest of the world might be able to track down the apparently region free release, but maybe we'll also get our own versions of the complete Into Darkness bluray release some time later.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Book bits: Lust's Latinum cover, and other book updates

Books news. First up, the cover has been revealed for Lust's Latinum Lost (and Found), the new DS9 ebook coming next month from Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.


As the cover subtly implies, the story focuses on Quark on the new DS9, here's a reminder of the blurb:
Business is down at Quark’s Public House, Café, Gaming Emporium, Holosuite Arcade, and Ferengi Embassy to Bajor. Way down. Lower level of hell down. The station is bustling, but residents and visitors are spending more time (and latinum) at the new Deep Space 9's park, sports fields, theater, swimming complex, and who knows what else, than they are at Quark’s establishment. All of Quark's misfortunes just could be reversed, however, when he finds out that one of the steamiest holonovels to hit the Alpha Quadrant in years is up for grabs. And he has an inroad to acquiring it before anyone else. Or does he?

Continue after the jump for more Trek books news, from TNG and Seekers:

New Starships Collection previews

Pre-orders for the latest issues in the The Official Starships Collection are starting to appear on online retailers, giving us the first look at issues thirty-three and thirty-four, the Cardassian Hideki class, and Vulcan Surak class. Entertainment Earth posted images of both models:



While Man of Action Figures has revealed cover drafts:


The Collection's website has also been updated, with new preview images of issues twenty-nine and thirty, the Jem'Hadar fighter and Nausicaan fighter. Both images show new views of the models, which both appear to have some interesting metallic finishes. Continue after the jump for a look at those, and more updates:

Comic bits: November releases, and other updates

It looks like a slim month for Star Trek comics in November. IDW's latest solicitations list just one new release, part five of the nuTrek/DS9 crossover The Q Gambit. Here's the solicitation (via Previews):

Star Trek (ongoing) #39: The Q Gambit #5

Written by Mike Johnson, with art and cover by Tony Shasteen. Also available in a subscriber variant photo-cover.
It's the penultimate chapter of the "The Q Gambit"! Captains Kirk and Sisko must work together to fight back against the forces of the Dominion! Meanwhile, Spock attempts to free the Enterprise and her crew from the clutches of the nefarious Dukat! And just what is Q planning for everyone involved? The fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance in this all-new story produced in association with STAR TREK writer/producer Roberto Orci!

In other comics news, John Byrne has give some hints (on his forums) at future issues of his New Visions photo-comics series:
Finished the fifth issue, today. The stardate I used places it firmly within the third season. Hope I'm not making it TOO easy for the trolls!

On to 6, probably next week. Thinking about a swing in the other direction, there. A story set between the second pilot and the first episode. Just hope there are enough shots of Mark Piper! If nothing else, a chance to play with a "transitional" bridge, maybe.
Both of these issues should be showing up early in 2015. Which is also when we can expect the omnibus release of City on the Edge of Forever. Amazon now list a hardcover release for February next year. They give this short description:
For the first time ever, a visual presentation of the much-discussed, unrevised, unadulterated version of Harlan Ellison's award-winning Star Trek teleplay script, "The City on the Edge of Forever!" See the story as Mr. Ellison originally intended!

Work is still ongoing on that series, J.K. Woodward has recently posted several behind the scenes glimpses at his art from the series, on his Instagram. Check them out after the jump:

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Axanar

There seem to be Star Trek fan films popping up left, right, and center of late, but some really stand out from the crowd, and Axanar is one of those. If you have somehow missed all the hype about this impressive production, Axanar sets out to tell the story of Garth of Izar in the Four Years War. As the Axanar Kickstarter page describes:
Axanar takes place 21 years before the events of “Where no Man Has Gone Before”. It tells the story of Garth of Izar, the legendary Starfleet captain who is Captain Kirk’s hero and the role model for a generation of Starfleet officers. Garth charted more planets than any other Captain and was the hero of the Battle of Axanar. His exploits are required reading at Starfleet Academy.

This is the story of Garth and his crew during the Four Years War, the war with the Klingon Empire that almost tore the Federation apart, and whose resolution solidified the Federation and allowed it to become the entity we know in Kirk's time.

It is the year 2245, four years into the war with the Klingons.
The Axanar team are looking to fund a feature film to tell this story, and incredibly have already raised almost $600,000 in their Kickstarter campaign, which closes in just a few hours - At the close of the Kickstarter campaign, they had got up to $638,471! This was to be the first of several Kickstarters to get them to their full budget of $750,000, but they have smashed their initial $100,000 goal for this first effort. And quite right too, what they have already shown is amazing work.

Released a few weeks ago was Prelude to Axanar, a twenty-minute film setting up the Four Years War, in the style of a history documentary.  This on its own is an amazing piece of work, and a completely original approach to Star Trek. If you've not seen yet (or even if you have), check it out:



Aside from impressive production values, Axanar also has an amazing cast, including Gary Graham reprising Enterprise's Soval. Also starring are Star Trek veterans Tony Todd, J.G. Hertzler, and Garrett Wang, and Battlestar Galactica's Richard Hatch, and Kate Vernon.

There's some beautiful design work too, the featured ship, the USS Ares, was designed by Sean Tourangeau (designer of the USS Titan), and the effects work is being done by Tobias Richter. Continue after the jump for a look at some of the ship designs to be featured, many are prime universe interpretations of nuTrek designs:

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Interview: Starships Collection's Ben Robinson on year one and beyond

A year of The Official Starships Collection ships
A year ago today the first issue of Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection hit the shelves in the UK. The series has evidently been quite the success, as it has been recently announced it will be continuing beyond its original plan of seventy issues up to at least ninety - Meaning we can expect fortnightly model starships until early 2017!

To look back at the first year of the collection, and ahead to things to come, I am delighted that the series' manager, Ben Robinson agreed to talk with me about his work on the model ship and magazine collection. The interview continues after the jump:

The Star Trek Fact Files ran for 304 issues!
You’ve got quite a long history working in Star Trek, so I thought perhaps we should start by exploring how you wound your way to the Starships Collection, back from the Fact Files days?
It's a very long story. I got the job on the Fact Files when I responded to a newspaper ad. I was already working in publishing and Star Trek was both my hobby and my passion. Back then, no-one knew how long the Fact Files would run. It's success was about an absolute phenomenon. After about a year, the company I was working for decided to try to take it to the US. That meant doing it in a different format, so we launched a US magazine that combined the Fact Files with new behind the scenes material. I was responsible for that and in many ways it was a dream come true. My job was to find out and write about Star Trek. I could literally choose who to interview myself, and they almost always said yes. The magazine ran for four years and I got to talk to almost everyone I wanted to. I made a lot of contacts and collected a lot of material, often tracking down the stuff that no-one had seen before. I still have a pretty hefty archive and I'm very happy to say that a lot of the people I interviewed became friends so if we're working on something I can dash off an email and there's a good chance someone will come back to me.

After the magazine came to an end I carried on working for the publisher, mostly on 'genre' products. I launched a couple of very successful collections - we've done three Doctor Who ones - Battles in Time trading cards, which were a big deal, a DVD collection and now the figurine collection, which I love just as much as Star Trek. I did a James Bond car collection, some DVD collections, TMNT and Transformers collections for Russia. A couple of years ago, the company got bought out by Eaglemoss and I got to add Marvel and DC comics stuff to my CV. We're doing Marvel and DC Chess sets and the Marvel Fact Files. We're pretty busy!
Issue one, a year old today.
So The Collection has been running for a whole year now, but you must have been at work on it for some time before then. Could you take us through the inception of the series? How you settled on the scale of the models, the format for the magazine (part in-universe, part behind-the-scenes), and the running order and balance of different ships?
Is it only a year?! It's being a lot longer than that for me. After the success of the Fact Files we were always looking for another Trek product. Ships seemed like a natural idea, particularly as we'd had so much success with the James Bond cars. I had a few rules: there couldn't be any holes in the ships, they had to be as accurate and as well painted as possible, and they had to be a pleasing size that you could actually get in your home. I know a lot of people wish they were in scale with one another, but I don't think many people have thought through the implications of that. If you keep the NX-01 at the size it is, then the E should be over 2-feet long. There's no way we could do them all for the same price if we did that and there's no way you'd get a Voth city ship through your letterbox.

For the magazine, I knew from the Fact Files that people have a great interest in in-universe stuff. I also knew there's lots of interesting material out there about the filming models and the design process and that's not something I, personally, can ever get enough of. I love my Art of Star Trek book but I was always very frustrated that there was no explanation about what I was looking at.

The running order is interesting. I've learned a bit as we've gone along. The point of the collection was always to give people things that they hadn't been able to get before. I think you want to make it clear from the beginning that this isn't just a collection that has the Enterprises and a Klingon Bird-of-Prey. So I tried to make it clear that it would be varied from the word go so people understood what they'd be signing up for. As we've progressed, it's become clear that people are passionate about Federation ships, so I try to make sure we never go long without a Fed ship, even if it's something fairly obscure such as the Norway class.

Borg ice-cubes, and more Trek stuff for the home

I'm starting to think chilling might be the Borg's cunning new plan to assimilate Earth, as, following the Borg whisky-chillers and Borg Cube fridge, here we are with another new Borg cooling device, the Borg Cube ice-cube mold. The new silicone mold from Diamond Select Toys gives a six sided miniature Borg Cube, made form ice, jelly, chocolate or whatever else you care to pour into it.


Entertainment Earth are expecting these to arrive in March next year. At one-and-a-half-inches across, an ice-cube made in these might be a little too large for another new addition to Entertainment Earth's catalogue; from Icup, a set of four TOS shot glasses with retro comic book art, due in October:


Continue after the jump for more of the latest Star Trek homewares:

New TOS and TNG character and ship bobble-heads

Earlier this year Bif Bang Pow released a three bobble-heads based on The Wrath of Khan (Kirk, Spock, and Khan), and now they're returning to the TOS movie era with three more characters, Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov. Entertainment Earth have recently added listing for these, anticipating a November release.


At the Toy Fair earlier in the year, Bif Bang Pow also displayed McCoy, Uhura, and Kruge bobble-heads, so presumably there will be more to come in the movie-era range.

Meanwhile they are busy bobbling in other eras, continue after the jump for their latest TNG and ship releases: