Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Star Trek: The Newspaper Strips, Volume One preview

StarTrek.com have previewed the forthcoming Star Trek: The Newspaper Strips, Volume One, due out this month. Finally collecting the elusive US comic strips, this first book contains the first ten stories in the series. The StarTrek.com preview is a little low res, but even here you can see they've done a great job reproducing the artwork, which looks sharp and vibrant:


Trekweb recently ran an interview with Rich Handley, who collected all the old US and UK comic strips and has been trying to get them reprinted for years. Here's how he described that bumpy road:
In past years, Pocket Books' John Ordover and Wildstorm Comics' Jeff Mariotte both tried valiantly (pun intended) to reprint the U.K. and U.S. strips. However, Paramount nixed the idea each time, reportedly due to legal concerns. I was not privy to all of the details of those discussions, so I don't know specifically what transpired, but John, Jeff and I were disappointed not to be able to see the project through.

The Star Trek comic strips, while admittedly uneven in quality, are great fun to read nonetheless, sometimes because they're genuinely well written and/or illustrated, and sometimes from a Mystery Science Theater 3000 "This is so ridiculous, it's wonderful" perspective. And yet, at the time, most Trek fans didn't even know they existed, since the U.K. strips had never been marketed overseas, while the L.A. Times strips had been poorly distributed. The three of us were thus determined to put these strips into fans' hands. Sadly, it didn't happen.

In 2010 (if I recall correctly), I decided to give it another try, and so I reached out to IDW's Chris Ryall. Chris was very open to the idea, and put me in touch with Dean Mullaney, the editor of IDW's The Library of American Comics imprint. Dean decided to start with the U.S. strips, and worked with me and several other fans, most notably Allen Lane and Mark Martinez, to find the highest-quality versions possible for each daily strip. Dean was determined to do as great a job on these books as he feasibly could, given the strips' age and relative unavailability, so he didn't want to limit himself to just the versions in my collection. To that end, he mined Allen's and Mark's archives, as well as those of Comics Revue editor Rick Norwood, and also purchased numerous bulk sets on eBay and elsewhere, then used the best of what he'd amassed.

Unlike Pocket and Wildstorm, IDW did not run into the same legal entanglements, presumably due to Star Trek's ownership having changed hands in recent years. Whatever the reason, the hurdles were lifted and the strips are finally being reprinted. Having seen the final product, I believe fans will love the end result.
He also described his involvement in this book:
In addition to helping Dean compile the strips, I also looked over each PDF proof page for him and was allowed to come up with titles for the un-named storylines. In addition, Dean invited me to write an introduction to the first volume, and I'll also be doing something fun for volume two. Our hope, if these two books sell well, is to eventually do the same for the U.K. strips (so tell all your Trek-loving friends to buy five copies of each book).
So it sounds like volume two, with the rest of the US strips is a done deal, while the next two books, with the UK series are dependent on the success of the first. So make sure you buy a copy of this first book, as the UK strips have some truly amazing artwork!





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