Tuesday 2 February 2021

The lost Klingon art of Star Trek: The Manga

Between 2006 and 2009 Tokyopop published the first ever, and so far only, Star Trek manga books(ad). They published four volumes in all, starting with three TOS anthologies, and finishing off with a single TNG release. But their original plan was to start with TNG, in a book containing stories that alas were never published. 

Back in 2004 Newsarama reported some details of this first planned book, including some amazing Klingon artwork by artist Shin-Ichi Hiromoto for a story called Skin Deep, by Jim Alexander. Alas the original article is no longer online, and only partially archived by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, so when I was thinking back to this cool artwork recently I was disappointed not to be able to find it all again. Then months later when digging through some old folders, there they all were! I was delighted to discovered I'd saved a back-up of my own years ago. So now I thought I'd get them back online so others can see to. Continue below to check out some really cool Klingons!

There's also one bit of Romulan art:

The book would have included five stories in all:
  • Skin Deep - A "Klingon battle story" by Jim Alexander, and artist Shin-Ichi Hiromoto, with art concepts as seen above.
  • A "creepy space spider story" by Mike Barr.
  • A "holodeck story with Worf in Feudal Japan" by Jake Forbes.
  • A "Q story where he’s split into three personalities" by Chris Dows.
  • A Mirror Universe story by Mark Paniccia.
Sounds quite promising to me, a real shame they never surfaced. Klingons did appear in several of the stories that were published, but nothing as quite so bold as the art direction seen here.

The books that did make it delivered some really fun stories though, and are definitely worth checking out. There were three TOS volumes, Shinsei Shinsei(ad), Kakan ni Shinkoi(ad), and Uchu(ad), plus an omnibus book, the Ultimate Edition(ad), which collected some of the stories from each of those books, and presented a coloured version of one of them. These were followed by the single TNG book, Boukenshin(ad). All four of the books have recently been reprinted as part of the Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection(ad), which had a bonus effect of upscaling them from the regular smaller manga sized books to the American format size.

Some of the highlights include a Borg origin story, a two-sided account of a Kirk-Klingon encounter written by Wil Wheaton, and sequels to The Changeling, and The Best of Both World. There's also a cameo from Starbase Vanguard in one of the stories, and one story where the TOS Enterprise has do a saucer separation. The second book also features a couple of bonus comic strips by cartoonist David Reddick, a special manga version of his strip about trekkies, The Trek Life, and a fun little strip about red shirts, called Red Shirts, Cool stuff.

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