STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE #20
Whenever you think things are going too good, there's probably something coming around the corner to derail it. That's being realistic. Pessimists and fatalists think nothing good will happen regardless.
I had completed the art for what was supposed to be the twentieth issue of DS9 when I began work on the art for issue #19. (Don't ask. It had something to do with scheduling and the approvals process on a number of different levels, most of which I wasn't privvy to. What did I care? As long as I was getting the work, what did it matter to me?)
After suffering through the past few years of fits and starts, I was finally on something of a roll. I had been working steadily for the past few months on SONIC THE HEDGEHOG for Archie Comics and the workload from them was only increasing, I had just landed working on a children's book as a result of working on SONIC, and I was illustrating a large chunk of a CD-Rom comics game that was under development in addition to my Star Trek assignments from Malibu. I finally felt like I could relax for a bit and just do the work, instead of having to hunt for it all the time.
Part of what put me in a good mood was the story I was just assigned happened to be the first appearance of the U.S.S. DEFIANT in the comics series, and I was being supplied reference material full of photos of the model taken from just about every angle. Here before me were photos more than a few people would have been interested in seeing, but since I was bound not to show them to anyone, true to my word, I didn't.
Everything had been going well until I turned in the second batch of pages to editor Mark Paniccia. I received a phone call from him soon thereafter asking me to be careful of my likenesses of Chief O'Brien, as he thought they were a little weak. I looked over the xerox copies I made of my pencils and showed them to others for a more unbiased opinion. Nobody I knew of had a problem with any of the likenesses whatsoever. What made the criticism unexepected, not to mention more than a bit baffling, was not once had anything been said about any of the likenesses prior to this. Furthermore, what had landed me the assignments, not to mention the acceptance of my BLOOD & HONOR proposal, was the fact the editor himself commented not only on how much he himself thought the likenesses were on the money, but that they wouldn't have any approval problems with Paramount Licensing because of them.
As I didn't have any clue what exactly the problem was, I asked for a list of which specific likenesses they had a problem with. When I was told most of the problems were in the first eight pages, I began to suspect the problem wasn't with my likenesses, but something else entirely. I wouldn't find out what until after I finished drawing this issue.
When I finally saw this issue on the comics racks months later, I was so disheartened. All the effort I put into the pencilling was absolutely ruined by substandard inking. The likenesses of Sisko I spent so much time on ended up looking like nobody I knew, to say nothing of the other characters. As for the cover, as a drawing it was professionally rendered, and that was the best you could say about it. From a design standpoint, it was among the worst, if not THE worst of the entire series. I had submitted much better layouts than what you see here, and all were rejected for reasons I didn't understand at the time when I was working on the book, but was all too well aware of by the time this issue was published. (To those who think I have a severe case of sour grapes over this one, I had never had a problem making any changes to my art requested of me, nor had I ever had a problem working with any editor or publisher before or since like I did with the people at Malibu Comics.)
Now on my guard over the potential problems looming ahead for BLOOD & HONOR, I still wasn't prepared for how bad it would truly get.
NOTE: This was the only issue I illustrated for DEEP SPACE NINE that the original art was returned to me. As far as I know, the art for issue #19 and BLOOD & HONOR is languishing somewhere in a warehouse, along with large piles of artwork from other Malibu comics that have yet to be returned to their respective creators. If anyone should know of who is responsible for finally returning these pages to their respective owners, please E-MAIL me with any available information you may have. Thank you.
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