STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION #17
Assignments rarely come harder than this.
Out of the blue one day I received a phone call from then DC Comics editor Bob Greenberger. Bob had called because he was in a jam big time. He called me because (a) I had established myself by then as someone who could be counted on to handle a rush job, (b) he knew I wouldn't just crank it out, that I could be counted on to not only do the job fast, but do a GOOD job period and (c) he finally had something he could throw my way, either to make up for past assignments I was promised but handed off to others, or to placate me hoping that I wouldn't call him so much. (I never did learn which.)
Bob came right to the point. Never one to mince words, Bob said "Pablo is running behind on his deadlines, and I need you to pencil issue #17 and at least one, possibly two issues more so he can get back on schedule." He needn't have said more, as I fully understood the situation. As Bob was editing only the STAR TREK titles that DC was publishing at the time, there was only one of two books he could be talking about. Since artist Gordon Purcell was pencilling the original STAR TREK series, Bob was referring to STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, which artist Pablo Marcos pencilled and inked.
Bob knew he didn't even have to ask if I wanted the assignment. He simply continued, "The pages are being fed-exed tonight so you should have the pages early tomorrow morning to work on. I don't have an extra copy of the script, so you'll have to work from the lettering and Pablo's rough sketches on the boards."
"No problem. How soon do you need it?" was my only reply.
"Yesterday", was Bob's terse answer.
Such is life for those trying to break into the comics industry. If you really want to break in bad enough, you let it be known you're a person who solves an editor's problem. With this assignment came a bonus. Not only was I solving Bob's problem, I was also getting an opportunity to work on something near and dear to me, having been a STAR TREK fan for, oh, say, virtually all of my life, ever since the original show first aired 8:30PM EST, Thursday night, September 8, 1966. Get the picture?
Thus, I ended up burning the midnight oil, and delivered the entire assignment in a little over two weeks. Not a record breaker by any stretch, but on a book like STAR TREK, close enough, considering all the layers of approvals each issue had to go through.
As fate would have it, by the time I finished with the pencilling, Pablo was up to speed, and ended up inking my pages. Instead of drawing the next issue, I ended up doing what is known in the industry as a "fill-in" story, something the editor commissions for a later date in case something disrupts the schedule of the regular material. Little did I know what I'd be in for with that one.
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