STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION SPECIAL #1





Cover art by Jason Palmer


The switchover from Kim Yale to Alan Gold had been the last straw. Already I had been offered several terrific opportunities at DC Comics only to see them snatched away for a variety of reasons, all of them having nothing to do with either my abilities or my professionalism. Since my position was dependent upon a project scheduled for production needing an artist, I decided at that point to become the person who initiates the project and runs with it instead.

Since I had no track record as a writer, I immediately recognized the hurdles I would have to jump through to get anyone to look at whatever proposals I submitted. Therefore, I knew I needed a big gun to clear the first hurdle, the details which can be found on the BLOOD & HONOR page.

Having lined up actor Mark Lenard as a collaborator for my first two proposals, I immediately began to work on editor Alan Gold with regards to submitting other stories. I selected him as my target because I knew I was better off establishing myself on something I knew I could handle versus trying to convince another editor I could deliver the goods. (By this time, all the editors I had previously established relationships with gone from the company. It was comparable to breaking in a newcomer, except I at least now had a track record.)

If I had any misgivings about trying to get work as a writer, it was my lack of confidence in writing dialogue. Plots were a snap. I could weave the most byzantine structure and still have it make sense by the last panel. But dialogue? Even the best wordsmiths have problems making an important plot point sound natural at times during the normal flow of conversation, and in all honesty, I was a complete neophyte at it.

The answer to my problem arrived in the form of Anne Wokanovicz. I had met her at a WishCon (a Star Trek convention for those unlucky never to have attended one) where we got into a fascinating conversation about the do's and don't's in writing for Star Trek. Anne showed me a couple of her stories, which I thought were better than some of the material that was published at the time. (Among the worst were Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston.) Among her strengths was an excellent ear for the speech patterns of Klingons and Vulcans.

As we talked, it occurred to me here was opportunity to accomplish two things at once: I could turn in a more polished final script while at the same time helping someone else accomplish their goals. A win-win situation indeed. Once I voiced my suggestion, Anne was all gung-ho and we proceeded to map out a working relationship.

I wrote up an 18-page plot, breaking it down into a page and panel format. I sent it off to Anne, from which she proceeded to typed up a first draft working in her dialogue. When she completed her end, Anne then sent me the script for final revisions. Once I performed the necessary tweaking, I mailed the story to editor Alan Gold, along with a couple of other story outlines I had percolating in my head.

After waiting a couple of weeks, I decided to call Alan and see whether all the effort had been worth it. To my amazement, he accepted the script, and gave me the go ahead to begin pencilling it. I called Anne with the news, and told her she should expect a check for her part from DC Comics within a couple of weeks. Ecstatic, Anne proceeded to begin working on her proposals for Pocket Books once again.

In the meantime, as I was drawing the pages, I decided, after seeing all my efforts on other stories diluted by inkers who didn't think it worth the time and effort to spend on the pages that I did, that I would ink everything I felt the inker -- whoever was assigned to go over my work -- would simply rush through. Thus, when I submitted my pages to Alan, he was somewhat dumbfounded that I had gone ahead and inked everything on the first two pages except for the figures of Worf and Alexander. (I even lettered the story title, maintaining a format on the title pages I had begun with STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION #33.) Furthermore, I inked every panel featuring the Enterprise as well as any special effect, such as the transporter on page 4. It was a good thing, as Romeo Tanghal was eventually the person assigned to ink the story, and I hadn't been all that thrilled after seeing what he did to my pencils on CAPTAIN ATOM #41.

Unfortunately, no matter how much control you think you have other any given situation, there's always a chance of something going wrong. When I received my copies of the finished printed book, the problem jumped out at me immediately. None of the dialogue or captions appeared anywhere on the first two pages. No caption or word balloon appeared, in fact, until page three. Even then, any panel where word balloons or captions were pasted on overlays, mostly over panels I inked prior to the lettering process in fact, never showed up throughtout the story at all. My heart sank with the thought all our efforts were down the tubes.

Sometimes, though, you can be too close to a situation to realize there's another viewpoint, and I was soon hearing about the one aspect I had completely overlooked. My drawings alone had told the story so well, that everyone who read the story never noticed the missing dialogue or captions. Even Bob Pinaha, the letterer, remarked how well the story worked even with the production snafu. In all the mail Alan received on that issue, there wasn't one complaint about our story being incomprehensible. (I was taken to task, however, in my artistic liberty of showing Klingons crying. Who knew at the time they didn't have tear ducts?)

In the end, however, I never sold another story to Alan again, and it wasn't long before he was replaced by yet another editor.


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For those of you wishing to purchase either a copy of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION SPECIAL #1 or any of the available pages of original art, go to the ORIGINAL ART & MORE STORE for further information.


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