Thursday, December 13, 2012

At last! The Star Trek newspaper comic strips

Back in 2005 I first posted about Rich Handley's efforts to get the TMP-era newspaper comic strips into print, and I've had the comic strip book on the Lost Books page for several years. And now volume 1 is out, thanks to IDW. It's a big, beautiful hardcover. So what makes this such a thrill? Well, it's a TMP-era story sequence in graphic form, and there aren't a lot of those -- and at its best the newspaper strip was infinitely better than Marvel's comic at the same time; at its worst, well, it's no worse than Marvel's comic.The art, especially when Thomas Warkentin was working on the strip, was often very good. And legendary SF novelist Larry Niven wrote one of the stories.

Some of the strip was published in a very hard-to-find sort-of comic book format many years ago. The strips have also been made, not very officially, available on CD ROM and online. But this is the best presentation yet. If you've never read these strips (hell, even if you have), and you like TOS, I shouldn't even have to tell you to go out and get this.

It's been a good week or two for me as a media SF fan -- new Blake's 7 novel, new Doctor Who Magazine comic strip collection, new Space: 1999 graphic novel. But for me this is the big deal. Roll on volume 2!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Overdue update

The desktop PC has been dead for some time now and shows no sign of a miraculous resurrection, and the laptop doesn't like having a browser, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop all open at the same time... and for some reason it can no longer connect to wifi when it's upstairs in the computer room. So... not ideal circumstances for updating, but I intend to do something eventually. As for Trek books... I remain unthrilled by IDW's Trek comics. The one thing I'm really looking forward to is the old newspaper comic strip collection. I collected that as long as I could back in the day, cutting out the strips from the local paper from December 1979 through June 1980, and then we got transferred across the country and I couldn't find a newspaper with the strip any more. So when Rich Handley started his program to get high quality scans and ultimately made all the strips available, I was thrilled. But I'm even happier to have the option to read them in print, rather than on a screen. I guess I can take that out of the Lost Books page. What next, The God Thing? Maybe IDW should adapt it as a comic miniseries. Or have the Phase II fan film people already adapted it?

Speaking of fan films, I've seen very few of them. I find them hard to get into, though I do think they have considerable importance as a part of modern fandom. It'd be nice for someone to put together a good-sized book looking at the phenomenon, with interviews, episode summaries, etc. After all, in the Doctor Who world, we just recently got a great book about the legendary Doctor Who Audio-Visuals, a series of cassette audio dramas that ultimately led to the birth of Big Finish, the professional Doctor Who audio company. There are a lot of great unauthorized DW nonfiction books being published these days; it'd be nice to see more high quality ST nonfiction.

Which in turn leads me to Robert Greenberger's unauthorized history of Star Trek, a fun, colourful, and insightful book that covers decades of Star Trek and fandom. I'd like it even if I hadn't been asked to contribute a page on Trek books and stuff, and there are half a dozen or so images of items from my collection in there as well. Bob's been both a Trek fan and a Trek pro for many years, he knows and loves the show, he did his research, and he got a lot of interesting people to provide sidebars. (It's one of those wow, what am I doing here kind of things, like when I saw the list of contributors for Star Trek Magazine's ultimate guide a couple years back.) So the book is fun, it includes fandom as a key part of Star Trek, and it has a lot of images I haven't seen before. I think it was SFX magazine's review that complained that the book's unauthorized status meant a lack of official, licenced, familiar images in the book. Well, yes, instead of all the same promo shots you've seen a thousand times, there are photos in here you've almost certainly never seen before, and some of them are pretty darn cool. That's not a bug, SFX, it's a feature. So check it out. And thanks to Bob and to Scott Pearson, too.

Leaving Star Trek for a moment to talk about a space opera TV series about a star-spanning Federation, Big Finish has released its second Blake's 7 novel (they've also done a few audios). B7 had a hardcore fandom that apparently produced tons and tons of fanfic, some of it by now familiar names, but its book line was cursed far beyond those of Babylon 5 or Farscape. Just a few novelizations and two original novels, one a post-finale novel that really didn't feel like the show at all, the other a novel about the early days of a key character written appallingly badly by the actor who'd played him. (Seriously, Paul Darrow's Avon: A Terrible Aspect really is as bad as everyone says it is. And Big Finish has him doing another B7 novel soon. With a co-writer or ghostwriter, I hope.) Anyway, anyone who reads Trek and Who fiction should be aware of the B7 novels coming out now, which are set during the series and make much more of an effort to be true to it. And if you've never seen B7, give it a shot. And then another. It took me a few tries before I got hooked. That's long enough for one post, I think...