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TrekInk: Review of Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics Vol. 1 and a request from Library of American Comics April 15, 2013

by Mark Martinez , Filed under: Books,Comics,Review,TOS , trackback

Captain’s Log: Stardate 7493.5 – On a survey mission through an uncharted sector of the galaxy, we have picked a radio transmission from an unexplored sun system. This is how the newspaper adventures of the Enterprise began, back in December 1979. Most Trekkies aren’t familiar with these comics, but that’s ok, because IDW’s Library of American Comics can help. More after the break.

 

Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics – Volume 1: 1979-1981
Stories and art by Thomas Warkentin, Ron Harris and Sharman DiVono. Edited and designed by Dean Mullaney, color restoration by Lorraine Turner, with an introduction by Rich Handley



Cover art by Thomas Warkentin

A little background about this book. Rich Handley, who wrote the introduction for this oversize hardcover collection, began researching and collecting the Star Trek newspaper strip years ago. He made several unsuccessful attempts to interest publishers in reprinting the strips, until The Library of American Comics, a division of IDW Publishing, stepped up and set the project in motion. This volume, the first of two, was released December 2012 and features the first ten story arcs, from the strip’s debut on December 2, 1979 through October 25, 1981. Handley’s introduction details the interesting history of the Star Trek strip, distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and provides background information about the writers and artists who contributed. Reproductions of artist audition strips, promotional material, and the McDonald’s Happy Meal comic strips from 1979 are included in the book.

The Star Trek newspaper strip began its run a few days before Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released. Writer/artist Thomas Warkentin used the crew of the movie, including a couple of cameos by Lt. Ilia, to chronicle the continuing adventures of the starship Enterprise. He illustrated his stories with a sharp eye for detail and the result is a series of stories that remind me of the original series television episodes. Warkentin’s contributions show a healthy respect for the entire original series crew. The Marvel Star Trek comics published at the same time pale in comparison to Warkentin’s newspaper comics. However, the demanding publication schedule took its toll on him. Over time, he needed help from many other creators to keep up. Ron Harris and Sharman DiVono took over the strip in late April 1981. Taking there cue from Warkentin, they picked up where he left off, telling two more stories firmly in the same classic Trek mold. I found all ten of the stories in this volume entertaining. A few of the aliens illustrated in this volume (not the Klingons) are a bit cartoony, but it all works for me. I think you’ll enjoy them too.

It’s an unbelievable treat to finally have these comic strips in book format. The stories are classic Trek and the artwork by Thomas Warkentin is outstanding. The other writers and artists also do a fine job. I only have a few of the Star Trek newspaper strips. Anyone who has seen them in their local newspaper, or in the carefully trimmed collections kept by faithful readers, will know that editor Dean Mullaney and his team at The Library of American Comics have done a terrific job putting together this collection. This is a must have book for every Star Trek fan.

The nuts and bolts and panels of Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics

Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics, Volume 1 is a 9"x11¼", 272-page hardcover with dust jacket and a bound-in bookmark. There are four strips to a page. Each strip is 2¼"x7", which is larger than most strips currently published in newspapers today. To simplify reading the comics, the designers at LOAC decided to format the half page Sunday strips like the daily strips. This means that a single panel was trimmed from the half page format to permit rearranging the remaining panels like four daily strips. The same type of trimming occurred when newspapers published the Sunday strip in tabloid format. Since the story told in the Sunday strip is repeated in the daily strips, trimming a single panel has no effect on the story. Curiously, the extra panel in the half page Sunday strips, seems to have been dropped some time in Spring 1981. More than 150 Sunday Star Trek strips were published. I believe only about half of them have the extra panel. Here are examples of the half page and tabloid format Sunday strips with and without the extra panel.



December 2, 1979 Sunday strip, art by Thomas Warkentin (Half page format)



December 2, 1979 Sunday strip, art by Thomas Warkentin (Tabloid format with one panel omitted)



June 21, 1981 Sunday strip, art by Ron Harris (Photograph of the half page format original art, which no longer has an extra panel)



June 21, 1981 Sunday strip, art by Ron Harris (Tabloid format with nothing omitted)

Here are the panels trimmed from the first three Sunday strips for obsessive-compulsive Trekkies like myself. Anyone want to start a tumblr of these panels?



Art by Thomas Warkentin

LOAC is looking for a few good Trekkies!

If you’re a fan of the Star Trek newspaper comics, the folks at LOAC are asking for your help with the second volume.

Attention: Star Trek fans!
IDW’s Library of American Comics (LOAC) needs your help. In December 2012, LOAC published Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics, Volume 1: 1979-1981, reprinting the first 10 L.A. Times Syndicate strips by Thomas Warkentin, Sharman DiVono and Ron Harris (http://www.libraryofamericancomics.com/catalog/series/2419/). In creating that first volume, we worked hard to find the highest-quality strips available. Now we’re preparing Volume 2, and we’re on the lookout once more. We’ve already located all of the strips from the second batch of 10 stories, but are reaching out to the fan community in the hope of finding higher-quality versions of some of them. If you have any of the actual dailies (the original strips, rather than photocopied versions) published between February 1982 and January 1983, and would be willing to lend them for scanning purposes (or provide high-resolution scans), please contact editor Dean Mullaney at info@loacomics.com. Thank you for your assistance. With your help, we can continue presenting these lost gems in the best light possible.

Full disclosure disclaimer: I loaned Star Trek newspaper strip ephemera from my collection to LOAC, which they scanned and included in Volume 1, and I received a free copy of the book.

Mark Martinez is an obsessive-compulsive Star Trek comics reader and collector. You can visit his website, the Star Trek Comics Checklist for more than you ever needed to know about Star Trek comics.

Comments

1. Ensign RedShirt - April 15, 2013

Outstanding work, Mark. Methinks I might have to pick up Volume One!

2. cbspock - April 15, 2013

I don’t remember these at all. I remember reading the Star Wars newspaper strips, but never Star Trek. This is cool

3. K - April 15, 2013

Kind of uncanny…Kirk says a similar “stretch our legs” line in Countdown to Darkness, as he says in the first image of the Sunday strip. (Dec 2nd, ’79)

4. star trackie - April 15, 2013

It’s a gorgeous book, and a real treat to re-visit the crew on their second 5 year mission.

5. Jack - April 15, 2013

Darned good writing, Mark — as always.

It’s great how they got Kirk’s cadence — and his penchant for corniness.

Him: “There are more ways to solve a problem than by killing — by releasing the savage within us!”

Her: “You talk too much, Kirk!”

6. rm10019 - April 15, 2013

Volume One is great, looking forward to the rest!

7. Kapten Kerk - April 15, 2013

Great article and great review Mr. Martinez. I recently “discovered” your site and have been reading about the history of the Star Trek comics.
Great book, I am definitely buying it now. The second five-year mission is a very interesting period of the TOS crew. The art looks awesome!

8. Rick - April 15, 2013

I was one of those kids that clipped out the STAR TREK strips and glued them on 8.5 X11 sheets of paper to make my own ST collected comic. I lost all those pages through the years so it is nice to see these collections. Of course the paper where I lived stopped the strip maybe after the first story so I never saw the rest of the material. I have to say I thought the STAR TREK strip was more interesting and better crafted than most of the other STAR TREK comics I saw up to that point.

9. Rich Handley, Hasslein Books - April 15, 2013

Excellent article, Mark, as always. Thanks for supporting the project, and for spreading the word about the search for better-quality strips. We’re trying to make sure the second volume comes out as well as the first volume did.

I’m a MAJOR fan of the newspaper strips. Despite some silliness and weak artwork from time to time, the series had its heart in the right place and was a lot of fun, so being involved with this project–and finally seeing the strips reprinted after a few false starts–has been a great thrill.

We have something cool planned for Volume 2, in fact–and if these two books sell well, there could be more to come… :)

10. Cosmo Kid - April 15, 2013

Volume one is spectacular! Incredible work went into its creation. I can’t wait for volume 2!!

11. John in Canada, eh? - April 15, 2013

How could Ilia show up in the comics? If Kirk was in command after TMP, she’d be dead, right?

12. Rich Handley, Hasslein Books - April 15, 2013

Dead, no. “List them as… missing.” :)

Basically, it was a mistake. Luckily, she only appeared in two panels.

13. Jonboc - April 15, 2013

It’s a great coffee table book, even has a incredibly helpful bookmark.

14. Mark Martinez - April 15, 2013

@8 Rick: Do you recall the name of the newspaper you clipped the Star Trek strip from?

15. Digginjim - April 16, 2013

I used to cut this strip out of the newspaper here in the UK as a kid and paste it into a scrapbook! Wish I still had those now…

16. Rick - April 16, 2013

14. Mark Martinez I would of been the Dallas Morning News or something like that I believe.

17. bearytrek - April 16, 2013

its been common procedure to have a throwaway panel that isn’t essential to the story (in addition to the title panel removed if necessary) in sunday strips in case the newspaper running them needs to reformat for space…

18. Frederick - April 16, 2013

I clipped and saved a stack of these, but I missed some, and before a storyline concluded I moved away from a city to one where the newspaper did not carry them. That’s why I have never went to the trouble of scanning and posting on my TOS scrapbook blog what I do have. Glad to see a whole collection of all of them!

19. Mark Martinez - April 16, 2013

@everyone who read the Star Trek strip when it was originally published:

I’d appreciate it if you let me know what newspaper you read the Star Trek strip in. I’d like to compile a list of the newspapers.

thanks

20. Herb Finn - April 16, 2013

It’s sad to think neither the syndicate or the licensing department at Pararmount didn’t save the original master “stats” and color guides on these.

21. Herb Finn - April 16, 2013

There must be copies of actual newspapers – not microfilm – on some of the newspapers that carried these which coupld be used to source the strips.

Has anyone actually contacted any of the known newspapers who carried these to see if they have hard copy newsprint of the papers for the time period, and get access to them for scans.?

22. Keachick - April 18, 2013

That’s what I love about Kirk – his cadence and his penchant for “corniness”. Kirk gives Spock(?) an order to “Mind the store!” So loved/love it!

I am hoping this nuKirk has some of that corniness as well…I really do hope so.

Sadly, i think that Pine/Kirk won’t have quite the same uniqueness about him for two reasons – 1) JJ/Pine don’t want to (and maybe find it hard) do an imitation and 2) Shatner/Kirk has received so much negativity and parody over how the original Kirk phrased his sentences sometimes.

The way the TOS Kirk spoke, his vocal range, his phrasing, his non-vocal gestures are what made KIRK UNIQUE, SPECIAL and so WONDERFUL. I adored it then and still do!

Quite sad actually and says more about the detractors than it does about Shatner or the character he played.

23. Keachick - April 18, 2013

Edit – I meant to put the paragraph beginning, “The way the TOS Kirk…” after the sentence “…corniness as well…hope so.” as part of that earlier paragraph in my post at #22.

Oh for an edit function…

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