TrekInk: Review of Star Trek: The Webcomic

Star Trek: The Webcomic, written and illustrated by Mark Farinas, is an ongoing comic strip published online, with compelling and entertaining Star Trek tales based on original series concepts. TrekMovie looks at the strip and learns more from its creator after the break.

If you’re feeling a little lost amidst the big budget Star Trek films and the Trek/Legion/Who/Apes crossovers of the 21st century, then perhaps it’s time for a visit to the 22nd century and some new stories told with the sensibility and style of the original series. Writer/illustrator Mark Farinas launched his webcomic in March 2013, telling a series of tales set in the Trek universe that explore ethical and social issues in much the same way that the original series accomplished, and at the same time, presenting readers with unique and entertaining artwork. Let’s take a look at what Farinas has been up to.

No Good Deed (15 March 2013, full episode link) follows the adventures of Captain Kyle Madison and his crew aboard the Daedalus Class U.S.S. Stalwart toward the end of the Earth-Romulan War.


KA-BOOM!!!


R-E-S-P-E-C-T

No Good Deed explores the debilitating effects of wartime on captain and crew and the consequences of following your conscience. More than anything else, the artwork by Farinas reminds me of some of the British Star Trek comics published in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The readers eyes are immediately drawn to the detailed interiors and exteriors, which contrast sharply with the simpler, but more intimate panels featuring his characters. I was immediately impressed with his work after reading this story.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (3 June 2014, full episode link) features a band of outlaws led by the tough but murder-averse Quetzal Brody as they raid a Federation science colony in search of a mysterious device.


Mudd on the physics of phasers.


I am Kirk! Hear me roar!

The second episode, Weapons of Mass Destruction, held surprises all the way through to the end of the tale. The outlaw band, led by Quetzal Brody, is engaged in a dangerous heist, meeting a couple of iconic Star Trek characters along the way, but the true reason for the job they’ve been hired to do, isn’t quite what Brody’s team expected. I found the story thought provoking, and like the previous episode, was drawn into the adventure by the artwork.

The current strip started just a few weeks ago. Peace in Our Time (23 December 2014, opening panel link) begins with Lieutenant Mirai Jin activating a time jump device with the 21st century as her destination, but the test goes awry.


Three… Two… One…


Khaaaaaaannnnnn!

Peace in Our Time is a time travel tale that has produced another surprise; one you can see in the panel above. It’s looking like Farinas will explore the Eugenics Wars in a context that may hit pretty close to home. I’m looking forward to what’s coming.

Star Trek: The Webcomic 101
Author/illustrator Mark Farinas is also an educator. He includes supplemental material on the website so that readers can learn more about his sector of the Trek universe, including an amusing instructional video, A Guide to Star Trek Onomatopoeia, on how to read sounds in the comic, and concept art for characters and ships. For international readers, No Good Deed and Weapons of Mass Destruction have been translated into Spanish by Sergio G. Molina. Farinas routinely replies to readers who comment on his art and stories.


A Guide to Star Trek Onomatopoeia


Captain Kyle Madison


Ship Recognition Chart

Another project…
Farinas is associated with another fan project linked from the webcomic home page. He created the comic book style poster for fan film Starship Exeter: The Tressaurian Intersection.


Starship Exeter: The Tressaurian Intersection poster by Mark Farinas

But wait! There’s more…
TrekMovie spoke with Mark Farinas about his work and future plans. Here’s what he had to say.

TrekMovie: How long have you been writing and drawing comics?

Mark Farinas: This is my first stab at writing and illustrating a long running comic. I think that shows in the art of the first few strips, which are rougher and more pared down than what the comic has become since. It’s quite a challenge, balancing quality with the speed you need to release twice weekly.

TM: Why did you choose the Trek universe for your storytelling?

MF: TOS and TNG have always been my favorite shows. I love Trek, but I also felt there were areas where it lacked. I wanted to be able tell stories in that universe that hadn’t been or outright couldn’t be told in an official capacity. That goes for the kind of characters I’ve included as well as the situations they get in. Being able to write a noir heist from the perspective of crooks being chased down by menacing Federation starships, for instance, is a really fun exercise.

TM: You’ve created a diverse set of characters for your stories, doing real justice to the concept of IDIC. What motivates you to tell their personal stories as part of the overarching story in each episode?

MF: The lead of Weapons of Mass Destruction is an outwardly Hispanic woman with a Jewish last name who competently swears in both Spanish and Yiddish. That’s mostly autobiographical. My background is diverse. My friends are diverse. My neighbors are diverse. We should be able to see ourselves in the stories we read. And, most importantly, the age/ethnicity/gender/sexuality of the characters aren’t the focus of the comic. It doesn’t need a “very special episode” to be diverse.

TM: There is a prominent ethical component in each of the first two episodes. Why do you think it’s important to explore the ethical choices confronted by your characters?

MF: Science fiction is one of the few places you can get away with being morally provocative without being heavily scrutinized. You can hide your one-sided diatribe under a bunch of spaceships and lasers. It would be a horrible shame to waste that kind of platform if you have it. It also would never occur to me to write a story that’s just a procedural on fighting a war or stealing a priceless item. Why people make choices in those situations is the interesting part.

TM: In addition to very detailed interior and exterior views of Starfleet ships, you’ve published detailed design drawings as well. Why so much attention to detail?

MF: When you’re diving into something as established as Star Trek with all new characters and stories I think you need to remind people that you are, indeed, still in Star Trek, just without Kirk or Spock. So getting the little details right seems even more important. As for the ship schematics, they’re a cross between Naval Intelligence ship ID charts and the kind of two page inserts you’d get as a bonus in old comic books. People seem to love them so I keep making them.

TM: Your artwork is distinctive and reminds me of the British Star Trek comics published in the early 1970s and the animated television series, very stylized and quite different from Star Trek comics published in print. What influences have shaped your artwork?

MF: The shading, colors, and overall influence comes from midcentury comic artists like Jack Kirby, Marie Severin, and Alberto Giolitti. It’s my style of drawing, but with that dynamic look of heavy, black shadows and newsprint muted colors layered on top. It’s a look I’ve always admired. There’s something about having a very limited palette that can fuel creativity.

TM: The current episode, Peace in Our Time, has gone back in time to the early 21st century. Do you plan on exploring the era of the Eugenics Wars and its social implications?

MF: The story will center on a soldier who served in the Eugenics war and it’s aftermath and how that affects her response to the very bizarre situation in which she’s about to find herself. It has the potential to push a lot of people’s buttons. I hope I can pull it off.

TM: What are your plans for future episodes?

MF: I’ve got three stories from my original batch to do after Peace in Our Time. One will follow the Hood after she meets up with the pirates in Weapons of Mass Destruction. The second will involve the 29th Century, but in a very TOS way. I’m really excited about that one because it’ll deal with the consequences of an episode from the Original Series that I haven’t seen anyone else consider before. The last will center around the Cage era. I’d also like to do a Mudd focused comic at some point. After that, who knows. But at this rate I have a little over two years of strips to publish. That ought to give me time.

TM: In our correspondence you mentioned plans to make a live action film based on the first episode No Good Deed. Can you tell TrekMovie readers more about this project?

MF: The comics were initially ideas I had for an animated series I thought were too good to keep gathering dust on my hard drive. I have a couple of friends with experience in film making and they’re interested in turning No Good Deed into a live action project. We want to give it a really distinctive look and feel that evokes 50s and 60s scifi in print and film, kind of like Forbidden Planet or TOS’s first season and with as little CGI as possible. We’re fleshing out the story with subplots and more character interaction, so even if you’ve read it there will be some surprises. Like the comic we want to do something that hasn’t necessarily been done before.

TM: You created an interesting comic book style poster for the fan film Starship Exeter: The Tressaurian Intersection. Do you have any desire or plans to publish print versions of your webcomic?

MF: I can’t see a print version happening any time soon due to the logistics, but I’ve been looking into preparing some special edition PDFs with guest artists doing the covers. As soon as I find the right artists I’ll have those up for download.

TM: A Guide to Star Trek Onomatopoeia has a recommendation for reading the sound PEOW! instead of the more conventional PEW! In an unpublished layout for what could have been Gold Key Star Trek #62, ship’s phaser sound PHEE-OO is used. How do you feel about PHEE-OO?

MF: When I came up with “Peow” I was just thinking of that ricochet sound the stun beam makes when it hits Carter in Man Trap. To me the ships phasers always had a steady “lur lur lur lur lur” sound as opposed to a sudden, single-shot noise. “Pew” is very Star Wars, isn’t it?

Our thanks to Mark Farinas for taking the time to answer some questions about his work. Star Trek: The Webcomic is updated every Tuesday and Friday. The webcomic is best viewed on a tablet or larger display. Reading on a phone might be difficult for some. I recommend that you check it out. You can receive updates from several sources when new panels are published. See the links below.

Links for Mark Farinas’ Trek projects

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.

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CmdrR

What fun!

This Mark Farinas fellow has my utmost respect. Kudos to him, for being true to his vision of Star Trek.

I know previous webcomics which were majestic in their massive work, which were TREKLIFE and SEVTREK, which both deserves celebration from the fanbase.

wi-kiry-lan

Starship Exeter: The Tressaurian Intersection is in my opinion the best of the TOS fan films because it decided to be a new crew and ship following closely the Franz Joseph era Star Trek.

Alas it was way ahead of its time – I think it predated New Voyages even.

Danpaine

This looks super, very appealing. Love the illustration.

Mark, I want to thank you for taking the time to write this review and speak with me. I’m really delighted to know how much you enjoyed the comic and proud to have you as a reader.

I’m very happy to see this piece about Mark Farinas’ work. He’s telling the best new Trek stories I’ve seen in years—including most of the high-profile fan films—and he deserves far more attention and praise than he’s getting.

This is the kind of anthology Star Trek I want, and I can’t get enough of it.

James T. West

PLEASE release these in print!

Phil

Pleased to see someone taking the time and effort to flesh out the Trek universe, and willing to step away from very tried and true Trek formula to do it.

Yves A.

Star Trek The Webcomic is really really good. The stories are entertaining and smart and most of all **FUN**. It’s got just enough fanservice without ever going all “fap fap fap” fankwanky.

Mr. Farinas also animated a “Klingon propaganda” video a few years ago which gives you an idea of how these stories might’ve looked animated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9sFyY9LN0M

Dom

I always loved the old per-1987, pre-TNG comics (don’t worry, this isn’t an anti-TNG rant!) simply because 23rd Century Trek was still in the ‘future’ back then, rather than a historical period of a ‘future history universe.’ The comics of that time gave us some very different, more industrial internal and external ship designs, some closer to the interior of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica than familiar Trek designs. I remember one where the Enterprise was being battered by asteroids while two planets were on collision course and there was a crewman on the bridge who was turning a submar arine-type pressure wheel and the transporter was a unit in the middle of a busy industrial-looking room. Visually, this reminds me of those. While I totally understand the decision for Nu-Trek to use 21st Century futurist design concepts, part of me would love to see a big budget 23rd Century-era Trek film evoke the designs of the 1950s and 60s in a similar way to Star Trek Remastered only on a larger scale. I’ve had a flick-through of the comics here and will have a better look when I get home. Star Trek is in an interesting era right now, not dissimilar to Doctor Who in the 1990s where the licenced and unlicenced fan creations are producing some of the best examples of how great the concept really can be. I didn’t like Nu-Who and my heart belongs to the 1990s books and comics. Similarly, I feel Star Trek Continues, in… Read more »

Marja

Not crazy about the art [a little close to caricature] but the ink work is interesting ….

Jack

These are really great. I kind of love the art too (no offence, Marja). :)

Mark,

Fun stuff, your comics.

And I visited your page. One thing I can agree with you on is. . .”(Zephram Cochran) wasn’t a drunk in a Mad Max camp repurposing nuclear rockets that were just lying around.” I remember thinking, in very similar terms, that very thing when I saw that movie.

Jack

From his about page:

“• TOS was notoriously misogynistic, even stating in “Who Mourns for Adonais” that most female officers abandon the service to have babies. This was made worse in “Turnabout Intruder” when Janice Lester comments that women can’t be ship captains. This will be the one aspect I’ll be ditching from TOS as well as all other Trek movies and series that sinned against women. Expect every series to pass the Bechtel Test and the Mako Mori Test, and have 50% women in all crowd/crew scenes.

• “Enterprise” is so incompatible with TOS regarding technology, history, and ship design that it has to be tossed out in its entirety. Plus it’s a pretty weak show. This doesn’t mean I would disregard Enterprise’s more interesting visual concepts. The Vulcan ships are cool and based on Matt Jefferies designs. The multi-legged Tholians were pretty much what you expected they looked like below the neck. Gorns, however, are upright lizard men with insect eyes, not velociraptors in tunics. And the term “Augments” should never pass human lips again.”

Hear, hear.

Jack

*I hate the word augment. It’s a small blessing that it wasn’t uttered in Into Darkness.

I also hate “away team.”

Jack

Actually, this too, especially:

“• The plot line of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” is probably going to bring up questions of “Section 31″. I never could wrap my head around the whole “Tal Shiar vs Obsidian Order vs Section 31″ thing in DS9. It plays on the idea that conspiracy theories and secret societies can exist in a democracy, a view point I do not share. The closest thing Section 31 could be compared to is the CIA, and they are neither autonomous nor officially denied. They are out in the open and obey the President and Congress whether you want to believe it or not. It also doesn’t take a secret society to create secret weapons. The Department of Defense does that themselves all the time. When Star Fleet needed to sneak into Romulan space to steal their new cloaking technology in “Enterprise Incident” they didn’t send Section 31. They sent their top ship and crew with secret orders.”

I never heard a steady phaser beam in a comic as “lur lur lur,” more like “screeeeeee!”

I guess a door swoosh would be sounded out as “Shhh-veet!”

Jack, At least Roddenberry et al came up with away team. And it makes a little sense as a team going over to another ship (like the Batris) is hardly “landing”.

Captain Smirk

I have a recognition chart from Matt Jeffries that identifies the larger craft as a “Constitution class” starship.

And I have a plaque on the actual bridge that says “Starship Class”. I kind of prefer the sound of it. It reminds us of the days when commanding a starship was a big deal. Any other ship was just a ship.

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