Interview: Tipton Brothers On Taking ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Into The Mirror Universe

This month IDW kicks off their new six-issue series, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Broken. These are the first comics to explore the TNG mirror universe (something that also never happened during the TV show). The new comics are being written by Scott and David Tipton, who also penned IDW’s 2008 Star Trek: Mirror Images series, a prequel to the original “Mirror, Mirror” episode. TrekMovie thought it would be good to catch up with the Tipton brothers and talk to them about their return to the Mirror Universe.

Star Trek: TNG: Mirror Broken #1 cover by J.K. Woodward

Aside from some novels, this will be the first time we see the TNG crew in the Mirror Universe. Why do you think we’ve never seen it until now?

Scott Tipton: When Next Generation was in production as a series, I think there was a resistance on their part to rely too much on Original Series storylines and concepts, feeling that they needed to prove themselves on their own merits.  So very rarely did you see direct sequels to TOS episodes or storylines. By the time DS9 really got going, the franchise as a whole had proven itself and the producers were much more confident, so my feeling is they had much less trepidation about playing with some of the older stuff. But by that time, TNG as a series was no more.

David Tipton: I agree. I think there was some concern during the production of Next Generation that the show not be perceived as simply redoing Original Series episodes. The first-season episode “The Naked Now” got some negative reviews because some saw it as simply a recycled Original Series episode. Later on, when DS9 took on the Mirror Universe, they built up a unique storyline that supported multiple episodes in a way that I think helped defuse any concerns about retreading old episodes.

Is it right to say this is set around the beginning of the Next Generation era, and if so how does what we saw of the Mirror Universe from Deep Space Nine influence this story? 

ST: Yeah, it’s roughly analogous to the early years of TNG, but because of the vagaries of characters’ lives, not everyone will be at the same place in their career that you’d expect. Some may be higher, some may be lower. We do play off of the description of the state of the Terran Empire from the DS9 episodes, and explain that all may not have been as people out in deep space believed.

DT: The story for Mirror Broken is placed roughly in the Mirror Universe equivalent of the early days of the Enterprise-D, and it also is placed in the context of what we learned about what happened to the Mirror Universe from the Deep Space Nine episodes.

Star Trek: TNG: Mirror Broken #2 cover by J.K. Woodward

With no TNG history in the mirror universe, you had sort of a blank canvas to put your own dark spin on these iconic characters. What was the most difficult part of that?

DT: It’s important to keep in mind that the Mirror characters aren’t exact reverse counterparts of the characters we know. They are more like dark reflections, and they have unique personalities that reflect their environment and particular natures. Their backstories are important, because those help us to understand their motivations.

ST: It’s a tricky line to walk. The Mirror Universe characters aren’t opposites; they’re the same people, just raised in an entirely different culture, which is bound to affect every decision they make. It’s tempting to just say, “This is Evil Data,” but the more interesting thing to explore is what makes him still the same character in a world so drastically different, and how would that character react to that kind of life?

Which TNG character or characters do you think really lend themselves to this universe? Which of those characters was your favorite to write?

ST: That’s kind of what I’ve been enjoying most. All the characters are just as compelling, but in different ways. Mirror Picard is still Picard, but a lot of the niceties have been worn away. The biggest surprise has been Barclay, but that may just be novelty, as it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to write the character.

DT: There’s some really interesting stuff with Data. Data’s origin story is not quite the same in the Mirror Universe, and Mirror Data’s growth and development goes down a very different path…

Mirror Broken concept illustration for Geordi by J.K. Woodward

We have seen a lot of fantastic looking art from J.K. Woodward for Mirror Broken. Can you talk a bit about how the process works with J.K.?

ST: It’s totally a collaboration start to finish. We talk over plot and character before we begin scriptwriting, and try to craft the scripts and page layouts to play to J.K.’s strengths. And while he’s painting, he’ll often call or text with thoughts about ways to improve things as we go, either character bits that can be conveyed visually, or arcane Trek details that can be slipped into the backgrounds. Working with J.K. is so easy because he’s such a Trek fan, we can just call out episode titles or moments and he knows precisely what we’re referring to.

DT: We’re usually consulting back and forth throughout the process. J.K.’s original designs for Next Generation Mirror characters influenced early development, and then ideas from Scott and me played a role in his continuing design work. It’s a great process.

“Mirror, Mirror” is one of the most beloved TOS episodes. Why do you think Trek fans are so fascinated with the Mirror Universe?

ST: I think it’s just the fascination of seeing familiar, beloved characters behaving so differently, and at times so horribly, yet still being recognizably themselves.

DT: And there’s something to the idea of wondering about what would happen to familiar characters and situations if some elements were changed. It opens up some interesting creative avenues.

Star Trek: TNG: Mirror Broken #3 Cover by J.K. Woodward

What can we expect from you after Mirror Broken? Any particular area of Star Trek you would really like to explore in the comics?

ST: We have tons of places we’d like to go, and are always down to explore any corner of the Trek Universe. We’ve been itching to dive into that post-TMP, Pre-Wrath of Khan era for years. Someday…

DT: I love the Motion Picture era. Would also like to do another Deep Space Nine project.

Should I ever trust anyone with a beard again?

ST: Oh, a beard is fine. It’s the combination of the goatee or Van Dyke with the sleeveless shirt you’ve gotta watch out for…

DT: I would worry more about Data with Borg enhancements than anyone with a beard.

Mirror Broken concept illustration for Riker by J.K. Woodward

Mirror Broken begins Saturday on Free Comic Book Day with Facebook Live and N. Hollywood signing event

The new Star Trek: The Next Generation – Mirror Broken series kicks off this Saturday with a special Free Comic Book Day issue. The Tipton brothers along with artist J.K. Woodward will be holding live chat on the official Star Trek Facebook page at 12:30 pacific time on Saturday.

In addition the Tiptons and Woodward will be at Blastoff Comics in North Hollywood, CA signing issues of Mirror Broken. More details at blastoffcomics.com.

Promo for Free Comic Book Day Facebook Live event with team behind Star Trek: The Next Generation – Broken MIrror

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Obviously, Mirror Spock either wasn’t moved to be an agent of change, or failed badly at it.

Maybe Spock got wacked!😈

Apparently. As opposed to the “Star Trek Continues” sequel “Fairest of Them All,” where he was moved too quickly and easily for it to be credible, at least for me.

The article says this is still in the same mirror universe as DS9s. Also earth is the only planet left in the empire. So Spock’s changes probably happened, the war started and he was probably taken off the throne by more militant elements

You might have also mentioned that the Tiptons were also responsible for the graphic novel adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s original script for “The City on the Edge of Forever” — only the greatest thing with “Star Trek” on the label to come along in, like, forever. J.K. Woodward did the artwork for that project as well.

Agreed. That graphic novel is beautiful.

The Reason why TNG had no Mirror Universe Episodes was because of Roddenberry, Roddenberry wanted to keep it Cerebral and Family friendly what an A hole but now thankfully there is no more Roddenberry and Star Trek can go Darker and more action oriented.

Remember, Roddenberry CREATED Star Trek. So he did have something to say about the direction of the series. Also, the original concept for the show was to have morality plays.

Concerning Star Trek going darker… RoddenBerry era Next Generation also gave us the Borg. Back when that was first introduced, it was seen as rather dark.

I personally like TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT all for different reasons. I liked TOS and TNG for its overall hopeful view of the future. I like DS9 for showing a gritty life out “on the rim” where Federation society isn’t as neat and tidy.

I would actually like to see an ongoing comic in the “mirror universe.” I think there is a lot to see there. Keep the Klingon’s devotion to honor intact but now they are the good guys fighting for a free society. Considering that the Vulcans are in some ways an enslaved species (especially going by Through a Mirror Darkly), this would bring an interesting spin on the Reunification with the Romulans a whole new spin.

Roddenberry did not create the Borg Maurice Hurley created the Borg, Maurice Hurley Created the Borg and he wanted to do a Borg Invasion Arc where the Federation went to War with the Borg but Roddenberry would not allow it because he was so obsessed with his peaceful vision of the Future. Also the writers wanted to go down a darker path and have the Klingon Empire go to War with the Federation but Roddenberry would not allow that either, what a ass and had Roddenberry been alive DS9 would not of been made cause it went against his vision.

Thank goodness then! Because a big war story in space is just not Star Trek, it’s something else. Borg = great invention, great villian, but Borg invasion arc = not Star Trek. Star Trek is not about war. It’s about exploration and ideas. The peaceful vision of the future is what made Star Trek great.

So I guess you don’t like DS9 then

DS9 was great not only because it was gritty, but it continued on the theme of social commentary. The theme that Trek has taken on since the show aired in 1966.

I’m glad that many of these opinions are just that. Opinions.

No one person has a claim on what can truly be considered “Trek”. Trek is what the execs at Paramount and CBS want it to be.

That’s why what “Trek” is tends to be very fluid.

CaptJWAmick,

Re: Trek is what the execs at Paramount and CBS want it to be.

ROTFLMAO. When Bludhorn bought Desilu and had to order Paramount to take on STAR TREK, Paramount had declared STAR TREK dead. They didn’t WANT it to be anything and they certainly didn’t perceive it as anything other than an albatross hanging from their already financially troubled neck. They even tried selling it to Roddenberry for around $157 thousand dollars but even Gene couldn’t find anyone who thought it was worth risking financing him for that paltry sum (Less than the cost of producing one episode of STAR TREK.) in the early 1970s.

STAR TREK simply is NOT here today for us to discuss this because of Paramount getting what it “wanted” STAR TREK to be, i.e. dead, buried and written off the books.

Ummm…. Roddenberry had nothing to do with the Borg’s creation. What have you been smoking?

Gene Roddenberry was a policeman, an airline pilot, a science fiction author and the genius (along with Dean Coons) that strung the elements of STAR TREK into a show that’s lasted longer than Turkey Day in my family gatherings. Anyone calling him an a-hole is an utter A-HOLE indeed.

I hope there’s an interesting story explaining why Geordi is carrying an NX-class phase cannon…

He kept it under his bed in case of an emergency.

sorry for my englishe but I really must needs say, madame deanna troi look very sexus in this picture, a real charm delight!

I’m surprised Geordi is alive. Based on what we know from mirror earth society, I’m surprised he wasn’t killed for being blind, or at least never given help for it.

Maybe desperate times got him where he is

He was probably experimented on and survived.

I think it wasn’t done and I still don’t understand why it’s being done based on the DS9 mirror universe, and that the Terran Empire doesn’t exist? If Earth is the only planet that exists in the Empire, I wouldn’t think it would fair well against the Klingon-Cardy Alliance?? Just saying

Since I go for the quantum/multiverse idea, I assume there are lots of universes out there similar to the so-called Mirror Universe. Arguably the Kelvin Timeline is a Mirror Universe too – a universe broadly similar to TOS that had the Narada incursion, but one that I expect was still somewhat different anyway.

The comic looks like fun. The last time I read anything TNG Mirror Universe-related was either Dark Mirror or one of the Shatnerverse novels. Beautiful cover art.

We need a Mirror Universe series and to Hell with the Fans who don’t like that idea.I have been speaking to Fans who don’t like the idea of a Mirror Universe series they say ”We DON”T NEED A MIRROR UNIVERSE SERIES IT’S NOT RELEVANT TO SOCIAL COMMENTARY WE WANT ALL TALK AND DIPLOMACY” what these fans don’t seem to get is that Star Trek is Changing it has to be different to appeal to a new audience, I Would love to see a mirror Universe series with back Stabbing and conquering all that good stuff.

Rather than dealing with a single “Mirror Universe”, you could easily have multiple versions of it, in the form of “parallel timelines” (from the TNG episode “Parallels”). Thus, in one timeline of the Mirror Universe, Mirror-Spock agrees with Kirk’s assessment, while in another, he didn’t (i.e. resulting into something similar to the false events depicted in the VOY episode “Living Witness”?). In fact, we have all kinds of different realities to deal with, each having their own “mirror reality”:

Prime Universe
Minus Universe (from the TOS episode “The Alternative Factor”)
Reverse Universe (from the TAS episode “The Counter Clock Incident”)
Mirror Universe (see above)
Kelvin Universe (artificially created; not a divergent point in the timeline).

I don’t count “The Void” (TOS’s “The Immunity Syndrome”; TNG’s “Where Silence Has Lease”) or Fluidic Space, since they could easily be alternate dimensions with their own set of unique physics. Anyway, I can imagine that this TNG mini-series is about a Terran Empire that never fell, and that such a series would not contradict what happened in DS9.

BTW, I wonder of Mirror-Troi is the designated “Captain’s Woman”, explaining why Mirror-Picard is fighting Mirror-Riker…

This is NOT the first time the Mirror Universe version of TNG has bee presented. Why is this interviewer acting like it is?

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