Imagine running a marathon only to stop 20 feet of the finish line, then turning around and going home. Meet Rich Handley – a man on a mission to reprint “every single Star Trek comic published from 1967 to present.” Since he became editor of Eaglemoss’s Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection, that has been his goal. The collection will continue through Volume 140, with 120 already released, but due to COVID-19 and the uncertainty in the world, no books have yet been greenlighted after that. This will leave Handley just 20 volumes short of his goal to produce the ultimate completist’s comic book set ever printed. He hopes that fan support can help drum up enough interest for the final stretch.
TrekMovie sat down (virtually) with the man who personally owns the most complete collection of Star Trek comics in the world. He talked about how he got started collecting comics, some of his favorite pieces, and even shared some exclusive peeks at what fans can expect in the just-announced next set of volumes.
Every. Single. Comic.
When we say every single Star Trek comic ever, we mean EVERY. SINGLE. COMIC. Including some never-before-seen issues unearthed by Handley that even Eaglemoss was not aware of. By the time Handley and Eaglemoss are finished with volumes 121-140, they will have succeeded in reprinting everything from Gold Key, Marvel, Wildstorm, the second Marvel series, Peter Pan Comics, the newspaper strips, the British strips, and Tokyo Pop. So the only things that will be left to complete will be DC and IDW, which are the longest, if not the most popular runs of Star Trek comics. “It would be a tragic shame if arguably the two most popular publishers are the ones that aren’t completed,” said Handley. “I want people to be able to say that everything from Gold Key #1 to the current IDW run is in this series of books.” If he can get the green light on the final set of books, he’s figured out a way to squeeze everything that’s remaining into them.
“My goal is to be able to say to fans – you know how you just started collecting and you found out that there were 1,000 comics from almost a dozen publishers and you just started crying because you already have two mortgages on your house and can’t afford them? Subscribe to this series of books and you’ll get it all.”
The Adventure Begins
As a teenager, Handley’s first Trek comic was DC #9 in 1984 – the beginning of an 8-part story called New Frontiers, taking place in the mirror universe. Immediately hooked, he went on to quickly collect the previous 8 DC issues and the entire Marvel run. What wasn’t so easy was the TOS Gold Key collection which took him at least 10 years to finish. Star Trek was his “gateway drug” to other comics – after his first encounter with them, he began adding different titles to his pull list at his local comic shop, much to his parents’ chagrin.
“I started collecting in 1984. When I picked up an early DC comic on the stands…”
The Search for Comics
By the early ’90s, Handley eventually finished his personal collection – or so he thought. A friend had recently returned from a Trek convention and handed him a comic that he’d never seen before. Stunned yet intrigued, Handley soon realized that he HADN’T finished his collection and that there were more out there. As it turned out, the UK had exclusively published Star Trek comics within the pages of Joe 90: Top Secret, described by Handley as “Gold Key on acid.” After literally years of searching in the pre-Internet days, he eventually found all 257 issues. Soon after beginning his own writing career, he had the idea to reach out to publishers to have them reprinted – in an effort to share these hidden gems with other fans.
EXCLUSIVE Look at Never-before-seen Comics
When Eaglemoss announced the Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection in 2017, Handley reached out to them and offered up his collection in case they were missing anything. As it turned out, they were.
Beginning with volume 72, Handley became the editor of the collection – writing all of the introductions and supplementary content. He describes the role as “maintaining the quality of the books – catching any mistakes or missing pages” – something he takes very seriously. He works with the art director, cross-referencing his collection with the layout to make sure everything is correct. Starting with volume 100, he began choosing the content himself, including bonus material Eaglemoss never knew existed and that fans wouldn’t expect.
Handley said he always tries his best to “make [the volumes] as unique as possible.” He’s not just releasing reprints; he is including a veritable treasure trove of original material including contextual information and never-before-seen comics. Back in the mid-’70s, there was a Brazilian publisher that reprinted the Gold Key comics in a seven-issue series “and somehow they managed to sneak in two original stories that were drawn and written to emulate the Gold Key style,” says Handley. “This went entirely unknown among English-speaking readers for 40 years.” One is an original story and the other one is a somewhat loose adaptation of the Original Series episode “The Return of the Archons.” Both stories have been translated into English and will be available somewhere in volumes 121-140.
Handley has given TrekMovie an exclusive first look at some of these pages:
In that same upcoming set, Eaglemoss is going to reprint DC’s TNG Special #1, which originally, Handley explains, contained a few production errors. In the first story, Worf and Alexander are floating in the holodeck with no dialogue. “It turns out that there was text there – it was written and drawn by Ken Penders and Ken’s script had text in these bubbles and for whatever reason, they were all removed. So the rest of the story goes on to have Alexander learn what it means to be a Klingon but it’s supposed to resonate because he asked that question in the first two pages. So the story was weakened which is a shame…there was a philosophical discussion that was setting up the whole plot.”
Here is an exclusive look at the missing dialog in Ken Pender’s original script:
The other story in TNG Special #1, written by Diane Duane, was about a day in the life of Data’s cat, Spot. Her script had speech bubbles for Spot throughout but written in minimal text like “huh,” “what’s that,” “is that food,” etc. Handley explains, “someone at DC made the decision that ‘cat’s don’t talk’ and had all of the dialog removed so when it was published, the entire story is just Spot walking around the ship. Weirdly enough, this one worked because nobody knew something was missing – it was quirky and fun and you could still follow the story. It wouldn’t occur to you as a reader that the cat is missing dialog, but it turned out that it was.” Duane gave him the whole script and now fans can finally read these two stories the way they were always meant to. Since the collection is for posterity, all stories are reprinted as they were originally run – the scripts will be a bonus at the end with a short essay to give historical context.
Here is an exclusive look at one of the script pages of Spot’s missing dialog by Diane Duane:
Get a Piece of the Action
Handley hopes that fans will vote with their wallets to get the series extended. In a recent blog post, Handley said:
“Will [an extension] happen? Honestly, it all comes down to sales numbers. If you want to see the series continue—and I truly believe it should—the best thing you can do to ensure we get another extension is simply to keep buying each volume. You can also help us by spreading the word about the Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection to fans, collectors, and news sites. Every volume sold makes it that much more likely we’ll be able to finish what was started with the very first volume.”
The Eaglemoss Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection debuted as a subscription service back in 2017. You can sign up to get 2 books delivered to your door each month for $14.95 +$2.95 shipping per book.
Or, you can purchase individual books for $19.95 each on the Eaglemoss store.
The latest release is volume 118, The Modala Imperative, a pair of connected four-part miniseries from DC in 1991, bridging two Starfleet crews a century apart, courtesy of writers Michael Jan Friedman and Peter David and artist Pablo Marcos.
For more about the Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection and to read Handley’s ongoing weekly column, head over to Eaglemoss. There, he runs through the entire history of Star Trek comics and includes some of that in-depth reporting on each of the introductions he’s written for the collection. It’s really fun and chock full of nerdy details and minutia only hardcore fans talk about.