Hasslein Blog: To Boldly Collect What Others Have Published Before


Hasslein Blog

Sunday, May 7, 2017

To Boldly Collect What Others Have Published Before

By Rich Handley

When it comes to collecting Star Trek comics, every fan does things according to his or her own unique preferences. Some set out to own every individual issue, while others forego buying their comics monthly and instead purchase trade paperback and/or hardcover editions repackaging entire storylines or series. Some buy only one copy of each issue that comes out, while others attempt to track down every single variant cover ever produced, which can be incredibly expensive. Still others have fully made the transition to reading their comics digitally.

Some focus only on specific characters (James T. Kirk's crew, for example), writers (anything by Peter David, Howard Weinstein, or Michael Jan Friedman), artists (anything with a Jerome Moore cover), publishers (all IDW or DC Comics tales), or eras (just stories set in the 24th century). And some who have money to burn set their sights on finding everything remotely related to Star Trek comics, even if it's something they already own but in a different format.

Marvel's Star Trek: Untold Voyages issue #1, written by Glenn Greenberg, with art by Michael Collins
and Keith Williams, is the reason
Star Trek comics are worth collecting. If you haven't read this
five-issue miniseries, you owe it to yourself to rectify that oversight immediately.

My personal collection contains every licensed Star Trek comic book published to date by Gold Key/Western, Power Records, Marvel, DC, Malibu Comics, Marvel/Paramount Comics, WildStorm Comics, Tokypop, IDW, and Wired magazine, along with unauthorized issues from Antarctic Press, Indonesian publisher Penerbit Cypress, Amazing Stories, and "Inner Light" writer Morgan Gendel. I also have all of the British strips published in Joe 90: Top Secret, TV21 & Joe 90, and Valiant and TV21, and the U.S. strips created by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, as well as several unusual and often-overlooked strips aimed at young children that were packaged with toys offed by Kenner, McDonald's, and Larami. And in all cases, I have the original, individual comics or strips.

Larami's Star Trek Space Viweer, the Holy Grail of Trek comics collectibles but 
basically godawful, which I recently discussed at length at Blastoff Comics' blog.

Ever since I began collecting Trek comics in 1984 (with issue #9 of DC's first Star Trek series, which so hooked me that I immediately began tracking down everything that preceded it), my goal has been simple: to own and read every Star Trek story ever told in comic book or comic strip form—and preferably in its original format.

Collecting all of the many reprints has not been something I've sought to do, however, as it would be not only prohibitively expensive but also redundant. If I already own every issue, why would I also need those same issues reprinted in a dozen different formats? The stories and artwork remain the same from one iteration to the next, after all, other than some clean-up work on the coloring. Still, there are always exceptions to any rule, and in my case, the exceptions are whatever reprint editions happen to strike my fancy or are particularly appealing from an aesthetics standpoint. These include...

Western Publishing's two Dan Curtis Giveaways issues, reprinting a pair of Gold Key tales in truncated format, because they're rectangular, horizontally oriented, and small, which makes them highly unusual in the comics world:

Dan Curtis Giveaways

Golden Press's Star Trek: The Enterprise Logs series, because they contain original material not presented in Gold Key's monthly title:

The two Dynabrite reprints of the Gold Key series, simply because they're the first Gold Key issues I ever found at a science convention, way back in 1987:

Marvel's Illustrated Book editions, because they're the size of paperback novels, which I find kind of charming, and which have visually interesting covers:

Voyages of the Enterprise, a set of five comics from Nostalgia World reprinting the Thomas Warkentin and Ron Harris eras of the L.A. Times strips on newsprint stock:

The Norwich Sunday Bulletin Comic Book series, which collected the Star Trek newspaper strips and other "Sunday funnies" strips as a weekly comic book:

I have Star Trek guru Mark Martinez to thank for these.

The Star Trek Classic SoMuchFun! reprint of DC Comics' issue #6, just because variant covers of DC issues were so few and far between (as opposed to IDW's issues, which have so many variant covers that I might need to take out a second mortgage on my house if ever I decided to collect them all):

IDW's reprint books collecting the L.A. Times and British newspaper strips—because I helped IDW put these books together on the editorial end, because they reprint my actual collections, and because the strips have never looked this amazing, all of which obviously makes them a must-have on my shelves:

And a few other things here and there. I'm certainly not a completist when it comes to Star Trek reprint editions, as I am with the individual issues, but if a certain reprint catches my eye or is particularly rare—or, admittedly, if it strokes my ego because my name is in it—then I make a point of adding it to the growing collection. But if it's just the latest of multiple reprints of issues I already own, I tend to skip it. Believe me, with more than 1,100 Star Trek comics published from 1967 to date, just having the original issues already takes up a ton of room as it is.

Recently, I added another item to my list of exceptions: Eaglamoss's Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection, which I've written about here before. And it's something wondrous to behold:

What made me set aside my "no hardcover reprints" rule for this set? Is it the fact that I've written the introductions to several volumes? Well... yeah, OK, I admit it, that's part of it. But even if I hadn't contributed to these books, I'd still be buying them. Why? If the above photo, showing the beautiful painting formed by the series' spines, doesn't already answer your question, check out the covers to the first 13 volumes below. They're gorgeous and look even better in person.

What's fascinating about this series of books is the diversity of storytelling they entail. Eaglemoss's plan, as the collection unfolds, is that all past Star Trek comics efforts will be represented, even those of the British comic strip publishers. So those who subscribe to receive them via mail-order can experience a wide range of tales from a variety of talented creators.

When I first heard that this series of books was in the works, I had hoped that Eaglemoss would publish the comics chronologically, starting with Gold Key and eventually working their way toward IDW's current tales. But now that I see how they've come out, I realize that what Eaglemoss is doing is better. Going chronologically would have meant that it would have taken years for subscribers to read about any crews' adventures other than Kirk's, and many volumes to get past the Gold Key, Marvel, and British storylines, which are noticeably inferior to the stories published by DC Comics and its successors, including the current license-holder, IDW. That might have potentially lost the company its readership, killing the line before it even had a chance to grow.

But this way, the reading experience never gets stale, as Kirk's early tales are mixed in with stories of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Kelvin universe, Christopher Pike's era, and so forth. I've already read every Trek comic to date, of course, but I've been very much enjoying reading these books as each has arrived in the mail. The newer paper quality and coloring enhance the comics' original presentations, and the selection of stories has so far been solid. Each volume is a blast from the past (sometimes the distant past, sometimes the recent past), allowing me to revisit stories that I've long adored.

For those who haven't yet read them, this is an excellent format for an introduction to the world of Star Trek comics collecting. With luck, sales will prove strong enough that Eaglemoss will continue the series for years to come, enabling it to encompass the huge wealth of storytelling that comprises the Star Trek comics realm.

It's pretty rare that I get excited about reprints of existing material, but when it comes to the Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection, I'd say Eaglamoss has struck gold.

Image courtesy of the "Trek Mate" YouTube channel.

Thanks to Mark Martinez's Star Trek Comics Checklist website for the comic images.

Rich Handley is the author or co-author of Watching Time: The Watchmen Chronology, Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes, Back in Time: The Back to the Future Chronology, and A Matter of Time: The Back to the Future Lexicon. Rich has co-edited Titan Books' Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone, as well as five Sequart essay anthologies about the Planet of the Apes and Star Wars franchises. He has contributed to all of IDW's Star Trek and Star Wars comic-strip reprint books; BOOM! Studios' Planet of the Apes Archive series; Sequart's New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics and The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe; ATB Publishing's Outside In Boldly Goes and Outside In Makes It So; and Eaglemoss's Star Trek: The Graphic Novel Collection. In addition, Rich has penned numerous works for Lucasfilm's licensed Star Wars universe, and has written for many magazines and websites. Currently, he is the managing editor of RFID Journal magazine, the editor of Hasslein Books (hassleinbooks.com), and a frequent writer for HeroCollector.com and BlastoffComics.com. At present, Rich is co-editing a pair of books for Sequart about the Battlestar Galactica franchise.

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