Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Fifty Year Mission!

There are lots of folks noting today's fiftieth anniversary of the singularly significant television series Star Trek. In keeping with this month's theme, I'm featuring the cover for the first adult novel written from the series. (I looked at the first novel, a juvenile titled Mission to Horatius here.) James Blish, an established science fiction writer had been adapting the episodes for some time and was given the green light to pen a novel. Spock Must Die! was the result. While the other volumes by Blish featured some wonderful art, this one showcases a photo of the late Leonard Nimoy as Spock, duplicated as if in a mirror.

Gold Key began doing original stories in the series from the get-go. So early is their original stuff by the Alberto Giolitti studio that a number of details are strikingly wrong, most notably the way the Enterprise rockets around with flaming exhaust erupting from the nacelles. The series though proved to be a sturdy one and lasted long after the series itself disappeared from the small screen, becoming for many the only place where the remarkable five year mission persisted. Eventually re-runs put the show back on the map and eventually as we all know fan support and the success of Star Wars, prompted a major screen debut. The series has been a healthy one since. I looked at what I have in my Star Wars cache of collectibles here.

Below are the early Gold Key covers which like the Bantam cover above relied on photos from the series to make the covers. Eventually artwork by George Wilson and others took over the task. But for a time only photos would do.

I've examined here the delightful "fotonovels" which developed from the series. While there is much Star Trek material out there for the true fan, I'm currently only interested in John Byrne's remarkable revival of that format under the "New Visions" brand from IDW Publishing. He not only revives the fotonovel, but gives us "new" stories set in the classic universe, even one which picks up on the classic "Mirror Mirror" episode, one of my favorites.

While most of the cast and creative team has shuffled off this mortal coil (Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelly, James Doohan, Grace Lee Whitney, Mark Lenard, Ricardo Montalban, Majel Barret, and even the creator Gene Roddenberry), I suspect the original Star Trek brand will last a long time still.

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  1. Yes, the early Gold Key series always seemed a bit…off, like the writer & artist had never actually seen the TV source material. I recall the crew would have to walk into an enclosed transporter dome area to beam down to planets vs. the open platform you see on the show. fyi: Svengooli is departing from the standard Universal movie creep-fest this Saturday – and will be showing “The Cage” (the Christopher Pike pilot) in honor of the Star Trek anniversary.

    1. Thanks for the heads up on the Svengooli show, I had to adjust some things to make sure it recorded this month and I'd have missed it. The Gold Key comic did indeed produce stories in advance of the show and from what I gather Alberto Giolitti didn't ever watch it.

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  2. So it wasn't only the British Star Trek comic strips that were a 'bit off', eh? Amazing how many of these Gold Key comics have Spock as the predominant cover star. It would seem that Gold Key considered Spock to be the big draw of the TV show.


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