I’ve been a fan of Doug Drexler for as long as I can remember, and even since long before I even really knew who he was.
“How the heck does that work?” I hear someone asking.
Long before Doug became an Oscar and Emmy winning makeup and visual effects artist, he was a Star Trek fan. Okay, “fan,” might not be doing him justice. Doug was an uber-fan, who along with friend Ron Barton operated a Star Trek-themed store, The Federation Trading Post, in Manhattan during the 1970s. I was living on Long Island at the time, though I was a wee lad, catching reruns of Star Trek in the afternoons after school. I never knew about this mecca of Trekkery until long after I’d moved away and the store had closed. Had I known, I might well have convinced my mother to take me there, and for all I know, I might’ve gotten Doug to adopt me right then and there.
Guess we’ll never know, will we?
Anyway, it was during this period that Doug and friend Geoff Mandel collaborated on the Star Trek Poster Books, for which I begged my mother for the dollar required to buy whichever issue I managed to find at the local Woolworth’s. It was only with the advent of my (supposed) adulthood and venues like eBay that I finally was able to acquire a complete set of the things. Doug also co-wrote two issues of Gold Key’s Star Trek comic in the 1970s. Do you understand just how hardcore you have to be to have written for Gold Key’s Star Trek comics? Huh? Do ya?
It was also during this period that he and Geoff Mandel teamed up to create one of the first and best-remembered fan-created Trek publications, the U.S.S. Enterprise Officer’s Manual. Later and working with Anthony Fredrickson, he would create another iconic and fan-favorite book, the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual.
(Yes, I still have my original copies of both of these. Remember who you’re talking to.)
Doug’s been pretty busy since those long ago days. As I said above, he’s since become a respected, award-winning makeup and visual effects guru. Starting out as a makeup artist on a slew of films (including Dick Tracy, for which he snagged that Oscar I mentioned), he eventually found his way to Star Trek: The Next Generation, working for Hollywood legend Michael Westmore. Doug’s association with the Final Frontier continued through the next three Star Trek TV series as well as the Next Generation feature films. In recent years, he’s been keeping busy with all sorts of crazy things, like the rebooted Battlestar Galactica and the current Syfy series Defiance.
Despite not working on the current iteration of Star Trek films, Doug remains connected to the franchise, thanks to such works as the Star Trek Encyclopedia and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual, both of which are invaluable reference works for dopes like me. There’s also his work each year on the Ships of the Line calendars, and let’s not forget that he’s rendered art for many of Pocket Books’ Star Trek novels. I’ve personally benefitted from Doug’s talents, as his work adorns the covers of all the Star Trek Vanguard novels, including my personal favorite, Open Secrets.
(Trivia: When I saw the cover mock-up, which at the time did not actually portray a scene in the story, I went back in and added a scene and the connecting material just to sync with the cover art. That’s how jazzed I was to have it on my book.)
Doug’s always been one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. Though his love for Star Trek is obvious, he’s also a huge geek for old-school science fiction films and TV shows. It’s like we’re twins, albeit born several years and thousands of miles apart. We began corresponding sporadically several years ago, mostly as a consequence of our mutual involvement with Pocket Books but also because he’d occasionally comment on something he’d read on my blog, or I’d do the same about his various postings at his old blog, “The Drex Files.” Once he started doing the Vanguard covers, our communications became more frequent (both for work and fun), but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that our paths finally crossed at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Despite all the success he’s enjoyed throughout a long and distinguished career, Doug’s maintained a connection to Star Trek fandom in particular, such as with “The Drex Files” (which he’s since retired) and these days through Facebook. If you’re a Star Trek fan and you’re on Facebook and you’re not yet following him, correct that oversight right now. The stories and memories along with the photos, drawings, and other mementos he’s collected over the years are amazing, and he offers them freely to anyone who wants to check them out. He’s also lent his expertise to a few of the higher-profile Star Trek fan productions, helping the people behind those endeavors to recreate everything we love about the original series.
Happy Birthday, Mr. D, and thanks so much for everything!