Okay, here’s my big, fancy sales pitch for these books:
GO. BUY THEM. NOW.
What, you want more? Fine.
Here’s the deal: Way back in the day, as in right around the time Star Trek: The Motion Picture was in movie theaters, the L.A. Times Syndicate began running a daily Star Trek comic strip. Monday-Saturday, Trekkies could find their fix in the regular black-and-white, 1-4 panel strips, accompanied by an expanded, gloriously color companion strip in the Sunday “funnies” section. The strip ran from 1979 to 1983, though it was not widely published, and there are fans out there who’ve never even heard of the things. Indeed, the strips represent an oft-overlooked collection of stories from a time when Star Trek existed only as reruns of the original series and a couple of movies, along with the occasional paperback novel, sporadic comic book, and infrequent toy, model or other oddball merchandise item.
I was lucky in that–for a time, at least–my local paper ran Star Trek with their other comics selections. I remember clipping the strips from each day’s paper and adding it to the scrapbook I was keeping for that sort of stuff at that time, but then the title was dropped for unknown reasons and replaced with something else (I have no memory of what that might’ve been). Like a lot of fans, I eventually forgot about the strips.
Then, I “met” Rich Handley.
We crossed paths on America Online (I think), back in the mid 1990s or so, and even then he was a huge fan of the Star Trek strips. I eventually learned that he was on something of a mission–by hook or by crook–to acquire the complete run. At the time, he was doing it more for his own personal satisfaction than anything else, but he certainly didn’t have a problem sharing the fruits of his labor with other fans. At one point, Rich sent me a stack of high-quality photocopies of everything he had acquired. Pages and pages of Trek stories I’d never read? I’m listening.
At some point over a decade ago, Rich mentioned that he was going to attempt to convince someone to publish the strips in some kind of high-quality, permanent form. This was–I believe–not long after outfits like Kitchen Sink Press had started collecting and reprinting other popular newspaper strips of bygone eras. For example, KSP had restored and reprinted all of the Batman and Superman daily and Sunday strips from the 1930s and 1940s in glorious archive editions. These were gorgeous books, and I was buying them as soon as opportunity presented itself. Dark Horse comics also had been reprinting at least some of the Star Wars newspaper strips from the 1970s/80s, so the idea that someone might tackle Star Trek in this manner held definite appeal for this fanboy.
Well, it took a while, but BOOM, y’all.
After years of untiring research, digging, sweat, tears, gray hairs, hemorrhoids, kidney stones, ulcers, tumors, and whatever other maladies which might so affect a person expending this level of effort on a passion project such as this, the strips for the first time have been collected and published.
(Note: I may have been exaggerating about the hemorrhoids. And the tumors.)
IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics is a pair of exquisite oversized hardcover books collecting the entire run from start to finish. Volume 1 covers the complete run from December 2, 1979 to October 25, 1981, while Volume 2 collects everything from October 26, 1981 to December 3, 1983. The books also feature “sample” and “audition” strips, most of which have never been printed anywhere. Rich himself provides an introduction for Volume 1 as well as episode guides and “encyclopedias” for the stories.
Some of the tales themselves are better than others, of course, but taken as a whole? It all comes together to offer an amazing look back at an all but forgotten slice of Star Trek history. These two books–without qualification–deserve a home on the shelf of any Star Trek fan and/or comics fan. And hey! Holiday shopping season is fast approaching. So, you know….you’re welcome.
“But, Dayton!” I hear someone calling. “Where might I find these awesome-sounding books?”
Glad you asked. Lookie here:
GO. BUY THEM. NOW.
For those of you worried that they might sell out before I get my copies? Your concern is appreciated, but rest assured that I already have my set, and they are bee-yoo-tiful.
Off you go, yo.
Oh, and Rich? Heck of a job, dude. Heck of a job.