Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Given the recent revelations about Spock on Star Trek: Discovery, this page from an old Star Trek coloring book might take on new meaning. It looks like periodic experiments with facial hair are something of a family thing, hmm?

Spock-ColoringBookPage

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Come on, Dayton. This picture is just silly. It’s obvious it comes from one of those quickie coloring books done in the late 1960s or early 1970s, right? You know, the ones that look like they just repurposed art from the old Gold Key comics?”

StarTrek-AlienColoringBookWell, this is where it gets interesting. After doing some digging I found this page in a copy of The Star Trek Alien Coloring Book, which was one of (at least) four published in 1986 by Wanderer Books, at the time an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Each of which carries the “Star Trek 20 Years: 1966-1986″ logo. A couple of those books actually do use what looks to be recreations or repurposing of artwork from different Gold Key Star Trek comics from back in the day, but the other two feature what looks to be fairly new art. At least, I didn’t see it during a quick perusal of other such publications. Maybe they were anticipating Sybok three years later in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier?

“Wait,” I can hear someone saying. “How were you able to research Star Trek coloring books? Coloring books? Really?”

Look, people: I’m a professional, and professionals tend to amass a broad spectrum of research material. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, I think we can all agree that I’ve already spent too much time thinking about this. Just take the page and get to coloring, all right?

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Happy 55th anniverary to The Last Man On Earth!

“Another day to live through. Better get started.”


LastManOnEarth-Poster.jpg

At least some of you know that I rank Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend among my very favorite books. I read it for the first time when I was 11 or 12 after a chance discovery at a neighborhood library and was immediately hooked.

The story of Robert Neville, who believes he’s the lone survivor after a plague sweeps over humanity in the novel’s “far off” future of 1976 and turns most if not all people into “vampires,” is considered by many to be the first “modern vampire novel.” Additionally, there are those who’ll tell you it’s also a forerunner to the modern genre of “zombie” books, comics, films, and TV series. I long ago lost count of the number of times I reread this book just during my teenage years, and to this day it’s a story I still revisit on occasion when the mood strikes.

In addition to serving as inspiration or just flat out being ripped off for other books, comics, films, and whatnot in the decades since its publication, I Am Legend has itself been “officially” adapted for film three times: 1964’s The Last Man On Earth starring Vincent Price, 1971’s The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston, and 2007’s I Am Legend starring Will Smith. Also in 2007, The Asylum, the direct-to-home video powerhouse, released an “unauthorized” version they dubbed I Am Omega which they hoped would cash in on the hype surrounding the Will Smith movie.

But hey! Only one of those flicks is celebrating its 55th birthday today, and that’s why we’re here.

Released on this date in 1964, The Last Man On Earth is, so far as I’m concerned, the most faithful adaptation of Matheson’s novel. This, despite Matheson himself not being satisfied with the finished product even though he helped with the screenplay. Produced on a very low budget and filmed in Italy, the film does deviate from the book in several respects, such as Neville being named “Robert Morgan,” and his occupation being changed to that of a scientist. Fans of the novel know that Neville begins the book as a worker at some kind of plant, largely ignorant of things like biology or viruses and related subjects, and much of the story involves him teaching himself these things so he can understand how the plague came to be and (later) to see whether a cure can be found.

Morgan’s encounter with a seemingly uninfected woman, Ruth, is the same in the broad strokes, including her real reason for crossing his path and that she’s been sent as a spy by a group of vampires who’ve learned to live with the plague and control its effects so that they can attempt rebuilding society. The movie’s ending also amps up action of the final confrontation with Morgan/Neville and the vampires as well as how said fight ends up playing out.

These differences work well enough for the film’s version of the story, though the production’s limited budget definitely shows around the edges so far as casting and production design. What does work is thanks largely to the presence of Vincent Price, one of the great genre actors of his generation. He seems miscast here, despite providing a solid if generally subdued performance. Regardless, The Last Man On Earth still feels right at home with other favorite 1950s science fiction and horror movies.

When I was a kid, the film was one of those which would pop up on Saturday afternoons on the local UHF TV channel, which is how I discovered and came to love so many great science fiction and monster movies of the 1950s and 60s. It’s conceivable I’m the only person I know who cared enough to even buy the movie on DVD when it was released by MGM in 2006. I guess it’s because I found it during that “golden age” of childhood fandom that I’m more forgiving of it than I am The Omega Man and the 2007 I Am Legend. Maybe one of these days we’ll get a proper, honest to goodness adaptation but until then? The Last Man On Earth will have to do.

Or, we could all just go and read the book again.

February writing wrap-up.

February come. February go. It’s almost as if it’s a short month, or something.

Despite missing out on the other 3 to 4 days other months get, I still managed to accomplish a few things on the writing front. We’re in something of a transitional period here as I work to finish one thing while simultaneously getting ready to plunge headlong into a couple of new projects.

So, here’s what I was doing in February:

Continue reading “February writing wrap-up.”

Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Planet of the Apes!

Yep, it’s time for another walk down Nostalgia Lane that you didn’t ask for and probably don’t need. Since that’s the running theme of this entire blog thing of mine, we can at least agree I’m consistent.

Back at the beginning of the year, I decided that I would offer up an irregularly-recurring feature that I’d use to revisit favorite movie and TV tie-in books. After taking a fond look back at novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman and knowing that I wanted to avoid talking too much about Star Trek novels (at least right away), it seems obvious to me that the next old-timey series deserving of some love is Planet of the Apes!

As is true of Star Trek and the “Bionic shows,” Planet of the Apes was another series (of movies and television shows, in this case) that I came to love very early on. Though I never saw any of the original five films in theaters, I did watch both of the subsequent television series as best I could during their original broadcasts in 1974-75. Just as I was learning about books based on the other two franchises around this time, so too did I discover the same was true of Apes.

First I found a copy of Pierre Boulle‘s original 1963 novel at the library, after which I found a paperback of Jerry Pournelle’s novelization of Escape from the Planet of the Apes occupying space on a department store book rack. Unlike the Star Trek novels and episode adaptations which seemed to be everywhere, tracking down the books tying into the other Apes films would prove to be much more challenging.

PotA-OriginalNovelCover1

(Left: the cover that seemed to dominate re-issues of the original novel throughout the 1970s and into the early 80s. Right: The cover on the edition I own.)

Continue reading “Tied Up With Tie-Ins: Planet of the Apes!”

More IncrediBuilds action from me and Insight Editions. This time? Toy Story!

To IncrediBuilds…and beyond!

Some of you likely know that last year, Insight Editions released the first two Star Trek entries in their ever-expanding series of IncrediBuilds book-and-model sets. I had the very fun job of writing companion books for their models of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the original Star Trek series as well as its Star Trek: The Next Generation counterpart.

What, exactly, are IncrediBuilds? Well, according to their own website:

“The IncrediBuilds collection features do-it-yourself, customizable, freestanding models that are sure to delight fans of all ages. Each model is made of Earth-friendly, FSC®-certified wood, and all products include step-by-step directions and coloring and crafting ideas. No glue or tools necessary. Informative and interactive, both kids and adults can use these projects to explore their creativity and create unique, displayable art.”

IncrediBuilds projects cover subjects from a variety of categories, including famous buildings from around the world, animals, and several licensed properties including Disney, Marvel, DC Comics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, video game franchises, and so on.

Among the various things I worked on last year were the books to go with two more IncrediBuilds models. This time I visited the world of Toy Story, and just in time for the fourth film in that series which will hit theater screens in June. Even though I pretty much finished my part of the process last summer or so, it’s only now, with the new film bearing down on us, that new merchandise is being announced. Being Disney, you know that means all kinds of cool new stuff including these new kits, and Insight Editions decided that there were no better ambassadors than Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear! The IncrediBuilds site lists a “Regular” and “Deluxe” edition for each kit, with the main difference being the book I wrote, which is offered in softcover and hardcover editions, respectively.

(Click on each image to get the product info from the IncrediBuilds site.)

Intended for kids 8 years old and up (including grown-ups who remain kids at heart), the wood models are easily assembled, and the book I wrote for each character and containing their “back story” also features pages devoted to instructions along with a painting and crafting guide.

As things currently stand, all four kits will be in stores beginning Tuesday, May 6th, giving you plenty of time to build them, paint them, stick them on your dashboard or hang them from your rearview mirror before Toy Story 4 opens on June 21st.

As with the Star Trek IncrediBuilds projects, these were a lot of fun to do. Will I do more? Well, I’m always hopeful….so be sure to buy a dozen or more of each kit, and then tell all your friends to do the same.

“Reach for the sky!”

So, I’m gonna write some superhero stuff.

Kinda. Sorta. We’re not exactly sure yet how it’s all gonna go, but it’s gonna have superheroes in it.

Crazy8Press-logoThe other day, pal and fellow writer Russ Colchamiro, one of the eight word pushers who make up Crazy 8 Press, invited me to participate in a “shared world” project he’s putting together, and which will also feature the wordly stylings of other friends and fellow Crazy 8 writers Mary Fan and Aaron Rosenberg. Between the four of us, we’re going to attempt pulling off a series of novellas all revolving around the central idea of superheroes. Kinda. Sorta. It’s like I said up top, okay?

Sure, details are light at the moment. Actually, they’re a little bit heavier for the four us thanks to the eMails we’ve exchanged just in the last couple of days, but for you? Light, which is fine as the resulting collection of novellas isn’t even due for publication until the summer of 2021 or so. With that in mind, I’m thinking….yeah, we’ve got time to figure out some of this stuff, and dial in some of the things that currently exist within the realms of “Kinda” and “Sorta.”

This isn’t my first time working at least in peripheral fashion with Crazy 8, though it’s been a while. My first go-around with them was “Conscript” my contribution to ReDeus: Divine Tales, the first in a series of anthologies edited by Aaron along with fellow Crazy 8-er Bob Greenberger. A couple of years later, I teamed up with my hetero life-mate Kevin on “The Ardent,” a short story for the first of Michael Jan Friedman‘s Pangaea anthologies.

Come to think of it, this isn’t even my first time writing a superhero story. For that, we have to dig way, waaaaaaaaaay back in the dusty archives and pull out “Going My Own Way,” a story I wrote for Gods of Justice, a 2011 anthology edited by Kevin Hosey and K. Stoddard Hayes.

So, you know….it’s been a while.

I know, I know…”What kinds of superheroes are we talking about, Dayton?” Well, certainly no Superman, Batman, Captain America, Black Widow, Wonder Woman, or any of their friends. Nope, not even Deadpool…even though that’d be pretty sweet, amirite? Instead, what I can tell you at this time is that these will be characters and situations of our own creation. Who they are, what they can do, and how they can do it is all part of what we’re just now starting to figure out. As details start to gel, I’ll get the clearance to share this and that, though we obviously don’t want to give away all the surprises, twists, turns, and so on and so forth.

Many thanks to Russ, Mary, and Aaron for inviting me into their sandbox to play for a bit. I’m excited to add this to my perpetually moving “Writing To Do List.”

Listen to me talking Trek on ODYSY Radio’s Trek 360!

That’s right, you read that correctly. I’ve been babbling again.

This time, I sit down with Jarrod Cooper, host of Trek 360, a new Star Trek-themed podcast on the ODYSY Radio network which takes a look at things beyond the television episodes and movies. Though the program’s just getting started, Jarrod plans to interview all manner of folks involved with Star Trek in some form or another, including writers such as…well…me.

Yep! For the program’s second episode, Jarrod corralled me to yammer for a bit about writing Star Trek novels, including the new wrinkles being introduced in the last couple of years now that there’s a new television series in production (and more on the way!) and constantly adding to the vast “Star Trek canon.” It’s been a long time since that was a serious consideration, after all, but hey! Times, they are a’changin’, amirite?

We also talk a little about my involvement with the early development of the “living campaign” for Star Trek Adventures, the role-playing game produced by Modiphius and which is continuing to take the tabletop RPG world by storm. This ends up being a nice segue for Jarrod, as he swivels from talking to me to interviewing my good friend Jim Johnson, who as we speak is neck-deep in the game while working as a line editor helping to develop new products for it. He’s got a lot of cool news and juicy details to share, so if you’re into the game be sure to check that out.

Have a listen, whydontcha?

Trek 360, Episode 2 – February 18th, 2019

Many thanks to Jarrod for having me on the show. Maybe we can do it again some time!

ArtCon after action report!

This past weekend, Kevin and I ventured from Kansas City down to Neosho, Missouri to participate in the first ever ArtCon.

Hosted by the Neosho Arts Council and sponsored by a number of local businesses, the con was the first of its kind for the area. Kevin and I were honored to be among the con’s inaugural “featured guests” alongside comics gurus Jeremy Haun, Megan Levens, and Ande Parks. All of us have ties to the region, which made this even more fun.

Expectations for this initial wading into the waters of pop culture fandom were modest, but I’m happy to report that fans coming to partake of the action ended up blowing the doors off the Neosho Civic Center. Fans of all ages came – and kept coming – all day long. I talked with enough people that I ended up with my usual “con hoarse voice” after just the one day, rather than the usual two, and Kevin and I managed to push quite a few books along the way.

And there were food trucks. Brisket. Food trucks and brisket. Oh, my…..

Related – Joplin Globe: Neosho ArtCon Draws Local Fans

It was a great day all around, and I offer my sincere thanks to Sarah Serio and the Neosho Arts Council for inviting us to join them in the fun. Maybe we can do it again some time!

L-R: Me, Kevin Dilmore, Ande Parks, Megan Levens, Jeremy Haun
photo credit: Sarah Serio

Kevin and I are at ArtCon today!

Thanks to the wonder that is scheduled posting, by the time this goes live Kevin and I will already be on the road and heading south from Kansas City, on our way to picturesque Neosho, Missouri and the Neosho Art Council’s first-ever ArtCon!

As indicated above, this is a new venture for Neosho, but they seem to be attracting some attention from the local media outlets. In addition to Kevin and myself, comics aces Megan Levens, Jeremy Haun, and Ande Parks will also be on hand. All of us have ties to the Kansas-Missouri region, which is what the ArtCon folks were looking for when they started inviting guests.

(For those who might be wondering, Kansas City and the surrounding area is home to a veritable plethora of creators, from prose to comics to art and sculpture and other crafting goodness, cosplay and re-enactors, and the performing arts. We’ve got some game here, yo. Shit! Games! Game peeps call this place home, too.)

FunFact #1: When I was still in the Corps, we would travel to Camp Crowder, the National Guard base located there (it was somewhat larger than it is these days), for our annually required “infantry skills” training shenanigans. This will be my first return visit to the area since 1996 or so.

FunFact #2: Camp Crowder served as the inspiration for “Camp Growding,” a National Guard base located pretty much where the real Camp Crowder sits/sat, for the opening encounters and skirmishes featured in The Last World War.

Anyway….

We’ll be at the Neosho Civic Center from 11am to 7pm. Kevin and I will have a selection of books and such for sale, so if you’re in the area, come see us!

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Today we celebrate the incredible prescience of Star Trek merchandising, which anticipated this very scenario nearly 35 years in advance. Remember this scene from the 2009 Star Trek film?

Or maybe it was by only 20 years or so, if we include the deleted scene from Star Trek Generations depicting Captain Kirk doing some orbital skydiving:

Now, if we could just get those groovy helmets officially on screen at some point….

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)