Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Monster Times #2 Article: Writing Star Trek Comics

Anyone reading this blog for long knows of my affection for "The Monster Times," a newspaper-format monster magazine that was little-remembered by most, but fondly by those that found it. I picked my first issue up in 1973, and it really fanned the flames of the fire that had begun in my pre-teen life for Star Trek, and to a lesser degree, Planet of the Apes. Of course, I had loved monsters since I was a tyke, so this publication really hit the spot with its coverage of all these areas. I didn't buy the issue I'm covering this time from the newstand; I found it much later at a genre collectables shop. But I was thrilled to come into possession of it, as it had been one I had wanted since seeing it in the back-issues ad in TMT itself years before.
I've featured material from issue #2 of TMT before, here and here; but it was so chock full of Trek stuff that it could be awhile before I'm done. This time we feature an article about Star Trek comics, from a well-known writer that contributed stories to the Gold Key version; Len Wein.
(Click on images to enlarge.)
Although the Gold Key comics were my first Star Trek item ever purchased, and really, my entry point into fandom, I never really cared for the art or the stories; I could tell even at that early stage in my appreciation for the show, that the comics really didn't reflect it very well. They still have a nostalgic attraction for me, however, and I enjoy my old issues that bring back good memories. In this article we find out how one man swam against the tide to try and correct come of the most glaring departures from the show, and bring up the level of the writing as well.
The pages from the British comic strip were the highlight of the article for me, boasting as it did superior art and much more accurate depictions of the characters (read more about them here). I came across more pages of this comic later when they were reprinted in various convention booklets and such, but never a complete set containing a whole story. The article kicks off with a look at the book that the author used to help bring the Gold Key people in line, and one that holds a wealth of wonderful memories for me as well; "The Making of Star Trek." Never have I been more excited to get a book than when I did that one!
And, as a bonus, below we feature another item from the same issue, the photo-story parody "Star Drek." It actually uses a couple of publicity photos I've not seen anywhere else, before or since; the cowering Uhura and the Tellarite in the Jeffries tube.
As for the photo of Uhura recoiling in fear against the wall, this is another example of the sexism rampant during the time. I didn't mind the sexism as expressed in the mini-skirts... but what if you had photographed a male crewman cowering in fear the same way?Yet to them at the time it seemed a natural thing.


Rob Bignell said...

Thanks for sharing this - I've never seen it before (despite having read The Monster Times)! "The Making of Star Trek" truly is a classic book about how TOS came to be. It was fascinating (no pun intended) to discover how the characters/sets/spacecraft for the show changed and evolved and to read the detailed outline for how Roddenberry intended "The Cage" to be shown. As I write science fiction today, I often find myself thinking about how Roddenberry and staff created their universe as I create my own for my stories.

david_b said...

Wow, this is wonderful.. AND yet another way to invest my cash at eBay.. Oy, LOVE it..

Anyhow, two comments..:

1) I LOVE seeing these old single-panel humor sections because you typically got to see promo or set photos you never saw elsewhere.

2) Yes, 'Making' was an extremely important book for Trek fans, not only for it's extensive information and creative insights, but it was one of the first (and most successful) 'Making of' books on a television show. It added a sophisticated layer of fan appreciation, more so than fanzines, for years to come. I bought mine in '73, but am still looking around an original printing..

pat said...

Thank you Fred!
These are beautiful, never saw these comics, one of the british artist for the Trek strip was Frank Bellamy the creator of the comic strip Garth and one of the greatest UK comic artist

Frederick said...

Thanks for the comments, all! One of these days I'll do a post devoted to the book and try to explain what it meant to me when I bought it. It's a big job!

mmtz said...

Thanks for jogging my memory. I'd forgotten that this article reprinted one of the UK strips. Here is the very cool cover for TV21 & Joe 90 #5, the issue containing the strip reprinted in Monster Times #2.

Frederick said...


Thanks for the comment and link, and thanks for the great page documenting the strip which I linked to in the post! Very helpful for those interested in findimg out more about these comics after reading the TMT article.