Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1976 article "Spock, Part 1-His Story"

From issue #7 (click to view the cover) of the lower-rung publication "Quaismodo's Monster Magazine," printed in April of 1976, comes Part One of a two-part look at the cultural phenomenon of Mr. Spock. When I say "lower rung" I mean that the magazine was of inferior quality compared to some of the others put out at the time; in comparison to "Famous Monsters," "Monsters of the Movies" or "Castle of Frankenstein," it suffers the most. The cheap pulp paper used, which reproduced the black and white photos poorly, tore easily and turned yellow rapidly. The layout seemed shoddy and the writing, generally geared to the younger crowd, varied in quality from one article to another. However, being the lover of monster movies as I was, and Star Trek to a greater degree, I still bought some of the issues, especially when they featured a Trek article. This in-depth look at our favorite Vulcan was competently done, and worth posting here for your enjoyment, whether for the first time or again after many years.

The magazine also included a Trek "spoof" in comic form, which I won't include here for the simple fact that it was the most lowbrow, idiotic and poorly-drawn parody (so-called) one could imagine, best left unseen and forgotten. Alright... if you don't believe me, look at this one panel and you'll see what I mean (I don't want to sully this blog by even posting it as a clickable smaller image). Sheesh... "lower-rung" indeed. That one scraped the bottom of the barrel.

Part two of the article on the Vulcan is coming next time, however, featuring a rare discussion about the appeal of Spock with one of fandom's well-known writers, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, who co-penned a book many of us remember fondly; "Star Trek Lives!"

Bonus: Another cover from the nostalgia-generating James Blish adaptation covers, this time volume #7. Thanks to blog reader Donald A. for contributing it, since he read in an earlier post that my copy had no cover, being bought at a used bookstore years ago.

It was right then that Sulu swore off of the weed he had been secretly growing in his hobby garden.

The artwork on this book is one of the more unusual covers, depicting as it does a version of the scene from "Who Mourns For Adonais," albeit in a rather stylized fashion. This is the first time any scene from an episode was referenced on a cover, and marks the start of less "retro" covers and a move toward more modern artwork.

Monday, March 29, 2010

1994 article: The Death Of Captain Kirk

Before the internet became what it has in recent years, one of the main sources of info about upcoming movies for us Trekkers was the tabloids. Although couched in gossipy terms, one could get facts early that weren't available anywhere else, if one didn't mind wading through the other junk. Kind of like eating lunch in the middle of a cow pasture; you might enjoy the meal but feel a bit dirty from the surroundings (come to think of it, it's not much different from the internet in that respect). From the "Star" tabloid, published Sept. 6, 1994, comes this article on "Star Trek: Generations," as the secret of Captain Kirk's death is spilled... and without the warning that there were "spoilers" in the article, as the term came to be known. Thanks, Star!
(Click on images to enlarge.)

It's funny reading some of the errors in the article, such as the bit about them teaming up to fight a scientist "bent on destroying the universe." That seems a bit overly ambitious, not to mention impractical. If you destroy the universe, who would be left to gloat over it to?

Below is a later article, printed September 20th, 1994, reporting the fandom's furor over the spoiled secret, thanks mostly to the paper for publishing it. Unlike the last-minute script change in "The Wrath Of Khan" which responded to fan reaction by providing an "out," there never was one added to this movie to allow for a chance at Kirk's resurrection. The NG movie producers weren't interested in bringing him back, they only wanted him gone so they could move on with their versions, which is understandable. But Shatner would have reason to regret it when he was locked out of the new '09 movie by the fact. At least Kirk lives again in the enjoyable novels from Shatner "co-written" by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

Bonus: Below is a scan of one of the items members of the "Official Star Trek Fan Club" received when joining; I got this sometime in the mid-80's as far as I can recall.

Bonus: Below is one of the multitude of small newspaper clippings in my scrapbook regarding the many conventions that were held in south Florida during the mid-70's. This one from 1976 is significant because although I didn't get to go to it (three guesses why), a friend brought me back autographed pictures of Nichelle and Doohan, which I still treasure and have framed on my wall.

And finally, below is a short interview with Gene about the planned movie from "The Monster Times," issue #42, published in July of 1975. This took the place of the regular feature "Trek Talk" in that issue, so I'm tagging it with that anyway for easy location. It's always interesting to look back at these movie announcements and remember how long it took to see it made, and how many false starts there were. But if nothing else, it kept Star Trek alive in the public's mind, and for that reason, Gene's efforts were worth it.

It's interesting to read in the above interview that Gene was considering making the new movie a prequel, which is what the recent '09 movie was (in a way). But one has to wonder how they would have handled the fact that the stars were ten years older by that time. Would they have hired younger actors and actresses to portray the characters in the flashbacks? Also, the idea of shoehorning in the "cameos by ten international celebrities" would hang on almost up until the making of "ST:TMP," but thankfully it was forgotten. Can you imagine how cheesy it would appear now? Between that and "Magicam" it's a good thing the movie didn't get made at that time.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

1986 Grace Lee Whitney interview

Our archives open up this time to feature pages of issue #51 of the "The Official Star Trek Fan Club" magazine, published in August of 1986. At this time the magazine was in a smaller digest size, handy for rolling up and shoving into your jacket pocket to read during recess. Nah, just kiddin,' I'm sure everyone saved their copies in perfect condition like I did mine.

In this interview with everyone's favorite yeoman, conducted by superfan Dan Madsen, (read the Memory Alpha entry on him here and a interview here) we find out a little more about this leggy actress.

New "space-age" material lifts and separates!

"Why, captain... you so seldom come to my quarters after hours."
Sadly, the green flashlight did not work out as a sellable toy tie-in.*
Bonus:below is another of the Leaf 1967 cards, this time featuring our damsel in distress.
Below, my autographed photo of Grace in a memorable pose!

"Did I mention I like having my legs looked at?"
Some earliers posts with Janice Rand photos can be found by using the Grace Lee Whitney tag on the sidebar.
Bonus: below is another of the four TOS coasters in the set, this time featuring the Romulans.
Bonus #2: continuing the Romulan theme, below is another of the Skybox Masterpiece Series, depicting the famous first encounter with the Romulan Bird Of Prey.
The card back, below, is in error concerning the number of appearances in the original series; the Romulans also appeared in it in "The Deadly Years." Later, it was further depicted as one of the ships that captured the Enterprise in remastered episode "The Enterprise Incident."

*The jokey caption in no way confirms that the flashlights were or were not some kind of spec phaser by a toy manufacturer as some are speculating (see the Trek BBS post here). I just like to add funny captions and this one coincidentally seemed to back up the argument. I have no idea if they were or were not, but if I were to weigh in on it, I would say that the flashlights, as well as the other equipment that they held in this pre-series photo session, were just odd props gathered for it, and not specially prepared in any way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1984 Article on Trek Directors

From Issue #13 of Enterprise Incidents, published in January of 1984 (two issues after making the leap from fanzine to professional magazine with national distribution), comes this article on the various directors of the original series and analyses of the episodes they directed. Only this section of the magazine was in color, as it was cost-prohibitive to publish the still-new publication on all glossy pages with color stills. Although it was handy to be able to pick up the mag in the newsstands after the switch, and see color sections, I still prefered the original format, with painted or photo covers and no text blurbs, and printed on card stock. They just felt more special!

(Click on images to enlarge.)

Bonus: As any fan that received them knows, the catalogs from the Roddenberry-run Lincoln Enterprises were like the Sears catalog for Trekkers; a wish book that held all sorts of items that we young fans drooled over. I did order some of the things in them; not much, but some, and had them mailed to my Grandma's house to avoid discovery by the "Parents Against Star Trek" organization, founded and presided over by the only member, my stepdad. The items I did manage to get are still treasured by me, but I also treasure the catalogs themselves for the memories they bring out. Here is one I got in May of 1976 just as the "Star Trektennial," the ten year anniversary of the show, was gearing up. Below, the side where the address was placed for mailing...

The next page in the newspaper-format catalog is actually the front cover:

And here is the first actual page that it opens up to. You will notice the pen checkmarks I put next to items I planned on ordering, or at least really wanted. The only thing that could have made the catalog better was including items from the "Planet of the Apes" TV series! They featured "Kung Fu," so why not?

I'll post more pages from the catalogs in future entries as bonus items, so watch for them! At any time you can find all of them by using the "Lincoln Enterprises" tag on the right sidebar. I also plan on featuring some the the items themselves, as in an earlier post here. If you have good memories of these catalogs or getting items from the company, leave a comment and share them with us! As mentioned on this blog before, here is a Flickr photo group devoted to sharing film clips bought from this company. And, Rod Jr. is now running the company, (see this article on it) and some of the old items can still be bought there, at

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spock Stamp Collecting Ad

Hey, welcome back, friends! Glad you joined us, we were just about to open up one of the legendary collection cabinets and see what we could find to look at today. Grab a soda from the fridge, dig into some of the snacks on the table, and let's see what's in the stack of stuff I grabbed at random...

Well, let's see... first, here's a cardboard tabletop standee advertising the Space Exploration stamps that the Post Office put out in 1991. They tied it in with the upcoming "ST VI: The Undiscovered Country" which was coming out that December, around the same time of the stamps' release. The standee is about 18 inches tall, and was given to me by the lady behind the counter after the campaign was over. (I always cultivated relationships with people in various places that I could sweet-talk into giving me publicity items; shallow, I know.) Sadly, I didn't get the set of Trek stickers.
(Click on images to enlarge.)

"When it comes to hobbies, stamp collecting cannot be licked. Did that constitute a joke?"

Not a lot to post today in terms of articles and such, so I thought I'd add some bonus items to make up for it. Below, a scan of a pair of 3-D glasses that came with a ST:TMP poster that had a 3-D version on the flip side. They gave a slight illusion of depth as well as a slight headache, not to mention making the wearer look like a complete loser.

According to this design, big ol' metal rivets were key in starship construction technology.

Below, another cover from the extreme nostalgia-inducing James Blish Star Trek novels, this time #8. I bought this in 1974, from the high school bookstore where the kind lady ordered my Star Trek books for me. I read it through during a couple of classes, lunch and a study hall before I got home. Blish was doing a much better job of adapting the scripts by this time, to the point they were more than a synopsis as they were in the earlier ones. Every time I bought one of these novelizations, it was like manna from the heavens and I would re-read them til I knew them by heart. This red-saturated cover art brings back a lot of good memories that my love of Star Trek generated in the midst of a tense home situation.

Cool, how this alien planet had stalagmites coming up from the ground with no cave ceiling above to create them! And dig the dude with the space helmet, which I suppose he brought along in case there was construction going on overhead. It certainly was no good if there had been no breathable atmosphere; which seems to be the case since the ship is only a few hundred feet high.

"I am so-o-o-o screwed."

I suppose he can always call them on his "futuristic" walkie-talkie he carried with him. But considering he's a "redshirt," I don't suppose his chances of returning alive are very high anyway. The extra liability of red pants practically dooms him immediately. I know my reader Jay probably really likes this one!

Next, another of the 1976 Random House Star Trek greeting cards. The inside text reads "You're different!" Which could be a kinder way of calling the person you gave it to "a freak."

Next bonus: below, another in the set of 1967 Leaf bubblegum cards with the kooky kaptions. This time they must have been fairly sober when writing the caption; otherwise it might have read "Mustard and Relish" or "Looking for A Leprechan!"

And the final bonus item, below: a publicity photo of Shatner as Captain Kirk, looking particularly flirty at the yeoman taking the log entry. Note the conspicuous direction of the finger on his armrest. A subtle, perhaps even subliminal hint?

"Check it out."

Friday, March 19, 2010

1969 Star Trek Critique Article

Via a trip through the Guardian of Forever, from out of the dim past of the year 1969 (near the end of the show's first run) comes this article from issue #14 of the terrific magazine "Castle of Frankenstein." (Read an earlier post of the CoF #11 Star Trek article here.)

(Click on images to enlarge.)

"Castle of Frankenstein" was a monster/genre mag written on a more mature level than any of the other such publications of the time, and the graphic layout was bold and exciting. Covering science fiction as well as horror, and TV as well as film, the magazine was a real treat.

Above is a detail of the cover photo, corrected for the picture's reversed state.

Now, before you dig into the article, expecting to read details not seen since 1969, a word of caution; it's not a pro-Trek article. In fact, it's a printing of a letter sent to the editors by someone with not just a bone to pick with the show, but a whole skeleton. Reading the diatribe, one truly wonders if they are talking about the same show we know and love. But hey, the pictures printed with it are good!

I think you'll be amazed as you read the things they write about some of the episodes, several of which are now regarded as among the best. His insults of the various facets of the show, calling DeForest Kelley 'a hack," for example, and the makeup artists efforts "abominable," are laughable to me. His example of the "failure" by the makeup artists by "having to bring in John Chambers" to get Mr. Spock's ears right is wrong as far as I can determine; Fred Philips saved the day from another makeup artist's poor efforts by working many late hours making the ears as we saw them in "the Cage." Although John Chamber's contribution of the ears is a popular bit of trivia, neither the "Making of Star Trek" nor Nimoy's books "I Am Not Spock" and "I Am Spock" mention him as being involved in the difficult process. (This is backed up here.) The book "Inside Star Trek" does mention that Fred Phillips designed them and had them made in John Chamber's makeup lab; but the results that came back were still too crude, and Phillips had them sent to someone else at MGM to do them. Be that as it may, right or wrong, it has little impact on the sweeping charges brought by the irate writer that "the makeup is beyond belief, it is so bad."

Calling the ground-breaking exterior design of the Enterprise "lacking in grace and sleek beauty," (whu-u-u-u-t?) and the interiors "disgustingly bad," on the level of the old "Flash Gordon" serials, he compares the art design unfavorably to three of Irwin Allens' shows. That particular statement boggles the mind, because most of Allen's sets consisted of blinking lights and reel-to-reel computers against a black background. His criticism of the show's legendary, memorable musical scores is the final straw. I think it must have been Irwin Allen himself writing under an assumed name.

The photo above represents the writer's attack on the show.

Mr. Spock prepares to launch a counter-attack against the illogical critic and open up a can of well-deserved Tal-shaya.

Well, it was interesting to learn in historical hindsight that some saw this outstanding effort at bringing believable science fiction to the tube as greatly lacking; but as Captain Kirk said, "there's no accounting for taste." The editor's weak "rebuttal" at the end did nothing to argue against some of the more ridiculous statements, but the show itself is the strongest argument. It has stood the test of time and then some! If I had been the editor I would have filed this letter under "crank" and wrote something worthy of the magazine.

Update: The name of the writer is Craig Reardon, and I wonder if he is the same Craig Reardon that became a movie makeup artist? If so (and it seems likely since they are both from Inglewood, CA), this might explain his extreme criticism of that facet of the show's production (which was way off-base in my opinion, in any event). It would be ironic if this were the case, since he went on to do the makeup on one of the Star Trek spinoffs, Deep Space Nine! He would have been close to 16 at the time of the letter... so it's possible. I wonder if he still feels the same way about the original series now? It would be interesting to find out.

Below is a small writeup about the looming cancellation of the show from the same issue, which makes for fascinating reading. Too bad some other network didn't pick it up, give it a bigger budget and restore Roddenberry to producer status.

Bonus: below, the next in the series of four TOS coasters referenced in the last post. I never used these four to hold my drinks; I reserved that for the four Voyager ones.

Bonus: Lastly, another of the Random House Star Trek greeting cards from 1976. The inside text says "Let's keep in touch!"

"Oh, man... dude, it's like, it's like, I can totally feel the color of this paint! Seriously, you gotta come feel it! And bring the Fritos."

Consider that card's sentiment of "let's stay in touch" to be an invitation to comment about this post! I truly do enjoy hearing from my readers.