I haven’t looked back to acknowledge a source for the inspiration that lead to Trekker for a while. I realized that while I dropped Alex Raymond’s name when I talked about Flash Gordon in an erlier post, I really passed over him in favor of Al Williamson, who was my personal entryway into the character. Al did some stellar, signature work on Flash, no question. But he had been inspired by Raymond, who created the strip back in the ’30’s and in doing so helped give birth to the whole adventure strip phenomena and turned artists like himself, Al Capp, Milton Caniff and Hal Foster into cartoonist superstars– virtually household names. Raymond achieved this by creating characters, situations and worlds that were iconic and yet also vivid and immediate to the reader. Some of that was taken care of by his breathtaking figure drawing and inking techniques, his over-all peerless draughtsmanship, and his eye for the dramatic image. But nice visuals will only take you so far if your task is to tell a story. For a reader to embrace a series and stick with it through a long, twisting tale, you need a world that lives, and characters that feel true. And for his time and era, Alex Raymond created those as well as any of his peers.Trekker is my shot at doing the same, in my own way and given the times I swim in as a comics creator. A lot has changed in the culture since the pre-WWII days of Flash Gordon. But while the trappings might have undergone some minor updates, the impulse to create a solid story that entertains with each twist and engages the reader through strong characters that they connect with remains the formula that I believe in and strive for on each page.
It’s a fun time to be a Trekker creator! Right now, I have one foot each in two separateTrekker stories. I’m finishing the colors on the last handful of pages for “Jekka”, and simultaneously getting into the inks on the next adventure, “The Volstock Payoff”. And I was reflecting once again on how lucky I feel to be working on a series that can shift from high-blown sci-fi adventuring to gritty crime noir, western, semi-fantasy and just about any other genre that I fancy, while still staying true to the concept and rules for the series as a whole. So, to celebrate that, and to slip in a little sneak preview for the next tale (which will be one of those crime noir-tinged stories) here’s a grab bag of images from the once and future Trekker tales.
A special thanks to those of you who have been contributing to the series through either Patreon or the direct, one-time donation button, as well as buying the books when they come out. I’m deeply proud of the loyal and generous following that Trekker has held and sustained over it’s time thus far, and excited to see the list of readers and supporters is continuing to grow! It’s a ton of work to get these stories done to the standards that I strive for. Your support lets me know all the effort is worth it. And it’s great to have your company as we continue to follow Mercy from one explosive setting to another.
While I’ve been having a great time concentration on bringing “JEKKA” to a close and starting up the next Trekker tale, I’m also excited for the convention appearances that I have coming up. They are: Northwest Comic Fest, August 15-16, Rose City Comic Con, Sept 19-20, Baltimore Comic Con, Sept 25-27, and ZappCon, Oct 17-18.
Conventions have always been a fun part of this job– a nice break from the days at the board. And since I’ve returned to Trekker, I like them more than ever. The chance to meet or renew connections with fans and to make brand-new Trekker readers is a great energizer at each show I attend. And while I’m always focused on getting the printed Trekker books to as many willing readers as possible, just chatting with friends, doing a wide range of convention sketches, and maybe visiting with Supergirl when she drops by makes for a full and a fun time.Hope to see you at a show this season!
I’ve been penciling away on the next tale so that Mercy’s stories won’t miss a beat when the star-spanning Jekka adventure wraps up ( just about a month from now). Next up: a change-of-pace tale as Mercy returns to New Gelaph’s shadowy streets for some terse, hard-hitting crime action. Above are a few panels from the work-in-progress.
As our “Jekka” story rumbles toward its climax, I’ve been prepping the next tale– script, thumbnails and design work. One of the things I love most about creating Trekker stories is that, being a wide-ranging sci-fi story, each adventure can have its own feel. One tale, like our current one, is a star-spanning space opera complete with huge space ships, crash landings on alien worlds and swamp monsters. The next might have the flavor of noir detective story. Or a gritty western, or a swash-buckling pirate adventure. We can flirt with ‘super-heroic’ dynamics, or fantasy elements in the guise of far-future technologies and life forms. It all keeps things fresh for me.
The common thread, of course, is Mercy herself. Her “arc” as a character ties all the individual adventures together into one semi-unified whole. At least, if I do my job right.
Keeping the series grounded with some degree of believability is another way I try to hold the stories together. That includes costuming Mercy in ways that feel true to her character and to the setting and situation of the moment. Above are three outfits she’s gone through over the course of “Jekka”, and a peek at a look she will sport for a while in the next tale. Usually, Mercy is dressed prepared for the rough-and-tumble life of an adventurer. But sometimes, she slips into a look that reminds us that she’s not always out to track down a bounty. But don’t worry: even when Mercy’s not looking for trouble, it has a way of finding her. And her regular “Trekking” gear is never far away.