Two very different visions of the future collide this December in the five-issue miniseries "Star Trek/Planet of the Apes," the first collaboration between IDW Publishing and BOOM! Studios. The creative team behind the sci-fi mash-up is the "Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who" sibling writing team of Scott and David Tipton, with newcomer Rachael Stott on art. For this miniseries, the Tiptons are opting to use the original versions of both properties -- the original 1966 TV show "Star Trek," from CBS Television, and 20th Century Fox's 1968 film "Planet of the Apes."
In a conversation with CBR News, Scott and David Tipton explained why they decided to tackle another "Star Trek" mash-up and why they never even considered using the rebooted casts from either franchise. They also discuss getting permission to use Charlton Heston's likeness, reveal comedian Dana Gould is contributing essays to the series, and more.
CBR News: Scott and David, you previously worked on IDW's smash-hit "Star Trek/Doctor Who" miniseries. What do you have in store for fans on "Star Trek/Planet of the Apes?"
Scott Tipton: It's about political maneuverings, expansionism, morality, brinksmanship, tragedy, free will versus fate -- everything that made classic "Star Trek" and the original "Planet of the Apes" so compelling. In a more down-to earth answer, when Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew stumble on the far-future Earth of Planet of the Apes, and discover Klingon chicanery afoot, they must struggle with the question of how much interference the Prime Directive will allow -- especially after they meet Colonel Taylor and hear of the fate of humanity.
Which versions of "Star Trek" and "Planet of the Apes" are you using?
David Tipton: Our series, "The Primate Directive," includes characters from original series "Star Trek" and the original "Planet of the Apes" movies. Both of these very famous properties are products of the late 1960s, and part of the reasoning is to look at how both, in different ways, are products of that time.
Scott Tipton: While the rebooted versions of both "Trek" and "Apes" are well done and very popular, I think everyone agreed that this one had to be classic on both sides, to be at its most iconic. It's especially gratifying that the Charlton Heston estate is allowing us to use Mr. Heston's likeness for Taylor, which, when putting him alongside Shatner and Nimoy, and the legendary John Chambers-designed makeups for Cornelius, Zira and Dr. Zaius, just makes this entire project a dream come true. (By the way, a little-known fact: Chambers, who won an Oscar for his "Apes" makeups, was also the man who created Spock's ears for Leonard Nimoy on the original "Trek" series. Together at last!)
Where did you find inspiration for "The Primate Directive?"
Scott Tipton: For me, it's all about the original product. What we came up with had to feel like it could fit organically into both franchises. That was perhaps the biggest surprise as we were writing it, how easily Kirk and company fit into the world of Taylor and Ape City.
"Star Trek" and "Planet of the Apes" take place in two very different futures -- how do Kirk and crew wind up on an Earth run by apes?
David Tipton: We are reluctant to give away too much too soon, but remember that "Star Trek" certainly has ways of storytelling within its canon for dealing with time travel and alternate universes.
Scott Tipton: Yes, we didn't want to treat this as a kind of nebulous "imaginary story." Both the timelines of "Trek" and "Planet of the Apes" are intact and distinct. It's bringing them together that's the tricky part.
Did the success of "Star Trek/Doctor Who" for IDW help you land this new project?
Scott Tipton: On the heels of our work on the "Star Trek/Doctor Who" crossover, Chris Ryall at IDW mentioned that this was something they were considering, and asked if we had a take on it. While we were both reticent at first ("How can we make these two histories make sense together? How can the Federation and ANSA co-exist?"), the notion of a clash between Captain Kirk and Colonel Taylor was just too good to resist.
You guys obviously have a lot of "Star Trek" experience, but what's your history with the "Planet of the Apes" franchise? Any favorite films from the series?
David Tipton: I've always been most fond of the first two films in the original "Planet of the Apes" series. And our series happens to be set in the time just between those movies. One thing I find interesting about the original "Apes" movies is that unlike the optimistic vision of "Star Trek," the "Apes" movies are often dark and pessimistic. There is a very interesting contrast between the two. Both franchises started at roughly the same time, but reveal some very different attitudes side-by-side in the late 1960s.
Scott Tipton: I grew up watching those films on television, probably at a younger age than I should have been. They had a huge impact on me, especially the original, which I think holds up as well today as when it came out in 1968, and the second, "Beneath the Planet of The Apes," which is just about as dark and depressing a movie as you'll ever see, and yet I couldn't take my eyes off it. Any movie that ends with Charlton Heston blowing up the planet is going to make an impact on a young viewer. And yet they still found a way to make a sequel!
"Star Trek/Doctor Who." "Star Trek/Planet of the Apes." What mash-ups would you like to pen next?
Scott Tipton: I'm calling dibs right now on the "Star Trek/Wild Wild West" crossover. Who's tougher, Shatner's Jim Kirk or Robert Conrad's Jim West? Throw in Garth of Izar and Professor Loveless and you've got a miniseries.
What are some of your favorite property mash-ups from other companies?
Scott Tipton: For me, it has to be the ones that melted my brain when I was a kid: the "Superman /Spider-Man" and "Batman/Hulk" crossovers from Marvel and DC. Those had a unique approach, too: they just asked the reader to accept that Superman and Batman had always been on the same world as Spidey and the Hulk, they just never happened to run into each other. I like the sheer bravado of doing it that way. I also have a real soft spot for Kurt Busiek and George Perez's "JLA/Avengers" series, just because it's so huge and audacious and ambitious.
Finally, what's it like working with newcomer artist Rachael Stott?
David Tipton: Rachael has done a fantastic job on this series. We are just today seeing some of her draft designs for upcoming covers and they look great. We're very happy to have her working with us. We are very fortunate to once again be working with colorist Charlie Kirchoff on this project. And our editor, IDW's Sarah Gaydos, is doing a great job of bringing all these efforts together. We're also very pleased to have enlisted comedian/writer Dana Gould to contribute an essay to each issue of the series. Gould, along with being an immensely talented writer, is a "Star Trek" and "Planet of the Apes" fan of the highest order, and getting his unique perspective in every issue is going to be a real treat.
Scott Tipton: Over our long career at IDW, we've been tremendously lucky with the artists our editors have partnered us up with, and Rachael is no exception. I love the way she combines expressive likenesses with dynamic action. We also have so many amazing cover artists, too, Rachael and folks like Juan Ortiz, George Perez, Joe Corroney, J.K. Woodward and some others that haven't even been announced yet.
"Star Trek/Planet of the Apes" #1 goes on sale Dec. 31 from IDW Publishing.