Stardate: NOW! Tischman talks "Star Trek TNG: The Space Between"

There's no denying the incredible impact "Star Trek" has had on pop culture. Ask anyone in almost any Western nation who Captain Kirk is and they'll respond immediately, "Duh, he's the Captain of the Enterprise!" They' won't say he's "some fictional character played by William Shatner, or "some guy on some TV show from the 1960s." They say "Captain of the Enterprise," as though the starship actually exists. In this way and more, "Star Trek" transcends merely pop culture, becoming a part of the larger world culture.

The original series spawned numerous spin-off television shows and movies, with a new film directed by J.J. Abrams set for release in 2008. Until then, fans have reruns and DVDs of "The Original Series," (aka "TOS") "The Next Generation," (aka "TNG) "Deep Space Nine," (aka "DS9") "Voyager" (aka "VOY") and "Enterprise" (aka "ENT") and a variety of novels to hold them over. But what if fans want something new? What if fans want to read "Star Trek" adventures with compelling visuals to go along with it?

IDW Publishing has those fans covered this week, with the release of the first issue of the six issue mini-series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between." The mini-series is written by David Tischman, best known for his work on Vertigo's "Bite Club" and "American Century," and features artwork by "Children of the Grave" illustrator Casey Maloney. CBR News spoke with Tischman, who gave us a report on the new series.

With IDW releasing "Star Trek The Next Generation: The Space Between" #1 this week, your next question is probably, "When will we see comics featuring the other Star Trek series?" The answer to that question is very soon.

April sees the release of "Klingons: Blood Will Tell," a new five-issue series by Scott & David Tipton and drawn by David Messina. Look for more on that series soon on CBR. But the fun doesn't stop there. CBR News has learned that the next Star Trek television series to get the comics treatment will be one based on the original series with Kirk, Spock and McCoy. David Tischman returns to write this series with an artist to be announced later. While the title is currently tentative, Tischman hopes the series will be called, "Star Trek: Season Four," and will see publication this summer.

"Season Four" begins, naturally, following the events of the final episode of the television series, "Turnabout Intruder," which finds Captain Kirk's mind inside the body of Janice Lester, with Lester's mind inside the body of Kirk's. "The stardate of my first issue takes place shortly after that episode," said Tischman.

For "Star Trek" purists concerned that Tischman will go off in wild directions that violate various "prime directives" of Star Trek, the writer says there's nothing to worry about. "The parameters under which we work make sure we're not violating anything in canon," said Tischman.

With the series still a ways off, Tischman didn't want to reveal too much, but did answer a few of our questions. Will the series feature the Klingons? Sure. Will they look like the more human in appearance Klingons we saw in the original series? "They probably will," said Tischman.

As for what the series won't include - no Tribbles, no Harry Mudd, no use of the gateway seen in "The City on the Edge of Forever" and no Khan. "We all love Khan, but what I'm doing with this series is working with all new ideas," said Tischman.

"Star Trek: Season Four" will visually look quite different from "Star Trek The Next Generation: The Space Between." "I'm conscious of the fact that these are very different shows, so we'll be using a different color palette and the layout will be different," explained Tischman.

With a third "Star Trek" comic series now confirmed, what's the possibility of other shows seeing the comics treatment, like "Deep Space Nine?" "We have to see how it goes with these two series first," said Tischman. "I would absolutely love to write 'Deep Space Nine,' if they'll have me."

As the title suggests, the stories featured in these comics take place in-between actual episodes from the "TNG" television series. "The fans want to see the space between these episodes," Tischman told CBR News. "Each issue highlights a different character. We're not concentrating on any one character; we're trying to highlight everyone. There is definitely a solo Picard story that will run in issue #2, but we also highlight Riker and we highlight Tasha Yar and Wesley, Worf and maybe even Dr. Pulaski.

"We very consciously went with original, stand alone stories," continued Tischman. "I very much want these stories to feel like when you're finished with an issue, you're left with the feeling that it could have been an episode of the TV show."

The first story is called "History Lesson," which takes place very early on in the first season of "TNG." "The Enterprise is visiting a planet that has recently contacted the Federation about joining, and Riker and his Away team – Tasha Yar and Data – beam down to the planet and the Enterprise reads an anomalous energy reading," said Tischman. "When they get down to the planet, no one has any record of any communications with the Federation. The leader that the Enterprise had spoken to just moments before is no longer the leader of the planet. What we come to discover is that this is a planet that because all of its information is downloaded electronically, there are people within the government who are literally rewriting history, sometimes on a daily basis. I thought this was a good story to start off with because it is very much sort of a political parable. Very much in keeping with what I would call the 'Roddenberry "Star Trek."'"

Picard fans will be pleased with the second issue of "The Space Between," out in March, which features the Captain in a solo adventure. "The ['TNG'] show did one or two episodes where he was sort of on his own – there was the one on Reisa and the one where he went undercover on the pirate ship. I would like to think that the story in issue #2 is a little grittier and a little more human in its conflict. The other episodes that ran during the series all sort of revolved around artifacts and we kept that as a motif, but this is a very different kind of story."

As we noted, issue one of "TNG: The Space Between" takes place very early in season one. Issue #2 takes place in season five, issue #3 takes place in season seven, while issue #4 brings us back to season six, season two for issue #5 and issue #6 takes us forward to season seven once again. Is there an ongoing theme that ties all these disparate stories together? Not really, said Tischman, but the answer isn't quite that simple. "Each issue is designed as a stand alone story, however by the time we reach issues #5 and #6, you will realize that there was more to these stories in a cumulative way than just a single issue story. So, the answer is yes and no at the same time."

In the first episode of "TNG," "Encounter at Farpoint," fans were introduced to Q, an omnipotent being who found unique ways of annoying Captain Picard. Tischman said that while he loves Q, he won't show up in "The Space Between." "The thing is, while Q is very much of 'The Next Generaton,' they also used him on 'Deep Space Nine' and 'Voyager,'" said Tischman "He's very much a 'Next Generation' character, but he was also in those other series and we're very consciously trying to tell 'The Next Generation'-specific stories."

The Borg, too, played a role in all three series, although the "Q rule" does not apply to them. "The Borg will appear, but not in the way you think," Tischman revealed.

With a license as valuable as "Star Trek," one would imagine that the owner, in this case Paramount Pictures, would be very protective of its property. Tischman told CBR News that the approval process on his stories for "The Space Between" has been very easy. "'Star Trek' has been around for 40 years. There have been five series – if you include the animated series – and all of the novels and the fan fiction, all that sort of stuff, and Paramount, rightfully so, are very careful with the canon. But, at the same time, the approval process has been really fair. There are laws and guidelines and parameters and they're there to help point out when I forget that Worf's sash was silver in the first season and not gold. They'll point that kind of stuff out, which ultimately makes the story better. The answer is, on a creative level, Paramount has been great and helpful and very positive. From a detail perspective, they're only helping to add more realism and accuracy to our stories."

Tischman is a confessed fan of the show, even describing himself as a Trekkie. His favorite Star Trek character is probably Garak from "DS9," but of "TNG," he chose the Klingon Worf as his favorite crewmember. "[Worf's] the character who sees the most growth in the series," said Tischman. "It's amazing to watch him maintain his Klingon honor while also remaining true to his human side, seeing as how he was raised by humans.

"I thought all of the women on the show were really interesting and maybe never quite got the spotlight the way the men did," continued Tischman. "Especially the secondary characters like Ensign Ro, who was a great character. I always thought Dr. Pulaski was an interesting character; she's clearly the female version of McCoy. I like the way they echoed the original series in the new series with how she clearly had issues with Data, which created conflict that made things that much more interesting. And I really liked the way Deanna Troi asserted herself in later seasons and took the command post on the night shift."

As for his favorite "TNG" episode, Tischman said it had to be "Second Chances," which introduces Liuetenant Thomas Riker, an exact duplicate of Commander William Riker who'd been stranded on Nervala IV for eight very long years. " I don't believe it when people say they have no regrets. That's crap," Tischman declared. "We all wish we'd done some things differently. That episode deals with the choices Riker's made in a realistic, smart way."

In conclusion, Tischman simply stated he feels these 'Star Trek' comics are really fun. "They're so much fun to do. I get to type the words 'Engage' and 'Make It So.' You forget how much fondness we have for these characters and what great characters they are. It's just really fun."

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