Guest Blogger: John Eaves - March 2011

By John Eaves - March 17, 2011

Ron Cobb designed the planet Vulcan; well, at least in inspiration.

Ron is an artist who started off doing animated features, comics and album covers in the late 50’s, the 60's and 70's. His talent caught the eye of a young film student named Dan O’Bannon, who was writing a student science-fiction film with his buddy, a guy named John Carpenter. The film was called Dark Star (1973). Once Ron was tracked down, he was hired to design the infamous starship the Dark Star, and from their Ron's movie career was launched. He worked on Star Wars, Alien, Aliens, Total Recall, and one of my favorites, Conan the Barbarian. As a young high school-er I was introduced to Ron's magical talents by the pages of Starlog Magazine, The book of Alien and, later, Cinefex. From the first drawing I saw I was captivated by this man's ability to conceive entire worlds from his imagination and translate them so beautifully onto paper.

I would spend hour upon hour studying every detail and as I would draw things I would try to use what I had learned from studying Ron's style. He always had a heavy, dark line around his subjects and that is actually something I still do today. Following my far-off dreams of working in the movies, I would always call upon Ron's influence to guide me through a project in college and also in my portfolio pieces. In 1985 I was hired at Apogee VFX – and Ron’s work was all over the place. Through Apogee I was able to meet Ron at his house in Santa Monica. There, in his study, tons of his drawings were hanging around the room and/or stored away in big, flat files. The drawings that caught my eye first were his renderings of the swords featured in Conan (1982). What an incredible difference to see his art in person rather than in a book. That was a big day for me, meeting my hero.

The years went on and I was hired into the world of Star Trek, a world to which Ron had not yet ventured. Needless to say, we were all fans of Ron Cobb in the Trek art department, and on one occasion Ron came up to our office and had a chat with us all for a bit. After he left we taped off the floor where he’d been standing, as we now considered it sacred ground. Steve Berg, another incredible artist, came to visit and stood next to Ron's spot. After leaving, he too received a tapped off box on the floor that was also considered sacred. Haaa! Lots of fun we had in that art department.

So, even though Ron never officially worked on Star Trek, he did in the sense that he inspired all of us who did -- with so many spaceships and landscapes designed in homage to Ron and his work. The drawings, I’d say, most heavily influenced by Ron were those depicting the architecture for the Planet Vulcan, which Star Trek fans saw on Enterprise. So many cityscapes have been so beautifully rendered for Star Wars and Star Trek that we in the Trek art department wanted Vulcan to have a special, recognizable element that made this world stand out from the rest. Here is where Ron Cobb comes in. Remembering his beautiful Conan swords, we thought “Wouldn't it be cool to design a city where the skyscrapers would resemble swords standing on end, with their blades pointing toward Heaven?” After a few sketches and the producers’ approval, Vulcan had its base of architecture set forth and, from there, the cities would reflect these purple and red monolithic-styled swords.

Many incredibly talent artists had come before all of us in the Star Trek art department, and without a doubt our department was a place where the influences and inspirations of others shone oh-so brightly. So, thank you, Ron.

And now, for this month’s installment of the "Red Dress Series" we bring you the elegant Miss Victoria Vertuga. Victoria is a model with an artistic passion for blood. She tackles everything that she does with a fire and elegance that begs to draw you into her world. We first met on a vintage pin-up shoot in Los Angeles in early 2009 and she created some classic pin-up images around a slew of historic aircraft. For our second collaboration, Victoria took on the Red Dress Series with a very beautiful and sultry twist. She is a force not to be reckoned with and what she did for the Red Dress Series is breathtaking.

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John Eaves is veteran artist and illustrator who has lent his talents to too many films and television shows to count. Actually, he's at 60-plus and counting. Over the years, he's made a tremendous mark on Star Trek, as he's worked on The Final Frontier, all four TNG films, DS9 and Enterprise, Star Trek: The Exhibition, Star Trek Online and the recent Star Trek reboot feature. 

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