Federation: The First 150 Years is inching closer and closer to becoming a reality, and as the November release date of the becker&mayer! mega-project approaches, StarTrek.com will continue to provide exclusive preview coverage. Already, you've seen the cover and viewed a trailer, and now we’ve got an interview with two of Federation’s illustrators, Cat Staggs and Mark McHaley. Staggs is currently working on covers for Smallville and the recently announced Phantom Lady, and she’s a frequent contributor to Star Wars/Lucasfilm. She also pens the weekly webstrip Hot Mess for Comediva.com. McHaley is a fine artist and illustrator of numerous properties held by Marvel, DC, Lucasfilm, 5finity and more. Previously, he worked as a commercial illustrator whose corporate clients included Disney, Kraft, Golden Books, and others. Here’s what they had to say about Federation: The First 150 Years.
How much of a fan of Star Trek and its history are you both?
Staggs: I would never try to complete with hardcore Trekkers, but I was a TNG fan. Jean-Luc will always be my captain.
McHaley: I have a lot of affection for Star Trek. My parents would watch it when TOS was in syndication -- 1974, I believe. I tried to sneak out and watch it with them, but was turned away. I was told that it was an adult show. When I saw the Mego dolls at K-mart, I asked, "Why are there Star Trek toys if it's an adult show?" After that, I was watching it with them constantly. A bunch of my paint brushes are in my Trek mug that I've had since 1975. TNG aired when I was in college and we could all gather to watch each week.
How did you get involved in Federation?
McHaley: I received an email from becker&mayer!, asking if I'd be interested in the project.
Staggs: becker&mayer! already knew my work from -- please don't throw the tomatoes, folks -- my work with Star Wars. So I was asked to jump galaxies and work on this project, which was really exciting.
What was the mission statement? In other words, what did becker&mayer! say they wanted/needed?
Staggs: Basically, we were asked to bring the Star Trek universe to life and, most excitingly, to illustrate some things that had never been seen or drawn before, in addition to the classic iconic images and characters.
McHaley: I can tell you what I remember being the spirit of what they wanted and were asking for. It was a definitive telling of something we already loved and knew a little something about. The more information I got about the project, the more the realization hit me that we were about to flesh out the origin of a beloved property. I refreshed myself, through research, with as much Star Trek knowledge as I could, once I realized what we were really doing.
Cat, what were you responsible for?
Staggs: I was responsible for a lot of the portrait work. I'm especially proud of my Captain Kirk and Spock. I also got to draw a few scenes and characters that have never been seen or depicted before, including an avian, so that was really fun. It's always awesome to be able to contribute artistically to something that is going to forever be part of the canon.
Mark, what were you responsible for?
McHaley: I handled the chapter-opening pieces, along with some spot illustrations throughout the book.
Did the two of you touch base throughout to make sure what you were producing was in the same vein? And how much, if any, interaction did you have with (fellow illustrators) Jeff Carlisle and Joe Corroney?
Staggs: We didn't really talk that much. We were kind of all doing our own thing with our own assignments. I didn't even know what the others were drawing.
McHaley: We all were in constant communication with b&m, individually about the project. I didn't talk to Jeff and Joe about it until recently, just a few days ago, in fact. I think I remember calling up Cat and asking, "Are you done yet?" We all had our individual assignments and it was up to b&m to make sure it all fit together, based on author David A. Goodman's stunning knowledge of all things Trek.
For both of you, what iconic Trek images were you personally most excited to illustrate?
McHaley: Hmm. The standoff between the Klingons and the Federation over Organia was a nice little piece of unseen history. The launch of the Phoenix was a particularly satisfying illustration for me. If I keep going, I'll talk about them all. I felt different tones of inspiration from each.
Staggs: For me, it was Captain Kirk and Spock.
From start to finish, how long have you each worked on Federation?
Staggs: It took me about nine months from the first conversation.
McHaley: I think Cat got the timeline about right. We really worked a long time on the planning stages, through our sketches. I've got a decent-size stack of them in my work drawer.
How eager are you for fans to finally be able to get their hands on Federation?
McHaley: Very. I'm interested to hear what they have to say. As a fan, my hands are just as eager.
Staggs: I'm really excited. The packaging sounds awesome, I obviously endorse the artwork and I think (the fans) will love it.
Federation: The First 150 Years is loaded with intelligence reports, treaty excerpts and letters documenting the historic moments that led to the formation of the United Federation of Planets. Author David A. Goodman will examine everything from First Contact to the Organian Peace Treaty, with the text complemented by color and black and white illustrations of epic battles, alien species and heretofore unseen ship designs, among them the Romulan attack on Starbase 1 and original blueprints for the U.S.S. Enterprise and the Xindi Avian. George Takei, of course, provides the voice of Sulu for the audio narration, and fans can expect to find such detachable documents as a hand-penned letter from a young Jim Kirk and Zefram Cochrane’s first sketch of the warp drive engine.
Follow us for more news at StarTrek.com
and via our social media sites.