The smile on Dusty Abell's face was as bright as his artwork on the wall behind him when StarTrek.com caught up with him at the Star Trek. 50 Artists. 50 Years. exhibition at Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts gallery in San Diego during this past summer's Comic-Con festivities. Abell is a character designer in the animation industry, and he was previously employed as a comic book penciler and cover artist. His 50 Artists. 50 Years contribution is "Star Trek: The Original Series," a 27"x40" digital illustration that features at least one character, creature, ship or location from all 79 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. He collaborated on his Trek piece with co-colorist Lovern Kindzierski, a comic book artist. Here's what Abell had to say during our brief conversation:
How exciting is it for you to be a part of the 50th exhibition?
It's a blast. Star Trek is something I grew up with as a kid. I have a great passion for it, and so it's just an honor to be included. There are so many other great pieces of art here and it's something I'll always look back on with a lot of fond memories, being a part of this with the 50th anniversary, and this exhibition and all these artists. It's a big deal.
Tell us about your piece. What was the inspiration? What did you want to capture?
What I wanted to capture was... just my love for the diversity of the cast, the characters, the situations, the drama, the comedy, the great production design, the ships, the characters, the costumes. Everything about The Original Series shaped what I became as an artist. So, that was kind of the start.
The depictions are realistic-looking and comic-book-style at the same time...
I guess that's kind of my thing, because people respond to the fact that the likenesses are pretty accurate, I suppose, even though it's done in more of an animation style. That's just the way I draw. I guess Nagel is the guy that kind of influenced me early on in that direction of not a lot of line work, but it's a kind of elegant figure drawing, facial drawing style. He was the guy in the `80s, all of the Miami Vice, Duran Duran covers and all that stuff. That inspired the eliminating of a lot of extraneous lines. That's why my stuff is bare. I just try to capture it all with as little as possible, but still make it really identifiable and, hopefully, still have it look appealing.
As a fan of the show, what did you have to have in the piece? What's your favorite little bit in there?
I'd have to say the dog, probably. The little dog with the costume, which is so laughable when you watch it in the episode, but it's just something I always ... I knew I wanted to get it in there. I also had to make a decision whether I wanted to show Jimmy Doohan's missing finger or not, which you can actually see in an episode of TOS. People have called me out on that, but I decided to leave it in because I think they faked it on the show most of the time and they had the stuntman or the double doing the transporter effect. So, in canon, he, I guess, has all five fingers on his hand. I chose to give him the five fingers. But the dog was probably my favorite thing to put in there.
What do you make of all the complementary elements of the exhibition, such as the books and puzzles and mugs based on the art?
The puzzle was a surprise. Nobody told me about the puzzle. I saw that one day and I was really pleasantly surprised. I think Star Trek fans are probably enjoying it. I hope they are. I don't know. I looked for reviews on Amazon for the first person that actually does the puzzle and posts a review on it.
Shouldn't you be the person able to assemble the puzzle faster than anyone on Earth?
Yes, exactly. I have to take myself out of it at work. We do puzzles. I work at Warner Brothers and at lunch we sometimes do puzzles and I definitely have to take a back seat because I know where every piece goes.
Abell's Star Trek The Original Series 50th Anniversary Poster, which measures 27"x40", is available for purchase and priced at $40. Go to www.dustyabell.com to buy it.