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Interview with IDW's Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall

Interview with IDW's Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall

As many fans know, Star Trek is a universe that knows no bounds, on screen or off. It has influenced countless people and things, and can be found in thousands of places. Not the least of which is comics. Joining us today to discuss the past, present and future of Star Trek comics is none other than IDW’s Chief Creative Office/Editor-in-Chief, Chris Ryall.

First, thanks for stopping by. IDW has been making Star Trek comics for several years now, and you have really touched on every major story line: TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, even Star Trek (2009). Was that the plan when you started your comics?

When we originally started, I very much wanted to do The Original Series comics, since there were some fun things I had in mind in that continuity, such as doing a series from the Klingons’ point-of-view and Mirror Universe comics. I also really wanted to do comics set in The Next Generation universe. From there, it’s been gratifying to see retailer and fan support allow us to expand further, into DS9 and Peter David’s New Frontier universe, as well as comics that tie in to the big-screen reinvention as well.

What are some of your favorite stories from IDW’s comics?

Aww, you know a parent can’t play favorites with their kids! I think everything we’ve done has been interesting for one reason or another, but especially gratifying are projects like the series we did with original Trek writer D.C. Fontana; the aforementioned Klingons series worked really well and brought us a new mainstay writer in the form of Scott Tipton. I also think David Tischman’s two series (one TOS series and the other TNG) worked well, the Alien Spotlight series we did put some needed focus on lesser-seen races, the Countdown series that tied directly into the new movie was a creative success… you see my dilemma here: there are too many good series to choose from.

Regarding the new movie, the comics filled a pretty important role in the overall story. Star Trek: Countdown offered the story of the characters, especially Spock and Nero, right up until they went into the black hole. How did fans respond to the comics being such a part of the complete story?

Countdown was one of the best-received Star Trek series we’ve ever done. I think the fact that the story came directly from the screenwriters and therefore fit seamlessly into the story being told on-screen made it a must-have for anyone who wanted the full story. It also fleshed out Nero as a character even more than the movie itself, which was another reason it worked so well. People like a villain who’s three-dimensional and not just the bad guy, and this series really gave them that.

Speaking of expanding the universe, IDW also did a series based on Spock and Nero, in the context of the film, correct?

We did—the Spock story looked at Spock’s life and the big moments in it that led him to head to Romulus in the first place, and Nero further expanded upon that character’s life and motivations and filled in a gap of time from the movie. So taken all as companion pieces to the movie itself, fans got quite an extended look at this newly developed Star Trek universe.

As much as both new and old Star Trek fans liked the movie, there’s so much more to the universe. What else is IDW working on right now?

The big new series we’re excited about is Star Trek: Khan: Ruling in Hell. This is a four-part look at Khan and the events that follow him from the classic “Space Seed” episode to the crazed, ripped Doc Brown-hair-having guy in Star Trek II. So it’s another one where the character really comes to life and becomes much more three-dimensional when you see exactly what led him to the place he was in in Star Trek II. Beyond that, collections of our first DS9 series and John Byrne’s extremely well-received Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor (set in the time leading up to the original Star Trek motion picture) are both coming soon; we’re finishing off the Captain’s Log series of one-shots that featured starship captains from all the Star Trek incarnations (well, five of them, anyway). We just started another TOS series, Burden of Knowledge, and are busy making nefarious plans for much more to come. And Star Trek TOS factors hugely into IDW’s “Infestation,” our big event starting in early 2011. Plus there’s the matter of a possible second Star Trek movie so, you know, there’ll be quite a bit to come in 2011 and beyond.

Q: Wow, that’s a lot.

A: It is. That’s been the goal from the start, even when just working on TOS and TNG properties: to offer something for every era of Trek fans. That’ll always be our ongoing mission, too, to make sure there’s a Trek in every pullbox of any comic fan who wants one, whatever the era.