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Ships of the Line, Book II -- Bigger, Faster, Stronger

Ships of the Line, Book II -- Bigger, Faster, Stronger

Gene Roddenberry -"The Starship Enterprise is not a collection of motion picture sets or a model used in visual effects. It is a very real vehicle; one designed for storytelling. You, the audience furnish its propulsion. With a wondrous leap of imagination, you make it into a spaceship that can take us into the far reaches of the Galaxy and sometimes even the depths of the human soul..."

Doug Drexler -The "Ships of the Line" calendar celebrates mankind's perpetual need to explore the Universe... and ourselves. Over the thirteen years of its publication, we have showcased space artists who are possessed with an understanding of the Starfleet design ethic that would give Leah Brahms hot flashes, Geordi La Forge an inferiority complex, and cause Scotty to wet his pants.

Through its pages, we’ve shared incredible vistas, marveled at awe-inspiring starships, celebrated the infinite diversity of the Universe... And the excitement has not faded.

The Starship Enterprise continues to inspire and look believable 50 years after its conception. Matt Jefferies' original Enterprise design has spun off nearly a dozen re-stylings, not to mention the probably hundreds, if not thousands, of fan interpretations. It was, and remains, an act of artistic genius still hurtling forward of its original inertia, a fountainhead piece of futuristic architecture which will continue to inspire and entertain for many, many years to come. A stunning accomplishment for any Hollywood designer.

Apparently, we still can't get enough of it. It’s hard to pinpoint precisely what it is that makes the erstwhile saucer/nacelle configuration so endlessly fascinating. Could it be the embodiment of humankind at its best, the genetic need to explore the unknown, to push that upper right hand corner of the envelope... and in doing so, discover what it means to be human?

I've been privileged to helm "Ships of the Line" for a solid decade. What has made it a success? Naturally, it is that indefinable magic and power of Star Trek, but what keeps it fresh is the excitement generated by people who are passionate. It's never a job.

I never tell a "Ships" artist what I want. For me, that's boring. I want to see what excites them. My job is the big picture... the rhythm of the presentation, maintaining the Trek aesthetic, and not violating its continuity. To many Trek fans, Star Trek's history is as immutable as... well... history. I believe that’s key to its longevity, and the steadfastness of its core fans.

We also have a history of bringing enthusiastic fans to the calendar staff, some of whom I've even drafted onto Hollywood projects. "Deg," Douglas E. Graves, was a fan I met on the Internet. I saw his F-105, "Tomorrow is Yesterday." Now he lives in North Hollywood, and was one of our key modelers on Galactica. He is currently with us on Defiance. So listen up:  I'll look at anyone's work for submission. I've heard peeps on the Internet say it's a closed club. Nope. Don't you believe it. Not a bit. So bring it.

Michael Okuda -

I've always loved the "Ships of the Line" calendars.  First of all, as a space geek and a Star Trek fan, it's great to see all those beautiful starships. Such incredible artistry and skill, and so many different interpretations by so many different artists. I love that some of the images are exacting re-creations of familiar television and movie scenes. I love that others are fascinating moments from adventures of that I wish I could have seen. And I love that some go even further, inventing all-new ships that were never on the screen. When Margaret Clark called and asked if I'd like to be a part of a collection of these images, my first impulse was to say "YES!!!!"  I asked her what she wanted the text to be.

Margaret, who always encourages her writers and designers to stretch their imaginations, said something like, "Whatever you want." I thought about it for a moment. Writing about Star Trek ships is always tricky. Fans know a LOT about these ships, and while many folks enjoy a bit of extrapolation, they'll also know if something is just padded with meaningless statistics and labels. I told her I'd think on it for a bit. Then it came to me. Stats and technical specs are cool, but they're not the reason that these magnificent starships fire our imaginations. It's that each is part of a great human adventure. (Or Vulcan adventure. Or whatever. You know what I mean.)

I called Margaret and asked her if I could do something very simple. I said something like: "Imagine that each image is the cover painting for a Star Trek novel. Now, imagine a single paragraph from that novel, the one that would have inspired the artist to create that image. I want to write those paragraphs." There was silence on the other end of the phone. Oh no. I thought, this was not what she wanted, not at all. Actually, it probably wasn't. But Margaret thought about it for a bit and said, "Go for it!"

Doug Drexler -Most of you guys know me and Mike, but only the hippest realize how many important Trek books had Margaret driving them forward. She is a huge fan, and knows Trek inside and out. She also has bull’s-eye intuition about what makes cool Star Trek. Margaret has incredible drive... after all, she is a New Yorker. I'm a transplanted New Yorker myself, so when Margaret would call me in L.A., the intensity of the Apple always came pouring through. I loved that. It always made me comfortable. I could hear the buses, sirens and cars honking. We could have been in the corner Greek diner at 51st and 7th.

I remember when we were doing the DS9 Tech Manual. The first pass on the layout was all wrong. Margaret called and said, "You and I are going to re-layout this book over the phone right now." I thought she was kidding. Nope. And we did. Page by page. It took a few days. The point is that she is unstoppable. A force of nature. It's been a great collaboration, especially with Mike and Denise (Okuda) in the mix. Talk about a powerhouse of peeps who know how to move forward.

Margaret Clark -

As an editor who had just been downsized from DC, this was 1995. (Oh, one of the things I was editing was TOS and TNG comics.) I was hired freelance to pull photos for calendars, the revised Chronology and Encyclopedia for Pocket Books. I’d look for, and pull photos that I knew would print, well… well.

I “met” Doug when I would call to talk to Mike and ask for his feedback on the images I had pulled for the Chronology and the Encyclopedia. I’d hear, “Art Department.” Most times it would be Doug, and we’d talk about everything and anything, even the Good Steer (A beloved restaurant Margaret and I both went to as kids, out on Long Island - Doug), while I waited for Mike to pick up.

After two months, I was hired as an assistant editor. I had an understanding of four-color printing, more than a book editor. I offered Pocket Books a way to do more four-color book for less. And I knew Star Trek and the fans, as I am one.

I always thought the best part was working on the ship shots. They struck a chord with me. As a Long Island kid, I was very proud of Grumman and “our part” in space exploration. I’d love when someone’s dad would come to school and show us the art that had been created as part of the bid to work for NASA.

The starships are the way that our heroes get to the final frontier, and the below-the-line artists are how those ships become real. I kept trying to see if there was a way I could do a book of what is called “space art” created by the people who worked on Star Trek. Mojo brought me the idea of a "Ships of the Line" calendar, and I convinced Pocket that the odd format, horizontal and a very small month grid, would sell. They agreed to a one-time calendar, but I knew Trek fans would love it. Over a decade later, they still do.

Doug Drexler –

When Mike Westmore piped me aboard the Enterprise D as a makeup artist, I got my first close-up look at those classiest of starship sets. Buddy, I was like a kid in a candy store, free to wander the 23rd century and marvel at the magnificent designs and incredible craftsmanship that went into even the smallest detail.

Later, when Mike Okuda helped me make the jump from the Makeup Department to the rarefied air of the Art Department... that place where starships were born... not only would I would be privy to this wonderful world of science, art, and imagination, but I would become a part of it, working hand in hand with people that I idolized. I would be wowed by not only their incredible talent and skill, but also by the unique characters and personalities that drove the Trek design juggernaut, and their dedication to Gene Roddenberry's early mandate of believability. Therefore, it is fitting that we dedicate this edition of "The Ships of the Line" to that special place where dreams and imagination take flight: the Star Trek Art Department. Home sweet home.

Thank you Mike, and Margaret, for being two of the best peeps I've ever worked with. "Workmate" does not do you justice. You are my two dear friends. We've traveled the Cosmos together.

One more thing. It should be noted that the "Ships of the Line" calendar is a descendant of the great space artists of the 50s, and 60s. Guys like Bonestell, McCall and Freeman. Before we had space probes crawling over Mars, and landing on asteroids, it was the space artists who took us there, and undoubtedly had more than a little to do with inspiring us to make the trip. In our own small way, "Ships of the Line" -- the calendars and the books -- are part of that lineage. Space artists drive the future of humankind beyond our planet. The reality begins with a dream. Although most of us will probably not plant foot upon the red planet, I'm happy in the knowledge that we probably will have had a hand in goading some kid into doing it.


Ships Of The Line: Active Duty! 2014 from Doug Drexler on Vimeo.

Ships Of The Line: Active Duty!

A few years back, for my blog The Drexfiles, I got this wacky idea. We had these great print pages as CG files. It wouldn't take much to give them a nudge, and set them in motion. So a bunch of us did, and it was a big hit. In celebration of the the "Ships Of The Line Book II," I did a bit of archeology, found the original files, and re-output Active Duty! at a higher resolution... even added a couple of new ones. I hope you relish it as much as I : ) - Doug


"Star Trek: Ships of the Line (2014 Edition)" -- available tomorrow, December 2, as a hardcover book and eBook -- is an updated edition of the acclaimed "Ships of the Line" hardcover. The original, published in 2006, featured images from all of the "Ships of the Lines" calendars at the time, while the 2014 edition includes all of the previous images and every image created for the "Ships of the Line" calendars since the original's release. That means the latest "Star Trek: Ships of the Line" edition will boast more than 75 new images, with all of the images brought together for the first time in book format and complemented with copy by Star Trek's own Michael Okuda. "Star Trek: Ships of the Line (2014 Edition)" is edited by Doug Drexler and Margaret Clark and features text by Michael Okuda. It'll cost $30 in the U.S. and $36 in Canada. Visit to purchase it. And click HERE to purchase the "Star Trek Ships of the Line Calendar 2015" in the Star Trek Shop.