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Star Trek, the US Comics Strips series, was a series of TOS comic strips published in daily newspapers from 1979 to 1983 by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. Twenty complete stories were told. All are reprinted in The Newspaper Comics, Volume 1 and The Newspaper Comics, Volume 2.

Overview Edit

Thomas Warkentin launched the series in 1979 with eight stories set during Captain Kirk's second five-year mission aboard the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701). Warkentin’s artwork was rich and highly detailed. His tenure notably depicted alien species created for TOS movie: The Motion Picture, in particular Arcturians in four stories, Zaranites in three stories, Andorians and Saurians in two stories, and a Rhaandarite in one. The newly-updated Klingons and Klingon K't'inga class battle cruisers were showcased with Kirk tangling with Captain Kodrash of IKS Kandar, Captain Tunzos of IKS Rakor, and two Klingon political refugees. Original aliens were encountered, such as the Toltans, Husians and an ancient fungal-based culture on Abaris. We met Captain Morgan Avery and the crew of the USS Venture and even McCoy’s ex-wife Joann Zauber. Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov went on several landing party missions, while Janice Rand and Christine Chapel had turns to save the day. From gossamer mice to plomeek soup, and deep-cut references such as Uhura’s running prowess (TAS episode: "The Slaver Weapon") and the treatment for Rigellian fever (TOS episode: "Requiem for Methuselah"), Warkentin created a TOS flavor in comics not seen up to that time. His 73-week tenure ended with a Harry Mudd adventure.

The team of Sharmin DiVono and Ron Harris produced five stories over 71 weeks, continuing the flavor and style launched by Warkentin, even to cameos by an Arcturian and a Zaranite. The Enterprise crew strived to save the inhabitants of a multi-generational ship from a neutron star, a war-torn planet from falling back to war, a crew of Klingons from losing their unique identities, and a captured colony from slavery. They participated in a six-ship starship race. One story featured the return of the Kzinti from TAS episode: "The Slaver Weapon" in a 20-week epic co-authored by Larry Niven. Another featured a mechanical intelligence seeking to augment and perfect humanity with cybernetic implants – eight years before the Borg were introduced in TNG episode: "Q Who".

Following the release of TOS movie: The Wrath of Khan, uniforms and settings were updated. Creative teams shuffled with Padraic Shigetani and Martin Pasko contributing stories set in 2277 amid squabbling merchants and body-snatching aliens. Amazing Spider-Man writer Gerry Conway set five stories in 2279, creating an arc where Earth-bound Admiral Kirk returned to the Enterprise, having been assigned temporary command over Captain Spock for a few adventures. In the final story, Kirk, Spock and Scotty visited a weird planet where they were recognized as TV characters. Dick Kulpa drew the final three stories.

Characters Edit

James T. Kirk, Spock and Leonard McCoy appeared in all 20 stories.

Montgomery Scott appeared in 19 stories. He was not in #14, and appeared with one line in #3, 7. He was featured in #16, suspected of murder. He took command in #1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 11, was duplicated by aliens in #15, and joined the landing party in #13, 17, 20. He worked engineering miracles in #4, 6, 12, 15.

Nyota Uhura appeared in 19 stories. She was not in #3, and appeared without lines in #10 and #20. She was most prominent in #6, where she sang while on leave, then aided in a daring escape, taking advantage of her running prowess. She was in the landing party in #5 and #11, and briefly was in command in #12.

Hikaru Sulu appeared in 17 stories. He did not appear in #3, 7, 20, and had no dialogue in #17. He took command in #1, 12, 13, 16, 18. He joined the landing party in #2, 5, 11, 12, and played baseball while on shore leave in #6.

Pavel Chekov appeared in 11 stories. He did not appear in #5, 7, 13, 14, or #16-20 (set during his tenure on the Reliant) and had one line in #3, 9. Chekov was featured in #4, fighting for the honor of Starfleet, and during the climax of #15. He dressed down an ensign and demonstrated martial arts with Sulu in #6. He led security teams in #2 and #10, readied them in #1 and #11, and manned the weapon station during a lengthy battle in #12.

Christine Chapel appeared in seven stories. She was prominently featured in #3, 7, 10, and also appeared in #1, 4, 15, 18. Chapel proved a villain’s duplicity and assisted in surgery in #3. She was part of the diplomatic party and assisted in surgery in #7. She became amnesiac and paranoid, leveled Kirk & two security men, stole a ship and shot at a Klingon cruiser in #10. She also examined new aliens in #1 and checked a Klingon’s injuries in #4. She was duplicated by aliens in #15 and helped rescue McCoy in #18.

Janice Rand appeared in seven stories. She displayed sufficient transporter technical expertise to impress Scotty in #5, and also appeared in #1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10. Marcella DiFalco appeared in five stories (#5, 6, 8, 10, 13) at the navigator’s station. Ilia appeared inadvertently in two stories (#1, 2) produced before TOS movie: The Motion Picture was released in theaters.

DiVono/Harris created four recurring characters. Security Sgt. Umeki appeared in four stories (#9, 10, 11, 12), Engineer Thomas Hadley appeared in four (#9, 10, 12, cameo in 13), and Security Lt. Marsha Latham appeared in two (#11, 12). Captain Kolak and the crew of his Klingon battle cruiser were also featured in two (#10, 11).

Warkentin created two recurring characters. Arcturian Ensign Taskul appeared in three stories (#2, 4, 6), and other Arcturians were also seen (#3, 6, 12). Ensign Greywolf, a Native American, appeared in two stories (#5, 6).

Format Edit

When binge-reading, the experience reveals the repetitive storytelling techniques used in newspaper comic strips. An ongoing story had to make sense when read only on Sundays, or only on Mondays through Saturdays. A strip would tell a portion of the story over the course of a week, then recount and expand on it Sunday, then summarize Monday what happened Sunday. People could subscribe to a newspaper for Sundays only, or dailies only, or both. And a newspaper could purchase a strip from a syndicate for Sundays only, or dailies only, or both. [1]

Strip competition Edit

Serialized adventure comic strips were once common in newspapers, from Flash Gordon and Superman to Tarzan and Prince Valiant. Prompted by the blockbuster success of Star Wars in 1977, 1979 saw a boom in sci-fi on TV as well as in comic strips, as the long-running Flash Gordon strip [2] suddenly competed with three newcomers. Star Wars launched March 12 [3], Buck Rogers on September 9 [4], and Star Trek on December 2. Newspaper syndicates sold the various comic strip titles to individual newspapers. A newspaper would purchase one or two of these for their comics section. Many chose Star Wars as a hot property or bought the more familiar Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon, leaving Star Trek for smaller markets. The Los Angeles Times Syndicate ran its Star Wars strip in its flagship paper The Los Angeles Times, and Star Trek in its sister paper The Houston Chronicle. [5]

Flash Gordon - King Features Syndicate had been publishing the Flash Gordon newspaper strip since the 1930s. An animated series debuted Sept. 22, 1979 [6], based on a movie written by Star Trek author Samuel A. Peeples [7] [8], and a live action film would be released in 1980. [9] When Star Trek debuted, Flash Gordon was in Sunday story arc #151 and daily story arc #115. In 1991-1992, Star Trek comic strip author Thomas Warkentin would work on the Flash Gordon strip. [10]

Star Wars - On the day Star Trek debuted, the Star Wars strip was on its fifth story arc. [11] Like Star Trek, Star Wars also had a concurrent monthly comic book being published by Marvel Comics. Artist Alfredo Alcala worked on the tenth Star Wars story arc [12] as well as Star Trek's 17th arc.

Buck Rogers - The TV series pilot was released theatrically in March 1979, then debuted on TV September 20. [13] The newspaper strip had run from 1929-1967 and was relaunched by the New York Times Syndicate on September 9, illustrated by Star Trek artist Gray Morrow. [14] That strip debuted with Buck Rogers and Wilma Deering traveling in spacesuits to investigate the source of a radio signal, a ship which disappeared 50 years earlier. (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Gray Morrow Years, Volume 1 (1979-1981), Hermes Press, 2013) Star Trek debuted with Kirk, Spock and McCoy traveling in thruster suits to investigate the source of a radio signal, a 900-year-old ship. When Star Trek debuted, Buck Rogers was in its third arc. [15]


Arc Title Writers Story Publication Dates Cover
1 Called Home Thomas Warkentin A mysterious radio signal leads the Enterprise to a 900-year-old shipwreck on a planet’s moon. 6 weeks (12/2/1979-1/12/1980) LA1-opener
Thomas Warkentin
2 Dilithium Dilemma Thomas Warkentin With the ship’s dilithium cracked, the ship hopes to locate replacement crystals in a depleted mine. 8 weeks (1/13/1980-3/8/1980) LA2-opener
Thomas Warkentin
3 The Real McCoy Thomas Warkentin McCoy’s ex-wife and new husband Anton Zauber plot to steal the doctor’s identity and patents while the ship ferries a Zaranite logician. 8 weeks (3/9/1980-5/3/1980) LA3-opener
Thomas Warkentin
4 Double Bluff Thomas Warkentin & Tom Durkin Fugitive Klingons Morg and Chetar request political asylum. 8 weeks (5/4/1980-6/28/1980) LA4-opener
Thomas Warkentin
5 Aberration on Abaris Thomas Warkentin With a planetary collision imminent, Kirk, McCoy and Uhura beam down to rescue two archeologists. 10 weeks (6/29/1980-9/6/1980) LA5-opener
Thomas Warkentin
6 Husian Gambit Thomas Warkentin & Tom Durkin The USS Enterprise docks at Hus-24 for biannual maintenance alongside the USS Venture. 19 weeks (9/7/1980-1/17/1981) LA6-opener
Thomas Warkentin
7 Heads of State Thomas Warkentin & Peter Jacoby A Federation world supplying a rare metal considers secession, prompting Klingon warships to amass at the border. 9 weeks (1/18/1981-3/21/1981) LA7-Opener
Thomas Warkentin
8 It's a Living Thomas Warkentin Seismic disturbances prompt the Enterprise to visit a mining planet owned by Harry Mudd. 5 weeks (3/22/1981-4/25/1981) LA8-Opener
Thomas Warkentin
9 The Savage Within Sharman DiVono The crew has 37 hours to rescue survivors on a huge derelict before a neutron star destroys all life. 12 weeks (4/26/1981-7/21/1981) LA9-Opener
Ron Harris
10 Quarantine Sharman DiVono A general tries to provoke war with the Klingon Empire, while a life-threatening plague infects Chapel. 14 weeks (7/22/1981-10/25/1981) LA10-Opener
Ron Harris
11 Restructuring Is Futile Sharman DiVono Biological life is threatened by the Overmind, an intelligence seeking to augment and perfect humanity with cybernetic implants. 18 weeks (10/26/1981 - 2/28/1982) LA11-Opener
Ron Harris
12 The Wristwatch Plantation Sharman DiVono & Larry Niven A Kzinti warship with a devastating weapon confronts the Enterprise. 20 weeks (3/1/1982 - 7/17/1982) LA12-Opener
Ron Harris
13 The Nogura Regatta Sharman DiVono Pirates disrupt a starship race organized by Admiral Nogura’s grandson. 7 weeks (7/18/1982 - 9/4/1982) LA13-Opener
Ron Harris & Thomas Warkentin
14 A Merchant's Loyalty Padraic Shigetani The Enterprise encounters feuding merchants while traversing a spaceship graveyard. 8 weeks (9/5/82 - 10/30/82) LA14-Opener
Padraic Shigetani
15 Taking Shape Martin Pasko Shape-changing aliens duplicate various crew and try to take over the ship. 17 weeks (11/1/1982 - 2/12/1983) LA15-Opener
Padraic Shigetani
16 Send in the Clones Gerry Conway Admiral Kirk returns to the ship, assigned command over Captain Spock to oversee delivery of courier clones. 14 weeks (2/14/1983 - 5/7/1983) LA16-Opener
Bob Myers
17 Goodbye to Spock Gerry Conway Spock is lost when the Copernicus crashes. 9 weeks (5/9/1983 - 7/2/1983) LA17-Opener
Ernie Colón, Alfredo Alcala, Serc Soc
18 Terminally Yours Gerry Conway McCoy accidentally infects himself with a deadly disease. 7 weeks (7/4/1983 - 8/13/1983) LA18-Opener
Dick Kulpa
19 The Retirement of Admiral Kirk Gerry Conway When grounded by Starfleet, Kirk resigns and takes an offer to command a free trader ship. 10 weeks (8/15/1983 - 10/15/1983) LA19-Opener
Dick Kulpa
20 Getting Real Gerry Conway Kirk, Spock and Scotty beam down to Earth, but are recognized by kids as being from the Star Trek TV series. 9 weeks (10/17/1983 - 12/3/1983) LA20-Opener
Dick Kulpa


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