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This Wednesday is a monumental day for IDW Publishing. The company that has landed license-for-comics deals on hit properties like Transformers and 24 will add a perennial sci-fi classic to its line with the debut of Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between.

Picard, Ryker, Data, Dr. Troi, Worf and the rest of the Enterprise crew are back, as Star Trek gears up for another go-round in the world of comics. Illustrating the first mini-series is Casey Maloney, who delivered the sleeper hit Children of the Grave alongside writer Tom Waltz, collected by IDW earlier last year. Now, Maloney tries his hand at a monthly production schedule, all the while trying as best as he can to ensure that Trekkies can’t find any fault in his renditions of their favorite characters.

Unless, of course, you prefer Kirk over Picard—but that’s a discussion we’re not entering into in this interview…

BROKEN FRONTIER: How did you become involved in Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between? Did it spin out of IDW’s collecting Children of the Grave earlier in 2006?

CASEY MALONEY: Any success that I have in this career I’m carving out can be attributed to Tom Waltz, my partner in crime on Children of the Grave and future projects as well.  Instead of having him paying me for illustrating his books I should have been paying him to be my agent.  The amount of interviews I’ve done is probably in the mid-single digit range but he’s probably done about thirty.

And we both have roughly the same amount of work under our belts.  The guy just gets out there and spreads word like no one else.  Any contacts I have now are thanks to him as well, and IDW was one of them.  He set up the Children of the Grave collection and everything that went along with it. I only provided the shading. Tom is even the one who broke the news to me about IDWs interest in me to draw Star Trek.  I got a voicemail from him one day teasing me about some big news and once I got a hold of him he laid out most the details and got me in contact with Chris Ryall. 

So, I don’t think I would have had this opportunity if it weren’t for Children of the Grave and definitely not if I didn’t know Tom.

BF: Although it’s also a mini-series like Children of the Gave was, The Space Between is released on a monthly schedule, which is a first for you. Has it been a burden to keep up with the faster pace?

CM: I wouldn’t call it a burden by any stretch but more a privilege.  IDW has finally given me the opportunity to draw comics as a career.  Granted, I still work as a busboy on weekends but for far less hours and I don’t feel as downtrodden about it.  Before as I cleaned up other people’s messes I would think to myself that someday I would make something of my drawing, but now I think that I have made something of myself.  So, I guess I’m still cleaning up people’s half eaten food, but now I have my head held up high while I do it. Heh. 

Another great thing about the monthly schedule is that it makes me realize how much time I burned when there wasn’t a tense deadline.  I could spend a day just drawing a guy’s leg or a mountain range, but now that I know what I have to do and how much time to do it in I’m much more efficient.  The fact that I draw a whole issue in the time it would take me to draw less than an issue previously also means that I get a lot more practice in. 

I’m enjoying my illustrations much more than before and I feel much more confident.  Of course, since I am new to the monthly schedule, it can be hard and I am working out the kinks, but I love every second of it.

BF: Was it an arduous task translating the characters and their worlds to the page?

CM: In all honesty, I’m very happy with my translation of the characters.  All I had to do is watch enough of the series for their mannerisms and expressions to be engrained in my mind.  Once that happens, as I read the script I can easily imagine how each character would deliver a line or how they would react to a situation.  It’s the little things that I try to get on paper in order to make them seem familiar to readers. 

For example, Data is kind of like an owl in the way that he never really moves his pupils.  Whenever he speaks to someone he stares at them dead and only raises his head and eyebrows a bit when he makes a point. Also, Picard kind of talks more out of the left side of his mouth and when he is commanding on the bridge always holds his head up high.  I can’t say if these things come across in my drawings, but I feel they help.  The sets and starships are the hardest aspects of the book, in my opinion. 

I try to adapt things as perfectly as time will allow.  Just today I was drawing the Observation Lounge behind the Bridge and spent way too long trying to figure out what the roof looked like.  I can get stuck on these little things, but in the end, just like the characters mannerisms, the details are what make me confident we’re not putting out a half-assed book.

BF: The Space Between is written by David Tischman. Can you tell from his scripts that he’s got a background in film and TV, in terms of how he paces the story?

CM: I adore the way David paces his books.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  I can’t write to save my life so I’m absolutely confused on how he fits so much into these issues without any excess.  He could probably tell a story in three pages and somehow not make it seem like it’s over too quick and not too wordy.  Star Trek is all about the characters and the drama, not the action and David knows this and strikes a perfect balance between the two just like the old shows used to do. 

Up until I began work on this series I had been underestimating the importance of pacing in comics and now I’m a firm believer that it’s one of the main cornerstones of a great book.  Even when we first posted the five-page preview of issue #1 on the internet, I remember reading a comment on how great it was that in those short five pages, the entire story was established with almost every character introduced and we already had an away-team beamed down and interacting with aliens. 

Again, it’s faithful to the pacing of the original episodes.  They don’t waste any time and get straight to what’s important:  a riveting story.

BF: What can you tell us about the story? What does ‘The Space Between’ refer to?

CM: To be completely truthful, I don’t know exactly how this will end and what I do know, I can’t tell you for fear of my co-creators killing me.  Basically, while each issue seems to be a self-contained episode, there is in fact a thread that ties them all together.  That is all I can say.  Ha, this is great.  I’ve never been able to really tease a story like this before.  It’s kind of empowering. [Laughs]

As for the title, ‘The Space Between’ I believe that it pertains to the space between episodes.  For instance, what happened after ‘Encounter at Farpoint,’ the first episode of the first season?  I think unofficially the first issue takes place right after that.  With this structure, anything is possible as long as we don’t do anything that would mess with the timeline already in place.  Unless of course, we found some temporal distortion that the Enterprise always seemed to run into around every corner of the universe.  Then we could have some real fun.

BF: What kind of approach to the Enterprise crew will we see?

CM: A very faithful approach.  As I detailed above, I’m doing my part to make sure that each member of the crew that you see on the page is the same one that you’ve come to love on the screen.  The story arcs cover all the seasons so we had Tasha Yar in the first issue and we’ve already thrown in a wee bit of Lt. Barklay.  Each character carries all their baggage with them from the screen to the panel.  Worf has become interested in Troi, Data struggles with humanity, and Riker’s, um, grown a beard and packed on a few pounds.  So everything is in its right place and how you would expect it to be.

BF: How much freedom were you allowed on the book creatively—I’m sure Paramount and IDW checked a lot of your designs to make sure everything was clicking with Next Generation continuity…

CM: I’m really not going to be the one to mess with canon, especially not Star Trek canon.  You can get legally lynched for stuff like that in some corners of the world.  That’s why I’m incredibly thankful for IDW and Paramount.  While no one breathes down my neck and cracks a whip when something is out of place, they do a great job of keeping everything in check.  Luckily, if there are any kinks, they are usually squashed by the time the script gets to me. 

My editors, Chris Ryall and especially Dan Taylor, have a true passion for the material and what seems to me to be an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Trek.  And then there’s David Tischman who has masterminded the whole thing.  In his scripts he lays out even the minutest detail of Trek tech or costumes which I couldn’t be more thankful for because when I do have to research something, it’ll drive me nuts trying to get it as accurate as possible.  It’s easy to see that these guys know their stuff.  Even Len O’Grady, the awesome colorist for the series, has an extremely wide breadth of Star Trek knowledge.  I think I’m the Star Trek greenhorn of the group, so these guys really astound me and put me to shame.  I’m sure they could keep up with any forum troll. 

And then there’s Paramount.  I consider them the fine filter that we pass the finished product through (and some of the pre-production work) to get down to the really nitty-gritty.  All in all, it’s a certifiable process that produces a book with an attention to detail the show and its viewers demand.

BF: Will you continue to be involved in IDW’s Star Trek line once The Space Between has been completed?

CM: I would love to!  Why, what have you heard? [Laughs]

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