William Shatner's TekWorld

'William Shatner's TekWorld' was a very enjoyable comic to work on. It's very rare that you get to design a future world from scratch whilst being overseen by a childhood hero and icon.

'RoboCop' had been cancelled (because circulation had dropped to something like 40,000 per month - read it and weep, O Ye Mighty!) but Evan Skolnick, a colleague of mine from the earlier days of that comic had become assistant editor of the proposed Marvel/Epic Comics 'TekWorld' title and put my name forward to editor (and X-Men writer) Fabian Nicieza.

I wasn't the first choice - I sometimes think of myself as the 'Roger Moore of comics' (though obviously not as tall, handsome and rich) as I have often stepped into someone else's shoes . . . the artist already assigned decided to go for something else, I believe, and Fabian asked me to submit samples. I did so and slightly revamped versions of these became covers 1 & 2; I also finally got to ink my own work - which had been a source of frustration with most of my run on 'RoboCop'. I like to ink my own work as I tend to pencil very loosely and this can be a problem for other inkers!

The samples had to be approved by the owner of the copyright, Big Bill Shatner of Captain Kirk/Star Trek fame, and I clearly remember the delicious feeling of unreality, knowing that one of my screen heroes was scrutinising my work (I was always a Kirk fan).

The first episodes of the comic book were adapted by Ron Goulart from the first novel featuring the - as I drew him - rather 'Shatneresque' Jake Cardigan, 'Tek War', and were subsequently published as a graphic novel.

A set of four TV movies was mooted and I received telephone calls from Bill to encourage me to bring the setting of the comic closer in time to the present day to tie in with the show's format. He also invited me out to Canada to see the filming of the pilot episode which he was directing. Which of course I did!

Shatner was a friendly, slightly reserved and thoughtful character; not at all overbearing or 'difficult.'

Two snapshot moments - walking to a restaurant with some production crew members and Bill and watching the double-takes of passers-by; sitting in the back of a vaguely shuttlecraft-shaped people-carrier, turning to the guy I was chatting with on my right and the shock of being reminded by his profile that he was . . . Captain Kirk!

'Cardz' commissioned me to produce a series of 100 trading cards forming an original story by Goulart which I produced in line and full colour.

Mariano Nicieza (Fabian's brother and the man who initially approached Shatner about the property) took over as editor; Evan took over the scripting and I revamped both the characters and my style to reflect the TV movies and upcoming TV series format.

Sadly, at this point (after two years and before the series aired) the book was dropped by Marvel because 'licensed product' was out of favour with the management of the time and also due to reduced sales figures - see above!

An unsatisfactory ending to a project, but nevertheless a job I'm still very pleased to have been a part of and stories of which I'm still occasionally able to dine out on!


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