The Star Trek Annual

I’ve inherited the 1968 “Star Trek Annual”; a slightly battered hand-me-down from my Mum, who was young enough to have drawn all over the inside cover with callous disregard for the future invention of eBay. That’s okay, though – I keep it around not for its pristine condition or resale value, but because it’s bloody hilarious.

For a start, the annual’s creators have clearly never watched the show. They’ve got the names and roles of the characters down, certainly, but that’s where they ran out of space on the cocktail napkin. 1968 was the height of the show’s popularity so it’s not as if the staff had to wait for VCRs to be invented, either – but instead of the thought-provoking stories and moral dilemmas of the series, we get things like this:

There are at least some token "space facts" to make up for the giant vacuum plant on the next page.

There are at least some token “space facts” to make up for the giant vacuum plant on the next page.

Each of the three adventures is taken straight from 50s pulp fiction; a planet of rogue construction machinery, a world of predatory plants and an prison asteroid whose leader just is Ming the Merciless. And it’s clear the writers haven’t even been told anything about the Enterprise beyond the name of the ship – the crew are packing “blast-rays”, Janice Rand spends the mission running around with a red beanie on her head and Spock commands that Sulu “Fire all rockets!”

In fact, Mr. Spock is my favourite part of the annual. Witness the deftness with which they’ve captured his stoic, unflappable countenance:

It! Should be! Shatner! Talking like this!

It! Should be! Shatner! Talking like this!

Yes, all they know about Mr. Spock is that he’s clever. Clever enough to casually order the extinction of an entire world simply because the predators are, well, predatory:

"The blast-rays are taking too long! Fire all rockets!"

“The blast-rays are taking too long! Fire all rockets!”

For anyone with the slightest knowledge of the show, every page is packed full of delights. Even the inside cover has its share:

The grafitti can only hide the pain.

The grafitti can only hide the pain.

For starters, just who is that in the Captain’s Chair? I thought at first it was meant to be a chubby Sulu but he’s wearing green, like Kirk. Perhaps he’s aboard to check all of those clocks above Uhura’s station – you know, clocks that would tell you what… the time is… on different… planets…

Either way, that thing Kirk’s holding is obviously a medical device he’s about to use to fix Spock’s burned and swollen hand. That, or he’s about to break into his spoken-word version of ‘Rocketman’.

It’s easy to mock the broad strokes and simple plots of the annual, but then, it’s hardly the first show to suffer low-grade tie in merchandise, especially when it’s stuff aimed at kids. The stories are simple and cliché, but they make sense within themselves and the drawing, on the whole, is pretty–

Vulcans long ago abandoned emotion in favour of excessive foreshortening.

Vulcans long ago abandoned emotion in favour of excessive foreshortening.

Huh, I guess his left hand is just ALWAYS that big.

About Taskbaarchitect

Game Designer and Writer.
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