Sometimes there are more stories for Star Trek than can be filmed for television, films, or animation. Those stories — which are very worthy of telling — can sometimes be found in the series of Trek novels or comic books. As far as Trek comics go, there are no better stories available than the ones told by writers David and Scott Tipton.
The brothers have created some of the very best tales, from the many different eras of Trek canon. This includes “The Q Conflict,” “Deep Space Nine: Fool’s Gold,” the “Mirror Universe Collection,” and so many others, all available from IDW Publishing.
The Tiptons are now working on a new series, which features the crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation — or rather, their Mirror Universe versions — in a new series called “The Mirror War.” This will also involve some of the mirror characters from Deep Space Nine, and will feature covers by the super-talented JK Woodward.
We were able to catch up to these busy-brothers, and get them to share some of what fans can expect from this new series.
TREK REPORT: Why didn’t TNG ever go into the Mirror Universe? Why do you think they never explored those stories during the show’s initial run?
Scott Tipton: It seemed to me that as a general rule, the TNG producers, especially early on, tried not to go back and “sequelize” old episodes or rely too much on Classic-era concepts. Later on they got more comfortable doing so, such as with the returns of Sarek and Spock. But overall, the emphasis was much more on breaking new ground, which I think was smart, so as not to be stuck in the original’s shadow.
David Tipton: My understanding is the same, that there was some concern on the part of the production team for TNG that it not look like they were excessively re-doing what had been done in the original Star Trek. While they took careful steps to adhere to the spirit and historical canon of the original, they tried not to go to the well too many times with sequels or direct follow-ups. By the time of Deep Space Nine, there was a little more room to creatively explore the Mirror Universe again.
TREK REPORT: Have you enjoyed the return to the Mirror Universe on Discovery?
David Tipton: It’s always great to see the Mirror Universe getting some new attention!
Scott Tipton: Any return to the Mirror Universe is always fun, and we were delighted to see it getting some new time in the spotlight.
TREK REPORT: Tell us what you have in store for Picard and crew in this adventure?
David Tipton: The new series has some interesting “teaser” stories in the opening pages of the issues, where we see the crew right in the middle of the action from the very start. And we’ll see Mirror Picard once again scheming for more power and treasure for himself.
Scott Tipton: You name it! New faces, old enemies, new worlds, titanic space battles, casino heists, romance, treachery, conquest, espionage, plus the occasional assassination attempt. Just for starters.
TREK REPORT: You’ve written a lot of Trek through the years. What do you like about the Star Trek Universe versus other properties that are out there?
David Tipton: There is some creative tension between telling new stories while at the same time making them fit within the lengthy historical and chronological canon of Star Trek, and working within that is definitely enjoyable. And that’s true even in the Mirror Universe — Mirror characters have their own unique qualities that you really do have to get right.
Scott Tipton: I love the scope and the history of it all. Literally centuries worth of stories, and the challenge involved in coming up with new adventures and making them seamlessly fit in with all that has come before.
TREK REPORT: What is the process like collaborating with your brother? I’ve heard that writing with a partner is easier because you can bounce ideas off another person vs coming up with everything yourself.
Scott Tipton: One of the best things about our particular process is that we tend to plot the issues together, then actually script them separately, each taking half the issue to write on our own. Which means that very often I’ll be surprised by new scenes we hadn’t discussed, which I then get to work on as we do our rewrites. It makes everything fresh at every stage.
David Tipton: We usually have a rough-to-moderately-detailed breakdown for each issue, but it’s surprising how often story and character elements change and develop before we bring things back together for a final reconciliation of the two parts. That process means we end up bouncing major ideas back-and-forth twice for each issue.
TREK REPORT: What’s it like working with artist JK Woodward? He’s an incredibly talented artist… do you talk on the phone with him to convey ideas… or how does it work?
Scott Tipton: We’ll have frequent Skype calls with JK in the early stages of a project, followed by many, many texts throughout the process. Besides his incredible talents as an artist, JK is a Trek expert of the highest level, which has proven so valuable to us time and time again.
David Tipton: Agreed, and we’re very much looking forward to JK’s covers for “The Mirror War.”
TREK REPORT: Who else will be working with you on The Mirror War?
David Tipton: We’re looking forward to working with Megan Brown, our editor. The art for Issue #0 is by Carlos Nieto, and starting with Issue #1 the artist will be Gavin Smith.
TREK REPORT: Is it hard to fit your stories into the Mirror timeline, or is it easier since TNG never got into Mirror stories?
Scott Tipton: Most definitely, the fact that TNG never delved into the Mirror Universe was a huge advantage for us, and has allowed us to really develop the characters in a way most Star Trek writers never get the opportunity to.
David Tipton: One thing new about “The Mirror War” is some overlap chronologically with Deep Space Nine. Mirror Kira, Sisko, and O’Brien (among others) will be making appearances in “The Mirror War.” We’ll be seeing how the events of “The Mirror War” have direct bearings on the Mirror Universe Deep Space Nine episodes, and vice versa.
TREK REPORT: When did you become a Star Trek fan? When was your “First Contact?”
Scott Tipton: I’m a lifelong fan, going back to my time as a little kid watching Trek every day after school on local station KTVU Channel 2 in the Northern California Bay Area. I was always hoping that day’s episode would be “The Changeling” or “A Piece of the Action.”
David Tipton: I preferred “The Doomsday Machine” myself.
TREK REPORT: What advice would you give young writers who want to break into comics?
Scott Tipton: Always be writing. Build up a body of work for yourself somewhere, be it your own independent comics, online opinion or commentary, journalism, whatever — something that shows an editor that you’re a professional who can be relied upon to generate content of a print-ready nature. Then wait for the right opportunity to pitch your work, and be prepared for when that window opens. It’s a tough market, and everyone gets in differently.
David Tipton: Good advice. I’d also add a recommendation to read — a lot — and not just comics-related reading, but read everything: fiction, non-fiction, classic, modern … fill your head with lots of material from which you can draw inspiration.