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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vintage Manga Review: "Star Trek"

NOTE: This review originally appeared in LA Alternative, on 9/6/06.

MANGA by Lyn Jensen

WHERE NO MANGA HAS GONE BEFORE

“To boldly go where no man has gone before,” was the original mission of the starship Enterprise. No ordinary TV series, Star Trek boldly forged new frontiers for TV and science fiction. When the show was abruptly cancelled in 1969, it didn’t just fade away into some TV Land of occasional reruns. Fans the world over kept interest in it alive—a remarkable show of support considering VHS and DVD weren’t invented yet. Four decades later, what began as a controversial TV show has become an enduring and influential multi-media phenomenon, a piece of pop culture that refuses to die.

Although Star Trek has spawned comic books and a comic strip, TokyoPop’s release of Star Trek: the Manga is the first venture into the distinctive Asian-influenced comic format. Luis Reyes, editor for the project, says, “We’ve tried to make the individual stories resonate with the spirit of the original show, with Gene Roddenberry’s interest in social and political dynamics, with the fan fascination with the idiosyncrasies of these characters, and with the way the original series used science fiction as a sounding board for larger ideas.”

Fans should be pleased with how much the resulting one-volume manga remains faithful to the original characters and themes. Five veteran comic writers were paired with five top manga artists to create five stories that could easily be adapted into contemporary TV episodes. The original Enterprise crew—Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Sulu, McCoy, Chekov, Uhuru—is all present and accounted for, and they grapple with some frontiers that weren’t on the cultural map in the sixties.

Consider the contribution from one of the featured artists, LA’s own Jeong Mo Yang, who’s “Modus Vivendi” earned him a place in TokyoPop’s Rising Stars of Manga 5 anthology. In the Star Trek episode he illustrates, the Enterprise discovers a planet that warred between the sexes until there were no people left—not alive, anyway. Other episodes take on such themes as cloning and nanotechnology.

Star Trek: the Manga is rated 13-up, most likely because it’s simply too cerebral for the average elementary-school student. As part of TokyoPop’s salute to the 40th anniversary of Star Trek, the publisher is issuing the manga in three different collectable covers: one for retail book chains, one for comic books stores, and one exclusively for Star Trek convention participants.

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