Seven Questions About Trekker

Here’s the newest installment of the Seven Questions About feature: This time I asked Ron Randall, the creator of the cool webcomic Trekker.

[You may notice that Ron skipped Question 3, but I think part of the answer is implied in the other answers. Also, the last questions is kind of redundant, given the answers to Question 5 and Question 6. In an interactive interview, I certainly would have switched to a better question. Nevertheless, I find Ron’s answers to be interesting and insightful.]

Now, enjoy!

Q1: Who are you?

I’m Ron Randall. I’ve been a professional cartoonist and commercial artist for over thirty years. I went to the Joe Kubert School back in the late ’70’s and was lucky enough to study directly under Joe. I learned a lot about the art of storytelling right from the hand of a true master. Joe was passionate about comics, about drawing as a tool for storytelling. And he was incredibly generous in sharing both his love and his knowledge with us.

Q2: What is Trekker about?

Trekker is the story of Mercy St. Clair, a young, complicated and gifted bounty hunter in the 23rd century. (“Trekker” being the slang term for a sanctioned bounty hunter in my version of the 23rd century.)

Mercy’s stories start on the streets of a gritty, beaten-down, crime-and-violence choked city as she tracks down one bounty after another to eek out a living for herself (and her pet dox, “Skuf”.) Over time, her journeys take her farther and farther afield, and eventually off-planet, where she gradually is forced to recognize that her world is a much more complicated and subtle place that she thought. And she begins to suspect that she may have a larger role to play in things than simply shooting the occasional thug.

While this “outward” journey is going on through the course of the stories, Mercy is also on an “inward” journey. Whether she likes it or not, she will also be finding out more and more about herself– who she is and where she comes from. She’ll be forced to face some uncomfortable realizations and make some profound, fateful choices that will affect her, her friends and just possibly the course of mankind’s journey into the future.

I chose the title “Trekker” with all of those meanings in mind.

Q4: What influences made Trekker into what it is?

That’s a long list! Let e pick a few things. First, the cartoonists who really lit a fire under me. Some of those were:

Joe Kubert himself, of course. I particularly loved his adaptations for the Tarzan books for DC Comics. They just felt so “real”, so gritty and rich with texture.

Al Williamson and from him back to Alex Raymond for their work on Flash Gordon. The trappings of those high-fantasy/scifi stories were so full of imagination, beauty and grace. Romantic with a capital ‘R’. Williamson’s Flash Gordon comics at Gold Key in the late ’60’s was the work that really made me say,”I want to do THAT!”

So, I loved science fiction as a kid. And seeing Star Wars and later BladeRunner and Alien really influenced some of the setting and approach I’ve taken with Trekker. Novels like Dune and The Foundation Trilogy helped inspire the sense of an over-all very large scale to the stakes at hand.

Q5: How did your ideas about Trekker change over the long time you’ve been working on it?

Not much has changed from my original concept for the series as a whole– and I’ll get into that with the remaining questions. Probably the only changes in my thinking have been in my own understanding about Mercy– who she is, her emotional inner life and some of the dynamics that will be playing out with some of the characters in her world. Those things have evolved some. But largely, I originally built a series by trusting my instincts on creating a character, a world and a concept that would be solid from the start, and remain rewarding and engaging to work on and continue to explore. I’ve remained pretty satisfied that this world still “works” as originally intended.

Q6: How did your ideas about Trekker change when you switched from very short to substantially longer story arcs?

It’s interesting that in really essential ways not much has changed for me in my approach to Trekker. From the beginning, I knew I wanted a story that would start with a very closed-in and “pinched” perspective: Mercy on the “mean streets”. And that gradually over time, as I got more experience as a writer and had more time to gradually construct the world, the scale of things would expand. I also knew I wanted it to be something of an exploration of violence– it’s role in a community, what it brings, what it costs. I hope those themes bubble under the surface of the stories. If anything has changed, I hope it’s just that I’ve become more accomplished as a storyteller so that I can do the job more effectively.

Q7: Which of your ideas about Trekker didn’t change, and are not likely to change?

[TGC: I can now that I really should have asked a better Q 7! Just so you know, the questions I asked Ron were among the first set I send out. That they are posted only now is simply a matter of our respective schedules, and certainly not a measure of our mutual respect. We would all love to do this things instantaneously, but … ]

Ha ha, well as you might be able to tell from my above answers, I remain sort of insufferably content with concepts in Trekker. I built a world and a character that I still have great affection for, and a story that I have great passion to tell. All of the trappings– from her basic costume to the gadgets and settings, are all part of the piece, and to alter them would be to change something that for me is essential to summoning up this particular world every time I sit down to the drawing board to work on Mercy’s stories. I’d feel like I was breaking a contract with myself, with Mercy, and with the readers.

If you want to learn more about Ron Randall and Trekker:

Of course, if you haven’t done it already, you should start by reading Trekker. On the website, Ron also publishes occasional blog posts containing interesting back matter.

A good resource about the Trekker comic is the fabulous Trekker Talk Podcast, created by two avid fans, Darrin and Ruth Sutherland. Of particular interest to everyone who enjoyed the Seven Questions will be their
Interview With Ron Randall. They conducted it in person, so it is far more interactive than asking and answering questions per email.

Got any comments?

What do you find most interesting? Tell us in the comments!

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