Tag Archives: Star Trek

George Clayton Johnson, A Remembrance

George Clayton Johnson

George Clayton Johnson

One of George’s favorite themes as a writer was that of cheating death. News outlets have already reported on his death but he is still among us, the living. This is an irony that I must think is appreciated by George. His legion of fans have entered a process of mourning. His spirit, I must think, is pleased, restful, and joyful. Some fans believe he will hang on with us until Christmas.

George Clayton Johnson is in hospice and nearing the end. Of course, he will always live on. His impressive writing career began when he thought up the ultimate heist story. That was to be the Rat Pack classic, Ocean’s Eleven.

George Clayton Johnson has led a full life as a writer, activist, and all-around humanitarian. He will always be an important part of some key pop culture: Ocean’s Eleven, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Logan’s Run. It’s pretty phenomenal when you stop and think about it. And such a decent man. Such a very decent man.

George came from humble origins, poverty-stricken Cheyenne, Wyoming during the Great Depression. He followed his heart, became great friends with legends and, in the process of living, loving, and creating, became a legend himself. This man did not seek out notoriety in some contrived manner. George had the great fortune of possessing just the right combination of talent, determination, and luck. As for luck, he gravitated toward other great talent. As for talent, he’d always had that. He loved to read since he could remember and writing came naturally to him. And, as for determination, that’s just second-nature to a man like George.

This is the man who co-wrote the novel that led to Ocean’s Eleven. He then went on to write iconic episodes of The Twilight Zone. He wrote the first aired episode of Star Trek. And, in a great capping off to a career, co-wrote the novel that led to the cult-classic Logan’s Run. But there’s much more to it than that. On a deeper level, it was always about maintaining one’s integrity and fighting to create something original in a world that demands the tried and true.

I had the opportunity to interview George for a couple of podcast interviews and got to chat a bit over the phone with him. During the course of one of our conversations, I suggested to him that his life and times would add up to an interesting book. I began work on it. We got to meet in person at his home in Los Angeles in December of 2014. For the next year, I began work on a book in a graphic novel format. It was through knowing George that I opened myself up more to my own love of writing. It was George who helped me rediscover Theodore Sturgeon. And it was George, because of his spirited way, that I opened myself up more to the world in general.

We had planned to meet again this year like before, in December of 2015, but, by then, it was too late. George was already in hospice care and, in the time that followed, it became clear that his time left was short. I had hoped to show him what I’d created thus far. But, I immediately understood, a significant page had turned. The time for asking questions or seeking advice had passed. I understood that I was alone to proceed. George had passed on the baton, just like he did for so many others like me.

The truth is that George will always be around.

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Filed under George Clayton Johnson, Logan's Run, Ocean's 11, pop culture, Rod Serling, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone

Short Run 2015: Debut of GEORGE’S RUN #1

First issue of George's Run to debut at Short Run

First issue of George’s Run to debut at Short Run

For all of us in the comics community, whether creators or fans, it is time once again for the Short Run Comix & Arts Festival. There’s a nice write-up about it in the local alt-weekly, The Stranger, that you can check out here. Among a splendid array of comics that you will have a chance to choose from, I humbly add something I am working on. This is the first installment to a full-length work. It’s called, “George’s Run,” and it’s about the life and times of science fiction writer George Clayton Johnson. I am still in the process of weaving the narrative but this is a perfect time to share some of what I’ve put together thus far. If you happen to go to Short Run, you’ll have a chance to buy a copy of this 24-page comic. You can find me at the Short Run tables under the name, Comics Grinder Press.

Short Run Comix & Arts Festival takes place this Halloween: Saturday, October 31, in Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center from 11 am to 6 pm.

For more details, be sure to visit our friends at Short Run right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comic Arts Festivals, Comics, Comix, George Clayton Johnson, Independent Comics, Indie, mini-comics, Minicomics, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Seattle, Self-Published, Short Run

Web TV Review: ‘Brown Bag Wine Tasting’ with William Shatner on Ora TV

William Shatner and Wil Wheaton on "Brown Bag Wine Tasting."

William Shatner and Wil Wheaton on “Brown Bag Wine Tasting.”

I really like William Shatner and I know I’m not alone. He’s a great talent and quite energetic. It would be a challenge for many of us to keep up with him. One project that he’s doing is entitled, “Brown Bag Wine Tasting,” a new web series from Ora TV where Mr. Shatner asks willing participants to blindly taste wine and describe it in terms of what they do. It’s a clever premise. I got a chance to check out the show and it lives up to what it promises to be.

It’s a breezy and light-hearted conversation that actually takes its subject of wine seriously. In a recent episode, it’s William Shatner in conversation with Wil Wheaton, actor and host of “Tabeltop.” Wheaton starred as Welsey Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” As in every episode, it begins with some chatting. Shatner proves to be a genuinely interested and playful interviewer. We learn a little bit about the immersive quality of video games and the two speculate on life in other dimensions. Perfect themes to go with wine. And then Wil is challenged with describing his unidentified wine in terms of what he loves to do, brewing beer. It all runs for only a few minutes and I can honestly say that it holds its own among similar mini-webisode shows.

The latest interview on “Brown Bag Wine Tasting” with Wil Wheaton is live now. Go to Ora TV and you’ll see other episodes too ready for viewing. I checked out one with William Shatner interviewing Ray Isle, Executive Editor at Food & Wine magazine. And it also proved to be very informative and entertaining. New episodes premiere Wednesdays, 11am PST/2pm EST. Check it all out right here.

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Filed under Ora TV, Star Trek, William Shatner

Leonard Nimoy, RIP

Leonard-Nimoy-Star-Trek-RIP

We live our lives and we’re not always aware of our achievements, our moments in the sun, that define us. For Leonard Nimoy, he was all too well aware of his legacy. His autobiography famously declared, “I Am Not Spock,” only to be followed years later with, “I Am Spock.” We all knew, all along, that he was Spock. This was not some burden. It simply was what it was. Pretty logical, and befitting a great actor and decent human being.

We will all miss Leonard Nimoy no longer among us. But we have his work to still enjoy. There’s that magical episode of Star Trek, “Amok Time,” written by Theodore Sturgeon, where Spock first says that famous line, along with the first time we see the Vulcan salute, “Live Long and Prosper.” He would wish that for you.

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Filed under Leonard Nimoy, pop culture, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Star Trek, Theodore Sturgeon

Interview: William F. Nolan, Pulp Fiction, and the Art of Writing

William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Art: Henry Chamberlain

William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Art: Henry Chamberlain

William F. Nolan is a writer with a brilliant career. Stephen King has acknowledged Mr. Nolan as “an expert in the art and science of scaring the hell out of people,” and Ray Bradbury has spoken of Mr. Nolan’s ability “to create an atmosphere of ultimate terror.” Crafting an interview with him can take a variety of directions. You could focus on race car driving, movies, television, horror, or science fiction. I chose to talk about genre fiction, specifically the pulp era, as Mr. Nolan is an authority on that subject. And, of course, we made our way to the biggest title that Mr. Nolan is attached to, Logan’s Run. He co-wrote, with George Clayton Johnson, the original novel and has gone on to write further Logan’s Run novels as well as the pilot episode to the television series.

Imagine yourself a young person with big plans to embark on a career in writing. It’s the 1950s. You’ve made it out to Los Angeles. You grew up reading pulp fiction. You adore it. Max Brand Westerns are the best! But you also love hard-boiled detective stories. Who better than Dashiell Hammett to deliver on that score, right? And then there’s science fiction. If only you might meet up with your hero, Ray Bradbury. Wouldn’t that be the tops? Sure enough, you meet Ray Bradbury. Not only that, Mr. Bradbury takes you under his wing and helps set your writing career on a high-flying course. That would be your first published story, “The Joy of Living”, in If magazine in 1954. Welcome to the life of William F. Nolan.

We focus on three major writers and, in turn, see how Nolan learned from them, adopted their techniques and tenacity, to become a professional writer in his own right. We talk about Ray Bradbury and his penchant to pay it forward with other writers. “We all support each other,” Nolan says. We talk about Frederick Faust, known as “Max Brand,” among other pseudonyms, and his uneasy relationship with fame. As for Faust’s all-time famous title, “Destry Rides Again,” it paled in comparison to his devotion to writing poetry, which never sold. It’s a similar case with Dashiell Hammett. Despite his wildly popular “Thin Man” stories, he wasn’t satisfied and had hoped to develop writing beyond his genre, but never did. Oddly enough, despite any reservations from Faust or Hammett, all three of these writers are held in high regard. But only Bradbury was to live to see and appreciate his place in fiction as well as his notoriety.

It’s a perplexing predicament to be, or aspire to be, a writer. “The problem is that most students of writing are lazy,” Nolan points out. “They want to become Stephen King over the weekend. Well, you can’t become Stephen King over the weekend. Stephen King couldn’t do that. People have some idea that he’s always had it easy and been rich. But, no, he spent ten years writing and struggling before ‘Carrie’ came along and made him a tidy sum of money.” And far be it for a writer to always be the best judge of his own work. As the story goes, King threw away the manuscript to “Carrie” in a fit of frustration. He tossed it into a waste basket only to have his wife fish it out and persuade him to send it to his agent. Good thing he did just that.

“Writing is like a roller coaster,” Nolan says. But he is also inspired to share the fact that hard work will pay off. What best illustrates this is just talking shop with him. For example, you get great insight exploring the work that Nolan has done with George Clayton Johnson. Among the dozen or so writers that Nolan has worked with, it is with Johnson that he wrote his first teleplay and, years later, his first novel. It was to be firsts for both of them. In 1959, Nolan and Johnson wrote their first teleplay, “Dreamflight,” for “The Twilight Zone.” It was never produced. Thanks to the jet age, the show found itself with one too many airplane-related stories. It’s since been printed in the anthology, “Forgotten Gems.” And it is a gem, a modern day take on Sleeping Beauty.

In the intervening years, Nolan and Johnson would continue to grow as writers, in no small measure due to the collaborative process they developed as part of what became known as The Southern California Writers Group. And so they did work together again, including two unproduced “Star Trek” teleplays, finally leading up to one of the best collaborations ever, the original “Logan’s Run” novel.

As we closed out our interview, I asked about upcoming projects and William F. Nolan is, at 87 this March, as busy as ever. On his list of top priority items, he included his longtime friend and collaborator, writer/artist/filmmaker Jason V. Brock, who is set to work with Nolan on a new Logan’s Run novel that will deconstruct what has come before and is entitled, “Logan’s Fall.” Also on the list: “Images in Black,” an edited collection of Ray Bradbury stories with an African-American theme; “A Man Called Dash,” a definitive biography of Dashiell Hammett; “Soul Trips,” a collection of Nolan poetry; and a Nolan horror collection for the series, “Masters of the Weird Tale,” to be published by Centipede Press.

Just click below to listen to the podcast interview. Enjoy:

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Filed under Dashiell Hammett, Interviews, Logan's Run, Max Brand, pop culture, Pulp Fiction, Ray Bradbury, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Theodore Sturgeon, William F. Nolan

Review: STAR TREK: NEW ADVENTURES VOL. 1

Star-Trek-New-Adventures-IDW-Vol-1

IDW Publishing has got the comics industry in quite a buzz regarding its acquisition of Top Shelf Productions, a relatively smaller comics publisher. So, what makes IDW special? Well, they do seem to have a geeky love for comics. And that leads to stuff like this collection of Star Trek stories. This is an IDW speciality so let that tell you something about IDW.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, IDW Publishing, Star Trek, Top Shelf Productions

Book Review: ‘More Than Human’ by Theodore Sturgeon

More-Than-Human-Theodore-Sturgeon

Perhaps when we think about science fiction, in general, we may still get lost. Even today, there are well-regarded writers in that genre, of great literary stature, who are due for a wider audience. In the case of Theodore Sturgeon, I am certain that, once a follower of his work, there is no turning back. What “More Than Human” achieves is nothing less than to inspire the reader. Its very purpose is to do just that.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Hive Mind, science fiction, Theodore Sturgeon

The Official Star Trek Convention Returns to Seattle December 12-14 with Jeri Ryan and Walter Koenig

Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov in "Star Trek"

Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov in “Star Trek”

If you’re in Seattle, and you love Star Trek, then there’s only one place to be this weekend. The Official Star Trek Convention returns to Seattle on December 12-14 with Jeri Ryan and Walter Koenig headlining the event!

Details follow:

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Filed under Sci-Fi, science fiction, Seattle, Star Trek, Television

Star Trek: IDW Adapts Harlan Ellison’s ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’

Harlan-Ellison-IDW

My favorite episode of the original Star Trek series is “Man Trap,” by George Clayton Johnson. But there are certainly plenty to choose from. One of the crown jewels is by the great scribe, Harlan Ellison, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Ellison’s teleplay, much like Johnson’s, went through revisions to make it a better fit for network television at the time. Now, thanks to IDW Plubishing, this classic story will be faithfully adapted as a five-issue comics series, just as Ellison had originally envisioned it.

Press release follows:

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Filed under Comics, Comics News, Gene Roddenberry, George Clayton Johnson, Harlan Ellison, IDW Publishing, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Star Trek

AUDI CONNECT: TECH IS NICE BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?

That amusing Spock vs. Spock ad for Audi, with Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto competing with each other, led me to the Audi Connect ads.

I think the spokesperson for these Audi Connect ads is a very charming young woman. She can appeal to a wide audience. And the car, from what we see of it, looks pretty cool. But what exactly is the focus here? So, Audi Connect is supposed to be a jaw-dropping leap into the future? Well, far be it from me to completely dismiss something that sort of makes driving safer. Sort of. It is less of an investment of your attention to talk to your car than to navigate your phone.

But, for all the bells and whistles, the scenario in this ad finds the young woman looking for a gas station after her mom has prompted her. Gasoline? In this day and age? Why not have this forward thinking consumer in an electric car already? Well, let’s give Audi a lot of credit for working towards that. They’ll get there. But first, they just wanted to focus on the most luxurious method to find your way to a gas station on your way to Los Encinos Park.

Audi used the A3 wagon to test its electric power train, in what could be its first production e-car (Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

Audi used the A3 wagon to test its electric power train, in what could be its first production e-car (Credit: Wayne Cunningham/CNET)

Check out details on Audi’s development of its own e-cars, HERE.

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Filed under Earth, Electric Car, Environment, Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek, Zachary Quinto