This posting promises to be a messy bit of bubble and squeak, but here goes:
While my wife has been away, I've spent the closing hours of the evening watching episodes of Star Trek: TOS. It's a pleasant way to cap off the day: a mixed diet of nostalgia, a few revelations (I'd forgotten that Shatner, particularly in the first season, was capable of subtlety), and plenty of cheese to stick to the ribs of my imagination before I lay me down to sleep.
However, I'm taken aback by the chatter surrounding the proposed Star Trek film: namely, a prequel that chronicles the early adventures of Kirk / Spock / McCoy. This skirts dangerously close to parody — but then that's what the franchise has always done best, so why can't I join the falderal? Placing the vertically-challenged Matt Damon as “Kirk” next to the military bearing of Gary Sinise (“McCoy”) and the willowy Adrien Brody (“Spock”) is visual comic genius. What's not to love?
Well ... the voices, for starters. This trio of characters has been lampooned by so many improv groups, it's impossible to consider anyone attempting to do a serious job of it. Then there's director J.J. Abrams, whose track record elicits a perpetual chorus of, “Not bad, but I expected it to be better.” No, the whole proposal prompts me to search the farther reaches of cinema for a viable alternative to the franchise's usual ham-fisted tactics.
So why not animation? The last attempt might have been flat-footed, but there's been so much technological progress since then that I honestly believe a decent script and the right director (Brad Bird, maybe) just might give this nigh-unto-dead franchise a set of legs that could carry it into the 22nd century, if not the 23rd.
Then again, maybe not. There's some indefinable quality in animation that tends to set audiences at an emotional remove. Has anyone shed a tear during an animated film? If so, which films are we talking about: Dumbo? Bambi? Hm. Dim prognosis, indeed.
Still, someone should take this concept to the drawing board, and I nominate Ken Steacy. His sketchbooks are cheerfully optimistic, sensuous and lush without being overindulgent, and he's got a Tom Swift sort of enthusiasm for big technology. He's the man to get this thing off the ground.
Which brings me to Favorite Thing #5: Artist's Sketchbooks. Particularly comic book artists. Going through a few hundred Flikr slides (here and here) inspires me. It gets me thinking, “Why can't I do that? Or something like it? Why don't I quit with the Googling, scrape an edge to my pencil and start scribbling? Eh? Why not?”
H/T to Drawn (I might as well come clean: this is the page that got me excited about Steacy's ST potential). Also to DP Blowhard for this link. (Frankly, I'd hesitate to call Will Eisner “mediocre”: if you wonder what a back alley in the Bronx smells like, just read one of his books — you will taste the stench in the back of your mouth.)