The PopCult Bookshelf
Fumetti is basically comic books that consist of photos instead of drawings. The form has been more popular in other countries than it has been here over the years, but with the advent of Photoshop and computer-assisted coloring effects, American audiences seem to be more open to fumetti these days. Heck, a lot of mainstream comics artists just copy pictures from body-building and porn mags and paint clothes on them.
Applying the fumetti form to Star Trek is really a pretty great idea. Using frame-grabs from Star Trek: The Original Series, combined with new elements added via Photoshop (and more than a little 3-D modeling), John Byrne has created what amounts to brand-new episodes of Star Trek using the original cast as they appeared on the show almost fifty years ago.
Byrne, of course, is a master storyteller in the world of comics. His career has spanned forty years and he’s been involved in some of the best-selling comics of the last several decades, including The X Men, Superman, Alpha Flight, The Incredible Hulk and many others. The strength of this project is Byrne’s expert use of the comic book form as well as his obvious love and respect for the source material.
Made out of Mudd is the fourth volume of Byrne’s photoplay take on Star Trek, and it’s the first one I’ve tried. It is a real treat. Byrne brings his expertise in creative, yet coherent, comcs layouts to the fumetti form and tells a very compelling story that cleverly weaves Star Trek favorites Harry Mudd, Captain Ronald Tracey, Kor the Klingon and even Tribbles into a new adventure that expands the Star Trek Universe by exploring new worlds and introducing previously-unexplored technological issues and concepts like identity theft.
There has been some online harping about the work Byrne has done on this series, but it misses the point that this is an exceedingly fun book. It’s like discovering an episode of the show that you missed the first time it was on and never got to see in re-runs.
There are two stories in this book. A 39-page main adventure and a four-page short that packs a pretty funny gag in it for die-hard Trekkers. This book is just manna from heaven for real fans of Star Trek: The Original Series. Much like the recent new season of Star Trek New Voyages, this photoplay is proof that it’s a great time to be a Star Trek fan.
Luckily, IDW has collected Byrne’s previous three outings in Star Trek fumetti into a handy trade paperback that can be ordered from your local bookstore or Amazon.
In a week or two the PopCult Bookshelf will look at another fumetti project, as we examine the 1960s European anti-hero, Sadistik, and his long-awaited reintroduction to American audiences.