Has it been six weeks already? Wow, this summer is flying by! When I posted page 1 of this comic on June 18, the GoFundMe campaign for INTERLUDE had been up for a week, and we’d just crossed the $3K mark with 53 donors. Now we’re at $10,415 with 144 donors (plus a few more via Paypal)!
That is so awesome, and I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to have so many people supporting me and sharing this crazy dream of making a fan film. But we’re still not quite there yet, so once again, here’s the link to the GoFundMe campaign for Interlude.
Please donate or at least share. And now, let’s wrap up the comic…
Yep, one last time, here’s your warning. The “Stardate 2245.1” comic book short story is pretty much the same plot you’ll see in the fan film Interlude. So if you don’t want to know what’s going to happen, for the love of Garth(!) don’t read the 7-page (plus cover) comic below. So say we all.
Okay, let’s discuss the last page…
Endings are tough…especially when it’s something you care about. And goodness knows I care about this story and the characters in it. But Interlude can’t go on forever. In fact, it has to end in order for the Axanar sequels to begin…as this is just an “interlude” between the end of Prelude to Axanar and the beginning of what will be titled “The Four Years War – Part IV.”
Initially, my comic book story was based on an alternate version of the Axanar sequel script that ALEC PETERS had written to consolidate down his full-length fan film into two 15-minute parts. I’d added in several scenes on the bridges of various starships (Starfleet “archive” footage) and tweaked some other scenes to work scenes into the script that could film on the bridge set. I didn’t understand at the time that Alec had purposefully left those scenes out, as he wasn’t confident (in the summer of 2017) that the Ares bridge set would ever be completed.
But my version of the script had some fantastic action sequences on the bridge…along with the “talking heads” documentary style interviews and ample CGI space battle scenes. In fact, the story that became this comic (and will later become Interlude) began as a 3-page action sequence to open my version of the first part of the Axanar sequels.
That opening action sequence was followed by a one-page talking-head sequence featuring the characters of Sam Travis, Sonya Alexander, Garth and Thought Admiral Mor’o, Kharn’s mentor. (RICHARD HATCH had passed away a few month before I received Alec’s script to review, so Kharn couldn’t appear.)
In my alternate version of the Axanar script, that first series of talking head interviews leads into a cliffhanger, of sorts…which in turn leads into what would have been the sequel fan film’s opening credit sequence and the title “The Four Yeas War – Part IV: Preparing for Axanar.”
When it came time to expand and adapt the script into comic book form, the “cliffhanger” seemed to be a natural place to end it.
What’s interesting is that the talking-heads format allows me to do certain things in the comic version that, alas, I will not be able to do in the fan film. The most obvious is including Kharn. Richard Hatch may no longer be with us, but my illustrator DANIEL FU was able to draw the Klingon Supreme Warlord just fine. Likewise, I can’t use J.G. HERTZLER or KATE VERNON in my fan film. But I can totally use them in the comic book!
So what am I going to do when it comes time to film those talking-head scenes for the Interlude fan film if I can’t use JG and Kate? The good news is that the information conveyed is almost entirely exposition and not linked specifically to a single character. I don’t necessarily need Sam or Sonya or Mor’o to speak those lines. And of course, I do still have Garth. But there’s too many lines for them to all be delivered by the same character. That much exposition would likely be too much for the viewer to process and would get a bit monotonous. I really need at least one other character to cut to.
And so I came up with a really cool idea that lets me include one of my favorite people in my fan film: STEVEN JEPSON!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with that name, Steven was the fellow who put on the white admiral’s tunic, took a photo of himself, and became the controversial Admiral Conrad Slater who appeared for 3 seconds in PRELUDE TO AXANAR.…
In Prelude, Slater is the Starfleet Commander who nearly loses the war with the Klingons and is replaced by Admiral Marcus Ramirez (superbly played by actor TONY TODD). Most fans simply assume that Slater slinked off in shame, never to be heard from again.
But Steve and I have a different theory. Slater was still a valuable officer, and a strong leader for peacetime. Slater was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, saddled with a Starfleet that had been focused on science and discovery just when it needed to become a military force again—the first time since the Romulan War eight decades earlier. Slater, however, was an explorer and a diplomat—“Slater the negotiator” as they called him. In fact, when the Klingon chancellor said, “If words were water, the humans would drown us all…” they were talking about Slater.
But I also saw Slater as “the communicator,” a teacher at heart. And with Ramirez taking over the reins of Starfleet to create a fighting force, someone had to transform the Academy into an training institution for soldiers and tactical battle commanders. Starfleet needed a resourceful leader who was also a teacher (and vice-versa), and that was Slater.
So rather than just shuffle him off into a shameful early retirement, the Federation Council asked Slater to become Academy Commandant and establish a new curriculum focused on battle tactics and fighting strategies. The challenge for Slater lay in finding instructors for the tactical classes. Starfleet couldn’t afford to pull its most skilled commanders off the line to teach cadets while the Klingons were in a full-out warrior assault.
So what Slater came up with was a clever idea: cadets would study the battle tactics being used in field right then during the war! The strategies of the most successful captains would be discussed, broken down, and analyzed. And that’s the reason that Kirk says, in “Whom Gods Destroy,” that he studied Garth’s victory at Axanar as a cadet and that it’s still required reading at the Academy. That was because of Slater. His decision to teach battle tactics to cadets through the study of actual commanders continued even after Slater was no longer Academy Commandant. In fact, it’s very possible that Slater still led Starfleet Academy when Kirk was a young cadet there!
Anyway, you can probably tell that I’m partial to Slater…just as I’m partial to Steven Jepson, who is a really fantastic person. And thanks to Axanar costumers Claude Dozière and Angela Avino in Italy, Steve has a perfectly-fitting admiral’s tunic of his very own. He also lives just one state away from my directors in Arkansa (Steven is in Missouri), and they have a portable green screen.
So Admiral Slater will join Garth in delivering those lines at the end of Interlude. Garth will be up in space while Slater will be in his office at Starfleet Academy with the Golden Gate bridge in the background (of course!). In this way, and with Alec Peters’ approval, I get to expand the Axanar Universe by establishing the fate of Admiral Slater not simply as the disgraced Neville Chamberlain of Starfleet but as a true hero who stepped up after being knocked down to help the Federation with the Four Years War.
But that’s all still to come in Interlude. Right now in the conclusion of “Stardate: 2245.1” you get to see Kharn one last time—plus Sam Travis and Sonya Alexander. Enjoy, and re member that you can enlarge each page by clicking on it…