Ron Randall and I have been internet friends for years, in that we chat online every once in a while and have never met in real life. I first interviewed Ron about Trekker in 2011, I have been a fan of his work and he was launching the Trekker website. Nine years later and we are still talking a Trekker, which has become his life’s work. I appreciate Ron stopping by First Comics News giving us a chance to catch up and letting our readers know what to expect from the Trekker: The Complete Journey Vol I. Oversized Deluxe Hardcover.
First Comics News: Let’s start at the beginning for readers who don’t know Trekker, who is Mercy St.Clair?
Ron Randall: Mercy St. Clair is a gifted, complicated young bounty hunter in the 23rd century city of New Gelaph in a gritty and failing planet Earth. All she wants to do is hold on to her simple, black and white view of life, where she gets paid to bring in the violent bad guys. She’s good at that job if not much else. But there are larger forces at work contesting to shape her world. And we soon get the sense that she might be called to play a larger role in that. Whether she wants to or not.
1st: Why is the series called Trekker?
Ron: I wanted the title to work on a few different levels. First, in this future, a “Trekker” is the slang term for a licensed, government sanctioned bounty hunter. Second, it conveys that Mercy’s job is travel– tracking down the bad guys. And third, the background of the entire series is the long journey that Mercy is on, one of self-discovery, discovery of the world around her, and her journey to make sense of that, find meaning in it, and find her place in it. Can she survive the evolutionary trip from being a tough, implacable fighter to… something more.
Ron: Mercy’s stories begin in the streets of a gritty, crime-choked noir-like city– like something out of a Blade Runner sort of story. She is scraping out a rather bleak life for herself in a small, dark apartment. But her travels take her farther afield, into the blasted wastes beyond the city, and then into space where humans have established life in the stars and on other worlds. There are street fights, chases through blasted wastelands, crash landings on alien planets– everything I love most about science fiction adventuring finds its way into the pages of the series.
1st: What is the story about?
Ron: I like to describe the series as a long-form story of one character’s journey of self discovery and destiny, disguised as a series of self-contained action/adventure stories. As Mercy comes back from each of these adventures, the reader and Mercy find that she is being changed by them– by her experiences. We gradually become aware that there’s a bigger game at play between those forces that she keeps crossing paths with. And maybe she’s got a role to play in all of that. Whether she likes it or not.
It’s also a series about explosions, firefights, swamp creatures, chases through the stars and more. Because part of me remains an excited twelve year old.
1st: What’s included in the Hardcover?
Ron: EVERYTHING! That is, all of the stories– from Mercy’s very first appearance up to the final book I out with Dark Horse Comics before I turned to Kickstarter to continue to self-publish the ongoing stories with the new trade paperbacks. All of that Dark Horse material is now out of print is in this new hardcover. So, this is a recovery mission! To bring all that back to print for new readers to find, and for long-time fans to have it all gathered into one, deluxe package.
1st: Some of the older out of print stories are in black and white, are they colored for the hardback?
Ron: YES! I’m thrilled, after all these years, to finally bring color to those earlier stories, so that the entire series will now have a uniform look and presentation. Until now, the best we’ve been able to do is put the tales out in a scattershot, inconsistent fashion. This book fixes all of that.
1st: Over the years coloring in comics has changed quite a bit, is the entire book recolored or just the black and white stories?
Ron: A few of the later stories were colored by my hand-picked colorist Jeremy Colwell, and one by another coloring ace, Moose Baumann. Those still look great, and they deserve to be in this collection. But all the earlier stuff, the black and white stories and a few of the earlier colored stories have all been revisited and reworked completely. And all by me personally.
Ron: It’s bigger and better! Seriously, the Omnibus was a great package, given what Dark Horse and I could do at the time. But– it’s in that smaller, “digest” size. Smaller than a comics in page dimensions. And while their printing and production kept everything looking crisp and sharp, having the art shrunk down that much more than it was originally intended to be, does cramp things a bit. The hardcover is oversized– 7″ X 11″, and that extra size really opens up the art and gives it more power and presence.
Plus, as I said above, ALL of the stories are now in full color. By me. Where the Omnibus was a mixed bag of black and white stories and full color ones. We kept shifting gears on that book.
And– the hardcover includes all the stories from the two trade paperbacks that Dark Horse and I put out after the Omnibus as well. It’s a big book!
Ron: It’s going to be over 450 pages. 472, at least. Depending on if we hit a few stretch goals and add some more extra material. By comparison, the Omnibus from Dark Horse was 280 pages. THAT’S how much more story content we are gathering here.
1st: I hear you are giving away PDFs of Trekker Book 1, so readers can see the first chapter before pledging, aren’t you giving away too much?
Ron: Nope! it’s fair to let folks get a good taste of what they’d be getting since the hardcover is priced at $50. And, if they read the first complete 24-page adventure, they’ll have a good feeling of whether the book is a good fit for them. And they’ll still have well over 425 pages left to go in the book!
Ron: 100%. ALL of the stories are finished, all the coloring is done. If the campaign is successful, it’s just a matter of formatting everything for the printer, including any extra features we might get to add, and we’re off to the races.
1st: When does it ship?
Ron: I’m expecting to have the book on its way to readers by August. All of my previous campaigns have been fulfilled right on schedule. I don’t plan to deviate from that.
1st: What is the minimum pledge for a digital copy?
Ron: $25 will get the PDF of the whole book.
Ron: Just $50!
1st: What rewards do you have planned?
Ron: My favorite is a new one, perfect for a hardcover– it’s called a “tipped-in print”, where a new watercolor piece that I’ve created especially for this book will be printed on a different paper stock from the book itself, then bound into the book. You see this a lot in textbooks with “art plates” of paintings and the like. It’s a pretty classy touch! I limit that to a run of 200 signed and numbered copies. I’m also offering watercolor and inkwash commissions, which are pretty popular rewards for my campaigns, and also a one-hour “creative consult” where I’ll give some feedback and advice on any aspect of comics making that the backer wants– art, story, concept-pitch. Just to help you take the next step forward.
Ron: Yup! Each new story I tell in the on-going trade paperback series will eventually get into hardcover. We’ll have the whole series in that consistent, deluxe format if all goes according to my “master plan”. That said, after this campaign, I’ll be getting right back to telling the next, brand-new story to continue Mercy’s adventures. In fact, I’m penciling that project right now!
1st: Good luck with your Kickstarter, what is the address for readers who want a copy?
Ron: Thanks, Rik! The campaign runs through Feb 20 at trekkerkickstarter.com.