Black History Month: Thank You, Michael Dorn.
Two Pages! Been a while since I drew two pages for a single day. I felt that was in order here, because of the reason I’m focused on the actor who played Mr. Worf, Michael Dorn. I’ve met him a few times, and he was always just an excellent fellow, the kind of guy who liked his fans, and generally had a fantastic outlook on life.
First though…about the art. I’m continuing to experiment this week with digital speech balloons and lettering. I’m not exactly loving it (digital lettering and balloons), and the font choice for Klingon shouting was a bit of a chore. Mr. Worf is shouting “Maximum Effort!”…and if you want to check, there’ an English to Klingon translator here. Why, “Maximum effort?” Check out Worf. His uniform is torn, and he’s taking on those super powered school mascot looking @#$% with nothing but a length of chain. He has a phaser, and a bat’leth, and other wavy sharp things…but he is CHOOSING to come after those @#$%s with a short length of mega-chain. Maximum effort.
Really, that’s kind of what I like about the character of Worf. If there is a hard way to do things, he generally goes with the hard way.
Page Two, which was drawn earlier, has the rest of the “battle.” The protagonist seems to have a whole lot of blood on her bat’leth, and is cursing loudly. Sure…she can chuck dudes all the way into space, but a massive wavy sharp thing sends a message. Which is why those other guys are carrying the Mega-Bat’leth. Does it do anything special?
No. It does not.
Don’t act like you aren’t impressed. It’s still a huge, sharp metal object that takes three Klingons to wield it. Klingons are some of the physically strongest humanoids in Star Trek, so you KNOW that thing is heavy. Just dropping it could be a lethal move. Those guys are going for broke on “maximum effort.”
Plus…the protagonist has Generic Silver Age Alien Strength. She can wave that Mega-Bat’leth around like a toothpick. THAT sends a message.
Still…you might be asking, “How is this a Black History Month post?” That’s a solid question, that has a simple answer. Michael Dorn, the African American actor who portrays Mr. Worf, has appeared more times as a regular cast member than any other actor of the Star Trek franchise, spanning five films and 272 television episodes. He also appeared as Worf’s namesake, Colonel Worf, in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Let’s break that down a little bit…Dorn has appeared on-screen in more Star Trek episodes and movies as the same character than anyone else: he appeared in 175 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, 102 episodes of Deep Space Nine and four Star Trek movies, bringing his total to 281 appearances as Worf. Heck…Dorn even directed the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes “In the Cards”, “Inquisition” and “When It Rains…”, and also the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Two Days and Two Nights”.
In a very real sense, a vast portion of what we currently identify as Star Trek comes back to this one very friendly, kind man’s hard work in front of the camera. Even some work behind it.
The character of Worf, in fact, is responsible for the massive change in the portrayal of Klingons from the Original Series to the Next Generation franchises. The culture of the Klingons in the “Next Generation” series began to resemble revised western stereotypes of civilizations such as the Zulu, the Vikings, and various Native American nations — as a proud, warlike and principled race. Whereas the Old School Klingons served as an allegory to contemporary totalitarian regimes, The Next Generation Klingons held principles more in line with Bushidō; and actor Michael Dorn stated that without the revision in Klingon culture, his character, Worf, would not have been a Starfleet officer.
With the first Klingon-centric story in The Next Generation, the first season episode “Heart of Glory” (really the first to focus on Worf a whole lot at all), the Klingons once again became an important part of the Star Trek universe, and by the beginning of the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Klingons had become heroes rather than villains, albeit often at cross purposes to the Federation.
Without Michael Dorn’s expanding role and continued appearances in the franchise, none of that happens.
I like Star Trek a whole lot. Without Gene Rodenberry’s commitment to hiring a diverse cast, I wouldn’t have gotten ANY of Dorn’s performances. Without Michael Dorn, I wouldn’t have, quite literally HUNDREDS of episodes of that thing that I like. So…thank you, Michael Dorn, for your contribution to diversity in science fiction.
Getting back off the soapbox for a moment, here’s the art to Page One, without the digital lettering in post production. It’s not all that different, except for a small part of the pencils not being obscured. Doing lettering in “post” really involves planning the art around those kinds of “empty spaces”, and in this case use of the gutters.
Also, the pre-lettered, Page Two, Panel One art. I just liked the really stern bat’leth frame. In fact, that panel was it’s own art piece, just sort of drawn randomly, as I figured out today’s content, on Sunday evening. It had no more foundation beside the idea that for some time, the protagonist has kind of needed something sword like for the setting, and has gone through a bunch of practically disposable super weapons. Regular swords, a broken one, some lightsabres…the bat’leth was a fun design, and fit the need while providing something that both my Alien American friend and I could be happy with.
It’s also a @#$% to draw, so I have no idea if it will make that many appearances.
The Mega-Bat’leth, of course, is just awesome.