The Klingon Empire RULZ: Tipton & Messina Talk "Trek: Blood Will Tell"

Fri, February 9th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Andy Khouri, Editor

"Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell" #1 cover by David Messina

What makes a Klingon warrior? Is it honor? Strength? Victory? Only "Blood Will Tell" this April, in a new "Star Trek" story unlike anything fans have seen before. IDW Publishing's "Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell" is a new five issue mini-series that looks at the most famous encounters between the crew of the USS Enterprise and the Klingon Empire - from the point of view of the Klingons themselves. What may have appeared to simple black and white, good vs. villainy in the television series will now be seen entirely from the decidedly unique Klingon perspective. Which is to say, highly dramatic and hugely violent. CBR News rendezvoused with co-writers Scott and David Tipton and artist David Messina for a full mission briefing on "Blood Will Tell."

"We start things off with the introduction of the Klingons from [the original series episode] "Errand of Mercy,'" co-writer Scott Tipton told CBR News. "Blood Will Tell" also covers from the Klingon point of view the events of "A Private Little War," "The Day of the Dove," and, of course, "The Trouble With Tribbles."  

Variant cover by Joe Corroney
"The interesting thing to us was the way the episodes naturally fell together to suggest a method and motivation behind the Klingons' actions, one we had never noticed before," Tipton said. "I thought it was important to make sure to show the Klingons as having very strong justifications for what they do, even if it seems aggressive or antagonistic on the face of it."

"Even when Klingons are behaving badly," added co-writer David Tipton, "they typically have been portrayed as charismatic and strangely compelling. Throughout the various incarnations of 'Star Trek,' there has always been a strong implication that the Klingons have a very different view of history than their Federation rivals. This mini-series provides a great opportunity to explore that Klingon point-of-view."

"Blood Will Tell" #1, page 1

Artist David Messina, who collaborated previously with Scott Tipton on IDW's "Angel: Auld Lang Syne," also sought to explore the Klingons' cultural motivations through his artwork. "I think the most fascinating thing about the Klingons is the aspect of a warrior race divided into different castes and living in a very tough and challenging but loyal society. That's why I tried to underline in both environment and characters the felling of strength and total control."

If it seems as though the Tiptons and Messina have a particular fondness for Klingons, it's because they're both "Star Trek" fans, and surrounded constantly by even bigger fans, such as IDW Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall, who came up with the premise for "Blood Will Tell."

"Chris approached me about a new 'Trek' series. He knew I was a big-time 'Star Trek' fan and was looking to reintroduce the classic 'Trek' characters into comics in a novel way, and brought up the idea of retelling some familiar stories from the Klingon perspective. I loved it immediately. That, plus the opportunity to keep working with David Messina? I was in."

"Blood Will Tell" #1, page 6 - Terran and Klingon versions
"[My brother David and I] have very similar ideas about what makes for a good 'Trek' story," Scott Tipton explained. "I knew I'd be using him as a sounding board anyway, so why not take full advantage of that resource from the get-go? It's been working out perfectly. Dave brings a lot of focus on Klingon thinking and rationale, while I'm more of a plot-mechanics guy. Usually, I'm thinking, 'What do they do?' while David is thinking 'What does it mean?'"

Artist David Messina is not without his own special Klingon counsel. Assisting Messina on "Blood Will Tell" are two of his former pupils from the International School of Comics in Rome, Italy, Elena Casagrande and colorist Ilaria Traversi, who is a "wild" fan of the "Star Trek" universe. "I don't know if I should say this," Messina confessed, "but Illaria was part of the Klingon Embassy in the Italian 'Star Trek' Fan Club!"

"Blood Will Tell" #1, page 8 art by David Messina and colors by Ilaria Traversi

Perhaps most interestingly, IDW's licensing liaison at CBS (the company that owns the "Star Trek" license), a woman named Paula, is an even bigger "Trek" fan than the entire "Blood Will Tell" team put together. "Working with the licensor has been exceedingly smooth...[Paula] knows more about 'Star Trek' than just about anyone on the planet, so getting approval from her is high praise indeed. She also had some great advice about how to handle the 'bone-head Klingons' vs. the 'smooth-headed Klingons' question, which we made use of in the first issue."

That first issue, by the way, ships as both a standard sized English language comic, as well as a special forty page Klingon Language Edition, accompanied by the English script to aid readers in translation.

The Tiptons and Messina were careful to not decloak many details about that first issue or the rest of the series, but promise a high-drama and action packed mini-series that "Star Trek" fans are sure to enjoy. "Without giving too much away," teased Scott Tipton, "there's definitely a larger story here. While each issue focuses on a different encounter between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, they're seen or discussed through the viewpoint of our central protagonist, who has a pivotal decision to make that could change the course of the Empire forever, which is prompting him to look back at the Empire's experience with Starfleet."

"Blood Will Tell" #1, pages 9 and 10
David Tipton added, "What we're looking to do is create some innovative storylines and characters that make sense within the well-developed 'Star Trek' universe. Of course, that's a lot easier working with an artist like David Messina, who's doing a great job with art that fits in so well with established 'Star Trek' continuity."

Having just finished their final issue of IDW's "Angel: Auld Lang Syne," Scott Tipton and David Messina were very eager to work with each other again. "Working with David Messina has been just great," gushed Tipton. "He always manages to give me exactly what I'm asking for in terms of panel-to-panel storytelling or layout, and yet he never fails to find ways to improve it. I couldn't have been happier with his work on 'Auld Land Syne,' yet here he's changed his style to better fit the subject matter, opening things up and making things more illustrative, to give it more of that old-school, 'classic' look, while still keeping the angularity and darkness that makes his work so unique. Getting pages back from David is without question the best part of my job."

"Blood Will Tell" #1, pages 12 and 13
Messina returned the love, stating, "This is the second mini I am doing with Scott. I already felt particularly at ease in the first 'Angel' series not only because he is a fantastic writer who can use any character at its best even in a few pages and can write very detailed and rich stories, but also because he allows me to draw beautiful and sexy girls!

"[Scott] has a quite a hold of the stories he writes," continued Messina. "He can be real modern but deeply faithful to the essence of the TV series and the original characters."

"Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell" is just one part of a huge long-term "Star Trek" campaign by IDW Publishing, one that continues with "Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Space Between," a "Star Trek: The Original Series" mini-series planned for the summer, and other projects not yet ready to be announced.

"It's a great time to be a comics fan and a 'Trek' fan, and we're just excited to be a part of it," Scott Tipton said.

As for the future, the Tiptons and Messina confessed that there is a new project in the works, but said it was still too early to talk about. However, Tipton did let one thing beam out.

*cough*cough*Gorn*cough*cough*

"Sorry about that. Something must have been stuck in my throat."

"Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell" #1 materializes in comic stores this April.

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