Trader Captains and Merchant Princes


This was a nice bookend of sorts; the second TREK supplement I did for FASA was a reworking of a Mitch O’Connell cover and this (almost) next to last FASA Trek supplement was an O’Connell rework as well. At the time I never got a straight answer as to “why’ they were having me do new covers  because Mitch’s work is great, but as time has passed I found out that I was being used as a club to keep him and other artists in line – in the same manner that other younger, less expensive artists were eventually used against me when I was better established and getting better rates

There were other aspects in the project that were equally stressful. I made a typographical error in the computer readout in the illustration but there was not enough time to send it back to be reworked. Oddly enough I was glad that I had to let a mistake like that stand because I would have been required to make another change had there been an extra week or so available.

I’d have been required to make the security guard white.

One reason the original TREK series appealed to me in the first place was the way people of all shapes, sizes and colors got along – so it was disconcerting to find that my efforts to put some variety in the RPG covers met with resistance. There were no crossed being burned – but there was always a “good reason” why I had to change this person or that person. I worked around the issue by featuring George Takei twice but with this cover I just made sure in the sketch that security guard had strong side-lighting so the skin-tone wasn’t so obvious, and once the sketch is OK’d…

It wasn’t the last time I would run into covert bias.  A few years later I had another client who fought tooth and nail to keep strong female characters off his covers so when I sent in a cover featuring an armed female adventurer standing guard while her male compatriot (with weapon holstered) was working on bypassing an alarm I came close to having the job cancelled and being banned from all future work.  

This was also one of my first “celebrity death covers” too. I had a lot of fun featuring Harry Mudd on the cover but two months later Roger C. Carmel (the actor who played him) died. It happened again twenty years later when Ricardo Montalban died two months after I included him in one of the covers I did for IDW Comics Wrath of Khan adaptation.

…so, the next time you start thinking that it would be fun for me to paint you into one of my covers you may want to get a check-up first!

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